There are more knowledge workers than ever trying to be productive in ever-smaller spaces. Distractions are everywhere, and their impact is tremendous. The new Jabra EVOLVE line of headsets was designed for just this scenario. We were sent a pair of the Jabra EVOLVE 80 Headset for review, and we are truly impressed with what the company has done here.
And, lest you think these headphones are all work and no play, they are as great for gaming and audio as they are a boon to production.
The Evolve line is a full series of headsets ranging in price from the $47 Jabra EVOLVE 40 to the $329.00 for the Jabra EVOLVE 80. Each pair of headphones in the lineup offer different features but each is designed with productivity in mind.
Before we dig into the top-of-the-line pair I was sent, lets talk a bit more about WHY the market is right for the Jabra EVOLVE line.
Here are some facts:
Knowledge workers spend 75% of their day at their desk and 28 hours answering email each week. Yes, that’s 28 hours each week spent looking at a screen and communicating electronically. In the last few decades, the number of people who “think for a living” has doubled while the space they occupy has gone from 50 square meters to just 20. By 2020 it is predicted that 80% of all workers will “think for a living” while there will be just 10 square meters of space per worker.
Put in layman’s terms, the number of people working in open spaces is increasing dramatically while the space per person has sharply decreased. Workers are, to a large extent, now sitting on top of one another.
In this kind of work environment, is it any wonder that 69% of all knowledge workers do their job in a noisy open office environment and report that it has a negative impact on productivity? And if things are bad now just wait… there will be even less space allotted in years to come and things are only going to get worse. Add in the fact that while more than 50% of knowledge workers are allowed to work from home, only 6% actually do, and the challenge becomes clear.
That’s where the Jabra EVOLVE headset comes in.
With Jabra EVOLVE, you can create your own concentration zone and improve your productivity.
In designing this line of headsets, Jabra also wanted to blur the line between work and play so that one pair of headphones could meet both needs. As Jabra explains:
CHANGE THE WAY YOU WORK – INSTANTLY: Today, work and play have merged, driving knowledge workers to require flexible work conditions. One minute you’re on the phone solving an issue, the next minute you’re playing your favorite song. With a Jabra EVOLVE headset, you can instantly switch between work and play, using any device.
So lets turn our attention to the Jabra EVOLVE 80 Headset specifically. These are the top-tier of the new line and it shows. They are comfortable, sound great, offer active noise cancellation, and more. When working in close quarters they are respectful of those around you, respectful of the people with whom you speak, and respectful of your ears. In other words, this headset is the full package for work and play.
The Jabra EVOLVE 80 MS Stereo is a professional headset designed to improve concentration and conversations. Premium noise-canceling technology gives you peace to work in the noisy, open office effectively creating a concentration zone around you, so you can stay focused on the job. The speakers are built for style and comfort with leatherette ear cushions, and are specifically designed to reduce office noise. When combined with active noise-canceling technology, you get maximum protection against office noise. The concentration zone is completed with a busy light indicator that signals user availability to colleagues.
Perhaps most importantly, the headset does a great job of isolating you from the world. The Jabra EVOLVE 80 Headset actually offer two different ways to block out the noise and let you concentrate on work, speak on the phone, chill out to music, or go deeper into your gaming experience.
Passive noise cancellation comes thanks to the plush ear cups that are not only comfortable but that physically block high frequency noise. It works quite well and does a nice job of physically shutting out the world. That, however, is just the beginning. The Jabra EVOLVE 80 headphones also have active noise cancellation built into them. At the touch of a button, the electronic noise cancellation turns on and eliminates even more of the unwanted low-frequency background noise. It is specifically designed for office environments, and it works quite well. Together, these two approaches to passive and active noise cancellation help, “effectively create a concentration zone around you so you can stay focused.” It really works!
The folks at Jabra realized was that, if you are using something like these headphones in a work environment, it is helpful when people know you are actively on a call or otherwise occupied. That’s why they built a “busy light” into one of the earcups.
When you are taking or placing a call, the Jabra EVOLVE 80 Headset busy alert light automatically turns on and lets others know you are occupied. And if you aren’t on a call but want to be left alone just the same, you can manually activate the busy light and tell others to leave you be. How cool is that?!?
The Jabra EVOLVE 80 are designed for flexibility, and they are at home in pretty much any setting.
The permanently affixed cable ends in a 3.5mm plug. That means it can be used with just about any smartphone or tablet on the market. More importantly, they are comfortable and sound quite good thanks to the engineering prowess Jabra brought to the table and the DSP baked into the headset.
When you want to use your Jabra EVOLVE 80 Headset with your computer for calls or other functions on your computer, you simply plug the 3.5mm plug into the included control unit. This in-line controller receives the 3.5mm plug on one side and a USB connector on the other. The controller lets you pick up or end calls, control volume, mute calls, and activate the busy light.
Since the Jabra EVOLVE 80 is designed for calls, voice recognition, etc., it needs to have a decent microphone. It does! The noise canceling microphone is situated at the end of a boom arm that can be easily moved out of the way and clicked into the headband for those times when you are using the headphones just for music.
So the Jabra EVOLVE 80 headset does an excellent job of blocking out ambient noise and an equally good job of picking up your voice accurately. The boom mic brings the microphone close to your mouth without it being in the way, and it does an excellent job of capturing your voice accurately.
In fact, I’m dictating this portion of the review using the Jabra EVOLVE 80 Headset plugged directly into my iPad and, as you can see, the accuracy is quite excellent. In addition, I’m doing this while I am standing near my furnace which is putting out a great deal of noise along with the heat. The fact that the headset is able to pick up my voice accurately despite the rumble surrounding me is a big part of why these headphones are such a valuable productivity tool.
Let you and not the task decide where you work. The Jabra EVOLVE 80 comes with a 3.5mm jack stick incorporated into the control unit giving you the freedom to connect your corded headset to PC, smartphone or tablet. The control unit also supports comfortable and easy access to most used functions, such as volume. You are also able to answer calls and close calls directly at the control unit thereby increasing your overall flexibility, so you can better focus on the conversation. When not on a call or when you are on the go, the microphone boom arm can be seamlessly integrated into the headband – so you can easily turn your office headset into a personal headset.
All of this, and the headphones weigh under 11 1/2 ounces.
My study at the synagogue used to be the master bedroom of a large century-old mansion. As a result, I have the benefit of a beautiful and private workspace, and I have total privacy when the door is closed. In other words, my productivity needs with regard to sound isolation are different then those of people for whom these headphones are specifically targeted. At the same time, I’ve discovered that when I put on a pair of headphones such as the Jabra EVOLVE 80 Headset and turn on the noise cancellation, I am better able to concentrate on the task at hand. So even if you aren’t being protected from ambient noise, something like these headphones can be a boon to productivity because they put you into your own space and, in the process, into your own head.
Add in the fact that they sound quite good when used for music, and you have a headset that is ready for work, play and everything in between. So while I wouldn’t automatically think to recommend something like the $329 Jabra EVOLVE 80 to someone looking for a new pair of headphones for their smartphone or tablet, I can’t help but recommend these to pretty much anyone in the market for a pair of noise cancelling headphones. Yes, the EVOLVE 80 headphones may be pricey, but they also have
personality productivity plus. You can learn more here.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample of the Jabra EVOLVE 80 Headset
What I Like: Comfortable; Good passive and active noise cancellation; Boom mic works well and shuts off when listed toward the headband; Works with smartphones, Tablets, computers and more; Let’s people know when you are on a call or generally don’t want to be disturbed
What Needs Improvement: Pricey