JBL had an excellent 2017, launching an all-new E-Series of headphones, a few new more premium models in its Everest lineup, and so on. Now, it looks like the company wants to continue that momentum into 2018 — and it has kicked the year off with the new JBL UA Sport Wireless Flex headphones.
As the name suggests, the headphones were developed in partnership with Under Armour. What does that mean? Well, we’re not sure. It’s clear they were built for a sports-person, but so were plenty of other JBL headphones.
But the branding doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the headphones are worth buying. Are they? We put them to the test to find out.
The JBL UA Sport Wireless Flex headphones feature a neckband-style design, and we’ve found that most either love or hate headphones in that style.
Like other wireless headphones, you’ll get controls right on the device itself. On the right arm of the device, you’ll find volume up and volume down buttons. On the left, you’ve got a play/pause button, and a microphone button. That microphone button is a nice addition — it means you can activate your digital assistant, like Google Assistant, nice and easily.
The headphones come in one color — black. We tend to prefer understated colors anyway, and we think they look good. They even feature an LED light for safer running at night — with three different flashing modes.
Unlike some other neckband-style headphones, the UA Sport Wireless Flex headphones feature so-called “Flex Zones,” or slightly flexible areas on the unit. The idea here is that the headphones close slightly more around your neck, but the device can be bent so that it’s easier to put on. We like the concept.
In the box, you’ll get the headphones themselves, along with a MicroUSB charging cable, and a total of four pairs of ear tips. Because the headphones are built to be portable, we would have liked a carry bag or case — though it would be harder to build a case for this form-factor compared to standard ear-buds.
So the headphones are pretty well-designed — but are they comfortable? Because they’re built for sports, comfort is an important aspect to consider. Thankfully, it turns out they’re not too bad in that respect.
In general, the in-ear units fit pretty well inside your ear, and they’re pretty good at staying there too. We, as usual, recommend experimenting a little with the different-sized ear tips, as you might find that one size fits better than the rest.
Generally speaking, the JBL UA Sport Wireless Flex headphones are pretty comfortable, and found that they didn’t fall out all that often, even during runs.
When it comes to sports headphones, comfort is arguably more important than sound-quality. Still, that doesn’t mean sound-quality is unimportant. Do the JBL Sport Wireless Flex headphones live up to the JBL name? We think so.
Let’s start with the bass, which we found to be a little more natural-sounding than some other sports-focused headphones. That’s to say that while the bass was definitely there, some might prefer something with a little more oomph — especially those that like a lot of bass.
The mid-range seems to be pretty well-tuned, with a slight boost in high-mids, which helps bring things like vocals through the mix a little. It wasn’t enough of a boost to give the sound-quality a cheap feel, but something to notice nonetheless.
The high-end is a little lackluster, but not terrible. Audiophile will wish there was a little more clarity in the high-end.
In general, the headphones offer a better-than-average sound quality for sports headphones in this price range. They can feel a little muddy in some areas, and the stereo separation, while fine, could be better. Still, for headphones of this style, they do pretty well.
The headphones connect to your listening device through Bluetooth 4.1, and as such you’ll get a connectivity range of around 10 meters, or 33 feet. We found that to hold pretty much true the majority of the time — and there were really no instances in when the connectivity was unacceptable.
The battery life of the headphones comes in at 11 hours, which isn’t bad, but it’s not going to set any records. It’s slightly better than JBL’s own Reflect Fit headphones — which is good to see.
But are they the best headphones for the price? We think they’re among the best sports neckbands for the price. If you’re looking for a great pair of neckband-style headphones and don’t care about the sports aspect, then we think the slightly-more-expensive V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless headphones are the way to go. For a great pair of sports headphones, if you don’t care about getting a neckband style, then the JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless headphones are cheaper and work great.
Still, because of the high-quality of these headphones, we’ve decided to award the JBL UA Sport Wireless Flex headphones the Headphone Review Bronze Medal.
|Frequency response||10Hz – 22kHz||Active noise cancellation
|Driver size||8.6mm||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
|Total harmonic distortion
|Rated input power
||Unkown||Battery life||11 hours|
|Maximum input power
||Unknown||Wireless distance||10m (33ft)|
||Bluetooth 4.1||Cable length||N/A|