Jabra STEP Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Earbud review
The Jabra STEP is a more affordable addition to Jabra’s pretty amazing lineup of wireless Bluetooth 4.0 earbuds. Unfortunately, you sacrifice some of the look, comfort, and sound in order to make up for the price difference and that’s the experience I’m left with after playing with these.
I‘ll point out here, these are good earbuds, but after playing with some of the higher-end ones that Jabra offers, I’d probably spend a little extra and go for the Jabra Sport+, the ROX, or the most comparable and lesser priced HMDX Craze (which is not Jabra).
What I ran into while playing with these is that they do not comfortably fit my ear. Obviously ears vary, but I couldn’t get a good enough fit that I felt I was getting the volume that was needed. This meant these were good for walking around/hiking, but if I wanted to rock out to some music I love it was like listening to it at about a seven or eight instead of an ear-breaking eleven.
The different ear gels didn’t do much for me, the large square plastic sitting in my ear just never quite felt right with the Jabra STEP, and I never felt like I wasn’t wearing not particularly comfortable square earpieces. They also never quite formed the perfect seal for the immersive/noise isolation sound experience.
For me, forget about running (and not just because I’m a fat lazy slob lo these past 19 months), as the attempt to create noise isolation in my ear tended to cause the ear pieces to boom in my ear. No issues walking, just jogging jogs the ear pieces and I feel like I’m next to a symphony drum.
I’m not particularly a fan of these. They feel like they were manufactured by another company and Jabra put their logo on them. Even getting the normally easy to access micro USB port open was different than the rest of the products of theirs I’ve used. It was a pain and I should have used tools because now I have bad fingernail memories associated with this. The packaging even felt like a breakaway from Jabra’s other products.
The Jabra STEP can produce some nice tunes and there’s where it does shine. Unfortunately they didn’t bother to include a spec sheet so I can’t tell exactly what the audio range they’re producing is. I also didn’t have any DSP/audio equipment that seemed to drive the earbuds past “loudish,” even though I can drive other less expensive speakers there.
Here are some specs I managed to get from Jabra’s website. They’re not listed on the box, in the accompanying documentation, or on Amazon that I can find:
- Passive Noise Reduction 15dB
- Bluetooth v 4.0 (although box says it works with all Bluetooth devices)
- Speaker sensitivity 95 dB ± 3 dB
- Frequency range 20Hz- 20kHz
- IP52 (dust/water resistant)
- Battery life: 4 hours talk/music
- 16.5 grams
The control piece… there’s nothing not much to feel to indicate where you’re at exactly. It’s a smooth piece of plastic. I get that you’ll learn which side is which, it doesn’t take long, but there’s no tactile feedback on this. It doesn’t feel cheap, but it feels like a copy of some of the better ones I’ve used. Just a little nub on the middle button would have been nice.
(above images: click to embiggen)
The other issue I have with the control is it dangles about two inches below the earpiece. This means I’m stuck using one hand to fiddle with the volume/track selection/etc. This isn’t horrible, but if they’d given it a little more distance I could be left handed and easily access the controls.
I generally think you should either have the controls about chin area in distance, or have them on the earpiece. This has more than enough space to have them on the earpiece.
Since I get these as review units and it behooves me to make absolutely correct statements or get dropped from that particular PR firm like a hot bag of review trash, I checked out the reviews elsewhere to make sure I wasn’t the only one with issues. I’m not.
Most of my complaints were addressed in the first two pages of reviews on Amazon. I’ll point out though that I had zero problems pairing this with anything I tried, but this seems to be a recurring complaint among users of the the Jabra STEP on Amazon. Your experiences will obviously vary based on source device and ear shape.
As a lower-end/priced headset I’d rate it a very slightly below average. However with the current price tag of around $70 on these, you can get a much nicer headset either from Jabra but older, or you could purchase two of the HMDX Crazes and share with a friend, etc.
If these were priced at $25, I’d say you’re getting an OK deal, but they’re not, and this feels like a step backwards in Jabra’s line.
The Jabra STEP is currently available at Amazon for $69.99. If they get down to $30 raise the rating by a star.