Review: Jabra Revo + Revo Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Headphones
Once best known for monaural Bluetooth headsets, Jabra has introduced a new lineup of music accessories, notably including the Revo Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Headphones ($250), and their wired equivalent, Revo Stereo Headphones ($200). Both on-ear headphones feature 40mm drivers -- the same size as in many $100-$200 models -- and a protective carrying bag. Whereas the standard Revo comes with a three-button remote and microphone cable, the wireless model can switch between using Bluetooth 3.0 to connect to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod, or an included fabric-covered cable that has one-button remote and microphone functionality built-in. Also packed in with the wireless version is a matching Micro-USB cable for charging the headset's 12-hour battery.
Designed to be worn over the head, each Revo’s headband is made from silicone rubber-lined plastic, shifting to metal where the earcups slide to match the size of your head. Labelled inside to indicate which side they’re to be worn on, the cups are padded, and quite comfortable. When not in use, the headphones fold in on themselves for easy packing. The color scheme is mostly black for each version, with red and two shades of grey as accents. Revo’s metal parts are silver, and the wireless Revo uses a darker gray metal, both handsome.
The wireless version of Revo uses a combination of physical and capacitive controls. On the right earcup, a center button plays or pauses your music. Rolling your finger clockwise or counterclockwise around the ring outside of it adjusts the volume, and double-tapping on the sides of the circle will skip tracks forward or backward. Although they’re cool in concept, it can be difficult to actually use these controls as there aren’t very obvious physical differentiators indicating where to press or spin. Pressing the button on the other cup launches the Jabra Sound App, if it’s installed on your device. The app accesses your music library, allowing a secondary way to control your music, alongside interestingly granular equalizer controls and the ability to toggle a “Dolby Digital Plus” setting on and off. If anything, the Dolby toggle makes the music sound a little warmer; it’s one of those features companies offer to create a selling point on packaging, even though most users likely won’t care about or use it. By comparison, the wired headphones rely on the remote control’s three buttons, rather than including anything on the ear cups—these track and volume controls are easier to use.
Both versions of Revo sound very similar to Scosche’s $130 RH656m Headphones—not identical, but similar. Music playback is clear, with strong bass, fine midrange performance, and respectable but not super sharp highs; the audio skews a bit heavy on the mid-bass. They’re headphones that we certainly wouldn’t mind listening to regularly, though there’s no sonic justification for the price difference between these and the RH656m. Our first review unit of Revo Wireless had electronic issues that were seemingly due to a short in one of the audio channels, but a second sample remedied this, and we haven’t noted any similar user issues that suggest that the problem is widespread. The wired Revo had no issues at all.
Microphone performance also varied between the wired and wireless modes, seemingly due to differences in microphone quality or placement. When the cable was plugged in, audio on the other end was described as crystal clear, and even more intelligible than the iPhone 5’s integrated mic. By contrast, the Bluetooth Revo model’s wireless mode microphone rated a step below the iPhone 5’s standard mic. Speech was still understandable, but it wasn’t as clear. On our end, telephone calls sounded pretty much the same, whether the cable was plugged in or not.
With the exception of wireless playback, on on-device controls, Revo and Revo Wireless are essentially the same headphones. Both are very well-designed, use smart combinations of attractive materials, and produce respectable sound. The only real issue is their pricing. The $50 difference between the two is fair for the wireless functionality of the more expensive model, but compared to on-ear models such as Scosche’s RH656m, you’ll face a big jump in cost without any sonic benefit. Because of that, Revo and Revo Wireless earn our general recommendation as good, but somewhat overpriced on-ear headphones. If you can find them substantially discounted, give them more serious consideration.