JBL combines great battery life, impressive audio and sweat resistant to make one of the best running headphones available today
JBL launched a slew of new products at IFA 2017 back in September, and a few of those products are available now, while others are still coming soon. One of those products was the Reflect Fit. These are a pair of neckband earbuds from JBL, which can also measure your heart rate from your ear. These aren't the first pair of earbuds to measure your heart rate, but it is one of the first (meaning only a handful of earbuds do this right now). But that's not the main selling point here, the main selling point is its sound quality. So does it live up to the hype? Let's find out.
When it comes to specs, JBL doesn't offer up a whole lot here, but we do know that it is using a premium dynamic driver that is 5.8mm, transmitter power is rated at <4dBm, transmitter modulation is GFSK, π/4 DQPSK and 8DPSK. Frequency range goes from 10Hz to 22kHz, with Bluetooth working on the 2.4GHz band as expected. The battery inside is a 3.7/200mAh which JBL quotes as lasting for about 10 hours with heart rate monitoring turned on. These are also sweatproof, though JBL doesn't provide an ingress rating here. Finally, these weigh in at about 37g so they are pretty light as you would expect.
In the Box
The JBL Reflect Fit comes with the usual items inside the box that you would expect with a pair of earbuds. There's the Reflect Fit right there on top, with the carrying case, which isn't all that thick but definitely nice to have, beneath them, along with other ear tips. JBL includes a set of small, medium and large ear tips in the box. This allows you to use the pair that fits your ears the best, since not everyone has the same size ears. There is also a USB-A to micro USB cable included, since these do charge with a micro USB port.
Hardware & Build Quality
JBL sells the Reflect fit in four colors: red, black, blue and teal. The model that we have been using for our review is the red one, which actually looks closer to orange, but that does depend on the lighting. So these do really stand out, and while reviewing these, they did catch quite a few eyes in the gym. Because they do stand out, compared to most other headphones at the gym being black or dark blue. These are bright red. The neckband itself is covered in a soft material, which feels comfortable around your neck, but the one issue I had with it is the fact that it is not flexible at all like some other neckband styles from Samsung and LG. It also fits a bit tight around your neck. Not so much to where it was uncomfortable, though. The back of the neckband is where the JBL logo is, as well as the micro USB port, which has a flap over it to keep it sealed. This is what keeps the Reflect Fit sweat and water resistant.
The cables for the earbuds do not retract, like some others do, so instead they just hang from the neckband. Not a lot, but there's enough slack there to get the earbuds up to your ears with plenty of cable left over. The cables are actually two-toned, so they are gray and whatever color you picked up. The gray and red on our unit was pretty nice, but again it still stands out quite a bit. The actual earbuds are pretty small, but that doesn't mean that they aren't powerful. These are pretty powerful, as we'll talk about in a minute when we get to the sound quality portion of this review. But it also keeps them lightweight, which is great for running, as you won't need to worry about these getting uncomfortable or falling out of your ears. Both important factors here.
JBL's Reflect Fit do fit really nicely in the ear. Now these do come with three ear tip sizes, I did stick with the pair that was already on out of the box, which is the medium sized ones, and didn't have any issues with them not being comfortable at all. All three pairs do have the "wing", which helps them stay in your ears. That's something I like on my headphones, but it may not be something that everyone else likes. So you'll want to keep that in mind. Even on longer listening sessions the Reflect Fit still felt really nice in the ears, and that's something you can't say about every pair of earbuds out there.
On the right side, there is the power button and the heart rate monitoring button. You'll long-press the power button to turn it on or off, and to enter pairing mode, long-press the power button past the turning on and until the voice says "looking for music device". You'll also need to long-press the heart rate button to get it to start monitoring your heart rate. Now we did notice in our review period that the heart rate monitor does have a bit of trouble measuring the heart rate when you are working out, whether that's running, lifting weights, etc. Which can be a real dealbreaker. But it could also just be our unit, as that seems like a feature that should work while you aren't "being still". Now on the left side you have the volume buttons, which really just adjust the volume for you.
Once you take the Reflect Fit headphones out of the box, and put them into your ears, you'll be met with some incredible sounding audio. As one would expect from JBL anyways. But the Reflect Fit may have the best sounding audio of any pair of neckband earbuds. The sound coming out of these are nice and full, the bass is deep, but not too deep. The mids and highs are also pretty clear, which is nice to see. Even when you turn the volume all the way up on the Reflect Fit, the audio quality doesn't really get distorted at all, it still remains really good sounding.
Speaking of volume, these headphones do get pretty loud. So you'll have no issue taking these to the gym and jamming out to your favorite playlist while getting a sweat on. They can also get pretty quiet, if you do want to hear what's going on around you. There's no noise cancellation here, but since these are earbuds, they do fill up your ears and do offer a bit of noise cancellation, just not via software. Now sound bleed is an issue with some headphones, actually most headphones, and it can be an issue here, but really only when you turn the headphones all the way up. So if you put these at max volume, you'll hear the sound without putting them in your ears. That's pretty common and understandable for a pair of headphones, especially at high volume levels.
Battery Life & Connectivity
JBL quotes that the Reflect Fit do last about 10 hours on a charge. And that actually includes Heart Rate Monitoring being on. Now for the majority of our review, we did not have the heart rate monitor on and tracking our heart rate, so we were able to squeak out quite a bit more out of the Reflect Fit. In fact, we were able to get around 12-14 hours on a single charge out of these. Which is right on par with the rest of the industry, as far as this style of headphones go. But that is still pretty impressive given the large drivers inside, and the volume that these are able to achieve. And at 12 hours or more of continuous playback, these can last you a week of gym sessions before needing to recharge them.
These do also connect to your smartphone (or another device) via Bluetooth, and that means there could be issues with the connection, as there sometimes is with other products. But that wasn't an issue here on the Reflect Fit. In fact, it never really dropped connection with the smartphone it was paired to (in this case a Pixel 2 XL). Now there was one instance where it connected then dropped a few minutes later, and turning it off and then it would not turn back on. We're guessing that was due to the low battery and it just died, as after a full recharge, the Reflect Fit connected again and had no issues. So it's entirely possible that was due to a low battery on the Reflect Fit.
The JBL Reflect Fit is one of the best pairs of sports headphones we've reviewed this year. And that does mean something, since we have reviewed quite a few. Including the Jaybird RUN, Freedom 2, the Anker SoundBuds Slim and many others. The JBL Reflect Fit have a whole lot going for them. From their impressive sound, to their great battery life and even great build quality. It's actually really difficult to find something not to like about the JBL Reflect Fit, and I'd say it's the battery life. If headphones that are not neckbands and just have a cable connecting each ear to each other, can achieve this kind of battery life, something like the Reflect Fit that has the entire neckband to cram battery into should be able to go above and beyond. But 12-14 hours (in our use-case) is still nothing to sneeze at. But that's the one thing that JBL can hopefully change in the next version.