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Jabra C820s Active Noise Cancellation Headphones Review: Very Impressed

Best Value Noise Cancelling HeadphonesTreo Jabra C820sFor nearly two years now I have owned a secret weapon in my Treo accessory arsenal: the Bose Quiet Comfort 2 (QC2) Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones (see my review).  I absolutely and categorically will not travel anywhere without them as they help me to make a flight or train journey a more relaxed experience by almost completely shielding me from unwanted external noise (one of the principal causes of “travel stress” for me).

The audio quality, noise cancellation capabilities and wearing comfort of the QC2’s are all superb and pretty much the only mildly negative comment that I can make about them is the fact that priced at $299.00 they’re certainly not cheap (even though I’ll always happily pay a premium for this level of craftsmanship). 

At last now however, those Treonauts who have been put off by the QC2’s price will be particularly happy to learn about the newly released Jabra C820s Active Noise Cancellation Headphones which I have been _extremely_ impressed by and that come closest to matching the QC2’s audio, build and comfort of any of the noise cancellation headsets that I have tested to date – all at a fraction of the cost.  It would certainly be an understatement on my part to say that the Jabra C820s offer absolutely incredible value.

Jabra C820s Active Noise Cancellation Headphones

The fact is that it is almost immediately obvious that Jabra have blatantly copied Bose’s QC2 (pictured below left) as both the shape, build materials and many details of the C820s are almost identical – even down to the storage case and included accessories.

 Bose Quiet Comfort 2 Jabra C820s Active Noise Cancellation Headphones

With a full “over-the-ear” design and soft leather covered cushioned earpieces (below right) as well as cushioned head band and “fold-flat” structure the Jabra C820s offers an extremely comfortable (essential for long haul flights and trips) and practical (I always want to minimize the clutter when I travel) noise cancelling solution.

 Jabra C820s Active Noise Cancellation Headphones Jabra C820s Active Noise Cancellation Headphones

As I mentioned earlier, even the carrying case of the C820s (below) is nearly identical (albeit slightly wider and thicker) to that offered by the QC2’s.  Additionally, the included accessories kit offers a long headphone cable (about 1.5m), a short cable (about 0.2m), aircraft adapter, large 6.5mm audio adapter and finally also a 2.5mm adapter [NOTE: for some reason this adapter does not work with the Treo and you’ll need to get the SPE Stereo Adapter instead].

Jabra C820s Active Noise Cancellation Headphones

The main differences between the Bose QC2’s and Jabra C820s for me are that the QC2’s still have an edge when it comes to overall sound quality (for example they offer a built-in Hi/Lo switch for better sound attenuation depending on whether you listen to music via your Treo or an aircraft’s audio port) as well as overall comfort.  Having said this, the Jabra C820s comes awfully close to matching all of the QC2’s features and also adds the capability to listen to music or movies when the noise cancellation is switched off which the QC2 doesn’t allow.

Overall, if you are a budget-conscious Treonaut who has been yearning to get the (nearly) same performance as the Bose Quiet Comfort 2 (QC2) Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones at a fraction of the cost then I have no doubt that you will be absolutely delighted by these new Jabra C820s Active Noise Cancellation Headphones which I very highly recommend and that offer stunning value.  If I didn’t already own the QC2’s I might actually have a hard time justifying my purchase…

Treonauts always cancel out the distracting noise

Posted by Andrew on March 21, 2007 at 11:09 AM

Treo Accessories , Treo Noise Cancellation Headphones

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by bob_marley | Mar 21, 2007 1:49:50 PM

Great Review, glad to know there is a nice alternative to Bose.

by josh | Mar 21, 2007 1:51:51 PM

cool review. but, I'm so worried about breaking my headset jack that I only use BT headphones. Have you had any headset jack problems, Andrew?

by Andrew | Mar 21, 2007 2:08:13 PM

Josh - I've never had any problems with my headset jack even though I have frequently managed to drop my Treo and have it dangling from the chord. Personally I actually much prefer a wired instead of a wireless solution.

Cheers, A.

by Steven Sokulski | Mar 21, 2007 5:39:44 PM

Josh - if you use one of the headset jack adapters that is like a 3 inch cord (as opposed to just a little bullet) then the stress is usually lessened and it helps to save your jack, especially in the event of a drop.

These headsets look great, but I'd still opt for the long tradition of excellent audio products from Bose. After all, they pioneered noise canceling technology in consumer audio devices and continue to innovate. Jabra's blatant ripoff of the Bose product simply points out that Bose is the superior product. Yes, they are quite a bit more expensive. But I feel that they are worth every last penny. Whose ever heard of noise canceling by a Bluetooth headphone company?

Additionally, I prefer the Bose Quite Comfort 3 (QC3) as they use a smaller ear cup size, yet still manage to get the same level of noise cancellation. And the smaller ear cup makes them much more comfortable after several straight hours.

by Fred | Mar 22, 2007 6:44:04 AM

Not to take away your thunder . . .
but I've been very happy with my "PlaneQuiet" noise cancelling headphones that cost less than half what the Jabra costs. They fold down as well and have an adaptor for the two pronged airline jack and last for at least two trans-Atlantic flights on a AAA battery. Sorry, but I can't remember what model I have.
I don't have any connection to PlaneQuiet, I'm just a very satisfied (and finance conscious) customer.

by xPanmanX | Mar 25, 2007 12:56:27 PM

I've got a Sony in-ear noise cancelling earset. Not as comfortable as an over-the-ear, but OTOH definitely not as nerdy in appearance. Cancellation is wonderful. The switchable ambient microphone is a Godsend when the flght attendent asks for my drink order, or when the pilot pipes in a flight update.

As for Bose sound quality -- "No highs, no lows - must be Bose."

by Pete | Mar 26, 2007 6:37:50 AM

As for Bose sound quality -- "No highs, no lows - must be Bose."

EXACTLY. Bose is expert at one thing: marketing. they usually don't even publish the numbers in terms of the performance characteristics of their products. i am sure the headphones really sound great, but the comment about Bose's tradition of quality prompted my response. it is a product of their marketing. anyone familiar with the field would agree.

by paul | Jun 11, 2010 3:25:54 PM

I have a pair of these and like them a lot. I want something like them but with bluetooth and a noise cancelling mic, to use with my phone. I've only found three possibilities: Nokia BH-905 and Peltor MT53H7AWS2 either at around $300, or the Lightspeed Zulu aviation headset at $800+(!). I don't like the Nokia because it looks like a dorky mp3 accessory (which it is) and because it has a non-replaceable lithium battery. The Peltor and Lightspeed use two AA cells for 40 hours of operation (1aa and 20 hours would have been fine). I wish Jabra would make something like that, based on the C820S.

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