When you check exercise headphones, you don’t get to strive over-ear ones fairly often. Over-ear headphones could be extra snug, however they’re tougher to stuff in a pocket once you’re on the go. They’re heavier, they usually can get pushed off your head. They’re additionally utterly ineffective in case your exercise routine entails headstands. Just sayin’.
So once I received the JLab Audio Flex Sport, I used to be skeptical. But over the course of two weeks, they transformed me. They’re extraordinarily mild—simply 6.three ounces—and you may modify the tensioning on the headscarf. They stayed on securely whereas path operating, mountaineering, lifting weights, and climbing, they usually stored my ears heat and depraved away sweat.
The Flex Sport has its inconveniences. Even with a decent match, they nonetheless slipped round beneath a rain jacket hood. I’ve a tough sufficient time conserving my exercise garments washed, so including washable earpads and a washable headband is much more of a ache.
But I discovered myself forgetting all about these troubles once I stopped, mid-run, to cock my head and understand that I used to be listening to low heartbeats below a voice observe on a podcast. Or to begin pumping my fist once I realized that the downbeat on a Lenny Kravitz music was whooshing in from my proper ear when the intro was constructing rigidity on the left. And all for less than $99! These are a steal.
Fit and Flex
Upon opening the field, you’ll be able to choose to decide on between a unfastened match with no rigidity band; a traditional one, with JLab’s Flex Fit band; or a decent one, with the Firm Fit band. Without a rigidity band, the headscarf is perforated for larger breathability and luxury. There’s additionally an non-compulsory smooth headband pad to wick away sweat.
I opted for the tight match whereas understanding, and for the conventional one whereas strolling my canines and round my home. Each half, together with the smooth, washable ear cups, pops out and in simply.
The smooth ear pads are cushioned with polyurethane foam and coated with a smooth, absorbent polyester-cotton mix. To wash them, pop them out and into the journey bag, and run them on a delicate cycle. You can tumble dry them on low warmth.
I believed placing a padded system on a not-insignificant proportion of my head’s floor space can be sweaty and uncomfortable. Oddly sufficient, it wasn’t. I actually dislike the feeling of in-ear exercise headphones getting sweaty inside my ear canals, and the Flex Sport eradicated that drawback solely.
The Flex Sport additionally solved my drawback of methods to hold my ears heat whereas operating outdoors on chilly fall mornings, though they did tend to shift round once I was carrying a hood. My ears did get somewhat sizzling when understanding in a gymnasium, however it wasn’t uncomfortable.
When the headphones warned me that the battery was getting low, I discovered that it took round two hours of charging for the sunshine to point a full battery. However, it took solely 5 or ten minutes to high up lengthy sufficient for an hour-long run or canine stroll. JLab notes that it has a full 20 hours of battery life. In two weeks of carrying for a number of hours a day to stroll, run, and do chores round my home, I solely needed to cost it absolutely as soon as.
The buttons are simple to seek out, and versatile. It was simple to change the Flex Sport’s connection from my telephone to completely different music participant gadgets (JLab additionally advises you to make use of their app to burn within the headphones, however I skipped that). You also can use the quantity buttons to skip or return to completely different tracks, or use the facility button to activate Siri.
The proper brand button additionally prompts the Flex Sport’s ambient noise characteristic, which JLab calls Be Aware Audio. As an out of doors runner or walker, it’s extraordinarily essential for me to have the ability to hear outdoors noise. Rather than simply letting in ambient noise, the headphones will use the microphone to select up outdoors noise and play it for you, in actual time. It’s tuned to imitate the quantity of the sound in actual life.
When you first activate Be Aware, you hear a relentless hush of white noise. When you are carrying over-ear headphones, you intuitively anticipate that the sounds of automobiles driving by, or your canine scratching at some dust, will probably be muffled for a bit. The sounds weren’t louder within the headphones than they had been with out them, however it nonetheless made me soar out of my pores and skin somewhat bit to listen to ambient noise so clearly.
I appreciated this characteristic’s inclusion, and if I commonly labored out in an space the place I could be mown down by a automotive, I might be thankful for it. As it’s, nonetheless, I made a decision I’d slightly be beaned within the head with a Frisbee within the park by my home than hearken to hissing in between songs, so I turned it off and simply turned the quantity down low once I was outdoors.
You also can use the best brand button to change in between JLab’s signature sound, with amped up vocals and bass; a balanced sound; and an enormous bass enhance, for when it’s essential to pump up “Paint It Black” and hold your tempo to 160 steps per minute. Unsurprisingly, I preferred JLab’s signature sound one of the best.
When testing headphones, I’ve discovered that I like listening to gritty, scrappy, grunge, and punk slightly than shimmering instrumentals. It’s lots tougher to make growls and shrieks sound pleasurable (a relative time period) as an alternative of muddy. I used to be shocked by how clear the guitars had been on L7’s basic album, Bricks Are Heavy.
I do know that sound in stereo is just not an uncommon attribute in over-ear headphones. But as I mentioned, exercise headphones normally aren’t over-ear ones. To me, having fun with music on a number of channels whereas operating within the woods is like happening a picnic and discovering out that your eating companion has packed actual china. In an uncommon context, peculiar issues can appear extraordinary.
While outdoors, I usually stopped in marvel to hearken to the guitar intro to “Daughter” on my left, whereas Eddie Vedder began crooning on my proper. You simply don’t anticipate to benefit from the depth of a well-designed stereo combine once you’re miles away from residence, operating singletrack. I’m simply fortunate that nobody however my canines was there to hearken to me belt out “Highway to the Danger Zone”.
I Can’t Stand the Rain
A few issues concerning the Flex Sport give me pause. It’s annoying to maintain observe of the completely different rigidity bands and the journey, a.okay.a. wash, bag. Also, I hate washing…something, actually. So the ear pads will in all probability keep on till they’re disgusting, and crusty with salt.
They’re rated IPX4, which protects towards splashes in each route. Still, as somebody who commonly runs outdoors in pouring rain, there are robust, sturdy headphones accessible which have a lot larger waterproof scores.
Still, when it got here time to go outdoors, I discovered myself overlooking these inconveniences and reaching for the Flex Sport time and time once more. They had been so snug, and the sound was so good. And it undoubtedly doesn’t ache me to advocate a pair of headphones that are available for below $100.