JBL is arguably the market leader when it comes to sports earphones. And the Reflect Flow is a perfect example of why JBL’s sports earbuds are so popular. Based on JBL’s previous true wireless sports model (Under Armour Flash), the Reflect Flow boasts more battery life and better portability. But what can you expect in terms of sound, fit and design? Let’s find out in this JBL Reflect Flow True Wireless Review.
IN the BOX
I can confidently say that when it comes to sports earphones, no company has mastered the in-ear fit as well as JBL. The Reflect Flow comes with ergonomic ear fins that seal perfectly against the contour of the ear. It not only feel secure, but the sound isolation beats a lot of noise-cancelling headphones out there. And given that the Reflect Flow comes with different sized eartips and fins, you shouldn’t have a problem with fit even if you have freakishly shaped ears.
Controls and Functionality
One thing I like about the Reflect Flow is that it employs actual buttons on the earpieces instead of touch controls. Why is this important? When it comes to touch control earbuds, I often find them too sensitive. And subsequently, it’s easy to inadvertently activate functions. This can be frustrating when all you want to do is pause the track, for example, and instead, Siri appears on your phone with a question. And considering that the Reflect Flow is designed for sports, sweaty fingers may amplify these kind of problems. So, in short, buttons are good.
The Reflect Flow offers a bunch of functions which can be controlled from these earpiece buttons, including, track skipping, play/pause, call answering/ending and voice assistant activation. You can even mute your voice on calls. And because the sound isolation is so effective, JBL has added an ambient mode, which allows in the sound of the outside environment. Handy for ordering coffee and avoiding death while crossing the road. That being said, you cannot control the volume from the earpieces, and there is no way to skip back through tracks.
Though the call clarity is great on both ends of the line, these buds fall short when it comes to cutting out surrounding noise. For example, I called my colleague while standing outside in the middle of Manhattan, and he was annoyed by how much interference there was from the outside environment. Having said that, most people who live in Manhattan are annoyed by noise interference. But there are some true wireless earphones that do a better job of isolating your voice. They just cost more.
The Reflect Flow has an IPX7 waterproof rating, which means it can withstand a &^$*load of sweat and even a couple of splashes under the faucet. But no, unfortunately, you can’t swim with them.
One of the most impressive things about these buds is the battery life. The Reflect Flow gives you 10 hours of use at a time and an extra 20 hours of charge from the charging case. This is quite a feat, considering that higher priced true wireless earbuds, like Sennheiser’s True Wireless Momentum ($299), only offer 4 hours of use at a time. Charging time is quick too; 10 minutes of charge will yield 1 hour of use. The Reflect Flow uses a micro-USB connection for charging. And actually, I would have preferred a USB-C connection, since its sturdier, easier to plug in and tends to charge faster than a micro-USB. But now I’m just being nitpicky.
Unlike it’s predecessor, the Flash, the Reflect Flow comes in a much smaller charging case. It may not be as durable as the Flash, but unless you’re throwing these buds off a rooftop, I think you’ll be fine.
Big and punchy, this is the kind of bass that JBL has become famous for. You’ll hear ample bass impact when listening to pop, and hip-hop fans will also be pleased with the subby response that these buds provide too. If you like a warm rock track, the Reflect Flow will deliver that as well. At the same time, those with an aversion to too much bass shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the low-end presence. In fact, in terms of balance, JBL has hit the sweet spot here. Furthermore, the level of detail is solid. Listening to classical strings in this range, instruments conveyed plenty of substance, while the timbre felt realistic as well. So, judging by the low-end, it becomes clear that the Reflect Flow is a versatile earphone with respect to the genres it can handle.
Decent presence in this range, though the low-mids are slightly recessed compared to the more present upper mids. The result? Listening to rock and pop-rock, vocals tend to sit a little forward in the mix. And the contrast between the lows and highs is slightly pronounced, producing a dynamic sounding track. That being said, those who are hungry for tons of body in their rock tunes may want something with a little more meat on the bone. But otherwise, the balance remains versatile in this range as well. More importantly, the Reflect Flow sounds impressively clean. If you listen to a lot of folk or acoustic rock, for example, you’ll be happy to hear well-separated and clearly defined guitar strums. So, rest assured, there’s no muddiness to speak of.
Moving back to pop, percussion sounded tight and crisp, adding plenty of energy to funky tracks. And the level of transparency also remains good in this range, offering a decent amount of detail when listening to strings and other acoustic instruments like trumpets. In addition, female vocals convey a lot of breath and air, making for a fluid and colorful sound that’s super pleasing to the ear. Finally, the highs avoid too much extension. So, folks with sensitivity to sharpness in the high frequencies should find these buds forgiving enough to listen to for long stretches of time.
The soundstage may not be vastly spacious, but you will hear a good amount of dimension. There’s plenty of height, for example, and you will hear clear gradations along the vertical axis. In terms of depth, it feels a little flat at times. So, I wouldn’t call it a thoroughly holographic experience. But considering that these are true wireless earbuds under 150 bucks, the Reflect Flow gives a decent performance in this department.
I have no complaints. A clean profile with a balance that can handle any type of music, the sound quality is certainly solid for the price. In fact, in terms of detail, I think it beats the Apple AirPods. And considering that the fit is completely fall-out-proof with fantastic sound isolation, I would highly recommend these buds for runners or anyone with an active lifestyle.
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