- Brand: Jabra
- Model: REVO
- RRP: £135 (At time of review)
Jabra are a well know global brand known for their high end audio equipment such as speaker-phones and hands free kits for cars. Recently they have taken the plunge into the consumer audio marketing producing several products, targeting the mid tier of headphones and earphones – something entirely different from their normal B2B operations. At Play3r, we’ve started to include more audio products in our reviews, due to several contributing factors such as the rise of mobile gaming and the quest for the perfect sound, so we’ve had an influx of audio gear.
Today I will be taking a look at Jabra’s consumer level headphones- the Jabra REVO. Jabra have constructed the REVOs using aluminium and steel to produce a very strong and durable, yet lightweight pair of headphones. Shatterproof and with a flexible design, the REVOs should stand the test of time, without a compromise in audio quality.
Before we take a look at the REVOs, let’s check out the specs:
Connectivity: 3.5 mm Jack
- Connects to a PC and can be used to stream music/sound and for voice calls
- Music Phone
- Works with mobile phones
- Frequency Response: Hifi Speakers with a hifi frequency sound produce a sound range well suited for realistic sound reproduction, e.g. Music
Microphone Type: Omni Directional/noise filterEnhances call clarity by eliminating background noise from the office.
Microphone Sensitivity: Standard (E-STD)Standard (STD) variation microphone sensitivity is comparable to a normal telephone receiver and is used in most telephone devices.
- Wearing Style: Headband A headband is a fully adjustable, over-the-head wearing style
As you can read, the specification taken from Jabra’s website leave a lot to the imagination, so without any more hesitation, lets now take a look at the headphones.
The REVOs come in a hard plastic case, featuring a transparent front with a yellow stripe down middle with REVO engraved. A boasting point of the REVOs is that it meets DOLBY Digital Plus audio quality, where their logo is displayed prominently in the lower right corner.
The reverse of the box lists the various features in different languages, and the specifications of the REVOs. The reverse also contains the various logos you see on electrical products alongside the Apple and Android compatible logos.
Inside the box you have the headphones, a starter pack, protective bag and the cable required to use the headphones (although a wireless version is also available).
Inside the starter pack you have the various information you typically get with electrical goods, like warranty information, product registration and a getting started manual. With the REVOs you also receive a code for the Jabra Sound App, which is free on App Store and Google Play, but requires this code to unlock.
The headphones themselves are two toned with a general white appearance with grey/silver undertones with small orange accents. The inside of the headphones is a grey plastic, with a squishy foam headband to aid comfort.
Both ears contain some small branding in orange lettering, which is fairly standard with audio brands, but in this case, Jabra have kept it subtle.
Something that is not often seen on cabled headphones is the use of not one 3.5mm audio jack port, but two, with one on each ear. A small, but nice touch to allow better cable management.
Both ear cups are foam, covered in a white faux-leather material, with an orange interior and a label indicating which way round they go. The REVOs are on-ear headphones, so the ear cups are designed to be small.
The REVOs are designed to be portable, so subsequently they can fold up to have a reduced footprint – also allowing you to put them in the protective bag which is supplied.
The cable has in-line controls, which allow you to control the volume levels/change track on Apple devices. The middle button allows you to pause the audio or when pressing 3 times on android, it changes the track.
The Jabra app is available to download on both iOS and Android from the equivalent app stores. The app is free, however to unlock it you must have a code, which you can only get if you purchase a Jabra product that is from this particular range.
Once downloaded and unlocked you are presented with the following screens:
The first screen (left) allows you to explore the audio tracks on your device, however this is strictly limited to music tracks. The Headset screen (middle) lets you select the device you wish to use with the app, which is the REVOs in this case. The Settings tab is where you can select the headset product but also enable Dolby processing and the equaliser settings. The Dolby enhancement is meant to create a richer and fuller sound that often gets removed in compressed audio.
First off I’ll talk about the comfort as it plays a vital role in decision making when looking for a new pair of headphones. As already mentioned, the REVOs are made from an aluminium and steel construction with a flexible design. This has resulted in a very lightweight product, which sits very well on your head – even if you have a large one, the lack of rigidity means it will flex to fit. The foam at the top of the headband increases the overall comfort and the lightness and flexibility of the headband reduces the amount of pressure on your ears. A nice, yet simplistic feature of the REVOs is that the 3.5mm audio cable can be connected to either side of the headphones, so if you have your phone or media player in your left pocket, the cable isn’t stretching across your body.
To test the audio, I used the REVOs with my PC and mobile phone, playing numerous audio tracks and games to fully test the range of devices it works best on and how well it performs for each. First up was testing the headphones with my mobile phone (Nexus 4) alongside an iPhone 5.
Typically the headphones are plug and play, and you can use them straight off the bat for listing to any audio and making phone calls. The playback of audio was pretty flat and washed out at first, although downloading, installing and unlocking the app with the provided code, resulted in a much better depth of sound. I managed to recreate the audio quality in other apps by playing around with the phones’ inbuilt EQ options – although I think that making people download an app for the best audio quality isn’t the best of ideas – especially when the enhanced audio only works with music and not other media types, which pretty much negates having the Dolby enhancement.
When listening to my music, the in-line controls’ functions varied depending if I was using an Android based device or iOS. The volume up/down (or change track up/down), works with iOS, but not with Android, instead you have to press the middle button 3 times in quick succession to change the track (once to pause). Little fiddly and didn’t always work, which was a pain having to do all the time. The call quality was pretty much standard as far as in-line mics go, the voice quality was clear and had relatively little audible background noise.
When listening to audio on the PC and playing various games with it, the quality was pretty decent – had clear low, mid and high tones although in games like Battlefield 3, the bass lacked depth although this was expected from such a small pair of drivers. Of course I lost the mic feature when connected to the desktop, although since the REVOs are more for portable media devices, this wasn’t really a major problem.
Jabra have taken a big set up into the world of consumer audio with a great looking set of headphones. The sleek and light design makes them perfect for using on the go and the built in ability to handle phone calls is also a bonus. The audio quality is also of a decent standard when configured correctly, although it does lack a punch in the bass department, which is typical of the smaller style earphones.
The only major downside of the REVOs is the supplied app, which is pretty basic considering, and having to rely on it to get the most from the headphones is pretty bad in my opinion. Making it free to then demand an unlock code is a pain – especially when you come to reinstall the app and you have misplaced the code. The boost in audio quality you receive when running through the app can pretty much be replicated when tweaking the EQ, although users shouldn’t have to do this.
When the REVOs wired, where first released, they had an RRP of around £170, which is pretty excessive considering some of the limitations. Sure the design is great, but the audio quality straight out of the box for any apps other than the Jabra app, leaves a lot to be desired. However, recent price drops at various retailers has put the headphones at a bargain price of between £80 – £90, which makes the REVOs wired, a very decent set of cans for the money. So if you are in the market for a great looking, comfortable and pretty decent audio quality headphones, which also allows you to make calls when using with your phone, I would jump at the opportunity to get them at the discounted price. Since the initial RRP was a large hit to the wallet, the REVOs haven’t scored well in the value area, and due to the poor app features and standard audio out the box, it won’t be scoring well in the performance section either. On the other hand, the design is top-notch, they are light, compact and look the part, I will be awarding the Jabra REVOs with the:
Light, compact and stylish with some good features, however the limited use of the exclusive app and standard audio quality out of the box leaves a lot to be desired.