Wednesday 18 September 2019

Tech review: Jabra headset works for office chat but too small to block noise

Jabra Evolve 75e, €200

Jabra’s earphones don’t cut it as a primary music headset
Jabra’s earphones don’t cut it as a primary music headset

With most phones now moving away from 3.5mm headphone sockets, wireless headphones are becoming a lot more popular. Sitting atop this category are noise-cancelling wireless headphones, which promise to enhance your audio even further by dampening any external noise.

The way noise-cancelling earphones work is fairly ingenious – a microphone sits on the outside of the unit, measures whatever external noise there is, then does its best to reverse the sound frequencies on themselves, thus cancelling out the audio signal to your ear.

When choosing noise-cancelling cans, most will look at overhead models with good reason. If cutting out external din is your goal, overhead earphones physically managed to block out the unwanted audio partly by insulating your entire ear.

But many are now looking to see if in-ear models can replicate the performance offered by overhead noise cancelling headphones.

Jabra, a brand best known for wearable gadgets such as Bluetooth headsets, has valiantly tried to do this with office life in mind.

It uses a number of microphones to boost the way that phone conversations, in particular, are conducted.

The Evolve 75e headset is styled almost as a sports kit, with a neckband that aims to keep the earphones in place if you’re walking or running.

On the plus side, it’s comfortable to wear and very easy to set up. That can’t always be taken for granted with wireless headphones.

It also comes with its own case, although this is a little too bulky to bring around and probably defeats the purpose of a lightweight wireless earphone set in the first place.

Its main distinguishing feature, the noise cancellation, can be a little difficult to detect. It’s worth using as it adds depth and bass to the audio, but it suffers from the same noise cancellation challenge that all earphones do – it’s just too small and shallow to really block out external noise.

That means that if you’re going on a plane or want something to listen to over the sound of your lawnmower, this isn’t the right gadget to choose.

However, this may well not be its primary purpose. I did use it as an effective hands-free set at a desk when making and taking calls. Here, it had a definite advantage over the bulkier headphones I usually don, as these generally convey immersion or unavailability. (Obviously it’s up to the wearer whether this is a state to be desired or not.)

Outside work, my experience with it is that I’d be happy to wear it for talk radio, a podcast or an audio book when not anywhere cacophonous. But in terms of audio prowess, there isn’t enough there to justify it as a primary music headset.

The audio quality isn’t, for example, as good as Apple’s AirPods, which have become the standard for wireless buds under €200.

Online Editors

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