Best earphones for running : JBL Reflect Fit vs Bose Soundsport Free
We like to listen to music on our mobile phone or other music player while doing sports or exercise outdoors or in the gym. Music has been shown to increase performance and motivation during movement. During a workout in a gym or fitness room, it is recommended to treat the walls and ceiling of the room with sound-absorbing acoustic panels to make the music truly motivating and enjoyable while exercising. Noisy, echoing sound has a negative effect on the body, so acoustic treatment of rooms with unfavourable acoustics is essential.
However, if you exercise outdoors or just want to listen to your own music while on the move, you need proper earphones. Many companies manufacture in a variety of types and prices earphones specifically designed for doing sports such as running. In case of earphones designed for exercising, the earphones shall fit comfortably and stably in our ears and sound properly, these are the primary criteria to meet most expectations. This time, we tested two very high quality sports earphones, the Bose Soundsport Free and the JBL Reflect Fit neckband Bluetooth earphones. Both devices fall into the fairly expensive price range, but in return we can get really premium quality.
The Bose wireless earphones have been specially developed for sports and running. After unpacking, you have a small, black, plastic case (less than 10 cm) in your hand. The small case for safe storage of earphones suggests elegance and quality. The most pleasant surprise was when we discovered that the box not only has a storage function, but also provides wireless charging for the earphones! This is very useful when travelling, as you can charge the earphones without a cable. They are capable of approx. 5 hours of continuous operation, which can be multiplied by charging via the case.
Looking more closely at the earphones, the most striking was the large size of the speaker chambers. Silicone “caps” are included in 3 sizes. They are also equipped with a hook-like support, which allows the earphones to be stably attached to the ear, so they are guaranteed to stay in place even during intense movements. This proved to be the case in practice, they felt comfortable in the ears, didn’t move at all.
We sweat while doing exercises and are exposed to the weather when doing outdoor sports. Soundsport earphones from Bose are IPX4 certified, which means they are water and sweat resistant. It can be connected to the phone via Bluetooth, the connection took only a few seconds. Unfortunately, the Bluetooth connection can sometimes be insecure, such as when the phone was set up, the connection was lost and you had to wait a few seconds again for it to work again. If you are out of Bluetooth range, the connection is also hampered or lost. For this reason, it is advisable to take your phone or other playback device with you.
The right earphone has volume keys and music on and off buttons to handle voice dialling. The volume buttons could be more sensitive, they need to be pressed with force.
Bose earphones remember paired devices, so when you turn on the phone you used before, Soundsport recognises it and connects to it automatically. A LED indicates the battery charge status in the storage box that also acts as a docking station.
They got the most out of this earphone, they even have a built-in microphone so you can make phone calls easily and quickly with it. It was a little confusing that our own voice echoed during the phone call.
Bose has developed an APP to manage its own devices that identifies what Bose device we have paired our phone with. Thus, we can also control the music playback with the help of the application. While the earphones really fit very securely in your ears, you may still lose them. The Bose Connect APP can measure the position of the earphones, making it easy to find the lost device!
It virtually doesn’t filter out outside noises at all, which can be annoying to many, but let’s not forget that these earphones were invented for sports and it might not be safe for the earphones to completely exclude the outside world. While running, cycling, it doesn’t hurt to hear and notice in time vehicles moving around us, and other noises of potential danger. Of course, the sound quality of Bluetooth wireless earphones cannot be compared to the sound of a studio monitor listened to in a studio or in an acoustically well-managed room.
The manufacturer focused more on intense, powerful bass sounds. We observed clear, even, distortion-free sounds, and we did not experience any errors at higher volumes. We had spacious, dynamic rhythms, but the medium ranges were shadowed, and the high ones could have been sharper. While doing sports, most people swear by percussion of the basses, which increases motivation and also gives the rhythm of the movement.
JBL Reflect Fit neckband sports earphones
The JBL sports earphones are also wireless with Bluetooth. It comes with a sachet to store the earphones. The neckband is extremely small and lightweight, it may seem too snug to the neck, but it provides stability, and after a few minutes we forgot that we were wearing it. The rubber cover does not irritate the skin, it is soft and comfortable. This device is also designed for water and sweat resistance, has an IPX5 standard, and is resistant to low pressure water and rain.
The earplugs can be attached to the ear with silicone hooks, the silicone rings are added in 3 sizes. Fixing the earplugs this way is very stable, but after prolonged wearing we experienced a slightly uncomfortable, tight feeling. The earplugs come in different colours: you can choose from black, green, blue and red. On the right side of the neck strap is the on and off button, which, like the Bose product, is not sensitive enough and need to be pressed very hard. A blue LED indicates when the earphone is on, and glows red when the battery is low. To switching off, keep it pressed hard and longer. The earphone is also great for phone calls, the voice was clean, easy to understand, no rattles.
The heart rate monitor is also located on the right side of the neck, but an application is required for it to work (you need to pay for those usually). To the left of the neck strap is the volume key, press briefly when adjusting the volume, and if you hold it down for a bit longer you will switch the song. The battery lasts for approx. 10 hours of continuous operation. The neck strap cables are phosphorescent and glow in the dark, which is very useful when running or cycling in the evening.
About the sound
It filters noise very well, we heard dynamic deep and an even sound. The treble proved to be too weak, and the bass was sometimes overly powerful.
Which earphone is the winner?
Both devices have similar features, their quality is also excellent. The Bose earphone is a bit more expensive, but its own docking station and the all-wireless design worth the price. It is very stable in the ear, you don’t have to worry about the integrity of the ear during sweaty workouts or exercising in the rain, thanks to its waterproof feature. Disadvantages include oversized speakers, sometimes unstable Bluetooth connectivity, and slightly noisy background. In the case of JBL, our comments are similar, we rate its sound as slightly better. Due to the quality, the docking station and the comfortable and stable mounting, we might bring out the Bose Soundsport ears as a winner, but the JBL Reflect Fit isn’t far behind either.