Jabra’s new Elite 85h headphones, which have been announced today at CES, will let you summon your preferred voice assistant using just your voice, without needing to press a button first. Although voice assistants like Google Assistant have become an increasingly common feature on headphones, typically they aren’t able to listen out for a wake word like they would on a home smart speaker.
Three different voice assistants are supported by the over-ear Elite 85h (which also include noise canceling), although the exact one you’ll have access to will depend on your phone. While Alexa will be available to both iPhone and Android owners, Siri and Google Assistant will only be available when the headphones are paired with their native hardware.
Alongside their voice assistant functionality, these new headphones are also equipped with what Jabra is calling its SmartSound technology, which adjusts the sound settings based on noise in your environment. In theory, this means that as you move from a noisy subway carriage into the less noisy streets the sound profile should change accordingly. Maybe the headphones will reduce their volume because there’s less background noise, or else they can reduce their noise cancellation levels so that you can still hear traffic around you.
Three audio profiles will be available at launch: ‘Commute,’ ‘In Public’ or ‘In Private’, and Jabra says that you’ll be able to customize the exact volume levels, noise cancellation, and equalizer levels for each through its companion app. What you can’t customize is which environmental cues will send the headphones into which profile, but Jabra has said that this is something it’s looking into for future software updates.
An eight-microphone array is needed for all this functionality
In order to hear everything they need to, the Jabra Elite 85h headphones are equipped with a total of eight microphones. Two of these are for noise cancellation, two are for SmartSound, and four are for calls and voice assistant control. The headphones also have a USB Type-C port for charging and an IP52 dust and water resistance rating. You can expect an impressive 32 hours of music playback with noise canceling turned on from the Jabra 85h, although this will be reduced if you set them to constantly listen for a wake word.
In addition to the Elite 85h, Jabra is also announcing a new variant of its existing on-ear Jabra Move headphones. As well as being offered in new black, beige, and navy colors, the new Jabra Move Style Edition headphones have also received a boost in battery life from eight to 12 hours.
The Jabra Elite 85h will be available in two different shades of black, beige, and navy, and will cost $299 (€299 / £279) when they are released in April 2019. Meanwhile, the Jabra Move Style Edition headphones will be available in mid-January for $99 (€99 / £89).