JLab’s Flex Sport Wireless Bluetooth headphones are exercise-focused over-ears that ring in at $99. While we do not see a ton of over-ear headphones on this class, for the worth, they provide merely respectable audio efficiency and lack easy equipment like an audio cable. They do not actually get something terribly flawed, however for related (and even much less) cash, there are extra compelling choices.
The circumaural (over-ear) Flex Sport Wireless headphones have plush, cloth-covered earpads and a sporty look—the material is paying homage to sweatbands or athletic attire. With an IP44 score, they’ve a reasonably minimal quantity of safety towards liquids—calling them sweatproof is nearly a stretch. The headphones are waterproof and might stand up to being uncovered to spraying water, however not actual stress (like from a faucet) or being submerged. That mentioned, the cloth-covered earpads are detachable and washable. Handwashing is really helpful, however they are often machine washed by putting them contained in the included drawstring pouch, made of comparable materials.
On the proper earcup’s facet panel, there is a central multifunction button that handles playback, name administration, and energy/pairing, in addition to summoning voice assistants. The two outer buttons on both facet of the multifunction button deal with each quantity and monitor navigation. We’re not followers of mixing these two features on the identical button, because it makes it straightforward to by accident skip a monitor while you imply to regulate the amount.
There’s an Ambient listening mode that is activated by urgent the button marked with the JLab brand on the proper ear—this lets you hear your environment alongside along with your music. It’s simply as straightforward to disable, and helpful for runners in doubtlessly harmful areas with visitors. This identical button, when pressed and held for 2 seconds, cycles via the three EQ modes—Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost (extra on these within the subsequent part).
The headband is fabricated from extra-flexible plastic—therefore the product title—however it has zero padding. Luckily, JLab features a band of padding you’ll be able to snap in, however why it is not put in within the first place is a small thriller. Perhaps the perforations within the headband work effectively to ventilate throughout sweaty exercises, however making customers select between air flow and cushioning is an odd choice. Then, there are two “tension bands” included. These snap excessive of the headscarf so as to add a safer match (one provides a “flex” match, the opposite a “firm” match), however in addition they fully cowl these perforations, as effectively. While this may be marketed as a flexible design, it feels just like the design workforce could not determine what course to go and left it as much as the buyer as a substitute.
The headphones ship with a reasonably lengthy USB-C charging cable that connects to a lined port on the base of the proper earcup. At this worth, it might be good to see an included audio cable—there’s not even a headphone jack right here—for passive, wired listening.
The built-in mic provides mediocre intelligibility. Using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, we may perceive each phrase recorded, however the mic appeared to undergo waves of dropout and now have extra fuzzy artifacts than is typical. We do not count on the mic’s audio high quality on Bluetooth headphones to be nice, so this is not an enormous knock.
JLab estimates battery life to be roughly 20 hours, however your outcomes will range along with your quantity ranges.
Internally, the headphones make use of 40mm drivers to ship audio. Of the three EQ modes—Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost—we discovered Bass Boost to sound the most effective, to our shock. This is primarily as a result of the headphones do not actually enhance the bass that a lot within the first place—if a monitor has intense sub-bass, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” you may hear it loud and clear, however tracks with far much less boosted bass, like Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” sound considerably skinny via the Balanced and Signature Modes.
So Bass Boost is actually helpful for tracks that are not pushing out an enormous bass sound to start with, and when it is a monitor with numerous sub-bass, you’ll be able to decide and select between the three. There are various ranges of crispness and brightness between them, however we discovered Bass Boost to come back closest to what sounds perfect. At high ranges, even in sub-bass-heavy tracks like “Silent Shout,” the headphones do not distort, and at reasonable ranges, Bass Boost gives the most effective sense of depth.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives loads of the high-mid presence that permits its assault to retain its punchy, treble edge. It may really be a bit an excessive amount of, nonetheless. All three modes sound ultra-sculpted and boosted within the highs and high-mids, and never essentially in a great way. Despite the presence of bass depth right here, some will describe this sound as tinny or overly shiny. The bass response is what retains it from sounding skinny or brittle. The vocals are delivered clearly, however the sculpting could make issues sound a tad too crisp at occasions.
Orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, retain their crispness via the Flex Sport Wireless, holding the upper register brass, strings, and vocals within the forefront. The decrease register instrumentation will get some push ahead in Bass Mode, however once more, this can be a shiny sound signature it doesn’t matter what mode you are in or what style you are listening to.
The JLab Flex Sport Wireless headphones do not get something egregiously flawed, however they fail to face out in a subject of higher choices. Their audio sounds overly shiny and sculpted, the headscarf looks like an experiment as a substitute of a function, and for headphones marketed for train, IP44 is a low water-resistance score. In this basic worth vary, think about the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810, the Marshall Mid Bluetooth, the inexpensive Plantronics BackBeat Fit 500, or the in-ear JayFowl X4. All of those fashions provide higher audio efficiency, and a few have larger IP scores, making them higher suited to train.