Jabra has been in the headset game for a long time; I remember reviewing an in-ear bud many years ago, and while I didn’t enjoy it so much, it was the dawn of wireless headsets and – with very few exceptions – most were a compromise.
Fast forward to 2021, and Jabra is an established, reputable brand putting out some of the best workplace audio gear available. Over the last 18 months, I – along with many Australians, and people around the world – have been working more and more from home (or remotely) instead of in offices, and almost universally, that’s come with a huge increase in the amount of time spent on video calls with colleagues, managers, customers and more.
This isn’t to say video conferencing is new; it’s been around a while now, but the last 18 months really saw an explosion of the number of people using the technology, and also the amount of time they spent actually using it too.
This brought with it a lot of problems, and one of the biggest was how to get good quality audio without disturbing others, and yet allowing others to hear you clearly, while remaining comfortable to wear for extended periods.
This immediately ruled out virtually every headset on the market, because almost all of them were rubbish. From uncomfortable earcups, through to poor microphones with poor pickup, short cables which choked you if you got up, batteries that didn’t last, and on and on and on, so many poor products made video conferencing a chore.
The Jabra Evolve2 30 is the first headset that has actually made video conferencing comfortable for extended periods. It’s light, sits comfortably – almost imperceptibly – over the ear, uses a boom microphone to sit right where it needs to (instead of picking up audio with a mike near your ear), and doesn’t use batteries, instead providing a fairly long USB cable.
The Evolve2 is designed for Microsoft Teams, with an integrated Teams button on the right earpiece, but the good news is you can use it with any conferencing tech you happen to use – Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco’s WebEx, whatever your choice – and it works equally well.
The headset itself is light, durable, and most importantly beyond all else, exceptionally comfortable to wear for however long you need to. There’s no earcups that sit around your ears making them hot and sticky, nor in-ear buds that start to hurt after a while, just a nice soft leather arrangement that gently sits on your ear. Sure, this leaks a bit of audio if it’s up too loud, and it mightn’t have the noise isolating qualities of (say) a pair of Bose QC 30 IIs.
What it does have, though, is crystal clear sound every time, that’s comfortable to wear for 15 minutes or 4 hours. The sound is great for people you’re talking to, as well, as the built-in microphone array not only picks up your voice, but measures what’s happening around you to reduce background noise – amazing for those working in open-plan offices.
This isn’t to say that background noise is a bother; the on-ear design ensures that most background noise isn’t disruptive, but it also means you’re able to hear what’s going on around you – particularly important if someone’s trying to get your attention while you’re on a call.
Even better news is that you’re not stuck just with video conferencing; I’ve had movies and music on in the background and found the Evolve2 headset very comfortable to wear while listening / watching in the background, and that’s a huge bonus. One set of headphones that can do everything is wonderful.
Sure, the USB-A connection means that you can’t (easily) use these on a mobile device, but I’m not sure why you’d really want to. You can use them on just about any PC/Mac/tablet, though, and that’s perfect – avoiding the 3.5mm connection means the sound is crystal clear, free of noise, and good to go. There is an option for a USB-C variant, if you need one.
For those who like to tweak, the Jabra Direct software allows you to adjust a number of settings for a better experience, including:
- Adjusting busy lights on and off, so you can let your colleagues know if you’re busy without having to mime to them that you’re on a call
- Enable volume limits to protect your ears if something loud happens
- Play back your own voice in the audio stream so you can hear yourself a little better, for those who prefer a more natural experience.
There’s also the standard audio settings allowing you to adjust the equalizer, which applies to all audio played through the headset, so you can forget about needing app-specific settings here.
Last, but by no means least, there’s a rather stylish little soft carrying case which makes putting the Evolve2 in your backpack very easy so you can transport them between your work-from-home office, your actual office, on the train, or anywhere else you happen to be working.
Jabra’s Evolve2 30 is available in either MS Teams or Unified Communication specific configurations (though, frankly, it makes little difference), as well as USB-A and USB-C options. All of them are $146 a-piece at the time of writing, and you can buy them online from Jabra.com.au.
If you’re after a mono variant (as many people – myself included – often leave one ear off in stereo headsets for better spatial awareness), you’ll save about $14.