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Noise

Good Noise Canceling For Less Money – Review Geek

Rating:
8/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $89.99

A woman sitting on a plane wearing a pair of Taotronics ANC headphones.
TaoTronics

Active Noise Canceling (ANC) headphones are often expensive, costing in the hundreds of dollars. TaoTronics claims it can deliver good noise-canceling headphones with excellent sound for less than $100. Does it succeed? Surprisingly, yes!

Here’s What We Like

  • Does a good job of noise canceling
  • Music sounds good
  • Very inexpensive
  • Great battery life

And What We Don’t

  • Mildly uncomfortable
  • Easy to leave ANC on and kill the battery
  • Headphones don’t fold

If you aren’t familiar with Active Noise Canceling, the basic premise is simple. ANC headphones use microphones to listen for noise around you. When that nose is detected, the headphones emit an “opposite noise” to cancel it out. If you imagine the sound as being +1, the opposite noise is -1.

The most expensive and accurate way of achieving the effect is to use Hybrid ANC, which employs microphones inside and outside the headphones. Usually, you’ll find Hybrid ANC on expensive headphones, like Sony’s ANC headphones that often go for $300.

Taotronics is offering the same technology for less than $90, and overall it delivers.

A Boring if Serviceable Look

A pair of Taotronics ANC headphones with volume up, down, and power button showing.
They don’t look like much. But hey, they’re headphones. Josh Hendrickson

Let’s be honest; if you’re buying your headphones as a status symbol, you’ll never consider TaoTronics. Beyond the fact that it’s not a well-known high-end brand, the look of these ANC headphones is, at best, boring.

The headphones are black, with some silver and chrome accents, and a smattering of buttons. You won’t find fancy LEDs, tap controls, or anything else that screams expensive headphones. Frankly, that’s okay. Not everything needs bling.

On the right ear cup, you’ll find all the controls you need. At first, the placement of the buttons annoyed me. The switch to turn off noise-canceling is pretty far away from the power and volume buttons.

A closeup of the Headphones showing Power, volume up and down, and headphone jack.
The ANC switch is so far away, you can’t even see it in this shot. Josh Hendrickson

But after wearing the headphones for a while, the placement clicked. When I lift my hand to my right ear, my thumb naturally rests on the power and volume buttons. And my ring finger hits the noise-canceling switch. Now I have no issues.

My main complaint with the physical aspect of the headphones is the fit. The earcups are nice and have plenty of cushions, but the band was a problem at first. It doesn’t hug my head like most my headphones do, and instead the very top of the band pushes against the top of my head.

At first, that pressure caused discomfort, but eventually, I grew used to it. It doesn’t bother me anymore while I’m wearing the headphones, but when I take them off, I’m suddenly aware of the pain I’ve been ignoring. I have a smallish head; you might find them more comfortable than I do.

Noise Canceling That Works, and You Get Good Sound Quality, Too

The headphones standing up from the front.
Unfortunately, these headphones do not fold. Josh Hendrickson

By now you’re probably wondering if the noise canceling actually works. I’m happy to say, yes it does. I don’t have a pair of $200 to $400 ANC headphones to compare to, but I’m happy with what these headphones accomplish.

When on the road, or even sitting alongside the road, simply turning the ANC switch on cuts out about 90% of the noise I heard from cars. In my office, the headphones nearly completely silenced my running fan. And though I haven’t been on any planes recently, when I loaded up a YouTube video on my surround system and blasted jet engine noises, I was surprised at how little I could hear. I turned the ANC switch off just to double-check that my speakers weren’t the problem and immediately regretted it.

Those successful results were improved when I turned on music. These headphones are Bluetooth (4.2) capable and compatible with a standard headphone jack, so you can listen to music any way you want on nearly any device.

I liked that I didn’t need to blast music to drown out the world around me. Just keep in mind that ANC blocks only certain kinds of sound. I could still understand people talking, and you’ll always hear a crying baby on a plane.

So how do the Taotronics headphones sound? Like a decent set of $90 headphones. I was happy with the bass and the mix; it’s a pretty neutral sound. Unfortunately, they don’t have equalizer options to adjust yourself, so what you hear is what you get. Still, for spending $90 on a set of cans that include ANC, there’s nothing to be disappointed in here.

The Battery Life and Extras Round It Out

The Taotronics Case, in black with a logo.
It’s frankly a boring case. But it does the job. Josh Hendrickson

The real stars of these headphones are its battery life and charging times. The company claims that a full charge will give you 30 hours of run time, and that seems about right in my testing—provided ANC is off. When I turned ANC on, I got something closer to 15 hours of use out of them.

If you need more time, you can get it quickly. Just five minutes of charging gives you 2 hours of playtime. You’ll fully recharge in 45 minutes. Just don’t forget to turn the ANC switch off, or it will drain the battery.

The headphones inside the case, along with microUSB cord, headphone jack cord, and airplane adapter.
Taotronics included a microUSB cord, headphone jack cord, and an airplane adapter. Josh Hendrickson

Taotronics included a case, and just like the headphones, it’s boring, yet serviceable. It’s a plain black plastic with hints of texture, and a thin black cloth lines the inside. Since the headphones don’t fold the case is relatively large: my kindle fits inside the case with plenty of room to spare .

The Taotronics headphones in the case, and a kindle fits with room to spare.
I guess it doubles as a kindle carrying case, too! Josh Hendrickson

In addition to the Bluetooth capability, you also get a headphone cord and an airplane adapter. The cord is short for my tastes and never fully straightened out. But if you have a 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm cable (that’s a headphone jack on both ends), you can always use your own.

If you’re in the market for a set of ANC headphones, and the offerings of Sony and Bose are too rich for your blood, you should check out TaoTronics’ ANC headphones. You get a lot for a lot less, and that sounds good to me.

Rating: 8/10

Price: $89.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Does a good job of noise canceling
  • Music sounds good
  • Very inexpensive
  • Great battery life

And What We Don’t

  • Mildly uncomfortable
  • Easy to leave ANC on and kill the battery
  • Headphones don’t fold





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How to Remove Ambient Noise From Audio Files Using Audacity

Have you ever been working on an audio project and spotted something wrong? Perhaps it’s a hiss, regular tapping, or a clock ticking? Maybe a bird squawking, or just general ambient noise.

You really need to get rid of this, otherwise your audio project won’t sound professional. Fortunately, it’s simple to remove background noise from audio if you have the right tools.

Here’s how to remove background noise using Audacity.

Why You Should Be Using Audacity

If you’re not already using Audacity (available from audacity.sourceforge.net) you can use it to remove ambient noise from your audio. Better still, it doesn’t matter whether the audio was recorded with the software or not.

Remove background noise - Audacity editing timeline

If you have never heard of Audacity, where have you been? It’s the most popular free and open source digital audio workstation (DAW), covering all features and options that you’ll need. Audacity can help you streamline your podcast production


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as well as making great sound effects, and much more besides.

If you’re new to Audacity you should check out our guide to recording with Audacity. In the meantime, you can open your audio in Audacity by opening the File > Import menu and browsing for the file in question.

Why Isolate Voice From Background Noise?

In some cases, you might be happy to keep the background audio. You might not even have realized that the ambient noise was a problem. So, when should you get rid of it?

There’s a simple rule of thumb here. If the ambient noise detracts from the music or talking that is the main feature of the recording, then it needs to go. At the very least, it needs to be reduced.

Podcasts, songs, and dramatic recordings—anything that needs to have a polished production—should have the ambient noise removed. Everything else, such as personal notes, or a recorded interview, should be fine with the ambient background audio left intact.

How to Remove Background Noise From Audio Files

To filter out the ambient background noise, you’ll need to find a section of audio where it can be isolated. This might involve splitting a stereo track into two mono tracks. You can do this via the down-arrow on the Track Control Panel by selecting Split Stereo Track.

Once you’ve found the audio—which Audacity will use as an example—you should select it with the mouse. Make sure the Selection tool is selected, then left-click and drag the section of background, ambient audio.

Remove background noise - Select the audio to take a sample of background noise

This audio selection will be used by the Noise Reduction feature to find similar background ambient and remove it. Not only is that clever, the end results are almost always superb.

How to Use Noise Reduction in Audacity

With the audio selected (it will be highlighted in blue), open the Effects > Noise Reduction feature. You’ll see a dialog box with a two-step tool. First, head to Step 1 and click the Get Noise Profile button. You have your profile selected already, so click this button.

Remove background noise - Click Get Noise Profile

At this point, the Noise Reduction box will close. Don’t let this confuse you. Instead, select the portion of audio that you wish to remove the ambient sound from. If this is an entire track, simply left-click the track header to select it all. Otherwise, select a larger portion of the track.

Remove background noise - Select the track header

Now, return to Effects > Noise Reduction, and look at Step 2. In most cases, the default Noise Reduction, Sensitivity, and Frequency Smoothing settings will work. Go ahead and click OK to accept these. It may take a while for the noise reduction to be applied, depending on the track duration.

Remove background noise - Filter the audio

Of course, you’re free to alter the Noise Reduction, Sensitivity, and Frequency Smoothing settings. If you have the time to adjust them, it can be worth your while to achieve a superior result. Note that with longer tracks, the processing time will be increased.

Once this is done, preview the results. If you’re happy with them, hit File > Save to retain the changes. You can then use these tips to make your audio sound even better, before you export your project as an MP3 file


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How to Extract Clear Voice From Noisy Audio

This isn’t just about tidying background hiss from your audio files. With Audacity, you have the tools you need for all sorts of audio manipulation. For example, you might have a track, perhaps someone talking in front of an audience, that is difficult to hear. What is the solution?

Well, using Audacity, you can keep the voice, and remove the background noise and music. Again, it requires that you have enough audio of the background noise without the audio that you want to keep.

Once you’ve got this, follow the steps above to extract a relatively clear voice from a noisy audio file. In most cases, the results should be adequate. If not, you may need to look for a more specialised solution.

Did Audacity Successfully Remove Background Noise?

In most cases, you should be able to dispose of any background hiss or other ambient noise using Audacity. I’ve successfully removed noises as irritating as typing and even a pair of tweeting birds. Audacity is superb for this sort of audio fixing; indeed, this is just one of many abilities the software boasts.

But what if Audacity isn’t working out for you? While its open source approach might yield results for many, you might require the power of a paid DAW.

To find out what else is on offer, check out the best Audacity alternatives


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for recording and editing audio.



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Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Review & Rating

For years, Bose has ruled the active noise cancellation (ANC) market with its QuietComfort series of headphones. The Massachusetts-based manufacturer essentially wrote the book on noise cancellation and has always seemed a step ahead of the competition. The new $399.95 Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are the first model from the company to exist outside of the QuietComfort/QuietControl lineup. They offer a more streamlined, modern look, built-in support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, an improved mic system for clearer communication on calls, and the best noise cancellation we’ve tested. All that adds up to an Editors’ Choice for noise-cancelling headphones.

Design

Available in black or silver, the stylish, minimalist Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 feature a graceful headband connecting the generously cushioned circumaural (over-ear) earcups. The fit is quite comfortable even over long listening sessions, and the faux-leather earpads block out plenty of ambient noise passively even without ANC turned on. The outer surfaces on the earcups and headband have a sleek eggshell-like finish.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

The right earcup’s outer panel houses a touch-sensitive control pad, power/pairing buttons, a voice assistant button, and a status LED. Double-tapping the control pad plays and pauses music, swiping your finger up or down changes the volume, and swiping forward or backward skips tracks. Tapping and holding on the panel gives you a battery life prompt, or you can customize this action to instead enable or disable the wake word for voice assistants. For calls, tapping once answers, tapping and holding declines, and pressing the voice assistant button while on a call mutes the mic. This is one of the more intuitive and useful control pads we’ve operated on wireless headphones, and is easy to learn and operate.

The left earcup houses the ANC button, as well as a connection for the included headphone cable. The audio cable can be used with the headphones for passive listening with the power turned off. When the headphones are on and the cable is connected, Bluetooth functions automatically turn off. The difference between the audio performance in passive and active wired modes is dramatic, and some users may prefer the passive sound signature’s lighter emphasis on bass. Unplugging the cable when the power is on will trigger auto-pairing with your mobile device. The cable lacks an inline remote or mic, which is a bummer, since wired mode disables the on-ear controls.

The included charging cable connects to a USB-C port on the bottom of the right earcup, and the other end of the cable is a standard USB-A plug to use with any compatible port or charger (though no charger is included). The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 also ship with an impressively flat zip-up travel case that the headphones fold flat into, with an interior compartment for the included cables.

Bose estimates battery life to be up to 20 hours, but your results will vary drastically based on your volume levels and your use of ANC and other extra features.

App and Voice Assistants

The Bose Music app (for Android and iOS) walks you through the process of pairing the headphones, naming them, and selecting the music services you want to access through the app (Amazon, Deezer, and Pandora are a few options). Once this is done, you can then set up the voice assistant of your choosing.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700Setting up Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant is a simple process, but you need the corresponding app for each service (Amazon Alexa or Google Home) on your phone for it to function. The voice assistant button on the right earcup defaults to Siri on an iPhone, but will summon your voice assistant of choice once setup in the app is complete. Furthermore, you can set Alexa to always be listening for its wake word if you wish, so you don’t even need to tap the button (Google Assistant currently doesn’t work with a wake word yet, though Bose says this functionality is coming). The mics are exceptionally sensitive, and you can control Amazon Music hands-free with vocal commands, just like with a smart speaker.

The app also provides ANC control, letting you dial in noise cancellation levels between level 0 (none) and 10 (maximum). The ANC button on the left earcup can cycle through your “favorite” ANC settings—it defaults to 0, 5, and 10 out of the box, but you can assign any three values in the app to cycle through when the button is pressed. Pressing the ANC button on the left earcup and holding it puts the headphones in conversation mode, which automatically switches the level to 0, allowing you to hear your surroundings clearly.

You can disable voice prompts, change the language of prompts, and set some more granular variables like adjusting how much of your own voice you can hear on phone calls through the app. A detailed battery life status is also listed on the main screen.

Bose plans to introduce augmented reality apps that work with its products, so there’s a Bose AR button in the app. This feature is currently a bit underwhelming, limited to a handful of apps that are essentially interactive maps or discovery tools for things to do near your location. It has potential to be cool, but we are still in the early phases of this feature.

What’s missing in the app? EQ. Bose says this will be included in a future update, but it isn’t there now.

Noise Cancellation and Mics

Bose avoids one pitfall common with wireless ANC headphones: There’s very little difference in audio performance across the various noise cancellation modes. The ANC has little to no impact on how the headphones sound, which often isn’t the case. There’s also no added hiss, which isn’t true of plenty of competing ANC models.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 inline

As mentioned, the ANC has varying degrees of intensity, which is blended with ambient mics that pick up the outside world so you can hear your surroundings when you want to. We’ll discuss level 0 in a moment, but first let’s talk about maximum ANC, level 10: It’s probably the most effective noise cancellation I have heard to date. It blocks out much of my typing as I write this, along with nearly any hint of the relatively loud AC whir in my office. It also removes wide swaths of the low-frequency rumble you hear on planes and trains, and drastically reduces nearby chatter.

Dialing back to level 5 is actually quite useful—you still block out plenty of noise, but now you can hear some of your surroundings without them being a distraction. My guess is that people will use these headphones in the levels between 5 and 10, because sometimes maximum ANC can seem almost too quiet, especially if you’re not playing music.

Level 0 is what other ANC manufacturers often call ambient listening or hear-through mode, but here it’s far more natural than any other ambient mode we’ve tested. The mics pick up your surroundings quite well and the levels are adjusted to match reality to an impressive degree. This means there’s very little difference between what your surroundings sound like with the headphones on and in ANC level 0, and what they sound like without the headphones at all. The other impressive feat here is the lack of delay—most ambient modes include a very slight slapback delay that is noticeable when you are typing (the clicks arrive later than they are happening) or chatting with someone. So level 0 is an impressive new height for ambient listening.

This does mean, however, that there is never any true ANC off mode for the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Mode 0 uses the ambient mics, and modes 1-9 are varying degrees of the ANC mixed in with those mics. By level 10, the ambient mics are obviously not in the mix. Regardless, either the ambient mics or the ANC are always active, and the only way to disable them completely is to actually turn the headphones off and use them in passive mode, dramatically affecting the audio performance.

Bose developed a mic array system that focuses on your voice and rejecting ambient noise nearby, which not only makes for clearer phone calls, but also results in more efficient digital assistant voice communication. It also offers excellent intelligibility for calls—using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 8, we could understand every word we recorded clearly and crisply. There are still hints of Bluetooth audio artifacts fuzzing up the edges, but background noise is no longer an issue, even in windy or noisy environments.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Audio Performance

On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 deliver powerful low-frequency depth while also sculpting the highs to balance things out. At top, unwise listening levels, the bass doesn’t distort. This isn’t a sound signature for purists, but bass lovers will be pleased.

Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700’s general sound signature. The drums on this track sound almost thunderous—they aren’t quite over the top, but they have more bass presence than is strictly accurate. Thankfully, the bass is balanced out with crisp high-mid and high-frequency presence, keeping things clear and defined rather than muddled by the low and low-mid richness.

On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives plenty of high-mid presence, allowing its attack to retain its punch, while the vinyl crackle and hiss that is usually relegated to background status takes a step forward in the mix. But the loop also sounds beefed up in the lows, and the sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with plenty of added depth. The vocal performances on this track are delivered cleanly and clearly, but with a bit of added sibilance at times.

Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, tend to pack a little too much bass punch. It doesn’t sound ridiculous, but the lows are pushed forward notably in the mix, while the higher register brass, strings, and vocals retain their crisp, bright presence despite the bass boosting.

Conclusions

At $399.95, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 live up to the expectations set by the QuietComfort series and add to the experience with excellent mic clarity, enhanced voice assistant functionality, and more granular ANC control. They’re expensive, but worth it, and they easily earn our Editors’ Choice for their best-in-class noise cancellation.

For $50 less, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II remain some of the best ANC headphones on the market, and your top option next to the 700. Other than price, the primary differences between the QC 35 II and the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are a completely different physical build, the lack of adjustable ANC, a different mic system, and the need to press a button in order to use your phone’s voice assistant. If these differences aren’t a big deal to you, by all means go ahead and save the $50.

And if your primary concern is audo performance, with strong noise cancellation coming in a close second, Sony’s $348 WH-1000XM3 headphones are an excellent option with plenty of bass depth and high-frequency clarity, along with an EQ function to please audiophiles looking for a more balanced sound signature. If these prices are all out of your budget, meanwhile, the more affordable Marshall Mid ANC headphones deliver solid audio for $279.99, though their noise cancellation isn’t in the same league as these other models.



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The New King of Noise Cancelling Headphones

Our verdict of the Jabra Elite 85h:
Comfortable, stylish, and well-designed, these headphones certainly look the part. Coupled with smart features, and superior audio, the Jabra Elite 85h are the best headphones money can buy.
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There are a lot of headphones on the market, all claiming to be the best, the most stylish pair around. Many of them are from well-known manufacturers, and a fair few even prioritize fashion over function.

That’s not the case with the Jabra’s Elite 85h. The company is perhaps best known for its range of business-focused audio accessories. If you saw these in a shop, you may be tempted to give them a miss, but that’d be a huge mistake.

The Jabra Elite 85h are probably the best headphones money can buy. Read on for our full review, and at the end we’ve got a pair to give away to one lucky reader.

Specifications

  • Noise Cancellation: Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) using four microphones
  • Battery Life: 41 hours (ANC off), 36 hours (ANC on)
  • Charging Time: 2.5 hours
  • Connection: Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, 3.5mm jack
  • Microphones: Eight
  • Voice Assistant: Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri
  • Additional Features: Wind protection, rain resistance
  • Accessories: Carry case, USB-C charging cable, 3.5mm aux cable, flight adaptor
  • Colors: Navy, Titanium Black, Copper Black, Gold Beige
  • Price: $299.99 at the time of review

Design

Jabra Elite 85h Headphones in a skatepark

You’ll be familiar with the form factor of these over-ear headphones. There are two foam-cushioned earpads connected by an adjustable headband. The adjustable, hardened part of the headband is designed to protrude slightly. This makes the headphones sit better on your head and around the ears, reducing tightness and pain.

However, this, along with the wide earpads, has the effect of making the headphones appear wider on your head. Comfort is your primary concern, but the slight bulkiness of the headphones takes a bit of getting used to.

Jabra Elite 85h with ports on display

Underneath the mesh fabric of the right earpad, there are three buttons arranged vertically. The top button adjusts volume and skips forward, while the bottom one lowers the volume and goes back to the previous track. In the middle is a multifunctional button that can accept/end calls, play or pause audio, and put the headphones into pairing mode.

The underside of the earpad is where you’ll find the USB-C charging port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and a voice assistant button. The left earpad is sparser, with just a single button on the underside to toggle noise cancellation modes.

Performance

Jabra Elite 85h hanging on a pole

Unlike many other headphones, there is no power button on the Elite 85h. Instead, you have to uncurl/re-curl the headphones to power them on and off. Remembering to do this was sometimes a bit of hassle. However, Jabra has two tricks to help you conserve power.

The first is on-ear detection. The headphones can tell if you remove them from your ears, and they’ll automatically stop playing. Your audio will resume as soon as they’re placed back on. The second is the Elite 85h’s Sleep mode. By default, after one hour of no playback, the headphones will automatically turn off. You can customize the timeout using the Jabra Sound+ app.

Thanks, in part, to these features, the headphones can achieve a staggering 36 hours of playback time with the ANC enabled. This increases to 41 hours of usage without the ANC. To reach a full charge it takes roughly 2.5 hours. However, if you need a bit of juice in a rush, a 15-minute charge gives you five hours of usage.

Noise Cancellation

Jabra Elite 85h headphones on a locked gate

There are two types of noise cancellation: active, and passive. For active noise cancellation, the headphones use microphones to analyze the background noise. They then emit inverse sound waves to deaden the sound before it reaches your ears. The Jabra Elite 85h come equipped with Active Noise Cancellation (ANC).

The ANC is as good as you’re likely to find on any consumer-focused set of headphones. Sounds are almost entirely removed, allowing you to enjoy your audio in relative peace. The earpads fit securely around your ear too, minimizing sound leakage.

While ANC is a key selling point for many headphones, it is an all-or-nothing solution. Either all sound is muted, or none is. That’s why Jabra developed HearThrough. This is a hybrid form of noise cancellation, allowing through elements of background noise that might be useful to you.

Imagine you’re walking down the street and go to cross the road. With ANC enabled, you’d be totally without any audible sensory input. HearThrough allows you to keep track of what’s going on around you, without the background noise overtaking your audio.

Audio Performance

Jabra Elite 85h headphones from above

There are many factors to consider when buying a new set of headphones, but the most important is how they sound. The Jabra Elite 85h doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The audio performance is, to my ears, flawless.

Spotify is one of the leading streaming services. If you are a Premium subscriber, then your music will be streamed at 320kbps. This audio format is considered one of the highest quality and allows you to pick out details in the audio that you couldn’t hear if it were broadcast on the radio.

The Jabra Elite 85h handled this bitrate excellently, frequently bringing depth and nuance to tracks that I hadn’t appreciated before. My primary headphones for the past few years have been the Bose QuietComfort 35, which I always considered similarly effective. However, comparing them, it’s clear that the Elite 85h are the superior of the two.

Calls

Jabra Elite 85h Headphones on a picnic table

There are a whopping eight microphones placed strategically around the Elite 85h earpads. These have a dual-purpose. The primary reason to have these mics around is to help out with the ANC. However, six of the mics also there for handsfree calls and voice commands.

While it can be difficult for you to observe, or hear, the quality of your end of a call, all reports from the other party were positive. My voice was clear and audible above whatever was going on around me. This was true in a range of situations from a quiet office, a noisy street, and with music in the background.

As the headphone wearer, you also need to be able to hear the other participant too accurately. Given the performance of these headphones, there were no audio issues to be found. I did find, on occasion, that when I first picked up a call, I’d need to turn the volume up. However, I think this is a quirk with the phone I was using. I tried it on a secondary handset and didn’t see the same behavior.

Smart Features

The Jabra Elite 85h are a great pair of headphones, but what makes them outstanding is their smart features. Before you pair them to your phone, download the Jabra Sound+ app, available for Android and iOS. This app gives you access to a host of features that enhance your experience with the Elite 85h, including setup for either Siri, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa.

Upon connection, the Sound+ app will check for and download any available firmware updates. Then, you get to start customizing your headphones. There are two main features; Moments, and SmartSound.

Moments are customizable sound profiles. At various times of day, and during different activities, you may want the headphones to behave differently. There are four Moments for you to customize; My Moment, Commute, In Public, and In Private.

Jabra Elite 85h bathed in sunlight on a wooden bench

For each Moment, you can adjust the type of noise cancellation, selecting full ANC, HearThrough, or turn it off entirely. There’s also an opportunity to adapt the music equalizer for each Moment too. You can do this manually–adjusting the bass, mid-range, and treble yourself–or you can use one of the presets.

SmartSound is easy the Elite 85h’s most exciting feature. When enabled, the Elite 85h analyses the noise of your surrounding environment and will select the best Moment for where you are right now. This means you can seamlessly switch between In Private, Commute, and In Public, without having to lift a finger.

This may seem like a trivial feature, but it makes a massive difference to your experience. If you’re walking down a busy street, with a lot of hazards you should be listening out for, you may not bother to switch to HearThrough manually. With SmartSound, the headphones adjust to you, rather than the other way around.

The Best Headphones Available Today

My first experience of the Jabra Elite 85h was at CES 2019, where I felt they were easily the best headphones at the event. Six months on, and after a real-world test, they have proved themselves as one of the best pairs of headphones you can buy today.

Their style, design, and comfort easily place them alongside the likes of Bose, Beats, and Sony. But it’s their features that really set them apart. The Sound+ app, Moments, and SmartSounds change the way you experience audio while on the go.

If you’re in the market for new headphones, or even if you’re not, you should go out and buy the Jabra Elite 85h.

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How to Cut Out the Noise With Twitter Lists

The word "Tweet!" above a blue cartoon bird.
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Twitter is a fast-paced network that never stops, which can be overwhelming. It’s challenging to keep tabs on important topics. That’s where lists can come in handy—they make it easier to organize your feed.

Why You Should Use Twitter Lists

When Twitter was new, it was possible to follow everyone you found interesting and read all of their tweets. This became untenable as Twitter grew, and we were soon treated to a deluge of messages that were easy to miss.

With Twitter lists, you can partition individual accounts off from others and transform that deluge into a small trickle, centered around one theme. You can also easily add accounts to Twitter lists instead of following them. This means tweets sent by accounts on that list only appear there, keeping them out of your main timeline.

Possible uses for Twitter lists include:

  • Sports: Do you follow a ton of football accounts that pollute your feed? Create a new Twitter list and add them to it. This way, you’ll never miss the latest sports news, but it won’t crowd your feed.
  • Events: Add everyone attending an event to a Twitter list, keeping all their tweets in one place.
  • Directories: Add all your coworkers to a special Twitter list. If you make the list public, people can keep up with the latest goings-on at your company.
  • Competitors: Want to keep tabs on the competition without following them? There’s a Twitter list for that.
  • Celebrities: There’s nothing wrong with keeping up on the latest celeb gossip if that’s your guilty pleasure. And with Twitter lists, it doesn’t have to get in the way of more important things.

Twitter lets you create up to 1,000 different lists, and each one can have up to 5,000 accounts. Here’s how to get rolling.

How to Create a Twitter List

The process for creating new Twitter lists on the web and in the Twitter app is almost identical. We’ll outline any differences as we go.

Visit twitter.com and click your profile image at the top-right corner of the page. Click “Lists” in the drop-down menu. If you’re on mobile, your profile icon is on the left, and the “Lists” button is below it.

Click your profile image on Twitter, and then click "Lists."

Click the “Create New List” button on the right side of the page. On mobile, the button is at the bottom of the screen.

Click "Create New List." Tap the New List icon in the mobile version of Twitter.

Enter a name for your list and an optional description, if you’d like. Select “Public” or “Private” (this is a checkbox on Android) to control who can see the list and the accounts that are on it. Click “Save List” to finish, or tap “Done” if you’re on mobile.

Enter a name and description of your list, whether it's "Public" or "Private," and then click "Save List."

Now that you’ve created your first list, it’s time to add some accounts.

How to Add or Remove Accounts From a List

Go to the profile of someone you’d like to add to a list. Click the three vertical dots to the right of the account’s profile page (or tap the ellipsis on mobile), and then click the “Add/Remove from Lists” button.

Click the three vertical dots to the right of profile page of the account you want to add. Click "Add/Remove from Lists."

Click (or tap) the list you want to add someone to. If you want to create a new list, click the “Create a List” button (or tap the “New” icon on mobile). Click (or tap) to uncheck any list you want to remove someone from.

Click any list you want to add or remove someone from.

Close the window to save changes or tap the “Done” button on mobile.

How to View a List

To view one of your lists, click your profile image at the top-right corner of twitter.com, and then click “Lists” in the drop-down menu. The profile and “Lists” buttons are on the left if you’re using the mobile app.

Click your Twitter profile image and then click "Lists."

Click the list you want to see.

Click the list you want to see.

All of the tweets from the accounts in that list are displayed.

Twitter lists can be taken a step further by using Tweetdeck, which is owned by Twitter. Tweetdeck was designed for those who need more flexibility, and it’s particularly great when it comes to lists. It can display multiple lists simultaneously, unlike the main Twitter website. Each list automatically streams new tweets as they happen, too, so you’ll never miss a thing. The only downside is it’s not available on mobile.





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