Large, on- or over-ear headphones are great to rock out with. But there are times when it’s simply easier to have a pair of compact earbuds. Travel and outside use come to mind first, especially if you’re looking to pack light.
Jabra, known for business-related communication devices, recently jumped into the very crowded waters of personal audio. With so many options out there, it takes unique design as well as a high standard of quality to get noticed.
The Jabra Vox delivers powerful sound while maintaining a compact form you can shove into your pocket. Will it fit what you’re looking for in an in-ear headphone? Lets find out.
The Jabra Vox has some primo build-quality through and through. We’re talking rugged, outdoor toughness, but with a modern, classy look. From the start, you can see that Jabra has been very generous with the amount of rubber on the cords.
Unless you occasionally use earbuds like a whip (trust me, people never see it coming), the thickness of the cables might seem slightly excessive. The Jabra Vox does not have planned obsolescence, and it’s designed to last, unlike cheap-o earbuds.
The earbuds themselves are encased securely, with even more rubber covering the cables going in. It’s likely going to take more than normal wear and tear to destroy a pair of these.
The thick, squared-off cable leading to an even thicker Y-connection isn’t as heavy as it looks. It does have a decent memory for shape, so it’s taken a week or so for it to go from kinky to wavy. The cords leading from the Y to the earbuds are thinner, more flexible, and remind me of Udon noodles (yummy).
No headphone cables are tangle-proof, but the Jabra Vox gets pretty close. The type of rubber and the thickness minimize the curling and snaking that happens when they’re stuffed in a bag.
Lightweight magnets, located near the earbud end, help keep the pair together to reduce tangling. It’s only OK. I’ve found that using a simple twist-tie to hold buds and plugs together pretty much eliminates all cable tangling situations.
It’s awesome that the Jabra Vox features an angled audio plug for durability and easier removal. It would be easier to remove it if it weren’t too short. This audio plug may be fine with naked smartphones or tablets, but it’s not so much fun with my Galaxy Note II in an OtterBox Defender case. There is almost nothing for me to grab except for the last 3/16 inch of the plug leading to the cable. I don’t have large hands or fingers either.
The Jabra Vox fits well, at least with my ears. One might not think so because of the odd shape, but once I put them in, they naturally contoured and snugged up against my ear. The seal I get with its standard ear gel is good (not super, but good), being neither tight nor loose.
Small differences in our ear shapes will determine how well the Jabra Vox will fit, which in turn decides the experience with them.
The design of the earbuds should work great for most people, though it’s likely an all or nothing deal. The Vox either fits or doesn’t fit. You can’t push them in deeper, adjust, or rotate them at all.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve worn earbuds that require a bit of finesse to find that ‘sweet spot’. Sometimes it’s a nuisance (where I feel OCD) to get that spot again after the earbuds have been tugged on. With the Jabra Vox, I just pop them in. Done.
I’ve never realized how accustomed to continual adjustment I’ve been until wearing the Jabra Vox. Like most any earbuds, a good tug will loosen or pull them out. When walking or jogging at the park, I’ve always had to re-adjust earbuds because of the eventual shift. Every time I checked the fit of the Vox, I was duped. My mind thought I needed to fiddle with it, but the Vox was already set perfectly.
I’ve worn these headphones for hours without any aches or a need to take them out. When I do remove them, I don’t feel any sense of relief, because there hasn’t been any pressure to relieve. The Jabra Vox is comfortable to wear because of how it sits right outside of the ear canal opening. If you like the kind of earbuds you can jam deep for a good seal, these aren’t for you.
The Jabra Vox sounds great right out of the box. I’m not into using equalizers, so I left the free app alone. Even without any enhancement, music sounds enjoyable. You get a wonderful soundstage that is full all around the ears. Instrument locations are easy to identify and cleanly separate.
Mid tones are rich and favor guitars, vocals and bass in the low-mid range. The mids come out clear and distortion-free, though they tend to get muddy at volume peaks. The muddiness is compounded by song complexity, especially if the music is naturally loud to begin with (and also if you’re cranking up the dial).
The lows and bass are good, though it’s clear to me they’ve been slightly amplified. The Jabra Vox delivers some oomph when playing music heavy in the lows and drums. You can feel the physical pressure in your canal, even without an ultra-tight fit. The lows do well to remain distortion-free, even at higher volume levels. But because of the slight amplification, the lows can start to creep into and overpower the low-mid range the closer to max-volume you get. In other words, what the Jabra Vox adds in force (with respect to the lows), it loses in depth. Drums and low bass lack a subtle liveliness that can be found in other high-quality headphones.
The highs also come out clear, with vocals having the biggest performance strength. Female vocals, especially, maintain excellent tone and purity throughout the entire range. I can’t necessarily say the same about string and brass instruments in the highs.
Compared to my Klipsch Image S4 (by no means perfect, but still a great set of headphones), the highs from the Jabra Vox sound slightly thinner and distant. This is most apparent to me when I listen to “The Hollow” by A Perfect Circle. Cymbals toe the line of being tinny, but overall the highs suffer more from a slight loss of detail, and come out sounding flatter.
On the upside, the cables keep line noise to a minimum, which is preferable considering the Vox doesn’t come with a clip, and the cable is too thick for a cable holder, such as the Klingg.
Microphone & Controls
As I expect from any professional device from Jabra, the Vox provides crystal-clear voice communication when you need to take a call. My voice comes in loud across to the other side, and background noise gets filtered out.
I’ve had dogs barking in the backyard, kids sliding (and gleefully screaming) noisily down the stairs, and street traffic passing me as I walk at the park. Each time I’ve asked, the other person had to take my word because they couldn’t hear what was going on around me.
I do like where it’s placed, even though many might complain that a click can pull out an earbud. It’s true. I’ve tugged on my earbud when skipping tracks from the center-click of the remote. But again, this goes back to the fit of the earbud. For me, I can pop them in and out with no need for adjustment.
The click response of the remote is solid. I can’t comment on how well clicks are accurately recognized, since the volume up and down do nada.
The overall sound quality from the Jabra Vox is very good and will please many through and through. It handily blows low-end earbuds away. I like the top-notch durability, the design, and the hassle-free fit. But while the Vox has a lot going for it, a few things keep it from being a “perfect” pair.
Even though the Jabra Vox is towards the top for sound quality, especially for vocals and much of the mids, it’s still edged out by other headphones when it comes to the finest details of music listening. If you know your music well, you’ll be able to sense a difference.
It took me some careful comparison-listening to be able to put my finger on and describe those subtle nuances. Some of the highs by the Jabra Vox will end up sounding thin, distant or flat. The lows, while backed by force, lack a little depth and dimension.
But whenever I’ve just thrown on the Vox while doing household or backyard chores, I’m not even paying attention enough to hear or remember those minor differences. It’s just me with my music and the tasks at hand.
Although the Jabra Vox comes with a number of great features, I consider it overpriced at the $100 mark. I feel the headphones become much more reasonable once it starts to hover around $69 or less. That puts it right smack in the middle of a lot of great earbud headphones.
If great overall sound, comfort, and long-lasting durability are what you’re looking for, you’ll certainly find them with the Jabra Vox.