While Jabra is known mostly for its wireless headsets and other great Bluetooth devices, the company has recently started focusing on other audio accessories to appeal to a wider demographic. The Jabra Vox headphones is one of the company’s newer efforts, and aims to be wired headset that offers superior performance in a compact package. I took the Jabra Vox for a spin during a recent trip, to see if it could replace the in-ear headphones I’ve been using for about three years or so.
The Jabra Vox come packaged in a simple transparent case, in keeping with the company’s branding of their recent products. Inside you’ll find a handy carrying pouch that snaps shut to keep your headphones safe, as well as a number of different-sized ear buds to give you the best fit. You also have a brief instruction manual, as well as an activation code to use for Jabra’s audio app (more on that later).
The overall quality of the headphones is superb, and is certainly in line with what we’ve come to expect from Jabra. The headphones themselves are shaped very ergonomically, so that the ear bud rests in your ear canal, while the bulk of the headphone rests snugly in your ear. The design may look a bit awkward, but it’s comfortable and doesn’t hurt your ears even if you use them for extended periods of time.
One frustrating thing about any pair of wired headphones is how easily the cable gets tangled up. My current headphones seem to love getting tied up, so I usually have to spend a few minutes unplugging them and trying to sort out the cabling. The Jabra Vox comes has two measures to avoid the cable getting tangled up. Firstly, the cable itself is slightly square in shape, and coated in a stiff rubber, which makes it flexible but not flexible enough to wind into a tight loop or knot. Secondly, near the headphones themselves are two small Jabra’s SnagIt magnets, which deftly attach together when you want to pack up the headphones and keep them tangle-free. The magnets are strong enough to hold fast to each other, but can be pulled apart with just a simple tug. I had taken the Jabra Vox on my recent trip to New York, and they survived everything from being tossed into my backpack to being wrapped around my iPod and shoved into my suit pocket. The cables never became a hassle and they unwrapped readily from around my iPod when I needed them. It was absolute bliss to never have to sit and try to untie several knots in the cable like I used to with my old headphones. A short distance away from the headphones is a small plastic strip that lets your adjust the volume as well as a multifunction button to skip tracks or to answer/reject a phone call. Since this is a wired headset, connectivity is limited only to a 3.5mm jack. The Jabra Vox can be used as a regular pair of headphones with an mp3 player, or as a phone headset with most smartphones.
Of course this wouldn’t be a proper review without actually commenting on how the Jabra Vox sounds. In order to truly appreciate (and tweak) the Jabra Vox, you need to download the free Jabra app from the Apple App Store. So if you’ve not got an iOS or Android device or smartphone, you’re pretty much going to be left with a very ordinary pair of headphones that don’t do a great job on their own. But when paired with the Jabra Sound app, you get beautiful Dolby Digital sound, and a much more enjoyable listening experience. The app reads your song library and lets you access tracks, albums, or artists, or create a quick playlist of your favorite tunes. You can also access the equalizer, which has various presets for Classic, Rock, Pop, Dance, and many other music types. You can of course just switch to the Custom preset and tweak the levels yourself, but unless you know what you’re doing this may be a rather cumbersome chore.
It’s a bit disappointing that you have to have a separate app in order to enjoy your music – my iPod is perfectly capable of doing exactly the things the Jabra Sound app can do, however if I played any music outside of the app, I was able to notice the distinct drop in audio quality and clarity. But fire the app up and play back the same track, and it’s a totally different experience. The headphones were great for pop or vocal tracks, but I found that on some tracks with a heavy bass line they weren’t quite up to scruff, whereas my older headphones could get through these same tracks with much better bass reproduction.
The Jabra Vox are certainly quite stylish headphones, and the fact that they’re virtually tangle-free make them an absolute godsend. But its reliance on a separate app and slightly underwhelming bass performance won’t quite cut it with audio enthusiasts. Still, the Jabra Vox is a comfortable and funky pair of headphones that do deliver a good listening experience for the average audio junkie.