Are you ready to ROX? I hope you are because I'm going to tell you about the latest set of wireless bluetooth earbuds from Jabra that going to ROX your world! I typically don't start my review with comparison to other products in the same category, and rather reserve that for a follow up comments. In case of this new Jabra product I'm going to make an exception. For awhile this specific category of wireless active lifestyle earbuds was dominated by Jaybird BlueBuds X (BBX) until Plantronics released BackBeat Go 2 (BBG2) which if you remember I declared a winner in a detailed comparison against BBX and also short-lived Anker 4.0 earbuds. There are a lot of factors that make wireless headset stand out, but often a sound quality is where they fall short. Unfortunately, as part of bluetooth wireless transmission the sound gets compressed and the quality goes down, even beyond repair with your smartphone EQ. Some manufacturers use aptX codec which suppose to reduce compression artifacts and improve the sound quality, others use proprietary DSP to process the sound. And of course, the quality of earbud drivers play a significant role in being able to cover wide frequency range of the sound. On their packaging box, Jabra states "Massive Wireless Sound", and that's exactly what I found and why I consider them to take the crown over BBX and BBG2 or any other wireless headset I have tested so far. Let's take a closer look at what I have found.
Starting with a packaging box, Jabra put these earbuds on a display pedestal showcasing them like a real rock star. Also, a lot of the info was provided to describe it's features and accessory content to give you an overview of the product even before you take it out of the box. Once out of the box, you can't help but notice the quality of the material crafted with premium metal finish covering the back of earbuds and in-line remote while still weighting only 19g. One thing that stood out for me was a relatively slim profile of the earbuds body which doesn't stick out too much outside of your ear. The flat rubberized wire was attached to earbuds with a very secure strain relief, which is longer on the left side perhaps due to additional wiring in lieu of the charging port. The in-line remote is on the right side, closer to the right earbud and has a distinct profile with a recessed space for multi-function button in the middle which is very easy to find between volume/track up/down controls. In addition to that, in-line remote also hosts NFC zone for an easy pair up with your smartphone or tablet device supporting it. The overall construction is very durable and actually IP52 certified which suggests protection against dust and water. The ROX is build solid and would be a perfect companies for any indoor or outdoor activities.
In addition to earbuds, Jabra also included a very generous amount of accessories. You get a premium quality usb to micro-usb charging cable (yes, no need for any proprietary connectors, it uses a standard micro-usb port under the magnetic cover of left earbud), a protective drawstring storage pouch, a removable FitClip which can adjust the length of the cable in the back, a set of 3 pairs of EarWing stabilizers for ultra-secure fit in your ear (these are among the best I have tried with any wired or wireless sports headphones), a quick start guide, and 4 pairs of premium EarGel eartips, including one double-flange pair. I'm talking about hybrid type with a ColorCore rather than some cheap generic silicone tips. That right away triggered a thought: Jabra mean serious business about the sound quality. As you well aware, I review a lot of premium in-ear headphones, and any company which includes quality eartips is serious about their sound quality. Unfortunately, for my own personal fitment I had to use my own eartips (another set of large hybrid eartips), but I have to bring to everyones attention - the selection of eartips for the best fitment with ROX earbuds is VERY important. You have to treat it like any premium wired headphones, also considering these headphone have a short in-ear stem thus you want to seal your ear canal for the best sound isolation no matter how secure EarWings will hold them in your ear.
Once you get the best seal - hold on to your seat because you will get hit with a deep bass that will make your jaw drop. By default, they are tuned to produce a strong thick v-shaped fun sound dominated by bass and roll off in upper mids/treble. Now here comes the beauty. Remember I said early on that once your headset receives a compressed sound, it's impossible to correct it because of the missing audio content? Here, using my Note 2 and a stock audio player I was able to select "Classic" EQ preset (which tunes down mid-bass hump and tunes upper mids/treble to brighten the sound with more clarity and overall balance) and I couldn't believe my ears I was listening to a music through a wireless connection. Yeah, it was that good, thanks to BT 4.0 and dedicated DSP sound processing. I'm not hyping it up, it just needs a selection of the right size eartips and some EQ tweaking, unless you prefer the default sound signature. The in-line remote worked perfectly to play/pause/call and volume controls were adjusting the level up/down as well as skipping tracks next/prev. Though sound quality while listening to the music or watching movies, etc. was fantastic, during making the calls the people on the other end heard me really good while on my end a experience a little tunnel sound. It was still acceptable, but not the best. Furthermore, I tested wireless connection to work up to 40 ft in the open area.
Battery life always a sore subject when it comes to wireless headsets, and was a subject of a number of discussion with BBX and BBG2. ROX actually occupies a happy medium with 6 hours of music streaming and 5.5 hours of talk time. As I mentioned before, charging port is a common micro-usb connector so you can charge ROX from your laptop or wall charger or car charger used for any of your smartphones or tablets. The standby time is very impressive 18 days. Now to take it to the next level, Jabra introduced a clever power-saving functionality which gets activated once you attach earbuds back-to-back using it's built-in magnets. That actually serves a dual purpose since when not in use, you turn your headset into a secure necklace preventing ROX from slipping down, and at the same time going into power-saving sleep mode disconnecting from your phone. Once you disengage the magnets, it pairs up back instantaneously with your phone. I also found when ROX is unpaired, you can simply attach earbuds magnetically to each other and take them apart to pair up with a phone. I was very impressed with this original functionality. Also, Jabra talks a lot about Dolby Digital Plus implementation which can be activated by downloading their free app. I found this app to be a substitute to a stock media player with different EQ setting, and ability to enable Dolby Digital surround sound which actually added an artificial depth to a sound - not my cup of tea.
In a brief summary I would like to explain why I found ROX to be superior to BBX and BBG2. First of all, ROX has the most "regular" in-ear fitment without sticking out too much out of your ears. Of course, these are not a tiny earbuds considering how much electronics they host, but they were on-par with some multi-driver premium IEM wired headphones I tested in the past. In comparison, BBX and BBG2 were sticking out too much, and BBG2 stabilizers were useless. Also, the sound quality was by far superior due to a full body detailed warm sound (comparing apple-to-apples with a same Classic EQ setting and the best eartip fitment) and great low end with deep sub-bass and a fast punch of mid-bass. BBX sound is more bloated and BBG2 is on a thin side in comparison to ROX. One thing I found with ROX that was inferior to others, the in-line remote was too close to the right earbud and as a result on a few occasions while reaching out to control playback or volume I actually pulled the earbud out of my ear.
Overall, I was VERY pleased with a design, build, and performance of ROX wireless earbuds. Everything from high quality material, to a rugged performance backed by IP52 certification, ability to pair up via Bluetooth or using NFC, magnetic stand-by mode which also allows to securely keep earbuds around your neck, a decent battery like and the MOST important - a truly massive sound quality, elevated these wireless headphones to the top of my list in comparison to other headphones in this category. Though priced a bit on a high side, they are still comparable to BBX and not too far away from BBG2, while having an advantage in both design and performance in comparison to either of those. In my opinion, I highly recommend these!
Here are the pictures.