Assistant-powered hardware is a hot commodity; people much prefer "smart" to "dumb" when it comes to speakers and headphones recently. So Jabra's new Elite 85h headphones — which combine Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant support together with all the other accouterments you expect in a pair of noise-canceling headphones — should end up being pretty popular, assuming they sound good.

We even managed to confirm with a Jabra representative that the Assistant functionality is built-in, and not the typical external shortcut, though there is one twist: we're told the standard "OK Google" hotword is replaced by saying "Assistant" when it is enabled. At least you can access it hands-free, though.

The active noise canceling headphones are powered by a pair of 40mm drivers, paired with an eight-microphone array (six are used for calls, four for ANC, and two double duty for both). Jabra claims up to 32 hours of battery life with ANC enabled, so presumably, it can last even longer without it. They're IP52 rated — think drizzle-resistant, not hurricane-proof — with a two-year warranty that covers water and dust.

The Elite 85h also take advantage of Jabra's SmartSound technology, which is able to detect between different circumstances based on environmental sounds to select one of three "moments" for more precisely-tuned audio playback. That setting can be further customized via the Jabra Sound+ app.

Jabra's latest headphones will be offered in four colors: Black (Best Buy exclusive), Titanium Black, Gold Beige, and Navy. They'll run you $299, and pre-orders are set for March 2019, with general availability to follow on April 2019.

For more information, you can read Jabra's full press release announcing the Elite 85h just below, and you can sign up for more info at Jabra's site.

Press Release

Jabra Launches Elite 85h Headphones With SmartSound: Exclusive AI Technology for Intelligent Adaptive Audio

  • Best-in-class headphones sets new standards with maximum battery life, custom engineered 40mm speakers and advanced six-microphone call technology for crystal-clear sound
  • SmartSound technology: AI for adaptive sound environments
  • Digital Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation for total calls and music immersion
    100 percent hands-free Voice Assistant access
  • Certified rain-resistant durability with a two-year warranty against water and dust1

CES, January 6, 2019 – Jabra challenges its competitors at CES 2019, with the launch of the Elite 85h headphones, the newest addition to their Elite range of headsets. The new headphones are engineered with Jabra SmartSound, a combination of audEERING’s context intelligence technology, Jabra’s HearThrough technology and include Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), to empower users to decide how much of the outside world penetrates through to the listener. Whether you are commuting, concentrating at work or are in a crowded place, SmartSound ensures the audio of the Elite 85h offers the best calls and music experience by automatically adjusting to your surroundings.

The Elite 85h headphones set new standards across the board, with 32-hour battery life (with ANC activated), crystal-clear sound with advanced six-microphone call technology, 40mm custom-engineered speakers for top-quality acoustic experience and industry-leading durability. Together with SmartSound and completely hands-free Voice Assistant Control – allowing for faster and easier voice assistant access on-the-go – the Elite 85h are the smartest ANC headphones on the market.

Like every Jabra device, the Elite 85h has been engineered to meet the challenges that users face in the real world. In today’s digitally-connected society, noise overload is considered a critical factor affecting personal wellbeing2, and Jabra’s SmartSound technology tackles noise pollution in a way like never before. Through an exclusive partnership with the intelligent audio analysis company audEERING, the world leader in audio AI technology, Jabra introduces environmental adaptation into the new Elite 85h headphones, creating a personalized audio experience that goes beyond all current Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) solutions available in the market.

SmartSound, driven by AI technology
Jabra SmartSound is based on audEERING’s context intelligence technology, which uses real-time acoustic scene analysis of environmental sounds. The technology can detect more than 6,000 unique sound characteristics and uses this to adapt audio output to each specific context. This means that when moving from a noisy train station into a quiet train carriage, the context intelligence technology will take notice and will automatically adjust the audio to the changed surroundings. It will select one of the three moments: ‘Commute,’ ‘In Public’ or ‘In Private’ to guarantee a consistent quality for your audio experience. Users can personalize their calls and music settings even further through Jabra’s Sound+ app, which will remember your preferred settings for future similar situations.

Dagmar Schuller, CEO at audEERING said, “audEERING's AI-based audio context intelligence technology empowers Jabra’s new Elite 85h headphones by delivering the best call and music experience on the market. Users can be sure to get the most sophisticated product there is with reliable and innovative AI technology made in Germany.”

100 percent hands-free with Alexa
The microphone solution combined with the Jabra Sound+ app creates a 100 percent hands-free Voice Assistant access experience. Users no longer need to touch a button on the headphones to interact with Alexa, Siri® or Google Assistant™ - all users need to do is speak, to be connected immediately. Jabra is the among the first to feature this capability, allowing users to access Alexa by invoking the wake word.

René Svendsen-Tune, CEO at Jabra said, “One of the biggest challenges for people on-the-go is consistency in voice, call and audio quality in every environment, while ensuring the best voice interaction and connectivity that allows for either total concentration or relaxation. Our Elite range represents the best-in-class products for calls and music. We developed SmartSound, to ensure we can continue to deliver quality calls and music experience wherever our customers are. The Elite 85h is a revolutionary headset that will change the way we experience sound and cope with noise in the future.”

Key features of the Jabra Elite 85h:

  • SmartSound: Audio that automatically adapts to your surroundings
  • 100 percent hands-free: Voice Assistant access without pushing a button
  • Four color variations: Black, Titanium Black, Gold Beige and Navy
  • Battery: Up to 32-hours of battery with ANC activated and 35 hours without ANC
  • Microphones: Eight microphones in total. Six dedicated for calls, four for ANC and two hybrid mics for both calls and ANC.
  • Speakers: 40mm custom-engineered speakers
  • Durability: Unique IP52 dust and rain resistance, backed by a two-year warranty against water and dust
  • Personalize: Jabra Sound+ app for SmartSound features, including customized settings

Availability & pricing
The headset will be available in four colors (Black, Titanium Black, Gold Beige and Navy) including one exclusive to Best Buy in the US & Canada (Black). All colors will be available online at Best Buy for pre-order in March 2019 and the black in Best Buy retail stores starting April 2019 at an MSRP of 299 USD/399 CAD. Find out more about the Jabra Elite 85h and SmartSound at: www.jabra.com/elite85h

NOTES TO EDITORS
1 Registration required with the Jabra Sound+ app
2 TIME Health, 2018

About Jabra
Jabra is a leader in engineering communications and sound solutions – innovating to empower both consumers and businesses. Proudly part of the GN Group, we are committed to letting people hear more, do more, and be more than they ever thought possible. Through sound, we help transform lives. Jabra engineering excellence leads the way, building on 150 years of pioneering work. This allows us to create integrated headsets and communications tools that help professionals work more productively; and wireless headphones and earbuds that let consumers better enjoy calls, music, and media. Jabra employs close to 1,100 people worldwide, and reported annual revenue of DKK 4bn in 2017. The GN Group, founded in 1869, operates in 100 countries and delivers innovation, reliability, and ease of use. Today, GN employs more than 5,500 people, and is Nasdaq Copenhagen listed. GN makes life sound better. www.jabra.com

© 2017 GN Audio A/S. All rights reserved. Jabra® is a registered trademark of GN Audio A/S. All other trademarks included herein are the property of their respective owners (design and specifications are subject to change without notice).

About audEERING GmbH
audEERING was founded in 2012 as a spin-off of the Technical University of Munich. Today, audEERING is the only European company driving innovation in emotional artificial intelligence focused on intelligent audio analysis. Using innovative machine intelligence and deep learning techniques, audEERING’s products are able to automatically analyze e. g. acoustic scenes, speaker states as well as over 50 emotional states. audEERING’s customers include multinational companies such as BMW, GfK, Red Bull Media House and Ipsos. www.audeering.com