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hardware

JBL Reflect Aero

Earphones for an active listener.

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Do you sometimes feel like today is not the day for exercise? It's grey outside, and the rain might ruin your perfectly good headphones. So why should you take risks? And without headphones you might be forced to say hello to your neighbours, unless you manage to sneak past them unnoticed. JBL has a solution to these problems, and it's called Reflect Aero earphones.

The first impression is mixed. The package includes earphones, a plastic carrying case for charging and transport, the world's shortest charging cable and three different sets of both silicon tips and POWERFINS enhancements that help to keep those earphones in place. From now on I will call these POWERFINS simply earfins.

JBL Reflect Aero

All the gear feels like a quality product, and the carrying case in pleasantly light. The package doesn't have any case for those tips and earfins, but you can always put them back in the original cardboard package, although that doesn't feel like a long-term solution. Some kind of extra carrying case would have been a good add-on.

As I said, the carrying case is light and snaps the lid closed with a firm feeling. The earphones snap to their place as well with the help of a magnet, but they don't always snap into their appropriate places. So far, I have always been forced to adjust those earphones, because otherwise the lid can't be properly closed.

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Starting to use the earphones is easy, but actually using them requires you to download JBL's own software. Before this you can't hear a peep, even if the connection with a smart phone is otherwise established. Software includes for example an equaliser, and a chance to adapt the earphones' tactile switches to your liking. For me the equaliser was the most important thing, and with it I got to adjust the audio properties to my liking. There are a few basic settings for example for jazz and club music, but not for basic rock for some reason. Luckily, I don't see it as a problem.

The earphones' tactile switches' basic settings are designed in such a way that your right earphone changes songs, and the left is for adjusting noise cancellation. You may also use them for volume control, or to switch something completely off. I used the phone settings, because the volume is easily controlled with a smart phone.

JBL Reflect Aero

The sound of the earphones is good for what they are meant for, which is to use them while you are actively moving. I used them while cycling or running, and while doing so, I like to listen to rock or heavy metal with extra bass. I wouldn't choose these earphones for a quiet and relaxing situation. If you intend to listen to classical music while relaxing, you should choose a different set of headphones.

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Active noise cancellation makes sure that the outside world is not bothering you too much while exercising. Although especially in the city it's good to have situational awareness about what's going on around you. To do this, the earphones include something called Smart Ambient, which is like noise enhancing. With it you hear a car approaching way ahead of time, but there is a downside. While cycling during windy weather the noise becomes unbearable. I wouldn't use it while on a bus, because then all the wrong noises get enhanced. The idea of Smart Ambient is good, but it also destroys the most important thing, which is listening music.

The comfort is generally positive while exercising. By choosing the right earfins, the earphones stay in place. Also, the microphone worked great while exercising, and only while cycling in windy weather did the noise become a problem.

JBL Reflect Aero

I tried to keep the earphones on for a full work day, but in the end, I just couldn't do it. After four hours I had to give my ears a break. I do have to say that these were the first pair of earphones, that I have managed to fit properly into my ears, and for this reason, even four hours is a big win for me personally. I still prefer regular headphones with big cups over my ears, if I need to use them for longer periods of time.

Since these are earphones for active people, JBL promises level IP68 protection against dust and moisture. Against dust they seem to be well protected, but I didn't dare to go swimming with them. According to the manual, the earphones should survive when under 50cm of water. But, I didn't want to risk losing an earphone at the bottom of a lake, so I didn't try.

JBL Reflect Aero is good for what is has been made to do. They are earphones for active people. They snap into place easily, and don't often fall out. The battery lasts for about eight hours or so, and by charging for 15 minutes you get a few hours of extra time for listening. But, these are not meant to be used for long periods at a time, since after a few hours I had to give my ears a break.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Earphones have a firm fit while exercising. Sound quality is good. Fast recharge.
-
Not that comfortable to use for long periods of time. Smart Ambient doesn't really work while listening to music.
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