JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to true wireless sports earphones – and with the Under Armour Flash as its predecessor, the JBL Reflect Flow is a hotly anticipated entrant to the flourishing, albeit rather niche, true-wireless-for-sports market.
The Reflect Flows have a longer battery life than their predecessors, at ten hours from the buds themselves and 20 more via the case. The whole lot can go from empty to fully charged in about two hours.
The case itself is somewhat disappointing, though. It’s too big to take with you on a long run, and while the black and silver brushed plastic (also available in teal and silver) won’t show up fingerprint smudges, the silver coating in our sample begins to rub off slightly after only a few days of being carried around.
The buds are circular, comprising a branded central button with silver sides and coloured detailing around the driver housing, which is visible through the translucent fins and tips.
There are three sets of separate tips and fins supplied in total. We’d like a few more options but, while a little fiddly to fit, by either downsizing or upsizing the tip or fin, or both, a secure and sportsworthy fit is achievable. We go for a run in them; with the correct accoutrements in our lugholes, they don’t budge.
Bluetooth connection is also easily arranged and is dependable throughout our testing period. The operational morse code that JBL has gone with here showcases what it calls its ‘Ambient Aware’ and ‘TalkThru’ modes. By short-pressing the left bud, you’ll scroll through to a slightly quieter sound (Ambient Aware) or very low volume playback (TalkThru).
It’s something different, and JBL claims it’ll be great for answering a question at the office while keeping the buds in. Other in-ears, however, offer the ability to simply increase or decrease the volume by long-holding either the left bud (to decrease) or right (to increase it), which could ultimately be more useful.
We load up Junius Meyvant’s Signals on Spotify, from the album Floating Harmonies. The calming and delicate guitar progression at the top of the track comes through crisply and is well fleshed out in terms of detail, resonating with precise timing and providing a pleasing, musical backdrop as the vocal takes centre stage.
Driver size 5.8mm
Impedance 14 ohm
Bluetooth version 5.0
Frequency response 20Hz - 20kHz
Charging time (from empty) < 2 hours
Speed charge Yes
As the song progresses, the bass drum is dutifully relayed while bowed strings are lovingly captured through the midrange, with no notable muddying in terms of the relative space between instruments – even as the mix intensifies.
Cueing up Missy Elliott’s Iconology EP, we note that the extra helping of bass on offer here could help get you through a tough run or workout at the gym – the JBLs come with a waterproof IPX7 rating. The bass is deep but playful, precise and well-balanced, never falling foul of timing issues.
We switch to Shawn Mendes’ Senorita, and become aware of a minor shortfall in the dynamic build; the kind of rise and fall which makes the track emotional and enthusiastic. The Reflect Flows are pleasantly reserved through the midrange, but on occasion, this can leave you feeling slightly distanced from the action.
It’s still a solid performance for the money. Under direct comparison with the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 true wireless in-ears, we find the Melomania 1s reveal more acoustic clues and detail resolution – however, those buds are not intended for sport use.
We’re still waiting for a pair of ‘sport’ in-ears to truly wow us compared to their ‘regular’ true wireless brethren for sound. For an athlete-worthy fit alongside good sound, however, the JBL Reflect Flows are equal to the five-star Jaybird Vistas, and less expensive, too.
If you’re not after a pair of sport in-ears, there is more detail to be dug up by class leaders outside of this rather niche category. For true wireless sports in-ears though, the JBL Reflect Flow headphones are very good, especially if you want a bass-heavy sound for the gym without resorting to cans – and the battery will outlast a seriously long run.
- Sound 4
- Comfort 5
- Build 4
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Read our Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review
Read our Jaybird Vista review