When JBL Australia/New Zealand launched the JBL Endurance line of sport earphones in August, it spelled great news for sports and fitness fanatics. Four new earphones – the Endurance RUN, SPRINT, JUMP and DIVE – that are designed with a unique set of features tailored to different types of sport activities. Add to them, the Reflect Contour 2 earphones with a reflective cable that keeps you more visible if you’re going running at night. To celebrate the launch, JBL had hosted an exclusive workout event – the Weekend Warrior Challenge – at the iconic Bondi Beach, where “warriors” participated in four unique sessions hosted by four influential experts in their field.
A few weeks in, how well do these earphones hold up when you use them? We tried out the Endurance SPRINT and DIVE earphones, and here’s what we found out.
JBL Endurance DIVE
These are specifically designed for places where a smartphone can’t go. If, like me, you’ve ever wanted to listen to your favourite music tracks while swimming laps in the pool or while walking home in the rain, then the waterproof, wireless, and Bluetooth-enabled Endurance DIVE earphones are the answer to your prayers.
With 1GB of MP3 music storage for up to 200 music tracks, you can enjoy a whole lot of your favorite music while swimming, surfing, or even during a sweaty gym workout (since they’re waterproof, they can be safely rinsed clean after sweaty workouts).
So, are they really waterproof? How well do they fit? What’s the sound like? How well does the Bluetooth work?
The fit: Think gloves for ears – JBL’s Endurance DIVE earphones are that snug! The form factor of the earbuds, the trademark Twistlock Technology, and the FlexSoft Comfort Fit silicon materials ensure that the earphones never hurt, and they never fall out. You just pop the buds in, turn them till they’re sealed in your ear, and you’re set.
Features: Bluetooth = check. MP3 Player = check. 8 hours of wireless playback = check. 10 minutes of charging for 1 hour of wireless playback = check. All of this sounds great, but alas, there is a caveat.
While the Endurance DIVE earphones are waterproof (in that, the MP3 part of it works fine in water), the Bluetooth functionality was disappointing. I couldn’t get the music to play with Bluetooth, because as soon as I was in the water, it stopped working entirely. Having enough storage for 200 songs is nice and all, but with a changing playlist and a new favourite each week, it’s hard to have the patience to transfer music the old-fashioned way.
The wireless functionality works mostly-fine otherwise – for answering calls, play/pause, skip. But I’ll be honest – the touch controls are so unbelievably sensitive, it took me a long while to get even somewhat used to them. Never thought I’d ever have a “too sensitive” problem, but there it is. For dedicated swimmers or those timing themselves for their laps, I can’t imagine their frustration in trying to find the right volume control in the middle of a lap.
Also, if you’re used to noise-cancellation earphones, these are going to feel underwhelming, especially when you’re trying to listen to the music over the sound of the rain. On the other hand, if you’re just lounging by the pool or “taking a dip”, then these earphones are perfect. They’re also great for the gym, and they look terrific!
Sound: The sound (non-Bluetooth, just MP3) on the Endurance DIVE earphones makes them, quite possibly, the most incredible sounding JBL earphones out there. Or at least, the best I’ve tried on so far. The bass is terrific, the sound is clear, and listening to the music on them is mostly enjoyable, no matter what sporting activity you’re engaged in.
Price: RRP $139.95
JBL Endurance SPRINT
Wireless earphones that have JBL’s IPX7 waterproof rating with some pretty neat trademark MagHook magnetic earbuds for easy storage and convenience – too good to be true? Let’s find out.
The fit: For those of us with small ear holes, finding the right fit earbuds can sometimes make you feel like Cinderella waiting for the bud to fit just right. Or, does that make you Prince Charming looking for the right earphones to fit your small ear hole? Never mind, you get the point. JBL’s Endurance SPRINT earphones come pretty close to being THE fit. JBL has made the same “never hurt, never fall out” claim with these as well, and once again, they deliver. You can jump, run, or skip – these earphones won’t budge!
Features: See the “Features” section for the Endurance DIVE earphones above (just kidding).
But seriously, it’s a little bit annoying that these earphones suffer from almost the same exact drawbacks that the DIVE earphones do – the touch controls are too sensitive and non-intuitive. Also, the lack of indicators on how to use these is a bit jarring (imagine having to actually read the instructions!). Once you do get a handle on the touch controls, it’s a tad better. I’ll be honest – the touch controls work exceptionally well as an on/off switch, pause/play, and skip. But if you’re the kind of person who likes to dial your volume up or down even occasionally (and who isn’t!), good luck being able to do that! Surgeons probably need to be less accurate with where their fingers are positioned.
If you try to use this function in any reasonable sense, you end up dropping calls and skipping songs – which is not pleasant whether you’re in the middle of a workout or in the midst of a long-distance conversation with your mom.
Sound: The Endurance SPRINT’s pairing ability is excellent; the range is really good too, so you don’t have to have your phone in your pocket while you’re at the gym. There’s also no struggle to get them to connect to most devices each time you want to use them. The 8 hour battery life is excellent – perfectly adequate for walks to work and back again on a single charge.
Like the Endurance DIVE, the sound is clear, with a good bass quality.
Price: RRP $99.95
Are these the best wireless, waterproof earphones out there? Nope. But they might just be the best budget earphones on the market.
JBL’s Endurance earphone range is available on www.jbl.com.au and at select retailers.