I must confess: Before I got this set, my benchmark was the Sennheiser HD 202 which I currently use. I wanted to make a review that compared these two, but after listening to the Jabra REVO Wireless for just 10 minutes, I was convinced that the comparison was unnecessary, and uncalled for. Was it that good, or that bad? Read on to find out more!
The Jabra REVO Wireless doesn’t come with fanciful features, but it takes all standard features, and adds its own innovations to them. The sound quality is extremely good, but it’s geared more towards songs that focus on vocals and shy away from those that involve heavy use of instruments, so this might not be the wisest choice if Vangelis is your favourite.
As always, it’s extremely thrilling to unbox a brand new set of device. The design of the box makes it extremely appealing. Even if I had binged on the pair of headphones, seeing the design would assure me that everything was worth it.
But that is not the focus. The grand looking headphones lying in the middle of the box was screaming for my attention, and I just dived in to carefully pick out the set of headphones.
Accessories wise, they are pretty standard, with a 1.2m headphone cable that ends in a 3.5mm jack, a special USB cable (more on that later), some manuals and a nice, thoughtful bag to carry the headphones around, which is a really nice plus.
Before I decided to test out the sound and get into the meat of the review, I simply had to hold the Revo in my hands and bandy it about rather callously (Jabra seems to consider their product quite idiot-proof).
For the physical build of the headphones itself, I must say that it feels really solid. As compared to cheap plastic found on your typical in-ear monitors, the Revo was “engineered with solid materials”, as per what they claim on their box.
Life-proof testing is a much touted feature of their headphones. It just means that the headphones is probably able to withstand whatever you throw at it, or even you throwing it. Drop-tested from a height of 2 meters and bend tested over ten-thousand times, I don’t expect these to spoil anytime soon. I’m not going to try, though.
A nice foldable design also makes it extremely compact, about the size of two of my fists put together. With a thoughtful bag that came along with the headphones, Jabra has considered almost all my needs, from A to Z.
The micro-USB jack for charging and music over USB, the power button next to it, and the standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the opposite.
The headphones has a unique build in that it can play music over 3 ways: Connecting a standard 3.5mm jack, over Bluetooth and over a special USB cable while it’s charging! The first two are self-explanatory, but the USB music allows you to simply plug it into your computer to charge and use it at the same time like a USB speaker. Pretty cool isn’t it.
NFC pairing is also present. I’m extremely glad that they didn’t use a Mifare Classic chip which my Nexus 5 wouldn’t support, instead opting for a NXP NTAG203 chip. If there’s something to note, tap-and-pair wasn’t exactly that intuitive because the retard of me didn’t think of powering the headphones on before tapping my phone against the NFC chip.
Mic and music control is built into the headphones, so you won’t need to use your phone like a walkie talkie, but it’s probably going to look weird if you start talking to “yourself” when you receive a call on the train.
While we’re on the topic of music control, it is worth to note that you can control your music over Bluetooth by simply gliding your finger over a turntable on the right earcup. In fact, the earcups come laden with features. Tapping once can pause a track, twice can change tracks, answer or reject calls, or even redial!
There are some areas for improvement, though. For unfortunate people wearing spectacles, you may be in for some painful time with the headphones. Due to the nature of the small ear cups, they press down exactly where your spectacles rest, causing your ears to hurt tremendously after a while. Nevertheless, this is a compromise from a full-sized one that cups the entire ear, because that would get me quite sweaty after a while without air circulation.
Another area that can be improved is the weight. Weighing 240 grams, the headphones are extremely heavy and unyielding when it rests mostly on my ears. Yes, there is a head-rest portion, but it didn’t take away much of the weight unless well, I clamp it hard over my head which poses even more problems instead. Well, there has to be a compromise if we want good quality headphones giving good quality music!
Let’s get down to work proper. The sounds.
As I was saying at the start of this review, I thought I would benchmark it against the Sennheiser HD 202. I have to apologize, because I just insulted the Jabra headphones. Don’t get me wrong – Sennheiser’s headphones are really good (just blame me for being unwilling to pay large bucks for them). But Jabra does it better.
I’ll go into the review with an accompanying Dolby Digital Sound app first, before I take away the assistance of the app.
That’s right – for the first time in forever, there’ll be music, there’ll be light. For the first time in forever, I had noticed the difference (between 192k and 320k)!
The earphones were particularly good with songs that had an emphasis on the clear vocals. Not only was the vocals backed by a clear, strong bass and pleasant treble accompaniment, it was also exceptionally clear, standing out in front. When I close my eyes, I can even visualize the singer standing on stage in front of me, backed by an orchestra of professionals in the background.
Sad Song by We The King was one of the first tracks that I tried, and under the Dolby Digital enhancements, I was so taken aback by the sound. The grand, filling sound that feels like a 7.1 speaker Hi-Fi set leaves me wanting more. I should have taken a picture of myself when I heard the first line that went “You and I”. That was also why I decided to listen to tracks like “For the First Time in Forever” again (since, well… forever). I was trying out various songs that focused on its vocals, and there was nothing better than having high pitches perfectly reverberating across my ears.
As expected, the headphones work perfectly well with pure instrumental music. Tracks like Sad Music (game) by Chiyako Fukuda got their due attention. They had never sounded good on my other earphones because the notes weren’t clear enough. But with the Revo, identification of the exact frequency of the note is actually possible.
The Revo excels in all 3 areas individually – bass, mid-range and trebles. However, that doesn’t mean that putting them together works well. Unfortunately, for people who love pop or rock, I just simply cannot stand most prominently the clashing of the electric guitar and cymbals and whatever not. Put vocals in and I’m left with a clattering that has each instrument trying to overpower the rest. It feels like letting tigers out of a cage – everything is just a mess.
Listening to songs from One Direction simply put me off: What Makes You Beautiful was really not beautiful at all. The vocals sounded as if they were produced by the electric guitar, especially at the chorus, not to mention a constant clashing of the cymbals behind as though the bass drum had retired. I’m hardly biased against One Direction – in fact I like their songs and have an entire collection of them. But just not on this set of headphones.
However, because most people are normal and usually listen to songs not in a closed, -30 dB studio, but rather in noisy environments like Starbucks or on the train, I hardly see any reason why a louder instrumental would be of any detriment to your music experience.
I’m not going to dwell too much on the audio codec over Bluetooth, because the song quality was really largely determined by the type of music. I guess there was a reason why audiophiles have commented that the more high-end the headphones become, the pickier they get about the songs that they work with best. While it’s not stated explicitly on Jabra’s website, I’m assuming that the Revo uses the older SBC codec instead of a better AptX. It was also unfortunate that Bluetooth 3.0 was used instead of a potentially more battery-saving Bluetooth 4.0.
Without the Dolby Digital enhancement though, sound quality wasn’t as impressive. Still better than a usual set of headphones, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the track or the headphones that it as fault, because I’m getting an impression that the enhancement is merely adjusting for areas in which the headphones are lacking in (like sending additional power to bass because the earphones have poor response to it).
The problem is, Dolby Digital Enhancement isn’t available on other apps. They can only be used to play music tracks on your phone and on Youtube. So for Spotify users out there, no luck for you!
In any case, for a RRP of S$248, I wouldn’t exactly say that the pair of headphones is totally worth the price. Audio quality wise, yes, no one can beat its extremely clear vocals. Personally, I enjoy stronger bass more, so I’m extremely satisfied that the headphones empower vocals with a very nice steady bass.
A key point to note though, is that the headphones are rather unsuitable if you love listening to rock songs. If you like heavy metal, I think you should go for wind instruments instead. Or piano. Nevertheless, the pair of headphones has truly shown me what a pair of can do in producing superb sound quality but yet being so sleek in design. If there’s just anything to add, maybe something lighter would do.
If you own a pair of Jabra REVO or are considering about buying one, do let us know in the comments and share your opinion about the headphones!
Here are some statistics as quoted from their website:
- Weight: 240 grams
- H 178.8 mm x W 160.1 mm x L 73 mm
- Microphone: Omni-directional dual microphone
- Speaker: 40 mm
- Operating range: Up to 10 meters
- Bluetooth version: 3.0
- Paired devices: Up to 8 devices, connected to 2 at same time
- Supported Bluetooth profiles: Headset profile v1.2, hands free profile v1.6, A2DP v1.2, AVRCP v1.4
- Talk time: Up to 12 hours
- Standby time: Up to 10 days
- Operating temperature: -10° C to 55° C (14 F to 131 F)
- Storage temperature: -40° C to 65° C (-40 F to 149 F)