Jabra recently announced their upcoming Elite 85t true wireless earphones. These will be the fourth generation of true wireless earphones from the company and the first to have native active noise cancellation. Sort of. Yesterday Jabra rolled out a firmware update to the Elite 75t/75t Active and added noise cancellation to those existing headsets. It’s impressive on many levels.
The upcoming Elite 85t true wireless earphones were built with active noise cancellation in mind from the ground up. That means all of the hardware was selected with an ear toward delivering excellent sound and effective active noise cancellation. I’m excited to see what the company did and am anxious to check out the fact that 85t offers a variety of different levels of active noise cancellation. That’s not something we’ve seen a lot of in other headsets and could make these the best active noise cancellation earphones for you; we’ll know once we get out hands on a review sample.
Fitting great sound and active noise cancelation into something as small as these earphones is a true engineering accomplishment. The more complicated trick is to take a headset that doesn’t have active noise cancellation and turn it into one that does. That should be all but impossible. And yet… the engineers a Jabra found a way to do just that. They have added active noise cancellation to both the Elite 75t and the Elite 75t Active through an over the air update, and it actually works.
Updating is a simple process that is accomplished in a few easy steps.
It is a pretty stunning move by Jabra for several reasons. Let’s run them down a bit.
Number One. Jabra just left money on the table and instead chose to reward loyal customers.
I want active noise cancellation in my true wireless earbuds. The Elite 75t/75t Active didn’t have it. The addition of ANC to the Elite 85t could have been a huge selling point. New customers would notice, and existing customers would be inclined to upgrade if they wanted ANC like me. Now they may not. So, to serve its customer base, Jabra added a huge feature for free. That speaks to the integrity of the company and the way they value their customers as well.
Number Two. Through this firmware update, Jabra’s engineers basically created a brand new pair of earphones. They took earphones without active noise cancellation and added that functionality without touching the actual earphones themselves. And if that isn’t impressive enough, they were able to do this over the air without having to plug the headset into a computer.
Number Three. The Elite 75T and Elite 75T Active were over-engineered. Those headsets are over a year old. They still sound great, but they are over a year old. Yet they already had enough hardware prowess to handle the addition of active noise cancellation. That’s a big deal and suggests that the company put better components into the headsets than required. That extra bit of unused “oomph” lets them add the ANC.
Number Four. Perhaps the most important aspect of this update isn’t the sound it keeps out. It is the sound it lets in.
The “selling point” of this firmware update is the addition of active noise cancellation. It’s nice but not as effective as other headsets with ANC. In fact, while the ANC cuts some types of noise, with other sounds, such as the noise from my ceiling fan, it doesn’t seem to have any impact. In other words, the ANC cuts out some ambient sound and lets you listen to your music at lower volumes. But don’t expect them to give you a cocoon of silence. If that is what you need, you might want to wait for the Elite 85t.
It is counterintuitive, but, for me, the real power of the ANC actually comes in the form of the sound it lets in, not the sound it keeps out. When you have true wireless earphones on, the physical noise isolation makes it difficult to hear what’s being said. The addition ANC also adds a “hear through” function that takes the ambient sound and feeds it to your ears. That way, you can now hear what is going on around you without having to take the earphones off. That is the aspect of this update that most impresses me.
Number Five. You get what you pay for. This firmware upgrade adds active noise cancellation and hear-through — and it’s free. And for a free update, it does pretty well. Depending on the environment, the active voice cancellation can remove loud sounds and, at times, a decent job of cutting out some types of background noise. As noted, though, it is certainly not as good as the active noise cancellation on other headsets. As a result, I would not think these are ideal for travel. If you find the ANC isn’t as good as you otherwise hope, remember… this update is free.
The Jabra Elite 75t/75t Active was already an impressive pair of true wireless. They are comfortable, sound excellent, and get great battery life. With this update, they get even better. And while there are, as one would expect, limitations to what you can do to add ANC to earphones that don’t have them, the fact that Jabra’s engineers found a way to do just that, combined with Jabra making the update free, is worthy of note. Check out the Jabra Elite 75t here.