>> Products & Reviews >> Accessories
Jabra C820s Stereo Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation: Bose on a budget?

Wed Apr 4, 2007 - 10:47 AM EDT - By Harv Laser

User Opinions
Thumbs Up 100% Thumbs Down 0%

Read Opinions (2)

Would you recommend Jabra C820s Stereo Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation?
Yes   No  

Product Info

Garcon! More headphones!

Note: click any picture in this review and a full-sized version will pop open in a new window.

It looks like I'll have to stock up on Purina Headphone Chow since my ever-growing stable of cans just grew by one :)

When one sees the name "Jabra", one usually thinks of little Bluetooth headsets, and they make plenty of them. But the C820s is Jabra's first foray into the ream of wired, stereo headphones, so first, let's get straight exactly what these are and what they are not:

The C820s are "circum-aural" (around the ears), full-sized, Stereo headphones. Although they have a blue light on the left earcup, they are not Bluetooth anything. These headphones function ONLY when connected with a cable to some kind of device that outputs stereo or mono audio �your Treo, any kind of MP3 player, your laptop, your home HiFi, an airliner's passenger seat audio plug.. virtually any kind of audio-producing hardware, with virtually any kind of headphone jack. They are NOT a "headset" in that they have no microphone, so they can't be used to make or take phone calls.

They also feature battery-powered "Active Noise Cancellation", also referred to as Active Noise Reduction or ANR an electronic technology which causes ambient noise around you, mostly low frequency, to cancel itself out. Click the link for an explanation of what ANR is all about.

Jabra crams the C820s blister pack (yes, one of those welded-shut plastic affairs that has you running for your scissors, sharp blade, or chainsaw to open) with a plethora of accessory jacks to plug'em into just about any audio equipment you might encounter.

When one looks at today's headphone market and thinks of models which have built-in noise cancellation, one usually thinks of the Bose Quiet Comforts, mainly because they've been around for years and Bose spends millions advertising them, even full length television infomercials. However, the Bose QCs, which come in two different models are expensive. I've never owned the QCs, but they generally get rave reviews. The C820s is, by their own admission, Jabra's attempt to dip their toes into Bose's ANR headphone market with a product that although it has an MSRP of $199.00 has a street price far below that. If this isn't a good example of a "clone" product, at least in the looks department, I don't know what is.

In the box

Once you've hacked your way through the C820s plastic tomb and extracted the contents, you'll find all this stuff:

  • The headphones, neatly folded flat, tucked into a recess
  • A four-language, illustrated owner's manual
  • A stylish black, zippered hard carrying case with a small zippered pocket in its left half (for some reason I can't fathom, and I'm getting really picky here, but the hard case's single zipper goes literally all the way around such that if you unzip it all the way, the two halves of the case separate, and you have to fiddle around guiding the zipper handle back onto its track again.. imagine if you unzipped your jeans and the zipper came off its track at the bottom and you'll get the picture)..

    There are two, interlocking plastic containers within the case and here you'll find:

  • a five foot long, thin-wire cable, 3.5mm male jacks on both ends
  • a ONE foot long, thin-wire cable, ditto
  • a single AAA Alkaline battery
  • a standard 1/4 inch stereo jack adapter
  • a dual-jack airline passenger seat adapter
  • a 3.5mm > 2.5mm stereo jack adapter

    One head-scratcher here: why would they include a one foot long cable? Well the answer came to me as I opened the manual and saw an illustration showing that incredibly short cable connected to an iPod shuffle. Apparently the shorty is meant to be used with any extremely light MP3 player � the tiny kind you'd clip to your shirt collar, or stick in your nose. They make those, don't they? {grin}.. It'd be useless for any other application unless you want to walk around holding your Treo or laptop within one foot of your head. Uhh.. no.

    And unfortunately, that last jack listed above and shown on the left, does NOT work correctly with a Treo. Yes, it fits your phone's port, but it has three black rings and three contacts on it, not two as a Treo's audio port requires. If you plug it into a Treo, you'll only get audio in your right ear. I confirmed nothing was broken by trying this adapter in both my 700p and 650 � same results. That adapter must be for some other kind of phone, I have no idea WHAT kind, so be warned, if you buy these headphones, you'll need to already have or buy the proper "two black rings" style 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter, like the one shown on the right, to use them with your Treo, and TreoCentral's store has one listed on the C820s' product page, or there are others from which to choose.

    The C820s are stylish, weight about 7 oz., and feel solidly built for a mostly plastic product. These are standard over-the-head style cans, and the headband is covered in very cushy, softly-padded fabric, while each earcup sports a typically soft and comfy, "pleather" pad. The earcups can be extended from the headband about one inch max, and fully-extended they just fit me. Comfort is a relative thing, and while they weren't the best feeling headphones I've ever worn, they were far from the worst too.

    Atop the left earcup is a flip up battery door for the ANR circuitry. Fingernail it open, drop one AAA battery into it and press it shut. A small slide switch just below turns ANR on and off with a small blue indicator light just above it. The manual advises NOT to use a rechargeable battery � a call to Jabra's tech support couldn't provide an answer as to why. I tried both an alkaline and a rechargeable NiMH battery and got identical results. Another mystery.. go figure.

    The specs

    As headphones go, the C820s' specs are fairly, well, respectable. To quote the "sell sheet": Active Noise Cancellation: up to 22 dB

  • Active Noise Cancellation battery life: up to 50 hours (the blue LED blinks if the battery gets low)..
  • Audio bypass function enables the delivery of compensated audio in absence of battery

    "Compensated audio"? That's a new one on me, and Jabra's Tech support couldn't explain that terminology either but told me that the manual was written in Denmark, although the headphones are made in China. Ear cups with premium grade leatherette pads

  • Frequency response: 20 Hz to 22 kHz /- 3dB
  • Speakers: 2 x 1� in (2 x 40 mm) neodymium

    "Does that mean each earcup has two speakers or one?" I asked the Tech support rep. Again, he didn't know, promised to call me back with an answer, and never did. I'll assume it means one speaker or "driver" in each earcup.

  • Total Harmonic Distortion: less than 1%
  • Impedance: 64 Ohm
  • Weighs less than 7 oz (200 g)
  • Dimensions: H 6 4/5 x W 6 �/5 x D 3 �/10 in (174 x 163 x 80 mm)

    A visual comparison to other headphones I own >>

    Copyright 1999-2016 TreoCentral. All rights reserved : Terms of Use : Privacy Policy

    TREO and TreoCentral are trademarks or registered trademarks of palm, Inc. in the United States and other countries;
    the TreoCentral mark and domain name are used under license from palm, Inc.
    The views expressed on this website are solely those of the proprietor, or
    contributors to the site, and do not necessarily reflect the views of palm, Inc.
    Read Merciful by Casey Adolfsson