Today I’m going to take a look at the Jabra Revo Wireless headphones, the winner of the 2013 reddot design award – like it’s little brother, the Jabra Vox earphones – stylish, clean, and most importantly durable. What big companies look for in sound quality, I look for in design and comfort. But for an average consumer, is that all we need in a pair of headphones? Let’s find out.
Being a design fanatic, I wanted to first take a close look at the detail that went into the design of the packaging. There may be material cost, recycling, or even usability concerns when it comes to packaging, but at a premium price of $250, I expect my products to be packaged accordingly.
The Front Side – As seen at the top, it uses it’s main asset as a selling point, the headphones themselves. A solid strip of yellow running down the front of it that makes sure you know it’s the Revo Wireless you’re getting. A little text and the rest is clear plastic. A clear view of the actual product, something many products don’t do and I feel sorry for them. If you design something as beautiful as the Revo, you should be proud and let the design sell itself. I love that they did that and I only hope that other companies do too.
The Back Side – White text on black, simple, readable, and has the information you need to know when browsing a store, without all the marketing and pictures to try to sell to you what it thinks it can do.
The Inside – What I loved about how it was stored is that they used velcro straps to secure the headphones in place. This means no need for scissors to cut those darn plastic straps off and this also means that if the scenario does come up, you can repackage the headphones easily.
Alright, enough admiring the outside, lets get to the actual goodies. What does it include?
Ports – Taking a close look at the ports. it includes the 3.5mm audio jack for when you want to go corded with a mic, micro USB port for charging, a LED light for charging/pairing status, the wireless mic, and a on/off/pairing switch. Simple and clean.
Buttons – The Revo provides you with a complete wireless solution, which means volume and playback controls.
- Right side – The controls are mostly a touch interface, so simply sliding your finger in a circle motion like a turntable will increase or decrease the volume, double tapping the left or right side will fast-forward or rewind the track, and simply clicking the middle will play/pause your media.
- Left side – The centre click launches the Jabra Sound app on the connected device. There aren’t any touch controls, but it provides the option to pair through NFC! I haven’t had the chance to test that out, since I do roll with an iPhone, but it’s meant to simply tap and connect. It’s not a required function, but they simplify an already simple process.
Accessories – Included in the box is the tangle free braided (always love when there’s cables I’m not scared to tug on) micro USB charging cable and 3.5mm audio cable which includes a mic, along with a carrying pouch. The carrying pouch is made of a very thin material, nothing that will protect it from heavy drops or hits, but enough to prevent any aesthetic damages. For the price of these though, I’d expect a dedicated hard case like the ones provided for Beats headphones.
They feel good and they definitely look good – The headphones are an alternative to the famous Beats by Dr. Dre Solo HD/Beats by Dr. Dre Wireless. Though $50 cheaper, they aren’t built that way. Jabra claims to have the cable, bend, fold, and drop tested, meeting their standard for ultimate durability that I can vouch for. Parts of the frame are made from “aluminum frame, steel hinges, and a shatterproof headband for extreme flexibility.” I can confidently throw these headphones around and not be afraid of breaking them like I would for the more fragile Beats.
Input and output sounds good – For the corded mic, I’ve done a quick recording of me talking through it and into my iPhone – it provides crisp recording audio even with ambient background noise. I’m impressed.
Convenient – You can charge the Revo through USB, that means no more changing the AAA batteries any more, which is super convenient for people who are mobile a lot and need to be on the run.
Compact – The Revo folds up to a fairly compact size, as compared to a water bottle seen above. This means I can throw ’em into my bag with the pouch on and not have to worry about them being damaged!
There’s an app for enhanced audio –
Jabra collaborated with Dolby to create a companion app, the Jabra Sound, that offers Dolby Digital processing and a custom EQ. If you’re someone who likes to customize the sound, definitely a plus, but for someone like me who just likes to listen and not care about the exact details of the sound, it’s nice to have, but not necessary.
Can’t handle bass (unscientific test) – Just like my review of the Monster Inspirations, I’m no audio expert, so take what I say about bass, midtones, or highs lightly. Plugged into my desktop through the provided micro USB, I watched The Grandmaster, it had quite a bit of bass that the Revo seemed to have trouble handling. The dialogues stays crisp otherwise and the audio controls on the side of headphones work perfect for volume and playback controls.
Another problem for people with sweaty palms – A small usability issue I’ve been facing is the volume controls. The surface has a rubber feel to it, so anyone with sweaty hands may have trouble smoothly gliding through the controls.
Prolonged discomfort – I’ve been wearing these headphones for 5 hours now and my ears are starting to feel a little sore. It’s not a very tight fit, but tight enough to stay on if I were to swing my head left to right. I don’t think I’ll have them on for this long in the future, so I’m not too worried about it, but for anyone who plans to wear it for a long time, do note that it may cause a little discomfort after awhile (but realistically, this goes for any pair of headphones).
Not that adjustable (sorry, people with large heads) – The Revo extends about 1 inch at most from it’s closed position. This could be a good or bad thing depending on the size of your head, but for people with larger sized heads that need a long headband, look elsewhere.
Ear cup durability – My biggest worry is the material used for the ear cups. Even though Jabra markets them as “padded headband and plush, memory foam ear cups”, the material feels like it can easily rip, and once they do, there’s no turning back. This is something that plagues most headphones though… it’s probably a design decision of comfort over durability. I did own a pair of AiAiAi Capital Headphones which had probably the most durable ear cups out there, but was the most uncomfortable pair of headphones I’ve ever worn, because they didn’t conform to my ears. But I’m sure there’s some magical land between the Revo and the Capital that’ll meet my needs.
Expensive ($$$) – The headphones come in at a whopping $250 for the wireless version and $200 for the corded version (before tax!) so they aren’t for the faint of heart. For me, the features, durability, and ease of use can justify the cost (wireless headphones that can take calls while I ride my bike? Yes, please). They also look beautiful, which I can’t say for a lot of headphones. But for those looking for pure sound quality, I’m absolutely sure you can look elsewhere for cheaper better sounding pair of headphones.
Prediction: discolouring in the grey headband – I can see the light grey headband start to discolour in the longterm from hanging it around my neck, it’ll start to accumulate dirt and the sweat may start to stain the colour.
Definitely recommended for anyone looking for an everyday pair of wireless headphones. I think the biggest gripe for anyone is the cost – at $249, these aren’t the cheapest out there. You can always go with the corded version for $50 cheaper! It’s a small thing, but no dedicated hard carrying case at this price? It’s probably due to their packaging, but I expected more. But what lacks in apparent sound quality (by my unscientific test stated above) and accessories makes up in durability, ease of use, and features. They look great and are perfect for every day use – for people on the go that need the portability and tangle free lifestyle. Anyone looking to check out the actual sound quality of the Revo, check out these reviews:
For the Canadian readers who want to dive in and grab one yourself:
Video reviews because I haven’t made any yet: