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Jabra Revo headphones review: Superior design meets strong sound

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The sound quality of the wired Revos reviewed here is easier to judge: it's very good. Overall, the sound is clean and dynamic, with plump but not overwhelming bass and fairly crisp highs. I can't say the sound is quite up to the level of the larger, over-the-ear Audio-Technica ATH-M50, but it's a pleasant-sounding headphone that you can listen to for long periods -- and it's well suited to a variety of music.

Close-up of the inline remote. Sarah Tew/CNET

It's worth noting that you can choose to run your music through Jabra's Sound app, which is available as a free download for iOS and Android devices with an included code. The app allows you to tweak the bass and treble and gives you the option of turning on Dolby Digital Plus processing, which changes how your music sounds. Some will think that the Dolby processing improves the sound and others might not think it really makes it better. You also have the option of activating a "Mobile Surround" mode, which gives the impression of a widened sound stage.

Audio purists probably won't like any of this stuff, but, as I said, some folks will prefer the Dolby processing. Regardless, the app works only with your iTunes library on your phone (or music library on your Android phone) and not with music services like Spotify and Rdio, which more and more people -- including me -- are using.

The headphones could sound slightly better for the price. Sarah Tew/CNET

Other headphones in this price class include the aforementioned Bose OE2i, which is a lighter, slightly more comfortable headphone, that folds into a more compact form factor. The Bose has a bit smoother, creamier sound (it's a little less dynamic). You'll also find plenty of other on-ear models between $150 and $200 (and less), including the well-crafted Bowers & Wilkins P3.

While the Revo isn't distinctly better than the P3 and other top competitors, it holds its own against them, and in many cases, is the more comfortable choice.

It's also worth mentioning that used as a headset, the Revo works quite well. Callers said they could hear me fine and that my voice sounded clear (at least indoors without any wind blowing).

The tangle-resistant cloth-covered cord terminates in an L-shaped plug. Sarah Tew/CNET

Generally, the two most important factors in headphones are comfort and sound quality. You can argue over which is more important, but I don't give an "excellent" rating to a headphone unless it's very strong in both categories.

Putting aside the fact that Jabra could have thrown in a better carrying pouch at this price, I thought the Revos delivered on both the comfort and sound-quality front, and they're about $100 more affordable than their wireless counterparts, the Revo Wireless. Mobile users will also appreciate the inclusion of an inline remote/microphone.

As I said earlier, I may not be a huge fan of on-ear models, but I'm a fan of the Jabra Revo. While it may not be a bargain at around $160, it's a very solid headphone, particularly for mobile users looking for a model that's sturdy yet not too bulky.

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