Jabra Elite 85h noise-cancelling headphones boast completely hands-free Alexa

Headphones are getting smarter by the year. Here and now, a growing number can be voice-controlled, while some have customisable noise cancellation and others have dedicated apps. None can make you a cup of tea yet (as far as we know), but who knows if that'll still be the case next year?

Headphone brand Jabra is no stranger to high-tech, multi-functional headphones – it integrated a heart rate monitor and accelerometer into tiny earbuds, after all – and for 2019 it has combined several ‘smart’ features into a new Elite range model, the Elite 85h over-ears. We got a sneak peak at CES Unveiled (the show's opening act) in Las Vegas...

In addition to Bluetooth, the new cans feature active noise cancellation technology, which works alongside the brand’s SmartSound technology. SmartSound – based on the technology from intelligent audio analysis company audEERING (of which Jabra has an exclusive part ownership) – measures the user's surroundings to adjust the audio performance accordingly. 

Essentially, if the wearer is moving from a busy high street to a quiet office, the Elite 85h will automatically decide which of three modes to activate: ‘commute’, ‘in public’ or ‘in private’. Further customisation and control is also available via a – you guessed it – smartphone app, the Jabra Sound+ app.

The Elite 85hs offer a 100 per cent hands-free experience with Alexa too. Rather than the user needing to press a button on the headphones to activate Alexa voice functionality, as it usually the case, the Elite 85h can interact with Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant with a simple voice command, negating any physical control.

The icing on the cake: a 32-hour battery life (with ANC activated) 'unique' IP52 dust and water resistance, backed by a 2-year warranty against water and dust.

The Jabra Elite 85hs, which come in black, titanium black, gold beige and navy finishes, will be available in April for £280.

MORE: CES 2019: news, highlights, best new products

Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.