Review: Jabra Rox Bluetooth in-earphones

With a name like “Rox,” you better hope that an audio product does what the name at least sounds like, so does Jabra’s magnetic set of Bluetooth and NFC equipped in-earphones rock?

Features

A new set of earphones for Jabra, the Rox are a small pocketable pair of Bluetooth in-earphones for those who like to go walkabout, travelling and listening to music from their phone without the need for those pesky cables.

The earphone casing for the Rox are made from steel, with plastic covers over the back, and silicone tips, while the cable connecting the two earpieces is made from Kevlar.

Technology wise, there’s Bluetooth 4.0 and Near-Field Communication built into this headset, with a microphone also included on a button-based remote on the right side of the earphone cable, the part that connects the two earpieces.

Jabra’s remote supports volume up, volume down, and a pause and playback option, which can also be used to answer phone calls.

A variety of ear gels are included in the pack, with two small, two medium, two large, and two regular bi-flange tips provided, all of which are made from silicone.

Ear wings are also included, detachable hooks that can, in some instances, help the earphones to be more stable in the ear.

The Jabra Rox in-earphones support a battery capable of providing up to 5.5 hours of life, with the charge working through a microUSB port found on the left earphone, just behind the plastic cover.

A code for an application is found in the box, “Jabra Sound,” which makes the Rox in-earphones capable of listening to audio in Dolby Digital Plus.

Performance

If mobile phones are to get slimmer in the next few years, the headphone jack is going to have to go. That’s just one of the things that has to go, as the 3.5mm headphone port is holding up the thickness, an inclusion that one day will disappear as we all migrate to wireless earphones.

You can do this already, though, getting used to wireless audio ahead of the day we’re all forced to give it up, and Jabra’s latest set of wireless earphones tries to encourage this change not just because of the cord cutting, but because there’s some intelligent engineering at play here, thanks to some magnificent magnets.

Called the Rox, this pair of earphones takes advantage of a steel shell linked together by rubber and Kevlar, and a pair of magnets at each end, acting as both a power switch and a hook to make the earphones harder to lose.

Setting up the Rox has been made easy not just because Bluetooth is an easy wireless system to get working — go to Bluetooth under settings and search for the headset — but also because Jabra has included Near-Field Communication, meaning phones with NFC thrown in (sorry iPhone owners) merely need to rub the phone against the remote on the Rox for the two to start the wireless handshake and link up.

Once it’s done, you’re ready to start rocking out with the Rox. Sorry, we had to say it.

Stick them in your ears and you’re pretty much ready to go, the earphones switching on when they’re in your ears, basically connecting a second or two after you unclip the heads from the magnetic switch. We’ll get to how that works shortly, and why it’s such a good idea, but for now, let’s tackle the sound, since it’s such an important part of the package.

We started in the world of electronic, and on the Rox the bass is clear and very noticeable, with the minor impacts of the “Mirror’s Edge” soundtrack visible as reasonably heavy punches while the mids and highs stayed relevant, and the same was mostly true on Mooro’s “M66R6” which pumped the bass loud, though on this track the less bassy bits took a backseat to the impact here.

Switching to hip-hop and pop, the bass once again was a touch overpowering, with Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” featuring a heavier beat and drum line than the vocals running in the mids, showing us that the headphones may have been developed with bass heavy music in mind.

But another bass heavy track didn’t quite have the impact we expected, with Muse’s “Supremacy” lacking the same pow we saw on the electronic side of things, as the heavy guitar, bass, and drum lines all felt a touch shallow for this track in comparison to the electronic we had previously tested.

Tracks with less bass can feel a touch shallow and muddled, with Pharrell’s “Happy” and Sia’s “Chandelier” sounding less distinct than their electronic and hip-hop cousins.

Some of the jazz we tested with, much of it with less pronounced or highly engineered bass, managed to feel stronger and less muddled than the pop, with balanced bass on the Kermit Ruffins track “Treme Second Line” and the Coltrane classic “Blue Train.”

It’s an interesting pair indeed, and one that seems better suited to music that has obvious bass lines, such as electronic, r&b, and hip-hop, as well as the acoustic bass found in jazz.

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