- Jabra Evolve 75e Review
- How Does Jabra Compare?
I’m on a quest to find the best office headset that I can also take with me when I’m traveling. For this review, the GN Group sent me the Jabra Evolve 75e — the world’s first professional UC-certified wireless headset.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a chance to test these professional earbuds extensively and compare them to the Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC and the Bose QuietControl 30, both of which I have used in the past.
The Jabra Evolve 75e offers the highest-quality phone calls of any neckband headset I’ve tested so far, thanks largely to its top-of-class microphone.
Combine that with a battery life that lasts up to 14 hours on a single charge, active noise cancellation technology and premium sound quality, and you wind up with an outstanding pair of headphones that I’d rate 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Jabra Evolve 75e Review
- 14-hour battery life
- Outstanding call quality
- Multi-device support
- Active noise cancellation technology
- Counter-intuitive playback controls
Despite the fact that I usually work from home, I also spend a good amount of my professional life either in a noisy office environment or in conference rooms giving presentations — two places where I’ve seen Jabra audio equipment in use. But I’ve never personally owned or used any of the company’s products, so I was excited when Jabra’s marketing team offered to send me the Evolve 75e wireless earbuds for this review.
Since this is not my first review of wireless office headphones, I had specific requirements and features that I was looking for in a product, including:
- Simultaneous connection to both my computer (an iMac) and smartphone (an iPhone)
- High-quality phone calls (i.e., a great microphone) with ambient noise cancellation
- Reliable Bluetooth connection
- All-day battery life
The good news is this: the Jabra Evolve 75e meets all of these requirements and then some, making it one of my favorite pairs of headphones for an office environment.
|Microphones||Three microphones with ambient noise cancellation|
|Speaker bandwidth – music||20Hz to 20KHz|
|Speaker bandwidth – calls||150Hz to 6.8kHz|
|Active Noise Cancellation||27dB using four microphones|
|Talk time||Up to 13 hours|
|Music playback||Up to 14 hours|
|Charging time||About 2 hours|
|Bluetooth version||Bluetooth® 4.2 – Bluetooth® Low Energy (BTLE)|
|Bluetooth range||Up to 100 ft/30m with PCs, up to 10m with smartphones|
|Bluetooth – supported devices||8|
|Bluetooth – simultaneous connections||2|
Design and Comfort
Jabra’s wireless earbuds feature a neckband design that I have come to appreciate. The advantage of the neckband is that I can wear the headset all day without having to actually have the earbuds in my ears. That’s a significant plus as far as comfort is concerned.
While the earbuds don’t retract like some other wireless headphones with a neckband design, Jabra added magnets to the base of the earbuds. As a result, they stick together and thus reduce the chance of getting tangled up.
The only minor issue I have noticed is a slight imbalance when you plug the earbuds into your ears. The cable of the right earbud has an integrated microphone box, which makes the right side a bit heavier than the left. As a result, it pulls down a tad more than the left side. It’s not inconvenient, and the right earbud doesn’t fall out, but it is noticeable.
The battery life of the Jabra Evolve 75e is incredible! Even on those long days when I travel, I have yet to run out of battery. Technically, I did run out of juice once when I forgot to charge the headset overnight, but that shouldn’t count. Even on that day, the battery lasted until 7 P.M.
On paper, the Jabra Evolve 75e offers the following battery specifications:
- Talk time: Up to 13 hours on a single charge
- Music playback: Up to 14 hours on a single charge
- Charging time: Approximately 2 hours
Active Noise Cancellation
What makes the Jabra headset such an excellent travel companion is the combination of built-in active noise cancelling functionality (ANC) with both a “Hearthrough” and a “Listen-In” mode — two features which amplify ambient noise, such as when someone is talking to you. You can activate them through the push of a button.
With “Listen-In” mode, your music playback will be muted and the conversations around you will be amplified so that you can hear what people are saying without having to remove the earbuds. With “Hearthrough” mode, those conversations will be amplified while you’re still listening to music — the music is just lowered slightly.
These features are particularly useful if you want to hear an airport announcement, or if the person sitting next to you on an airplane starts chatting. To cycle between noise cancelling and “Hearthrough,” you simply have to press the dedicated ANC button on the left side of the neckband (next to the “mute” button). Pressing that button multiple times allows you to cycle through the following modes:
- ANC on
- ANC off
If you long-press the mute button (hold it for two seconds), you can enable “Listen-In” mode.
While the active noise cancelling ability of these Jabra earbuds works well, it’s no match for dedicated over-the-ear noise canceling headphones like the Bose QuietComfort 35. But I’d say it’s on approximately the same level as the Bose QuietControl 30 earbuds or the Plantronics Voyager 6200UC.
The primary reasons why I prefer the Jabra 75e over my Bose QC35 is that the Bose are bulky, less comfortable, and their microphone is horrible compared to that of other professional office headphones.
Microphone quality is one of the most important factors for me when it comes to picking an office headset. I work in sales, and I’m making phone calls all the time. So, I want something that has clear, crisp sound quality and a consistent connection that never fades or crackles.
To help improve call quality and to suppress background noise, Jabra has added three microphones to these wireless headphones. These three microphones work together to create a so-called “talk-zone” around your mouth, suppressing noise that originates from outside of that talk-zone.
To get the best possible performance and noise suppression, Jabra recommends wearing both earbuds while you’re on a call. That’s because the earbuds each have microphones that help establish the aforementioned talk-zone. Think of it like this: if one earbud is hanging down by your shoulder, the headset can get confused about where your mouth is.
In my tests, the microphones performed exceptionally well, and much better than any other headset with a neckband design I have tested in the past.
The headset also features a “busy light,” which is meant to signal to other people that you’re listening to something.
As I have repeated many times in other reviews of audio products, I’m not an audiophile and professional sound is not among my top considerations when evaluating a headset. I want something that sounds good, but I don’t need to feel like I’m in a recording studio. With that said, to my ears, the Jabra Evolve 75e seems to produce outstanding and rich sound when listening to music on my iPhone or iPad.
You can pair the Jabra Evolve 75e headset with up to eight devices, but it can only maintain two simultaneous Bluetooth connections.
In my case, that meant my iPhone and iMac. To get the most out of the headset you need a USB dongle (Jabra Link 370) when using the earbuds with a Mac or PC. Similar to the Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC, you can pair the headset directly with your computer, but you’ll lose some features, including the integration with VoIP apps (such as Skype).
Maintaining two simultaneous Bluetooth connections often results in a degradation of call quality and reliability. Jabra has solved that problem by prioritizing the Bluetooth device with an active call.
What that means is that the headset temporarily disconnects from your computer (for example) while you’re on a call using your mobile phone. That reduces the chances of interference and massively improves call quality and reliability.
Once you disconnect the call, the 75e automatically reconnects to the other device. That’s ingenious, and it makes a huge difference. However, you can disable that behavior in the Jabra desktop app if you like.
Playback and Call Controls
The only minor issue I have faced while using the Jabra Evolve 75e is related to the somewhat counter-intuitive playback controls on both sides of the neckband.
The right side of the neckband features three buttons, including:
- Volume down
- Multi-function button
- Volume up
On all headsets I have used so far, the button between the volume rockers is for playback control. That’s also the case with the Jabra 75e headset, but while playing music, a single click on that button doesn’t seem to do anything.
I would expect a single click to start or pause playback. Instead, you have to press and hold that button for a full second to pause or play music. But don’t press it too long (three seconds), because that will turn the headset off. I’d highly encourage Jabra to change that behavior to make the device more intuitive.
That leads us to the second minor issue: summoning a digital voice assistant like Siri or Google Play via the dedicated mute/voice button on the left side.
I’m used to long-pressing the play button to trigger Siri, but on this Jabra headset, you have to click on the mute/voice button to do so. That’s also counter-intuitive, in my opinion, but less so than the pause/play button issue noted above.
Overall, this is a not smart button configuration, resulting in a lack of obvious/quick control. It’s the one area in which I can deduct some review points from this otherwise great device.
To optimize and personalize your headset, Jabra offers Jabra Direct for both macOS and Windows. If you’ve used desktop apps from other headphone manufacturers in the past, such as the Plantronics Hub, you’ll feel right at home with Jabra Direct.
When I first launched Jabra Direct, it notified me that there were firmware updates available for both my headset and the USB dongle. To perform the updates, Jabra Direct had to download an additional app called the Jabra Firmware Updater. (More on firmware updates in the troubleshooting section.)
Note that the “Settings” tab in Jabra Direct allows you to manipulate the general settings of the software only. If you’d like to change the settings of either the USB dongle or the actual headset, you’ll have to click on the “Device settings” button (the one with the little gear icon next to it).
To my surprise, I couldn’t find an iOS app that supported the Evolve 75e headset. It’s not that I need one, but I figured one of the many Jabra mobile apps would support this headset.
If you browse through the device settings in Jabra Direct, you’ll notice a ton of additional features of the headset you might not have known about, including:
- Audio Protection: Implements decibel limit control to prevent damage to your hearing in case of sound spikes.
- Mute Reminder Tone: Gives you an audible cue when you’re on mute while on a call.
- SideTone: Have you ever tried to plug your ears with your fingers while talking? It sounds and feels odd, doesn’t it? The same thing often happens while wearing headphones. SoundTone creates a more natural sound experience by enabling you to hear your voice when you talk while wearing the earbuds.
- BusyLight: A visual cue (LED) that lights up red when you are on or receive a call. That’s a useful indication for colleagues, or for my wife (who often uses gestures to find out if I just forgot to take off my headphones or if I’m on a call). With the BusyLight, she can immediately see that I’m listening to someone.
- Vibration: The headset vibrates to make you aware of certain events, such as power on/off, new Bluetooth connections, or incoming calls.
How Does Jabra Compare?
Since I own both Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC and Bose QC30, I wanted to share some impressions on how both compare to the Jabra headset.
Jabra Evolve 75e vs. Bose QC30
The Bose QC30 is not a professional office headset, so comparing it to the Jabra 75e is like comparing apples to oranges. But both headsets have some things in common, including:
- Neckband design
- Active noise cancellation
- Built-in microphone
I like the Bose QuietControl 30 because they have great sound quality and offer excellent noise cancellation technology, especially considering their small form factor. However, the quality of the built-in microphone and its ability to suppress ambient noise is nowhere near that of the Jabra Evolve 75e.
Jabra Evolve 75e vs. Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC
It’s more helpful to compare Jabra and Plantronics, because both brands and products compete in the same market.
As far as I’m concerned, the headsets offer comparable performance in many areas, but there are some differences. For example, the playback controls of the Plantronics are much more intuitive, and I like the proactive mute alert.
The Jabra headset, on the other hand, offers better microphone performance and battery life.
I have only had a few issues with the Jabra 75e wireless headset, and most of them were user-inflicted or fixable. To save you some time, here are a few troubleshooting tips in case you run into the same issues as I have.
I didn’t bother to update the firmware when I received the headset. That was a mistake, because the pre-loaded firmware was over a year old and buggy, causing reliability issues. While looking at reviews on Amazon, I couldn’t help but think that I had the same problems — until I updated the firmware. So, I’d recommend updating the firmware of both the USB dongle and the headset as soon as you get the device.
Updating the USB dongle was straightforward but the Jabra Firmware Updater couldn’t find my headset, which I had previously paired with my Mac.
What the Firmware Update app doesn’t tell you is that you need to connect the headset to your computer via USB before you can start the update. I wasted almost an hour troubleshooting the issue because I assumed that Jabra could update the firmware over the air. The uncovered USB (charging) port is on the lower-right side of the neckband, by the way. I don’t know why Jabra hasn’t covered it to prevent dust and dirt from getting in.
The Position of the USB BT Dongle
When using the Jabra 75e headset with a PC or Mac, it’s the USB dongle that maintains a Bluetooth connection between the two devices. The issue on iMacs is that Apple has put the USB ports on the back of the screen. That’s not ideal, because it might increase the risk of interference. If you’re having reliability issues, check if the connection improves when you move in the line of sight of the USB BT dongle.
The reason why I suspect the position of the dongle to be an issue is that the connection quality between the headset and my iPhone is noticeably better than that to my iMac.
Jabra Evolve 75e Manual
When I first opened the box of this headset, I could only find a quick start guide, which doesn’t explain how all the buttons worked. That led to some frustration because I couldn’t even figure out how to reliably start and stop playback.
So, I’d highly recommend checking out the product manual, which you can find on Jabra’s support page. Here is a direct link for your convenience. Jabra also offers technical specifications and a data sheet you might be interested in.
The Jabra Evolve 75e UC is an excellent office headset that offers unmatched microphone and call quality for a device with a neckband design.
I mentioned in a previous review that the proximity of the microphone to your mouth plays a critical role in call quality. That’s still true and the case with the Jabra 75e headset, but the company also managed to intelligently use microphones in both earbuds to create a so-called talk-zone, which further improves call quality.
Aside from that, the headset has comfortable earbud design, magnetic earbuds that stick together to prevent tangling, and solid — if not quite best-in-class — active noise cancellation capability. Pair that with all-day battery life from a single charge, and you have a winner in my book.
Overall, I’m delighted with the Jabra Evolve 75e and would recommend it anyone looking for a new wireless office headset.
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