Pros: Lightweight design, NFC & Bluetooth functionalities, mids, comfort, PC compatibility
Cons: Lows, build quality and functionalities
Build quality: 7.5/10
Overall sound quality: 6.5/10
Microphone/Call quality: 8.5/10
Value: 8.5/10 (at £40 price tag)
Overall rating: 8.5/10
First of all I would like to thank Creative for sending me the Sound Blaster Jam Bluetooth headphones for review. For more information about the headset and its specifications can be found on Creative’s website. The headphones can be found for £40 on AmazonUK and around $50 on AmazonUSA.
Here’s my video review:
Now let’s get into the written review!
Packaging and contents
The packaging is quite a lot for such a lightweight headphone – inside the package there’s a microUSB cable, a manual & warranty information alongside the headphone themselves. Quite a simple package contents – it would have been nice to see a pouch included for transportation sakes.
Build quality & Design
The build quality is a little hit and miss – as the whole headphone is made out of plastic. Despite it feeling strong enough to take a lot of knocks, I feel that the build quality is very much linked with the comfort and its lightweight design. This means that Creative took careful consideration when deciding the materials and design. Due to Creative aiming to presumably aim for those that want a very lightweight headphone, with a low-profile look – they sacrificed some important features, which would have boosted its build quality.
For example, despite these headphones being portable, due to their lightweight nature, there’s no way of pivoting/folding/rotating the headphone’s drivers. This means that you’re fixed with the given design. Due to this, Creative decided not to include any metal hinges, no extra mechanisms to give the drivers some adjustments to fit on different size heads, nor did they even include a metal headband assembly (where the adjustments are usually build with metal materials – as it prologues the life of a given headphone). Furthermore, there isn’t even any padding at the top of the headband assembly. This is why I feel the build quality is a mixed bag – on one hand I can see why Creative have chosen to exclude these parts, but by looking at it in a different light, it feels that Creative have cheap’ed out on materials to save costs.
Which ever way you look at it there’s pros and cons to both arguments – for me, I feel that Creative haven’t deliberately done it to safe costs and/or any other negative reasons – I feel that creative have looked at “how to create a very lightweight and low-profile headphone” and thus created the Jam headphone for that exact purpose.
Moving on to the buttons found on the headphone, there’s vol+/- buttons, that also double up as previous/skip buttons. The play/pause button also is able to receive and end calls, where it should be mentioned that this headphone can take calls and at a reasonably good quality. Call quality is good, and clear enough to make a call. It does sound a little muffled at times, but it wasn’t something I noticed all the time. Finally, in terms of buttons, it also has a bass button – which effectively boosts the mid-bass of the headphone. This does affect the mids and pushes them back quite a bit. I feel that this is a nice touch as people might have a wide array of music and in this respect could just press a button in order to fit their music genre (as a note: when pressing the bass button it briefly cuts out the music for a split second).
I should also mention that these are Bluetooth capable headphones, which can also be connected via NFC. In terms of its Bluetooth range, I was disappointed – as it couldn’t go further than 5-8m in clear line-of-sight of the source device (Samsung Galaxy Note2), furthermore when there was a wall in-between the source and the headphones, it was a dismal 3m. It isn’t a huge deal – as I don’t really expect people to be using their headphones at great range, but sporting Bluetooth 4.1, I would have thought their range would have been phenomenal.
On the plus side, the battery life of the headset is very good – as the quoted time of 12hrs, I managed on/off usage of around 10hrs, which is great for a headphone which is extremely thin and lightweight.
Finally to round off the build quality section – there’s my favourite part of this headphone: The micrUSB connection. Now most might overlook this, but apart from charging the headphone, the microUSB port can also be used with a desktop computer. This not only means charging the device, but also using the headphone, via USB on your desktop – this is absolutely sensational, especially as it was a matter of only plugging and playing the headphone to the PC. Driver installed automatically and no additional software was needed for it to run perfect. Creative also claim that it can play high-quality music files. In my case, I found that the music, whilst connected to the PC, did in fact sound better than when it was connected via Bluetooth to my phone. It should be said that there’s no aux input on the headphone, which is a shame, as if you ever run out of battery, then you’re left without any headphones to listen to your music.
Comfort & Isolation
Due to the headphone being extremely light (possibly one of the lightest I’ve ever come across), the comfort is absolutely excellent. The headphones are so light that you cannot feel them on your head – however due to the lack of any movement of the drivers, the headphone might not sit perfectly on your ears, which might cause discomfort. Furthermore, due to the lack of padding at the top of the headband it means over very long periods of usage, the headband might be somewhat felt on the top of your head -this won’t be as big of a problem as it might be with other heavier headphones, simply due to the fact that the Jam is so light – thus you shouldn’t ever get that type of feeling at the top of your head.
Finally, the pads on the headphones are just about enough to make it comfortable on-ear. The pads are big enough to accommodate my reasonably big ears, therefore I’m sure others won’t have a problem with it.
Due to the headphones being on-ear, the isolation isn’t great – it leaks a little bit of music and don’t isolate that well. This is however to be expected from any on-ear headphone.
The sound quality of the headphone is decent – albeit not being amazing in any given frequency. The mids are reasonably flat, however have a slight dip. The highs don’t really extend that much and are rolled off a little. The lows are acceptable, but there’s no sub-bass to be heard – the mid-bass has a decent slam but is a little uncontrolled. This means that the overall sound quality is about on-par, but a little disappointing considering the headphones are competing with a lot of headphones in their price range, even the Creative SB Infernos for example. I know they are two completely different headphones by design, but in terms of sound quality – it’s something that should be mentioned.
On the plus side the soundstage of the headphones were great – a nice airy sound with decent width and depth to the soundstage.
Overall, the sound quality was on-par with what you would expect for a £40 multi-functional headphone. It didn’t really blow my mind, but was pleasant enough tow ear and listen to, especially whilst being in the gym or running.
In conclusion the Jam headphones are very much targeted at a certain market – for those looking for a lightweight headphone, that has a low-profile and is NFC/Bluetooth capable. It isn’t aimed at those looking for extra functionalities, nor those looking for the best money can buy at under £40. These are really aimed at those wanting light and portable headphones.
In this respect, I feel that Creative did make the decision when designing the headphones and therefore excluded a few features that would have made the headphones a better buy at the given price range. At £40 – it’s a little bit of a stretch – but I can still see myself recommending the headphones, as I can see where and how they would be used. This is why, despite the headphones receiving mediocre scores throughout the review, it still gets a high overall score – as numbers don’t fully reflect the full package you receive with the Jam headphones.
Hope you enjoyed my review!