I'm a wireless guy. But that doesn't stop me from packing a wired headset in by laptop bag as a backup. There's nothing to charge, the connections are completely reliable, there are never any pairing complications, and the sound quality of even mediocre models is often better than mid-level wireless headset.
I'm also a big fan of Jabra headsets, as anyone who's looked at my past reviews can see. Their wireless models have consistently good sound quality, even when they're lacking in other areas. So when I got the opportunity to test a wired headset from Jabra, my interest was piqued. Let's see if their C500 delivered on what I've come to expect.
Design and Operation
In this age of wireless headsets so small that they're in danger of disappearing in our ear canal, the Jabra C500 is a refreshing step back. It features a behind-the-ear design that, if you haven't used this style before, looks as though it would be more than a little awkward to put on.
On the contrary, I was extremely impressed by the fit of the unit. Though it looks a little unwieldy when it's not actually being worn, this is one of the most ergonomic headsets I've tested. It's more comfortable to wear than most headsets that are half of this one's size. The shape and angle of the eargel are extremely well thought out, so that once it's in your ear, the fit is completely secure.
The fixed-length boom microphone features a chrome colored talk/end button on the bottom, and a mute switch. I prefer this design to the usual microphone controller on the wire, which skews the headset's weight distribution.
The rest of the unit is pretty standard: a three-foot cord with a swiveling alligator clip in the middle, and a 2.5mm headphone jack at the end. Also included are two small-sized eargels and one regular-size replacement eargel.
Even without the DSP wizardry of Jabra's Bluetooth versions, the C500's incoming sound quality is excellent, a characteristic I've come to expect from wired headsets. The lack of line distortion and the acoustic sealing of the eargel add up to make this a great sounding headset.
In outgoing sound quality leaves a little more to be desired. The highs and midrange are muted in an irregular pattern that goes in and out. It's still very listenable, but doesn't come close to the premium wireless headsets I'm used to testing. The main reason is the microphone compression that seems to level out foreground and background noise. In voice mails tests issued from a cafe with music in the background, I noticed that music was close to the volume of my voice, despite the fact that my mouth was only a couple of inches away from the microphone.
The design and comfort of the C500 are terrific. It fits very securely to the ear, and has a very professional look and build quality. It's also fairly light for a single-piece headset. The only real Achilles' heel of the headset is the outgoing sound quality that tends to equalize background sound levels with your voice. If you plan to use your headset primarily in quiet settings, or strictly for backup, this would be a good headset to get. If you spend a lot of time outdoors or in public places, this may not be the headset for you.
Solid one-piece construction
Talk button and mute switch integrated into headset
Very comfortable to wear
|Microphone picks up background noise easily
Larger than most current headsets