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Jabra Steel Bluetooth Headset Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed May 20, 2020 at 07:59 am
Jabra Steel Bluetooth Headset Picture
5.4
Mixed Usage
4.5
Neutral Sound
5.2
Commute/Travel
7.6
Sports/Fitness
4.9
Office
4.3
Wireless Gaming
4.1
Wired Gaming
5.6
Phone Calls
Type Mono Earbud
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Jabra Steel is a mono headset designed for taking phone calls in rough environments. It has a portable, stable design but it's not the most comfortable headset and its ear-hooks feel thin and easily breakable. While it has an excited, v-shaped sound profile, it's not meant for casual listening, especially as it seriously lacks low-bass. At the same time, this sound makes voices shrill and piercing on phone calls.

Our Verdict

5.4 Mixed Usage

The Jabra Steel is poor for mixed use as this headset is designed for taking phone calls. While portable and stable, it can be fatiguing on the inner ear to wear and it lacks any noise isolation, most likely by design, making it less than suitable for commuting or sports. It's not meant for listening to music though and its excited v-shaped sound profile isn't great for critical listening. Its sharp sound can also impact vocals. It's Bluetooth-only and isn't recommended for gaming as there's likely too much lag.

4.5 Neutral Sound

The Jabra Steel isn't recommended for neutral sound listening. This is a mono Bluetooth headset that's designed for making phone calls and not listening to music.

See our Neutral Sound recommendations
5.2 Commute/Travel

The Jabra Steel is disappointing for commuting. It doesn't block out almost any noise, and it can be fatiguing on the inner ear to wear. However, you can easily make calls on-the-go without worrying about your battery life as this headset goes into standby use when you're not on a call. It can also fit in most pockets when not in use.

See our Commute/Travel recommendations
7.6 Sports/Fitness

The Jabra Steel is good for taking phone calls while out on a run. It's portable and stable, although the ear-hooks could come away from your ears if you shake your head too hard. It's not the most comfortable and its mono headset design barely blocks out any noise. However, this can be a good thing if you like to run outdoors and need to be more aware of your surroundings.

See our Sports/Fitness recommendations
4.9 Office

The Jabra Steel is disappointing for office use. It can be fatiguing on the inner ear during long calls and it doesn't isolate almost any background noise. However, it doesn't leak too much sound which is nice for those around you. This headset isn't designed for casual listening but if you're making calls at the office, its battery can easily get you through your work day as it has a standby mode to help you conserve battery life.

See our Office recommendations
4.3 Wireless Gaming

The Jabra Steel isn't recommended for wireless gaming. This headset is Bluetooth-only and isn't compatible with PS4 or Xbox One. While you can use it with any Bluetooth-enabled PC or mobile device, the latency will likely be too high for competitive gaming.

See our Wireless Gaming recommendations
4.1 Wired Gaming

The Jabra Steel is a Bluetooth-only headset that can't be used wired.

5.6 Phone Calls

The Jabra Steel is disappointing for phone calls. While its boom microphone has a decent recording quality, it struggles to separate voices from background noise, especially in loud environments. Unfortunately, this headset also has a sound profile that makes voices sharp and piercing, which won't be nice to hear if you make a lot of phone calls. On the upside, it doesn't reduce almost any background noise by design so you can still hear your voice.

  • 5.4 Mixed Usage
  • 4.5 Neutral Sound
  • 5.2 Commute/Travel
  • 7.6 Sports/Fitness
  • 4.9 Office
  • 4.3 Wireless Gaming
  • 4.1 Wired Gaming
  • 5.6 Phone Calls
Pros
  • Boom microphone comes with two windscreens.
  • Microphone captures voices clearly.
Cons
  • Bright, piercing sound profile negatively affects voices.
  • Stiff ear-tips can be uncomfortable to wear.
  • Microphone struggles to separate voices in loud environments.
  • Poor companion app.

Check Price

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Jabra Steel, despite its name, is a mono headset made of black plastic. Its boom microphone has ridges on it to give it some textural detail while the yellow ear-tips add a splash of color. It also has a thin plastic ear-hook that you can add or take off for additional stability. If you want something with a more casual design for day-to-day use, check out the Mpow EM12 Wireless Earphone Bluetooth Headset.

6.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
0.0 lbs

The Jabra Steel isn't the most comfortable headset. While it's mostly made of plastic, the silicone ear-tips feel cheap and stiff, which can hurt the ear quite quickly. It does come with a couple of other ear-tips but they don't have different sizes. If you want a mono headset that's quite a bit more comfortable, check out the Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset.

5.6
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Decent
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control No
Microphone Control Mute/Unmute
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

This headset has disappointing controls. It has two push buttons as well as voice control. The top button handles everything call-related such as answering, rejecting, redialing, and battery levels while the side button activates voice assistant and mutes/unmutes the microphone. There's also voice prompts for most of the controls.

9.8
Design
Portability
L 2.5 "
W 0.3 "
H 0.5 "
Volume 0.4 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

The Jabra Steel is very portable. Although the boom microphone is a little bulky, you should still be able to fit this headset into most pockets.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

This headset doesn't have a carrying case.

6.5
Design
Build Quality

Jabra Steel has a satisfactory build quality. It's mostly made of plastic, except the ear-tips which are made of silicone. The ear-hooks are really thin, though, and they feel like they can easily break or snap. This headset is rated IP54 for dust and water resistance and Jabra advertises this headset as resistant to dust, dirt, grime, and water but we don't currently test for this.

7.5
Design
Stability

This headset feels stable in the ear. It comes with two stability fins, one for each ear, which is nice if you're constantly walking about during your phone calls. lt also comes with ear-hooks, but they're very thin and can easily come off the ear with a shake.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Jabra Steel headset
  • 1x regular sleeve
  • 2x sleeves with stability fins
  • 2x ear-hooks
  • 2x microphone windscreens
  • Micro-USB charging cable
  • Manual

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-13.02 db
Treble Amount
-3.2 db

The Jabra Steel has an excited v-shaped sound profile. If you're talking on the phone, voices sound sharp and shrill while if you're listening to your favorite tunes, the overemphasized high-bass and low-mid create a cluttered, muddy sound.

7.9
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.42 dB

The frequency response consistency of these headphones is very good. If you achieve a proper fit with the included tips, you should experience similar bass and treble response every time you use it.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
1.7
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
11.1 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
89.8 Hz
Low-Bass
-20.17 dB
Mid-Bass
-3.73 dB
High-Bass
8.95 dB

The Jabra Steel has bad bass accuracy. The low-bass is almost completely underemphasized, resulting in a lack of thump and rumble while the underemphasized mid-bass also lacks body and punch. The high-bass, in comparison, is overemphasized and makes mixes muddy and boomy. While this sound isn't suited for music, most people won't notice the bass if you're listening to someone talk on the other line.

5.2
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
6.37 dB
Low-Mid
10.23 dB
Mid-Mid
1.63 dB
High-Mid
1.5 dB

The mid-range accuracy of the Jabra Steel is disappointing. There's a lot of overemphasis in the low-mids which clutters the mix. There's also just a touch of overemphasis in the mid-mids that makes harmonics here sound boxy. However, the high-mid is where most vocal frequencies are found and it's also a touch more overemphasized, resulting in slightly honky or harsh speech.

4.6
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
7.2 dB
Low-Treble
7.43 dB
Mid-Treble
4.78 dB
High-Treble
-12.54 dB

The treble accuracy of this headset is poor. The low-treble, where vocals lay, is overemphasized and makes speech sound harsh and painful. The mid-treble is also overemphasized and makes sibilants such as S and T sounds sharp and piercing.

4.5
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
4.32 db
Dips
2.3 db

The peaks and dips performance of this headset is poor. There's a huge peak between the high-bass and low-mid, suggesting a very muddy sound that can further push vocals to the back of the mix. The sharp peak between the low and mid-treble also further sharpens voices, which can even be painful for the listener.

N/A
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
N/A
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
N/A
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
N/A
Weighted Phase Mismatch
N/A

The Jabra Steel is a mono headset and has no stereo imaging.

2.4
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
9.8
Acoustic Space Excitation
1.6

Like with most in-ears, the passive soundstage of this headset is poor. This is because properly activating the resonances of the pinna (the outer ear) is one of the important factors in creating an out-of-head and speaker-like soundstage. Since in-ears and earbuds completely bypass the pinna, their soundstage tends to be perceived as small and located inside the listener's head. That being said, it feels more open because its earbud tip doesn't create a 'plunger'-like seal.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No

This headset doesn't have any virtual soundstage features.

5.6
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
1.220
WHD @ 100
0.779

The weighted harmonic distortion of the Jabra Steel is disappointing. There's distortion present across the range which can affect phone calls. However, it likely won't be noticeable for most people.

Note: We were unable to reach 100dB volume while testing this headset. Therefore, the '100 dB' score was tested with the headset at max volume and the '90 dB' score was set 10dB lower.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
1.20.0
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 4.1
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Boom

These are the settings used to test this headset. Our results are only valid when listening using these settings.

Isolation
0.5
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-0.37 dB
Bass
0.07 dB
Mid
0.47 dB
Treble
-1.57 dB

The Jabra Steel doesn't isolate almost any noise and this is likely by design so that you can hear your own voice as you speak. At the same time, the earbud also doesn't go that deeply into the ear canal and doesn't create a 'plunger-like' seal that can block sound.

8.6
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
29.88 dB

The leakage performance of this headset is excellent. There's very low leakage overall except for a bit of leakage in the treble range. If you're taking calls in an office setting, your audio shouldn't be noticeable to others around you unless you have your audio at a high volume.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
No
Boom
Yes
Detachable Boom
No

This headset has a boom mic with an attachable windscreen.

7.1
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
334.17 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3.52 dB
HFE
7346.09 Hz
Weighted THD
0.938
Gain
8.58 dB

The boom microphone has a decent recording quality. Voices sound clear and natural but are a bit thin. You should have no problem being understood by whoever is on the other end.

6.5
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
17.03 dB

The noise handling performance of the microphone is only alright. Although the boom microphone sits close to your mouth, it has trouble separating your voice from background noise, especially in loud settings like a train station. If you want a Bluetooth headset with much better noise handling, check out the Plantronics Voyager 5200 Bluetooth Headset.

Active Features
5.8
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
6.3 hrs
Additional Charges
0.0
Total Battery Life
6.3 hrs
Charge Time
1.6 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Standby mode
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port micro-USB

The Jabra Steel has a disappointing battery performance. While its 6.3-hour battery life seems mediocre for headphones, it should be more than enough for your workday. Unlike listening to music, it's likely that you'll take breaks between phone calls, and when you do, this headset goes into standby mode when not in use, helping save battery life.

4.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name Jabra Assist
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

This headset has a poor companion app. The Jabra Assist app allows you to change the settings for readout notifications such as when you get a text message but that's about it; it doesn't even display your battery level.

Connectivity
8.6
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.1
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
Yes
Line Of Sight Range
170 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
196 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
230 ms
Android Latency
199 ms

This headset has excellent Bluetooth connectivity. You can pair this headset with up to two different devices or connect it to an NFC-enabled device. It has high latency on PC, iOS, and Android while streaming YouTube videos. However, other apps seem to compensate for this differently, so your mileage may vary.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A

The Jabra Steel is a Bluetooth-only headset.

0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

The Jabra Steel is a Bluetooth-only headset that can't be used wired. It comes with a micro-USB cable for charging.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
No
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

The Jabra Steel is a Bluetooth-only headset and isn't compatible with PS4. It should work with any Bluetooth-enabled PC, however.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Wireless
No

The Jabra Steel is Bluetooth-only and isn't compatible with Xbox One.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

The Jabra Steel doesn't come with a base or dock.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

The Jabra Steel is a mono headset designed for taking phone calls. While Jabra focuses on producing good microphones for taking calls, this headset and its boom microphone don't really stand out when compared to the brand's other headphones. It also has an excited, v-shaped sound profile that isn't very suited for voices. If you're looking for more, check out our recommendations for the best Bluetooth headsets for phone calls or if you're looking for something more sports-related, the best earbuds for running and working out.

Plantronics Voyager 5200 Bluetooth Headset
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Plantronics Voyager 5200 Bluetooth headset is a better mono headset for phone calls than the Jabra Steel. The Plantronics is more comfortable, has better controls, and has a more even sound profile that suits speech better. However, the Jabra's boom mic has a better recording quality. 

Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Jabra Steel Bluetooth Headset is slightly better for phone calls than the Plantronics Voyager Legend Bluetooth Headset. The Jabra leaks much less audio, has a significantly better recording quality, and does a better job at separating your voice from background noises. On the other hand, the Plantronics is more comfortable, has better controls, looks and feels more premium, has a better-balanced sound profile for phone calls, lasts longer off a single charge, and has a much better app with a ton of customization options.

Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless are better overall headphones than the Jabra Steel Bluetooth Headset. The Elite 75t are more versatile for everyday use. They're comfortable, have a better-balanced sound profile suitable for music or calls, and their companion app even lets you customize their sound. Still, if you want to make a lot of phone calls, the Steel has a better overall performing microphone.

Mpow EM12 Wireless Earphone Bluetooth Headset
Unavailable
Amazon.com

The Mpow EM12 Wireless Earphone Bluetooth Headset is a better mono headset than the Jabra Steel Bluetooth Headset. The Mpow is more comfortable, has easier-to-use controls, looks and feels better-built, and has a better-balanced sound profile. On the other hand, the Steel's battery life is much longer, and the headset is rated IP54 for dust and water resistance, though this isn't something we test for. The boom mic on the Jabra Steel also does a better job of separating your voice from background noise, making it better-suited for noisy environments.

Jabra Steel Bluetooth Headset Price

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