JBL Reflect Aware Sports Earphones
This is a review of the jbl reflect aware sports headphones which I received today from amazon.
The first thing to say is that I ordered these from amazon not through the jbl website itself this is because the site isn't very screen reader friendly and I got annoyed fighting with it trying to add them to my shopping cart.
So these are sports headphones I got these hoping that they would be more rugged that previous headphones I have owned which only seem to survive a few months they don't seem to be able to stand being taken in and out of pockets so I hoped that sports headphones might be designed to take a bit more punishment than other expensive models I have tried, the makers claim they are sweat proof and angled to stay in your ears better during work outs. the website also says the cable is designed to be reflective which presumably makes you more visible when out and about.
I was drawn to these headphones for two reasons firstly they offer noise cancellation built into the headphones and don't need an extra battery pack as is the case normally with noise canceling headphones because they plug directly into the lightning port rather than a standard headphone jack.
I thought well as most sites are suggesting that apple will drop the headphone jack when the iPhone 7 comes out I might as well get a set of lightning powered earphones, though it will be annoying not being able to charge my phone at the same time as listening to stuff, I hope apple addresses this problem.
So with my introduction out of the way on to the headphones, the box etc, well first thing to say is the box is very nice and unlike most similar products its actually fairly easy to put things back in the box and close it up as stuff in it is in layers not slide out trays. Though I did have an issue when getting the headphones out the box this is that one of the ear tips came off, and this is where I got my first surprise, the ear tips are composed of two parts, the bit that goes in your ear, then under that a kind of rubber sleeve which has what I can only describe as a curly horn on it, having spoken to customer services its designed to improve the grip of the headphone in your ear.
I had to get someone to help me reattach the ear tip which they were able to do, though the quick start guide provided very little useful information and certainly to me mostly read as rubbish when I downloaded it, though the sighted person helping me was able to describe the layout of the remote to me from picture information in it.
The remote is very well designed the buttons are well spaced and the one for controlling noise cancelling settings is a different shape to the others being oval and shaped like a medicine capsule the others being small, flat and round with good tactile feedback
However the remote is built into the main headphone cable rather than one of the ear pieces so I am not practically sure how to tell right and left channels apart. the cabling for the headphones feels plastic not rubbery and I think will be quite easy to untangle and its not stupidly long like I have found with other headphones I have previously owned.
also in the box is a print quick start guide, a storage pouch and a box containing spare earphone tips they offer 3 sizes of small, medium and large, though to be honest I can't really feel the difference in size, and also as usual like with many other similar products these tips are not packaged well, they are just resting inside a plastic container which is housed in a cardboard box, but as soon as you start to get it out the tips start to fall out and go everywhere and I am still not sure if I found them all because of the strange two part design of these tips.
When I plugged these headphones in I was pleasantly surprised to get an announcement of ANC on, which means ambient noise canceling on, I then found that using the noise canceling button on the remote can give you spoken voice prompts informing you if noise canceling is on or of, and allowing you to adjust the levels of outside noise that are let in, as it can tell you ambient awareness is either on, high, low, medium or off. Having spoken to the customer support people it turns out the best setting to block the most outside noise is to have ambient awareness on low, which I didn't expect I assumed off would be the best option to block noise but it seems not. voice prompts can be disabled in the companion apps settings if the user wants but I have no idea if there is a visual alert for changing of these settings.
So as I stated above there is a companion app for these headphones which you don't have to install but I did, the app is called jbl my headphones, its just as well the noise canceling can be controlled via the remote as the button labeling in this app is very poor, and one or two don't even respond to double taps from VoiceOver.
With the companion app I have been able to adjust some of the EQ settings and also turn off noise cancelling however although the app does have a button for changing the ambient awareness levels this part of the app doesn't respond to taps with VoiceOver, I would say the remote is your friend really for adjusting these settings. I have reached out to jbl to try to get there app improved.
The app also offers options to create your own custom eq settings as well as several presets, I have been able to enable or disable the available presets, and have heard some though not much difference between them, and beside each preset is an unlabeled button though tapping the preset name seems to be enough to enable it. creating a new preset though isn't very accessible, on this screen are various settings to do with frequencies and different sliders.
I tried adjusting them just to see if anything would happen nothing seemed to happen when I adjusted them I don't know if this is down to bad VoiceOver programming from the app developer or if you won't hear a difference till you save and activate a preset, either way I would say trying to use this screen is probably a bit of a waste of time for VoiceOver users.
Lastly the app also has a setting to update the firmware on the headphones so its probably a good idea for any users of these headphones and other jbl products it works with to install it.
I tried the noise canceling feature and to be honest I didn't think much of it, I could still hear ambient noise like my laptop or the radio getting in no matter how much I played with the settings I suspect that the lightning port probably doesn't provide enough power to make this a really useful feature. But having said that the noise canceling does work to some extent, I used them on there first car journey recently and the noise canceling did block all noise of the car engine completely but it didn't block any of the music that the person driving the car was listening to so not a particularly useful feature there. I did notice that if I turned noise canceling off car engine noise was very audible so I will probably keep the feature activated, but its a bit of a useless feature if it doesn't filter out the majority of the noise and blocks only low frequency car noise. But I suppose it might be the app offers other customization options I am still waiting to hear from customer services.
The sound from these headphones is good but nothing spectacular there OK and I will probably keep them but do I think there worth what I paid for them no, the headphones do of course have an inbuilt microphone for phone calls which seems to work well.