JBL just released what might be the most portable and most comfortable noise cancelling over-ear wireless headphones. The Everest Elite 750NC’s are part of JBLs premium headphone lineup. Outside of the high fidelity “pro audio” sound, these Elites are loaded up with features. They feature a 15-20 hour battery for wireless streaming, a fully collapsible design, adaptive noise cancelling, echo cancelling microphone, automatic sound calibration for your ears, and an app for customizing the EQ and ambient noise preferences.
Over-ear headphones are oftentimes not so portable, but JBL nailed this part of the design. The earcups swivel over 90 degrees and both fold in towards the headband. With this, there’s a couple options if you’re packing them into a tight space. There’s a really nice carrying case included for extra protection. The headphones are mostly plastic, but don’t feel plasticky. They feel pretty dense and durable, and we backpack them all the time without the case or concerns. The earcups are large, oval, and very cushiony. They will fit the largest of ears. There’s a really amazing amount of cushion that helps maintain a comfortable fit for hours. I’ve been on multiple 10 hour flights where I never had to take them off or adjust them from lack of comfort. They’re light enough, and have good cushion under the headband too. The earcups and headband are wrapped in a nice soft vegan leather.
There’s really clear “L” and “R” indicators on the inside of the earcups so you can easily orient them. If only the on-device controls were quite as easy. There’s 6 buttons/switches beautifully and discreetly baked into the side of the right earphone. They’re easy to access, but challenging to differentiate. There’s a rocker for on/off, buttons for volume up down and track changing, a play/pause/voice button, Bluetooth pairing, and a programmable smart button for ambient noise control or noise cancelling. The on/off rocker is frustrating and requires a press and hold to turn on. It can be so slow to turn on that you will try again and the headphones immediately turn on and then shut off. The delay to turn on can be a few seconds, which hopefully can be fixed through a software update. Outside of that, we had a tough time getting used to the button placement, but it’s not impossible.
These Everest Elite 750NC’s are wireless with Bluetooth, but come with a cable that doesn’t require any battery power to listen. If the headphones are powered while listening with the cable, you can use noise cancellation and the app-enabled features. The cable, unfortunately, doesn’t use a standard 3.5mm plug to connect to the headphones, but instead a 2.5mm plug. Nicely, it does have an Inline ControlTalk with microphone and universal control button.
The battery lasts for a really impressive 15 hours if you’re using noise cancellation and up to 20 hours if you’re just wireless streaming. This sounds about right based on our trials. They charge using a convenient micro-USB cable. They take 3 hours to fully recharge.
The noise cancellation on the elites is powerful. It’s not as cancellation-heavy as Bose, but they have slightly stronger noise cancellation than other noise cancelling headphones we’ve tested, like our go-to Plantronics Backbeat Pro headphones. While cancellation-heavy, they still don’t feel like they’re sucking air out of your ears and there’s no anti-noise hiss. On planes, they’re a dream. They drown out basically all of the plane noise. You’ll still be able to hear voices and random noises to some extent, depending on music volume. Noise cancellation also means you don’t need to listen to music as loud, which your ears will appreciate. JBL has a funny feature called Ambient Aware that emits an adjustable amount of ambient noise into the speakers. The feature has existed on some of their headphones for years and we’re still not totally sure the best use case. It’s sort of counter intuitive, but in theory you can drown out background noise with noise cancellation and allow a small amount of noise back in for, say, loud-speaker announcements. We don’t use the feature. Noise cancellation is great, but not always preferable, so it’s nice that it can be shut. Walking down the street or in a collaborative environment you may appreciate some ambient sounds and voices. We were surprised to see that noise cancellation always defaults to ON when the headphones turn on, with no setting. Hopefully there will be a setting for this in the future. The only other weird nuance of this noise cancellation is that brief loud noises (i.e. oncoming train) or bursts of wind will cause the headphones to play a pretty unpleasant sound.
JBL does not disappoint when it comes to “Pro Audio”. These Elites sound amazing, especially when you tweak the EQ to your liking. Currently the app has just a few EQ presets: Jazz, Vocal, and Bass. It’s really easy to play around and land on something you like. The EQ adjustment happens in real-time. The default is pretty flat and even a little light on bass, but still really pleasant for all genres. We are big fans of the custom EQ, specifically with big bump for mid range frequencies, and a small bump for lows and highs. This gave us a lot of extra oomph and emphasis on mid-range details with some natural sounding bass. You can make the bass really heavy too, if that’s what you like.
Read on for the Verdict…