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GadgeTell Review: Jabra Revo BT Wireless Headphones

Sections: Accessories, Audio, Communications, Headphones, Mobile, Portable Audio, Reviews

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Hollywood actors can have it rough sometimes, especially when they represent a highly iconic character of a largely successful movie. They can be typecast into a certain persona, or have such a strong presence with a past character that people can’t see them for anything else. It takes either stepping away for an amount of time, or seriously delivering a performance to wow the masses all over again.

I feel that Jabra is one of those brands which has been typecast. Even now, when I hear “Jabra” I immediately think “hands-free Bluetooth earpiece for communication.” I’ve used their products in office environments for years as well as in my car for conversations with clients. They’re at the top of their game when it comes to clear voice-recognition and connectivity.

Jabra Revo Wireless Headphones earcup

Smooth and good-looking

As such, one can expect a bit of curious apprehension when Jabra decides to branch out into music-quality headsets, namely the Jabra Revo Wireless.

Even though Jabra has stood for excellence and quality with office-related audio products, they have now crossed that line into a territory largely dominated by big names such as Sony, Sennheiser, Bose, Shure, Koss, Beats, Grado, AKG, and Audio-Technica to name a few.

But curiosity tends to get the best of me! So I acquired the Jabra Revo Wireless to find out what this new direction by Jabra is all about. To quote Captain Murphy; “It’s like a koala bear crapped a rainbow in my brain!”

Design

A lot of thought went into form and design of the Jabra Revo Wireless. It has a clean, modern style with a touch of class. The shape is smooth, connected, and doesn’t have any edges that jut out. I love the colors, as they’re very me and complement my style: black, titanium, and a pop of bright orange. The inside of the earcups are also orange and labeled as left and right, which is fun.

Jabra Revo Wireless Headphones earcup closeup

Touch controls on the right earcup

The headphones are built with lightweight material that’s constructed well even though it’s half plastic. I consider it to be pretty durable, as the plastic band with silicone cushion has a lot of flex to it. I don’t know if I would necessarily call the Jabra Revo Wireless a “premium” headset in terms of what it’s made of, but it gets pretty close.

Titanium-colored aluminum is placed where it counts the most, right at sides where the earcups mount. I’ve busted earcups off headphones in the past, but the Jabra Revo Wireless has them fixed and secure. I expect these to last me quite some time through normal wear and tear (and then some). About two inches of cable run alongside between the aluminum groove, but they stick out only when the headphones are folded up.

The hinges lock in place nicely. One small quibble is that the mechanism is metal on plastic instead of a longer-lasting metal on metal. The aluminum part of the band slides up and into the top, which lets the Revo Wireless fold down perfectly. If you’re looking to get a hard case, find something with interior dimensions of 6.25 inches by 4.5 inches by 3 inches.

The included USB and audio cables are wrapped in a bright orange nylon. I love them. Anyone who pishposhes about it either takes themselves too seriously or is boring. Add some color to your life!

Comfort

When it comes to wearing anything, comfort is key and headphones are no different. If you don’t like how certain headphones feel on your head and ears, the sound quality is not going to mean much since you’ll never wear them.

Jabra Revo Wireless Headphones earcup inside

Labels are inside each cushioned cup

The Jabra Revo Wireless are lightweight and so comfortable that I can almost forget I’m even wearing them. The ear cushions are filled with a pillowy memory-foam that’s neither too soft nor hard.

I’ve worn these for more than 4 hours straight at a time without ever feeling pain or the need to take them off. I would, however, have to make some minor adjustments to reduce the pinch I experience at my ear tips (mostly due to my prescription glasses).

The earcups can only be adjusted vertically. Lateral adjustment is automatic with how the earcups are connected to the metal frame. If you flex the cups a bit, you can see how it’ll gently adjust to your head shape. The overall fit of the Jabra Revo Wireless is snug without being tight. I can actually bend over and pick things up without having the headphones slip or fall off.

I have a pretty big head, and full extension of the earcups makes the headphones fit me perfectly. The concern comes to those who have larger heads than mine, since they’ll find the Jabra Revo Wireless having insufficient reach. You also can’t adjust the tightness of the band. For these reasons I strongly recommend to try them on for a bit to make sure they’d work for you.

Otherwise, the earcups stay fixed in place when you set them. They’re hard to adjust while being worn, which means you can move around and they won’t displace themselves. The Jabra Revo Wireless also maintains a slim profile to your head while you’re wearing it.

Controls & Connectivity

Jabra Revo Wireless Headphones ports

Micro USB and audio ports on the bottom

I’ll admit that the touch controls on the right earcup were brand new to me, and it took a day or so to adjust to using them. It feels both intuitive and awkward at first, since you know how it works but you can’t see.

Once I figured out to move my hand from my ear to the headphone, instead of blindly trying to hit the bulls-eye of control, it was instant love.

Touching the front or rear side of the Jabro Revo Wireless first, then following the edges straight to the volume or track control quickly becomes second nature. And it’s absolutely brilliant.

Clockwise circling increases the volume and counter-clockwise decreases it. Double-tapping the right and left hemispheres (that’s right, the touch sensitivity is bisected vertically on the earcup) advances and repeats tracks, respectively. The middle of the right earcup has a pressable button to pause and play your music.

Again, it takes a little bit of getting used to at first, but I have no problem achieving the volume level I want. It’s different than clicking with a button, sure. But once I get the volume close to what I want, I simply press-hold then slowly roll my finger to get it where I want. It’s truly easy.

The touch controls work with Pandora, Amazon MP3 player, and Google Music player (the only ones I’ve tried). I’m sure they work with many more players too.

The Jabra Revo Wireless features Bluetooth and NFC for pairing, both of which performed with equally-fast success for me. The range is superb. I can leave my smartphone in the kitchen and go upstairs to where the signal has to pass through two walls and a floor. Once in awhile the connection hiccups, but that’s about it.

One thing to keep in mind is that when you plug the audio cord in, the wireless and touch controls automatically shut off.

Audio Quality

I’ll talk about the bass and the lows first, since it appears to be the most polarizing aspect of the Jabro Revo Wireless sound quality. Jabra gave the bass a bump. A touch of oomph. Some people (e.g. unwavering audiophiles) will scream heresy. Others (like me) don’t mind or rather enjoy it. And others still won’t even be able to tell the difference anyway (the music just sounds so good).

Sound happens to be one of those subjective things to evaluate, like stinky cheeses or dark beers.

Jabra Revo Wireless Headphones cables

The cables and connections both feel durable and high-quality

Based on my personal experience with the Jabra Revo Wireless, the bass is close to being almost too much, but not quite. It’s perfect for me, as most of the music I listen to appreciates the boost.

The rest of my music? It’s no big deal, since the drum and bass deliver excellent tone and thumps without overpowering or sacrificing the quality of the mids and highs.

To me, the entire range has excellent tonal balance, except that the bass has a little extra weight. I’ve listened to many headphones that can’t claim the same thing, since a boost in bass usually means something else is likely to suffer.

All of my music sounds better with the Jabra Revo Wireless, especially metal and rock (totally nails guitar squeals). The audio quality is rich and full, you get to enjoy so many details normally lost on lesser headphones. I can hear that a cymbal was brushed instead of tapped. Whispered lyrics have the same impact as louder vocals. This headset deftly handles the extremes with a balanced hand.

Jabra Revo Wireless Headphones expanded

Hinges lock in place well

Female vocals come out clear and vibrant. I’ve yet to experience a single cymbal “sizzle” or a hi-hat sound anything other than crisp. Vocals are true with no distortion and with excellent timbre.

The soundstage is open without being overly expansive; Intimate without feeling crowded. When listening, I can pinpoint the locations of each instrument and get that sense of space of being right there in front of the performance.

I took particular enjoyment listening to one of my favorite tunes, The Noose, by A Perfect Circle. The bass boost works well for this song, in that I find it beautiful and moving. Toward the end, when the song breaks open with all the instrumentals, the headphones handle everything perfectly. No part was muddied and each individual layer holds its own in balance with everything else. No tinny highs or messy mids.

While I feel that plugging the Jabra Revo Wireless in with the cable provided an improved listening experience, I’m not able to pick out where or how in comparison. It’s not unlike tasting a dish and being at a loss for words in attempt to describe that “it.” All I know is that I wanted to quit with the technical listening and drift off into the music with the Revo.

Voice & Battery Life

True to Jabra quality, the built-in microphone picks up voice conversations loud and clear. When I speak to people with the Jabra Revo Wireless, they can’t tell any difference. Background noises, such as cars passing on the street or kids on the playground, are either diminished or cut out all together. It’s just a shame it can’t replace my regular Bluetooth headset while I’m driving (unsafe)!

Jabra Revo Wireless Headphones compact

Folds up nice and compact for carry or storage

The battery life is good. It only takes a couple of hours to charge up, and I’m able to use the headphones wirelessly on and off for more than a week. As best as I can tell, it meets the expectations set on the box.

I lost track after 10 hours in one day, but that’s more than enough for my typical use. When I think it’s low, I just plug the Micro USB cable in to one of my battery packs or my PC and let it go for a bit until it’s full.

The Jabra Revo Wireless comes with a music app that has a built-in equalizer. I didn’t try the app out, even though I did test the headphones with an equalizer. I’m not big on tinkering with equalizers for music listening. I can say that these headphones are sensitive enough to register minor equalizer adjustments in all the frequency levels, which is positive.

Verdict

Overall, the Jabra Revo Wireless makes for a very satisfying listening experience, that you’ll want to crank it to the limit. But not too much. Volume levels can get seriously loud if you max it out on both the headphones and device. The touch controls are not only cool, but they really add to a greater sense of wireless freedom when you’re able to repeat and skip tracks without having your device right there.

Considering that Jabra is known more for professional voice communications and headsets, the quality of the Revo certainly comes as a wonderful surprise. It’s like how you’re so used to seeing your boss during the workweek, that you forget he/she can be approachable, playful, and full of serious grooves on the weekends.

The Jabra Revo Wireless treats your music right with excellent tones, balance, and imaging. It’s up to each individual to decide how they feel about the added bass boost. Depending on the music you listen to, it can be almost imperceptible (like with hip-hop or electronica) to noticeable (like with light rock or jazz) if you’re paying attention. Since no sound quality has been sacrificed, the bass is good by me.

I feel the Jabra Revo Wireless are priced well and give all competition in the same bracket a run for it. The sound quality you get from these is what you might expect from headphones costing at least $100 or more.

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  • jasonlin

    Jabra costs $200 on amazon. It’s way too expensive than a better choice http://www.amazon.com/VOXOA-Wireless-Headphones-Bluetooth-Discount/dp/B00EAYZ264 which has Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, AAC and aptX. aptX is capable of streaming CD-quality music from your mobile player to your headphones. It’s $129 at checkout.

  • jasonlin

    aptX is capable of streaming CD-quality music from your mobile player to your headphones. If you want a Bluetooth headphones, you better demand one. Search “aptx nfc headphones” on amazon.com