Two and a half years on from when COVID changed all ours lives, things are returning to the “new” normal. One thing that I feel has changed forever is our perception of headsets. We are much more discerning about our headsets now, KPI for them are no longer the domain of call center operators.
When so many of us adopted (or embraced) #WFH or study from home, we found ourselves constantly donning headsets. Whether it is for yet another meeting, calls on the phone, or to drown out the background noise because everyone else is contending for space at home, the headset’s role is as crucial as your computer.
The Jabra Evolve2 75 was launched in late 2021, but is now much more readily available. Jabra pitches it for hybrid working – “from the first call of the day to the last train home”. So with thanks to Jabra for their support once again, we get to try these out.
Being a tech reviewer, what gear is on my desk to use changes frequently and often. But what is still floating on my desk is the Jabra Evolve2 85 which has been a solid performer.
The Evolve2 75 has a similar look and build. My review unit is black, which is perfectly suited to the professional environment. The extendable steel arms are a gun-metal grey to offset the sea of black. The over the head part is steel with a leatherette material covering it, with plenty of padding.
The layout of buttons remains the same. The left ear cup has the power switch which doubles as the pairing switch. There is a button to toggle ANC and ambient modes and a USB-C port for charging (if you didn’t get the optional charging stand to plonk it on).
The right ear cup has the flip down boom mic which also features a mute button under the tip. When you are not on a call, it acts as a voice assistant button which is a handy feature. There are also buttons for volume control, track navigation as well as a button to answer calls.
There are not a huge amount of differences between the Evolve2 75 and the Evolve2 85. The Evolve2 75 is on-ear rather than over-ear.
Certification is limited to Cisco, MS Teams and Unify.
Jabra has shed an incredible 30% off the weight, with the Evolve2 75 coming in at 197g, compared to the 286g of the Evolve2 85.
Included in the package is a soft felt carry pouch, a Jabra Link380 dongle and a USB-C to USB-C cable.
Connection options is USB or Bluetooth, the 3.5mm port has been dropped in the Evolve2 75.
When I talked about being more discerning about our headsets, we are overall more aware, and demanding in our selection criteria.
Things I care greatly about are:
- comfort level – can I wear them for extended periods? Do they hurt my head or my ears?
- sound quality – does voice come through clearly and naturally? does my voice come through clearly and naturally to the other part(ies)? What about music if I am in between calls?
- battery life – how long can I go without recharging? Will it last my average day, or two if I forget to put it back on charge?
Getting to the technicals, the earcups house 40mm dynamics drivers with a frequency range of 100Hz to 8kHz for voice calls and 20Hz to 20kHz for music. Codec support is limited to AAC and SBC, with aptX missing out in this instance.
The headset is certified for all the major UC (Unified Communications) platforms, noting that my review unit is a Microsoft Teams specific variant. Whether you want UC or Microsoft optimisation is a decision that needs to be made at the time of purchase. Additionally you have to choose between USB-A or USB-C version.
My review unit comes with a Jabra Link 380 Bluetooth dongle which ensures a more stable connection with your computer, and it also extends the wireless range to 100 feet (building material notwithstanding). If you want to get started in a hurry, you can just plug in the dongle and fire up your headset.
Similar to the Evolve2 85, the Evolve2 75 has an eight-mic array featuring four analogue and four digital MEMS mics for maximum clarity. I like to have the boom mic extended when I am in a call, because it is a very visual indication to my daughter that I am busy (not that she particularly cares). There are also busy lights on both sides of both earcups dedicated to this purpose (which she also ignores).
I don’t get any complains on conference calls with the boom mic extended. The unit emphasises the frequency range for human voices and is rather superb at boosting clarity and reducing background noise. Sound is captured by the 8-mic array from both the retractable boom mic and the speaker housings, coupled with Jabra’s noise processing to enable effective Active Noise Cancelling.
Background noises are quite effectively muted, although marginally less so for voices. It works fine, just not quite as stellar as random noises. I have been caught out more than a few times “ignoring” my other half simply because I can’t hear her talk between the PNC, ANC and just generally focused on my work.
When the boom mic is rotated back into the earcup, the microphones are muted by default. This behaviour can be changed via the Sounds+ app or Jabra Direct software. Personally I like to leave it at the default behaviour especially when I may need to attend to say, toileting needs of a child. Microphone clarity will degrade when the Evolve2 75 is used in boom mic retracted position, but given Jabra’s expertise with earbuds, it is fair to say it is inline with the true wireless range.
So the Evolve2 75 excels with voice conferences, how does it go with music?
The generic sound profile isn’t anything to get really excited about. There is a fullness to the bass line but also there is clipping on the uppers. Look I am no spring chicken and I do rely on the MySound hearing profile to optimise the experience and compensate for asymmetries between left and right ear as well as limitations to hearing as I get older.
The MySound profile along with the equaliser helps broaden the overall sound stage to make it more than acceptable for enjoying my music when I am not on calls. For something different I threw the Cloud Atlas OST at the Evolve2 75 to see how it handles the exquisite score to a fair to middling Hollywood interpretation of a grand novel by David Mitchell.
It took a little tuning with the EQ and whilst the score didn’t reach any spectacular cloud bursting crescendos, it was a haunting and enjoyable rendition of the soundtrack.
Audiophiles will lament the not quite full some sound stage, but the Evolve2 75 is primarily a work device rather than entertainment.
A nice feature is that you can prioritise computer audio over other streams. So if you are playing music on your phone, but a call comes in on the computer, the music is automatically paused in favour of the computer audio.
All the numbers relating to battery have gone up. With ANC on Jabra rates 33 hours for music listening (up from 32 hours in the Evolve2 85), and 24 hours for calls (up from 21 hours).
Charging has also gone up to 160 minutes for a full charge (up from 140 minutes).
The battery life is more than sufficient for any regular work day, even for my kind of hours. As I mention earlier, I want a comfort level knowing that I can get away with forgetting to charge it overnight and still be able to work without interruptions the next day.
I have definitely done this during the review period, and I have also left them on all night to come back and run another full day without trouble. A 35 minutes charge will get you 8 hours of use in a pinch.
When you are constantly wearing a headset, comfort level becomes paramount.
The Evolve2 75 are on-ear rather than over-ear. Whilst I found them largely comfortable to use, I have a personal preference for the over-ear type. Yes the on-ear mode is more convenient, I can offset the position to keep an ear out for things that need my attention.
But despite quite extended use, I am not getting used to the feeling of pressure on my ears and I found these just a little less comfortable in the long run. It is not something I notice too much when I am using them, but I do feel like my head has been a little pinched when I take them off.
The Evolve2 75 comes with multi-point connectivity. You can connect two devices concurrently and oh boy is it ever fast to fire up and be ready.
More than once I have jumped into a meeting without realising the headsets are turned off, and it was a quick flick of the switch and I am almost instantly in the call.
The Jabra Evolve2 75 is probably best to be thought in terms of an all-round with a preference for work over leisure. It is no slouch in the latter department but voice call quality is where it shines. ANC is solid, as scientifically measured by the number of times I have gotten in trouble for not hearing my other half talk from across the lounge.
Coming in at a RRP of AUD$635 for the headset only, it is priced as a premium product. Whilst my personal preference is not for on-ear form factor, I do note that they are not entirely uncomfortable to wear. The Jabra Evolve2 75 comes in either gold beige or black, USB-A or USB-C and Microsoft Teams or Unified Communications variants. The optional charging stand which is mighty handy sets you back another AUD$80. Shop around though because it is as low as AUD$450 on Amazon at time of publishing.
Box content: Headset, Jabra Link 380 Bluetooth adapter, USB cable 1.2m/3.9ft, carry pouch, user documents, desk stand (SKU dependent)
Main unit dimensions (WxHxD): 145mm x 67mm x 190mm | 5.71in x 2.64in x 7.48in
Materials used: Dual-foam leatherette cushion, Headband ultra soft foam covered in colour-matched leatherette, Metal slide arm
Weight (stereo variant): 197g | 6.9oz
USB cable length: 1.2m
LED features and functions: Busylight, Deskstand docking indication, Incoming call, Microsoft Teams notifications (SKU dependent)
Active Noise-Cancellation: Jabra Advanced ANC™ using 4 of the device’s 8 microphones
Speaker size: 40mm
Speaker max input power: 30 mW
Speaker frequency range: 20Hz – 20000Hz
Speaker bandwidth (music mode): 20Hz – 20000Hz
Speaker bandwidth (speak mode): 100Hz – 8000Hz
Audio codecs supported: AAC, SBC
Microphone type: 4 Analog MEMS / 4 Digital MEMS
Microphone sensitivity: -35 dBv/Pa (analog microphone)/-26 dBFS/Pa (digital microphone)
Microphone frequency range: Analog 5Hz – 20000Hz | Digital 100Hz – 8000Hz
User hearing protection: PeakStop, EU noise at work, G616, Jabra SafeTone
Certifications and compliance*: Microsoft Teams, MFi, Zoom, Amazon Alexa built-in
Fit & comfort
Headset form factor: On-ear headband
Software & Apps
Compatible software and/or apps: Jabra Direct, Jabra Sound+, Jabra Xpress
Alexa Builtn: Yes
Music time: Up to 36 hours (with ANC off) / up to 33 hours (with ANC on)
Talk-time: Up to 25 hours (with ANC/busylight off) / Up to 19 hours (with ANC on/busylight on)
Corded charging (cable dependent): USB-C
Sleep mode: Yes
Charging time: Up to 160 minutes
Battery status % after 30 min / 60 min: 30% after 35 min and 60% after 70 min
Battery type: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Connectivity: USB-A/USB-C Bluetooth adapter, Bluetooth
Bluetooth profiles: A2DP v1.3, AVRCP v1.6, HFP v1.8, HSP v1.2, PBAP v1.1, SPP v1.2
Bluetooth version: 5.2
Operating range: Up to 30m | 100ft
Simultaneous Bluetooth connections: 2
Paired devices: Up to 8 devices
On-head detection: Yes