Headphones have gotten a whole lot better over the past few decades. Gone are the days when everything was wired, not the best sounding, and let in all kinds of outside noise. That, however, doesn’t mean we should forget about the past. Sometimes, you want something a little more retro — like the new JLab Rewind Wireless headphones, which blend the old-school style of the 80s with the wireless technology of today.
The headphones come in at only $20, but are they anything more than a gimmick? We put them to the test.
When you first take the JLab Rewind Wireless headphones out of the packaging, you’ll be greeted with a familiar, nostalgic design. The headphones feature a very classic look, with simple metal frame with a flat wire along the bottom of it, connected to two small on-ear ear cups.
But the headphones are a lot smarter than they look. The cap on the right ear cup is actually a big button that you can use to control playback, activate your digital assistant, and even set different EQ modes. It takes a bit of getting used to in terms of how much to press the button for those controls, but it’s really a very smart system. The only thing we would have liked to see is volume controls.
The headphones are wireless, and as such they need charging. You may not immediately notice the MicroUSB charging port, but it’s actually hidden under on the inside under the right ear cup. It’s a slightly strange placement, and means that you’ll have to partially remove the padding to charge the headphones — but it does help give the headphones the old-style aesthetic.
In the box, you’ll get the headphones, a MicroUSB charging cable, and even a second pair of ear pads — which are a bright orange. It’s another nice nod to the style of the 80s.
We actually quite like the way the headphones look and feel. Is it a gimmick? Sure, a little bit — but there’s nothing wrong with that necessarily. The only thing you might have liked is if you could fold the headphones a little, but that would introduce come complications with other aspects of the design.
The JLab Rewind Wireless headphones are extremely light, which is pretty helpful when it comes to comfort. On top of that, the clamp of the headphones isn’t too tight — and we found that even though the padding was pretty thin and clearly cheap, it’s soft enough to help make the headphones comfortable for longer listening periods.
You might notice that there’s really no padding under the head band, but because of how light the headphones are you really don’t need it.
The on-ear form factor, for some, might be a little uncomfortable, but if you’re used to the feel of on-ear headphones, then you’ll be happy with these.
In the end, the most important thing to consider is sound. At $20, the JLab Rewind Wireless headphones are very inexpensive. Do they sound as such? Well, they actually don’t sound all that bad.
Let’s start with the bass, which is by far the weakest aspect of these headphones. There is some bass there, but it doesn’t really extend as deep as we think it could, and it definitely isn’t very present.
The low mids carry over a little from the lack of bass. More low mids would have been very nice to see, especially in comparison to the boosted high mids.
The highs here are pretty present, though they’re overshadowed a little by the high mids. Again, the highs could extend a little higher than they do, but in general we found that they offered a generally crisp sound.
One nice thing about these headphones is that they have three EQ profiles, allowing you to somewhat tweak the overall frequency response. We really liked that, and found that changing the EQ a little helped add some of that missing bass. We found that the “bass boost” setting was the best to our ears.
The headphones aren’t the best at keeping out noise, partially because of their on-ear form-factor, and partly because they’re really not designed for that purpose. The sound also seemed to saturate pretty easily, though that’s to be expected in this price range.
Of course all of our complaints are a little weak. Why? Because these headphones cost $20, and at that price, they sound great. No, they’re not for audiophiles, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
The headphones connect to your listening device through Bluetooth 4.2, meaning they should offer a listening range of 10 meters, or 33 feet. We found that they performed decently well in the connectivity department — they generally didn’t skip or jump around, except at long distances.
When it comes to battery life, the headphones will get you 12 hours, which isn’t actually all that bad considering how small and lightweight these headphones are. When we opened the box, we assumed they would last a lot less than 12 hours, so we were pleasantly surprised.
We’re growing increasingly impressed with JLab Audio. The company is increasingly setting itself apart as a maker of decent headphones that offer excellent value for money, and the JLab Rewind Wireless headphones are no exception to that rule. They feature a cool design, are generally comfortable, and for the price, sound pretty good. They’re not trying to do more than they should, and while some might see the design as a gimmick, the fact is that design aside these headphones have a lot to offer.
The competition? Well, there really isn’t much in this price range. In fact, because of their excellent value for money, we’ve awarded the JLab Rewind Wireless headphones the Headphone Review Silver Medal.
|Frequency response||Unknown||Active noise cancellation
|Driver size||36mm||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
||Dynamic||On-ear controls||Yes (no volume)|
|Total harmonic distortion
|Rated input power
||Unknown||Battery life||12 Hours|
|Maximum input power
||Unknown||Wireless distance||10m (33ft)|
||Bluetooth 4.2||Cable length||N/A|