Review: Creative Sound Blaster JAM

Screenshot 2016-01-07 at 22.34.02

Overview

The Creative is a popular audio products brand based out of Singapore which has made its name in sound cards. They’ve finally done something others have tried for years and produced an entry-level option for Bluetooth headphones that is actually worthwhile. That alone is impressive enough to earn these Creative Sound Blaster Jam’s (CSBJ) a strong recommendation. 

The design is minimalist. The sound is anything but! Built to be an affordable, lightweight, wireless, bluetooth headset with good sound production, the CSBJ headset is indeed affordable, lightweight, Bluetooth functional and with good sound production. Super-light on-ear headphones with excellent battery life (>12 hours), decent sound and a functional calling capacity at a price that won’t break the bank. One of the best no-frills, entry-level bargains around that allows you to fully embrace the freedom of Bluetooth. 

Sound

More for general listening rather than precise rendering of complex sounds, these CSBJ’s have pretty impressive audio quality for their price point. The Neodymium drivers deliver rich, resonant sound with maximum bass response giving a full sound over the highs (cymbals etc) to mids (vocals etc) to lows (bass etc) range.

Whilst the bass still lacks a little ‘punch’, the mids are nice and clean overall, if a little loose. Increasing the volume brings out a little roughness and there is some cracking at the highest level. The highs are full and thankfully, also whine-free.

The focus on bass means the one-touch bass boost isn’t really required, unless a fully distorted sound filled with distant-sounding mids is what you’re after. Noise leakage is unfortunately a common problem with on-ear headphones, and is further compounded by the flimsy foam earpads, which are neither great at blocking out sounds, nor at keeping them in, especially at maximum volume (great for playing for an audience!).

Battery

The amazing battery life (Li-ion, 3.7V 200mAh) really stands out on these CSBJ‘s. A 15 minute charge (using the red microUSB cable provided) will easily take you through 24 hours of intermittent use (Creative claims that these headphones can last for 12 hours on a single charge). Plus, you can use them as they are plugged in and charging!

Pairing and Functionality

The Bluetooth 4.1 pairing is nice and easy; simply press and hold the multi-function button. The connection stretches up to approximately 15m. For those devices capable of it (Windows and Android), there is also Near Field Communication (NFC) tap-to-pair wireless connectivity that allows quick and easy one-touch pairing of CSBJ’s with mobile devices.

Screenshot 2016-01-07 at 22.33.14

Structure and Build

Whilst the headset looks a little flimsy and plasticky and the foam earpads don’t fill you with confidence either, when you break them out of the box, this near-weightless (sometimes you’ll forget you’re wearing them!) but surprisingly sturdy frame and the comfortably soft ear cushions provide hours of listening comfort. The lack of padding on the headband wasn’t an issue due to the weight although the lack of foldability does limit the ability to readily transport them and does raise question about their ability to hold up against general wear-and-tear over time.

Screenshot 2016-01-07 at 22.33.04

The right earcup allows easy access to all the built-in controls:

– a multifunctional, clickable can top which is the power button, pause/play button, the NFC button and the call accept/reject button

– a basic up/down volume rocker that also allows you to move advance or retreat through tracks

– a separate dedicated bass boost switch

– a wired-in microUSB port at the bottom for charging and audio playback as well as an LED indicator light

A hidden, high-quality, omni-directional microphone in the can detects speech which is great for hands free calling during a jog. However, despite built-in noise reduction and acoustic echo cancellation, listening to the other party isn’t always the clearest; the sound is a little patchy and muddy. Despite this, people on the other side of the call reviewed the call sound and quality as crystal clear.

More information

More information on the Creative Sound Blaster JAMs can be found on the Creative website:

http://uk.creative.com/p/headphones-headsets/sound-blaster-jam

They retail for around the £38 mark, and can be bought from various online retailers such as Amazon.

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