Two things have got me through the latest lockdown and the work from home cycle.
The first is my handmade “You’re Muted” sign (basically a bit of paper stuck to a lollypop stick) which I wave like a flag at various folk when they forget. Sometimes I don’t wave it and have a few moments of bliss, but this is usually short lived.
The other is the Jabra Evolve 2 headphones that they leant me after I whinged about how badly earbuds handle laptops and Teams in particular.
The problem with the earbuds (of all makes, I might add) isn’t the earbuds themselves but rather the weird way laptops and apps like Teams and other conference apps use Bluetooth. When music plays, it’s gorgeous – the top notes are clear, the bass is distinct, the background noise fades away. But when you’re on a conference call all the smarts are dumped in favour of a raw mewling squall of noise and hissing that would make a den of snakes and kittens sound melodious by contrast.
Rather than put up with me complaining, Jabra sent me these gorgeous over the ear phones that do two things my earbuds do not: they are comfortable to wear for the eight hours a day we’ve been in virtual meetings and they largely allow good quality audio to happen despite the best efforts of the various laptops.
The controls are easy to find and operate – you can turn off active noise cancellation, connect via Bluetooth or even plug them in via a cable if you’re a heathen with a 3.5mm jack point. They charge via USB-C or better, wirelessly through a handy cradle and will run for up to 37 hours wireless use.
The microphone arm neatly tucks away into the right hand earpiece when not in use (and mutes the call when you do so for those quick chats) and the whole package is wrapped in soft plastics that avoid the usual sweaty-eared madness that comes with larger headphones. The padding on the headband is also on the generous side making it much less likely to give you a headache.
Best of all, though, when you’re on a call a DO NOT DISTURB red light comes on at the back that stops people walking up to you. I absolutely need to find a way to turn this on randomly when I’m working on something and do not wish to chat about the television show I haven’t seen yet or the yachting. I need that a lot. Sadly, in the office environment it encouraged staffers to come over to see just what the red light was all about, but that’s not so much a Jabra thing as a colleague thing.
But it’s the audio quality that really makes the Evolve 2 so good. The ANC coupled with the comfy ear cups does a fantastic job of blocking out the world around you. I’m wearing them now and can hear my heart beating (which is good) and the keystrokes of my typing but nothing beyond that. They’re so good I had to text my family yesterday to find out if they were home or not – not something that’s ever been a problem before as they make themselves well known. Ahem.
The whole unit can swivel and collapse like a Transformer until it fits in a relatively slim carry pouch but can’t compete with the Elite 85t earbuds for portability so now I guess it’s Evolve2s in the office, and Elites for out and about.
While they’re not cheap, you’re totally worth it, and now that we’re all hybrid and working remotely, and we’re likely to have another few goes at this lockdown thing before the year is out, do yourself a favour and check them out. Your ears will thank you for it.
Now all I need is a sign that says “put yourself on mute” for those people who are always eating… Maybe I need it on a t-shirt.