Jabra is a company that specializes in the “for business” niche with their headsets, however due to the quality and workmanship, more users are looking to Jabra for home use as a prosumer choice of headset. Jabra has actually been involved in the manufacturing of headsets since the early 1980’s, and today focus on two distinct markets – business-to-business and the mobile consumer market. Today’s review is of the Jabra Evolve 80 headset, which can double as a telephony device using Voice Over IP (VOIP) technology.
Audio: The audio frequency range of the Jabra Evolve 80 has a response range of 20Hz on the low end to 20kHz on the high end, matching that of the audible range of the human ear. As such, like other headsets that fall within this frequency range, you play digital and CD quality music through the headset perfectly.
The headset also offers a unique feature called the “listen in” button. This button is on the right ear and when pressed turns off the noise cancellation feature and what you’re currently listening to, but it does not mute your microphone. This button/feature tends to cause a bit of disruption as it can be enabled by just placing your headset on your desk and having the button get knocked. There is no visible indicator that this feature is enabled (no lighting, etc.).
Additionally, this headset boasts active noise cancellation through a button on the bottom of the right ear. The noise cancellation feature on these headsets is amazing and allows anyone the ability to focus on a task by blocking ambient background noise.
Cable: The cable on the Jabra Evolve 80 is a rubberized cable that inserts into the left ear cup. There’s an added ½” insert that made of firmer rubber that the cable inserts into as it goes into the ear cup, thereby providing added protection to the cable from bends, breaks and tears.
The cable plugs directly into the Jabra volume controller, which utilizes a USB connector to plug into your computer. This Jabra volume controller allows the user to pick up telephone calls, mute the microphone and increase/decrease the volume levels without having to adjust the volume directly on your PC.
Because the cable uses a standard 3.5mm audio plug to plug directly into the Jabra volume controller, the headset can be unplugged from the controller and plugged directly into your smartphone or other audio devices.
Microphone: The microphone on the Evolve 80 is a folding style microphone attached to the right ear cup. Users can fold the microphone up and out of the way when not in use, or down to speak into the microphone. The microphone is a uni-direction (also known as an omnidirectional mic), which tend to pick up more background noises and conversations around the user. Additionally, the microphone arm is made of a soft, flexible plastic, so the user has some ability to flex the microphone arm to a position that works best for the user.
Muting the microphone can be done using the Jabra volume controller and just click the mute button. This mute button lights up red on the controller and when utilizing VOIP software such as Lync or Skype, identifies the microphone as being ‘muted’.
Cushions: The ear cushions on the Evolve 80 are made from a leatherette material over top of foam insulation. Even though the Evolve uses a leatherette, I’ve been able to wear this headset for a full 8 hours streaming music and never developed hot ears.
The ear cushions are removable from the unit and replacement ear cushions can be ordered if they’re ever damaged, lost, or broken.
Unlike most headsets that use round ear cushions, the Evolve 80 uses an oval style cushion, which matches to a larger size assortment of human ears.
Headband: The headband on the Evolve 80 is made of rigid plastic with a rubber padding on the underside where it rests against your head. There’s a foam material used inside the rubber padding to provide comfort to the user. Interestingly enough, it’s this thin rubber padding that is the weak-link on these headsets, for if the unit is not taken care of properly, this thin rubber can be easily torn. For this reason, I highly recommend that when the Evolve 80 is not in use, it’s either hung up appropriately, or store in the soft carry bag that ships with the product.
Adjuster: The headset uses a sliding adjuster on each side made of plastic and provides for approximately 1/16” adjustments per side. I’m actually surprised to see this type of adjuster on headsets at this price point. Unlike other plastic adjusters on consumer level headsets, the Evolve 80 uses a very thick plastic to connect to the ear cups and slide into the headband. As such, I’ve never seen or heard of people breaking the Evolve 80 at the adjuster.
Lighting: As stated in the introductory paragraph, Jabra really manufactures headsets for the business-business or prosumer level, so they’re not going to light up with fancy LEDs found in consumer gaming headsets. However, the Evolve 80 does comes with lighting. When a user is on a VOIP call, a red circular LED lights up automatically, letting others around you know you’re busy. What’s interesting, is the user can turn on this right light without being on a call, which is a way to tell other coworkers to “do not disturb”. This feature can be manually turned on using the Jabra volume controller and pressing the main button.
The Jabra volume controller also has 2 distinct lights – a green telephone light for when the user is on a call or wants to make a call, as well as the red mute light when the microphone is muted.
What I Like
What I like about the Jabra Evolve 80 headset is that although it’s mostly designed as a business-business headset, the audio quality is perfect. Telephone conversations sound as though the people are right in the room with you. You can also stream and listen to music at CD quality levels.
I really like that Jabra uses leather ear up material. They’re obviously aware that in some businesses (e.g. a call center), users will be using the device for extended hours and by utilizing leather for the material, they breathe.
I like the Jabra Volume Controller and find myself using it all the type to control the device. Having the ability to unplug the headset from the controller and then plug it into your smartphone allows users to be very mobile.
What I Don’t Like
I do not like the thin rubber which covers the soft foam on the underside of the headband. Jabra would have been better to utilize either a memory foam which would help firm up this weak point, or use a different material altogether. Users have to be extremely careful with their headsets because of this and for this reason, I would not recommend this headset for children or young adults.
I’m not a fan of the plastic adjusters on any headset, however Jabra makes up for this by constructing the adjuster with a thicker plastic.
Lastly, this is a VERY BIG headset. It lacks sleek designs and when the user puts this on, they look like they’re ready to take off in a fighter jet. I think Jabra could do better in streamlining this model down a bit, so it’s not so ostentatious.
Verdict – Would I Buy It Again?
For me, this gets down to product use more than anything else. Because the unit is so bulky, I would never plug it into my smartphone and head off to the gym or go for a walk around the block – people would look at me like I’ve got a third eyeball on my forehead. But for business communications, and a way to utilize VOIP – this is great. I’d easily buy these for employees as the noise cancellation features on these are top-notch and the sound and music quality is amazing. I’d even use there at home at my PC to listen to videos, music, and even play games.