Thursday, November 23, 2017

Jabra SPORT headsets

If you’re the type that can’t run without having some music to motivate you (I’ll be honest, that’s not me, unless it’s a long slow run I prefer to be able to hear my breathing and footfall) then a good pair of headphones are essential.

Jabra offers two versions of its SPORT headphones – corded or “Wireless+” Bluetooth-enabled cordless. Both are ‘over the ear’ design which provides a secure fit and both come with a variety of ear pieces/cups to make them both comfortable and provide the desired amount of isolation from outside noise (interestingly, the ear pieces are of a different design for the two versions, despite the main units having very similar dimensions). Finding the right ear piece was easy with a little playing around (the units on the corded version can be molded around the ear, further aiding both comfort and a secure fit).

On arrival, I was impressed with the packaging of both pairs and the carrying case included with the corded versions was of good quality.

Bluetooth

The attraction of the Bluetooth-enabled Jabra SPORT+ is obvious – no wires. In fact, there is a small wire connecting the ear pieces which runs around the back of the neck (and in use goes unnoticed). The headsets can be charged via a supplied USB cable and take about 4hrs to fully charge for about the same battery life.

Synchronizing the headset with a Bluetooth device (iPhone, laptop, surface, whatever) is easy (like all Bluetooth devices, if you sync it with more than one audio source, things get a little more complicated!).
You can adjust the volume with a simple set on buttons on the back of the right ear piece and there’s even an internal FM radio if you want to run without the need to lug a Bluetooth-enabled audio player along with you (thankfully, Jabra provides an arm strap suitable for carrying an iPod or iPhone sized device).

Perhaps because the Jabra Bluetooth earphones have their own internal power source, they seemed louder than other wired earphones I’ve tried. For running this is inconsequential (I always think you should have some awareness of what’s going on around you), but I did find it a real benefit when riding my noisy Wattbike in the garage trying to hear the quieter dialog in Breaking Bad (I can imagine the same benefit would be experienced in a gym with dodgy music choices – most of them, then!).

In terms of sound quality, I’m no expert so could only compare them to my existing earphones – a pair of expensive Bose in-ear (which you generally wouldn’t run with anyway) and a pair of Monster iSport. To be honest, the Jabra earphones were not as good – the base response was weaker, although they were far from ‘tinny’. Switching my iPhone to ‘bass booster’ mode on the EQ made the music sound fine, if not startling.

Multi-use

Both the Bluetooth and corded earphones feature microphones which make them great for making and receiving phone calls (I do a LOT of conference calls on my mobile!). According to guys on the other end, they could hear me fine on both types of earphone. The corded unit also has a handy volume control on the cord (as opposed to on the ear unit itself).

Conclusion

For me personally, the benefits of the wireless earpieces are outweighed by the cons of having to lug around an iPhone or similar device on a run (if you’re already used to running with an armband, you’re probably wondering what I’m bleating on about). I preferred using the wired version with my tiny little iPod shuffle. In the summer I can imagine that the Bluetooth earphones and just the built-in FM radio will be a good choice.

BUT… I did really like using them on the Wattbike and in the gym, where the lack of wires (and associated freedom of movement) were a real bonus.

For me, the comfort and security of the over-ear design were where the Jabra units scored good points. They were much more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time (think 2.5hr ‘commutes’ from Stockholm to London on the plane) than my Monsters, and more secure in the ear than my Bose.

The Jabra SPORT+ wired and Bluetooth headsets both retail for around £80 and can be purchased online from Amazon.