I logged over a third of 2015 in travel, and 2016 is shaping up to be more of the same. International flights are the worst, as I have a terrible time trying to sleep between the engine noise and cabin chatter. The obvious solution is a pair of noise-canceling headphones, and that’s why I love giving new ones a try.
At CES, I received a pair of JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones. I used them on the way home, and they will be traveling with me to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress. They have Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity, NXTGen Active Noise Canceling, and they are supposed to combine “the immersive experience of noise-canceling with the ability to control the amount of outside noise to let in, giving you the power to balance awareness of your surroundings with your listening experience.” Features include sculpted ear cushions, an 850mAh rechargeable battery that gets up to 15 hours battery life with BT and NC on (up to 19 with both off or with only BT on), a built-in microphone for calls, and best of all — TruNote Auto Sound Calibration.
The only prior experience I’d had with TruNote Auto Sound Calibration came from trying on the $1499 Quincy Jones AKG N90Qs at IFA last year. After listening to them, I would have liked nothing more than to be able to buy a pair … but there was that pesky little fact that they cost $1500, so no. The JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones have the same TruNote Auto Sound Calibration found in the N90Qs with the more budget friendly price of $249.99.
I’ll dig more into the specifics of TruNote Auto Sound Calibration further in this review, so let’s go over the headphones first.
After removing the outer sleeve and opening the inner box, the Everest Elite 700 headphones are revealed. They are full-size over-ear headphones, but believe it or not, they fold down fairly compact for travel.
In the box:
- 1 pair of JBL EVEREST™ ELITE 700 headphones
- 1 JBL carrying case
- 1 Micro USB charging cable
- 1 Audio cable with 3.5mm jack
- 1 Quick Start Guide
- 1 Warranty and safety note
- My JBL Headphones App download instructions
The Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones are available in either white or black. The black pair I received are matte, understated, and fairly elegant. Beyond the JBL branding on the ears there is nothing flashy going on, and I like that. On the left ear cup, there is a volume up and down rocker with a middle button to pause and play music. On the right ear cup, the top button indicates power and the bottom is a programmable Smart button that can either turn noise cancellation on or off, or it can be set to set the level of ambient awareness (background noise) you want to hear when NC is on.
A note about the controls: It took me a couple of hours of wearing the headphones before I felt completely in control, and like I knew without having to remind myself exactly which button was where and on which side. Once you master their placement, it becomes second nature.
The over-ear cups are plushly padded; the headband a little less so, but it is padded enough to be comfortable.
Although these are BT wireless headphones, you can attach the included cable for battery free operation and calls. The cable plugs into the bottom of the right ear cup.
Next to the headphone plug is a microUSB port for charging the headphones’ battery. When you have the cable plugged in, Bluetooth mode will cease as will the noise cancellation; you’ll have to turn the volume up higher than when they are wireless and in NC mode, but the headphones will still sound great. This is a fab backup option when you have forgotten to charge, or you are caught on a flight that runs longer than 15-19 hours (you have my sympathy).
The sides are fully adjustable to fit just about any head.
In this photo you can see the built-in microphone which is also on the right ear cup. In the process of doing this review, I have purposefully made and received several calls with the headphones on and in BT mode. Callers agreed that I sounded like I was speaking over my phone, and they sounded fantastic through the headphones.
When charging, a red light will glow on the right side; it goes out when charging is complete.
How the Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones fold for travel: The case with headphones measures approximately 7.5″ long by 6″ wide x 3.5″ thick; it’s not the most compact package, but it is still plenty portable.
After charging the headphones via microUSB, you need to download the My JBL Headphones app from either the App Store or Google Play.
When you power on the headphones, by holding the power button for 3 seconds, a female voice will announce “Powering on; JBL Everest is ready to pair; go to the Bluetooth settings on your device.” Once paired, she will announce, “Connected”. In other words, there is no guesswork.
Now open the JBL app, and the magic will begin. On this screen, you can turn NC on or off, and you can adjust the ambient sound that you’ll hear when NC is on. If you’re on a plane and you want to block everything out, put the “Awareness” setting as low as it will go. If you need to hear if someone speaks to you, you might want to set Awareness to High. Even better, you can set one ear to High Awareness and the other to Low.
There is a screen for activating the headphones auto-off feature (a great battery saver) and enabling the voice prompts (they are very useful); you can also program the Smart button to perform one of two functions here.
And you can set the equalizer to one of three presets (Jazz, Vocal, or Bass), or you can create your own equalizer mix.
The last feature that you can access through the app is the TruNote Auto Sound Calibration. I mentioned before that it is a feature found on the $1500 AKG N90Qs, and I wrote about it after returning from IFA, but here’s what you need to know:
TruNote technology is composed of a new, proprietary software solution for auto-calibration and frequency response measurement in combination with a patented, dual-foam ear cushion and pistonic motion driver. The auto-calibration solution uses two microphones in each ear cup in order to measure the frequency response while you are wearing the headphone. This generates an accurate correction filter, all within a second. The dual-foam ear cushion and optimized pistonic motion driver are required to avoid unwanted reflections and cavity effects, deeming both necessary for the optimal accurate sound reproduction.
So now you can get the same technology that was once only available in $1500 AKGs in a pair of $250 JBLs (these are both under the Harman brand umbrella, in case you weren’t aware). What this means for you is that when you are ready to calibrate the earphones to your ears, you’ll go to the app, hit the TrueNote button in the upper right hand corner, put on your headphones, and then push the start button.
You’ll hear a quick whisking blip and then a pop — and the headphones will be calibrated for you. What does that mean? You are about to enjoy some of the best music of your life. Literally.
So between the fact that these headphones are calibrated specifically for your ears, noise is being canceled, they are comfortable to wear, and how you can customize the sound equalization pumping through them to exactly how you’d like it to sound (not how some sound engineer at a lab thinks you’d want your music to sound), the audible results are, in a word, magnificent.
Whether you are listening to bass rich rap, lyrically intensive opera, orchestral-heavy classical, spoken word, or the craziest EDM, these headphones have you covered. They sound rich, full, exceptional. You’ll hear music the way the artist intended — but with your own twist on the tones you want to emphasize.
Using the JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones is a fully immersive audio experience. Your music will sound deep, and you’ll get sound that seems as if it should be coming from a much more expensive pair of headphones. If you’re looking for a fantastic pair of comfortable and reasonably priced noise canceling headphones that also happen to sound properly amazing, these are the ones to buy.
Here’s Dan’s look at the JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Canceling:
The JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless Headphones with Active Noise Canceling are available in black or white; they sell for $299, but are priced at $249.99, and they are available directly from JBL.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I Like: Good looking, understated, classy headphones; Very comfortable over-ear style; NXTGen Active Noise Canceling allows you to change levels of ambient noise during noise cancellation; Portable for travel; TruNote Auto Sound Calibration; Built-in mic for BT phone use; Calls made over BT through the speakers sound excellent; Headphones work well with NC or without, with cable or with BT
What Needs Improvement: 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable is not standard — but if you use them as BT, it won’t ever be an annoyance