Jabra Rox Wireless Review: A Sound Purchase for Active People

The Jabra Rox Wireless is a set of Bluetooth in-ear earphones. It packs an impressive feature set on paper, but is it truly as good as claimed? Read on to find out more.

Love

  • Decent sound quality, especially for Bluetooth audio
  • Excellent, fast and easy pairing process
  • Convenient and really relieving not to worry about wires
  • Good battery life
  • Does not fall off when exercising

Hate

  • Bass is lacking, sound can be tinny
  • Jabra Sound App is useless
  • Bad microphonics
  • Requires EarWings for them to stay put in your ears, making it uncomfortable after about an hour
  • Adjusting volume interrupts your music with a beep which is irritating

Sound Quality

There is something one must know before trying out Bluetooth earphones: expect the sound to suck. And if it doesn’t suck, then it’s not great. The Jabra’s sound quality, however, does not suck. It’s actually really quite good, about the same quality as a $70 pair of earphones.

For an audiophile, this would not cut it. But then again, an audiophile would steer clear of any Bluetooth earphones; it’s just not possible at our current state of technology to transmit such high quality audio over Bluetooth.

Also, the Bluetooth connection never drops. When you start playing something after connecting, it will struggle for the first three seconds and the sound will be intermittent, but after that, anything you play will play smoothly and with no issues whatsoever.

My only real complaint about the sound here is that it sounded rather tinny, and lacked bass. Somehow, the sounds sounded small and not nearly as “full” as I wanted it to be. However, given that it is Bluetooth, I think it did a pretty good job overall.

Pairing Process

The pairing process was magical, to say the least. Within 20 seconds, I had paired it with my iPhone 5s. When I wanted to stop listening, I could just clip the earbuds together, which stick because of power-saving magnets which automatically activate the power-saving mode upon sticking to each other.

Upon doing so, the connection with my phone would cease, and music would stop playing, which I found really convenient. When I wanted to turn them on again, I just had to separate the two earbuds, and provided my phone’s Bluetooth is still on, they would automatically connect.

I’m not sure about Android, but the battery level of the Jabra would display next to the Bluetooth symbol on the status bar of my iPhone. Pretty nifty, I would say, because otherwise there’s no good way to gauge the battery level of the Jabra.

IMG_5158
Next to the Bluetooth symbol is the battery level of the Jabra Rox Wireless.

Comfort

Comfort is one of the Jabra’s bigger problems. Because the earbuds are bulky and rather heavy (compared to most normal earbuds) from holding the battery and Bluetooth receiver, they are quite likely to fall out of your ear. Jabra apparently knew this, which is why they provided EarWings, designed to lock the earbuds to your ears and prevent them from falling out.

The EarWings perform this function well enough, except for one drawback: They can get pretty uncomfortable. At first, they are alright, but after about  an hour, they start to press on the insides of your ears, and it can get painful. I quite disliked this, and sometimes had to remove them and switch to my other pair of earphones because while the pain was not unbearable, going wired and opting for comfort was certainly worth the trade-off at times.

My ears have always been rather sensitive to these things, however; I always use foam ear tips because normal rubber ear tips tend to hurt after a while, so it is quite likely that this is a problem that will only affect a few people.

Jabra Sound App The Jabra Sound App is unimpressive, to say the least. It is, frankly, a gimmick. I tried using it, but I found the sound is not much better with the Dolby Digital Plus enhancement; in fact, sometimes the sound is worse. But of course, it’s not something you have to use, so it’s not a problem at all that it is not that good. Just make sure that if you buy the Jabra Rox Wireless, don’t buy it for the Jabra Sound App.

Outdoor Usage

I brought these out to the gym and to run, and here is where the Jabra really shines. They didn’t spoil due to my sweat, which is probably due to them being IP52-certified, and hence resistant to water and dust.

Apart from that, they also did not fall out of my ears. The EarWings, while uncomfortable, certainly do the job of keeping the earbuds securely in place, even when my ears are sweaty, which would make any normal, ordinary pair of earphones fall out. But this is no ordinary pair of earphones.

One problem with the Jabra Rox Wireless, however, is the microphonics. The wire is made of rubber, which means that slight movements you make which cause the rubber to move, hit your shirt or hit something, will cause the rustling sound to be transmitted from the rubber wires to your ears, which I personally do not like. Perhaps it’s just that I’m quite sensitive to these things.

I hate microphonics with a passion, so much so that I’d sacrifice sound quality for less microphonics. However, most earphones people get already have a lot of microphonics, so I doubt it would be a problem for people who have never really worried about microphonics before.

I actually let my friend try them on for a bit, to see what he thought of the microphonics, and he said they did not bother him in the slightest, so individual usage might vary. If possible, you should try to test them out if you are considering buying the Jabra Rox Wireless, and shake your head vigorously when you’re wearing them to test out the microphonics.

Battery Life

Battery life was really good. I did not test out exactly how long they’d run for, but I only charged them twice in my two weeks of reviewing them, with an average of light to moderate usage per day.

Jabra claims it has a music listening and talk time of 5.5 hours and a standby time of 18 days, which in my opinion is pretty decent. You could always bring along a battery pack with you, in case they run out of battery, as they are charged by micro-USB.

Other Comments

One thing I found mildly annoying about the Jabra Rox Wireless was that when adjusting the volume, from your phone or through the in line controls, there is a beep, for each time you increase or decrease the volume by a notch. It seems to serve no real function, and in that split second, the music stops playing, which is distracting.

There’s no way to get rid of it, so you’re going to have to live with it. The sound isolation is really good too. I have to say that the world really gets shut out when you put the Jabra Rox Wireless on, and you can hear very little of the outside world.

However, the overarching benefit of the Jabra Rox Wireless is that they are Bluetooth, and I had never known just how convenient it is to use Bluetooth earphones. I have no wires getting in my way, the Bluetooth range is spectacular, up to about 3 metres, which is much longer than any wire I’ve got, and it’s just plain cool using it.

This is the Jabra Rox Wireless, and it's really portable and cool.
This is the Jabra Rox Wireless, and it’s really portable and cool.

Conclusion

At times, the Jabra Rox Wireless can feel like magic; you’re in the bus, listening to music, and you marvel again that sound is transferred through Bluetooth to your earphones, and there are no wires getting in the way.

However,  is it worth the $168 price tag to have Bluetooth and cut the wires? Personally, I’d rather spend that money on a pair of earphones that have better sound, but are still wired. The Jabra Rox Wireless is great for people who are active, but if you want to use them in the MRT or on the bus or just when walking, perhaps getting a pair of headphones or earphones which deliver better sound, might be a wiser use of your money.

For active people though, I must say that its waterproof and wireless features would make it very worthwhile; it’s dangerous to use earphones not designed to be waterproof, and that it is wireless would mean that you don’t have anything in your way when you’re climbing mountains or something.

Also, its in-line music controls are convenient for when you’re being active; there is no need to dig out your phone to change the music.

Lastly, as I’m sure many active people would know, earphones which do not stay in the ears are a complete annoyance, and the EarWings do a very good job of keeping the earbuds intact. Despite my generally positive experience with these, I’m not going to run out (or walk out, rather, because I’m not a very active person) and buy a pair of wireless earphones any time soon, because it’s not a pair of earphones meant for me.

It’s meant for the active person, and it’s only really worth it for that kind of person. I do look forward to the future though, because when technology improves and there is no trade-off in terms of sound quality, I’ll be first in line to get myself a pair of wireless earphones because wireless earphones are just really damn cool.

Leave a Reply