Tech Review: The JABRA EVOLVE 80s Focus On What Others Don't

Jabra is a company that has been in the business of headphones and earphones for years. In fact, majority of call centers are now using Jabra over Plantronics and other brands lately. The Jabra Evolve 80s were not intended for gaming, but fit the part perfectly. Let’s take a closer look at these and see if they are worth the $329 price tag for gamers.

Specs and audio quality

Frequency Range: 20Hz-20kHz

Connections: USB 2.0/3.0 or 3.5mm jack

Active Noise Cancellation: Yes

Driver Sizes: 40mm*

Impedance: 38Ω±10% at 1KHz

Microphone: Wideband 150Hz to 7kHz

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I spent around 20-30 hours of listening to music, watching movies, and playing games with the Evolve 80s. The best use I got from these, was playing games that heavily relied upon communication, like Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Rainbow Six: Siege, and League of Legends. In-game voice chats are not known for having the best audio quality, so when I say that it was the clearest conversations I’ve ever had in them, that’s saying a lot.

The microphone has incredible quality. I have 2 PS4s and play with my wife often. I had her use the headphones while we played so I could hear the microphone capture quality. This is where they crush it. Noise isolation was fantastic and did so without affecting the beginning of speech. This is an aspect of gaming headphones that companies should take more seriously.

The overall audio quality is average in the $300+ price point. The lows have depth, but are by no means impressive. Heavy basslines are not overblown and are a bit soft. The mids are rich and have a quality range. The highs are not clear enough for me. I’m thinking the intent was to damper the highs to make them more enterprise friendly. There was also a weird distortion if I were to shake my head from side to side, while I would jam out to some music. Not a deal breaker since I really wouldn’t use these just to listen to music.

This all changes though, when you turn off Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). There is a drastic drop in volume, treble, bass, and overall quality when it’s turned off. I had to make sure to keep them charged as often as possible because I really didn’t like the Evolve 80s without the ANC. It charges in about 2-3 hours via USB, and lasted me about 8-10 hours in use. It seems that Jabra uses a low frequency when the ANC is on. This creates an effect of pressure on the eardrum which feels like being on an airplane. It absolutely cuts out unwanted sound, but may be uncomfortable for some.

Aesthetics and audio quality

Looking at the Jabra Evolve 80 headphones doesn’t scream innovation or inspiration. It has a very basic design, with a “Do Not Disturb” red LED that lights up when you don’t want to be bothered. I will not say they didn’t try to make these look desirable. The Orange accents and cord go perfectly with the Black and Chrome coloring.

The ear cups do rotate completely flat as well, but are not comfortable when you keep them hung around your neck. Each ear is labeled for left and right sides on the inner part of the ear cup. This is exactly how Beoplay does it and how I prefer it to be done. I hate compromising the outward design of a product. The ear cup padding is really soft and has smooth material for comfort.

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In the unboxing video, I had showed how the inside of the headphones ear cups look. This is important to see, because the driver and speakers are fitted at a slanted angle. I believe this was to relieve the pressure headphones can apply on ones ear. The Evolve 80s for this reason alone, are one of the most comfortable headphones on my ear itself. The tension on the headband is unfortunately strong. Don’t get me wrong, its not skull crushing. After about an hour and a half though, I started getting a headache.

The headband is adjustable, but the settings don’t hold very well. When I expand it all the way, it retracts a couple of clicks as soon as I try to put them on. The build quality is very nice as well. It definitely doesn’t feel like cheap plastic. They are very sturdy and never felt the headphones shake, even under tremendous bass.

What could it do better

The headband would feel more comfortable if it was a thinner U shape. This would prevent excess pressure from being applied to the top of the head. Less tension in the headband would also make it desirable to wear for longer periods of time. Continue to develop the ANC and provide a less noticeable affect on the ear. Create a way for the Ambient Noise (AN) to overlap what is currently playing.

Verdict

I really enjoyed using these as I played games with my friends. If you are looking for a solid pair of headphones with a great microphone, look no further than the Jabra Evolve 80s. If you are on a budget, then you may want to consider some alternatives. These puppies run for $329 on Amazon and Jabra’s website. Overall, the Jabra Evolve 80s are enterprise headphones that are better suited for gamers.

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