Following the sad demise of my excellent Focal Spear wireless headphones at the hands of our dog who chewed them to pieces, this is my HiFi Review of these JBL Reflect Flow Sport in-ear earbuds. I don’t normally review my own purchases, however, on this occasion they are good and I am frequently asked about sports or Bluetooth earphones and this seems like a place to start, and I am a bit light at the moment.
I bought these JBL Reflect Flow Sport earbuds on a bit of a whim, I saw them in a phone shop shortly after seeing the Apple buds in their store at £250 quid but loved the idea of them. So at 90 quid on Amazon (they’re £99 now), I thought they would be a bit of punt but I did want them for my rowing machine as this is my current thing and wired anything does not work.
These JBL Reflect Flow Sport are wireless “in-ear” buds with no wires anywhere. You put one in each ear, give a twist/adjustment and you’re away. The JBL Reflect Flow Sport is noise insolating (not cancelling) as they form a firm barrier to ambient noise through the close fit in the ear. There is an option to allow in ambient noise, like traffic, by pressing the left earbud, for example.
They come in a very nice hard card box and the packaging instills a sense of quality straight off. The buds are on display with some charge so you go straight away if you are impatient like me. After my first wear, I put them in the charging case overnight and the display on the charging case tells you the charge level, my phone gives me the same charge information.
On first wear, there is a bit of fiddling but it was clear the middle earbud and tabs (made of silicone) were fine for my ears. They fit very securely generally, though the left one has occasionally fallen out, in my case. This is a nontrivial matter if you drop them near a sink, a drain or on a gravel driveway which I have done. The gravel one is a bad one because you just can’t see the buds at all as they’re just black with a
minimal red flash where the charging posts are. I guess the sink drop is also bad although these buds claim to be waterproof, splash proof and weatherproof to EU standard IPX7 (that could be 30 minutes in water up to a meter deep, see Google!). A drain drop scenario will be toast!
These JBL Reflect Flow Sport are really nicely put together, I’d say they are quite heavy (compared to the Focals, where the battery is on the neck band) relatively but well made, definitely; I believe these will last more than a year! The changeable ear tabs are very easy to adjust, being made of silicone.
The earbuds use Bluetooth 5.0 so there is the latest tech in here.
In The Box
1 x JBL Reflect sport headphones (pair)
3 x Various size ear tips
3 x Various size ear tabs
1 x Charging case
1 x Charging cable
1 x Quick start guide (excellent)
1 x Warranty card
1 x Safety instructions
I’m using my excellent Pixel 2 XL having balked at buying a new 4XL with the recent £150 off offer, despite damaging the 2 XL recently. It is my everyday phone with Tidal Masters and PowerAmp as my main music players, I’m also into BBC Sounds podcasts too (6 Music recommends is excellent for New Music).
Putting on (in)
Basically, this process is dead easy. The charging case, I find, is very effective, basically acting as a battery top up and an off-on button so when I put the Flows on out of the charging case my phone connects instantly. The earbud on the right of the charging case goes in the right ear, quite properly, but I’d like an L/R icon on each just for ease. The automatic connection has been seamless to date (a month). The charging case effectively acts as a top-up charge every time you take the buds off so you just need to pay attention to the charge level occasionally on the case, there are four LEDs on the case to show you the charge levels. A USB A/USB B charging cable is provided in the box.
You do have to get used to moving the earbuds around in your ear once inserted to avoid a muffling effect but you get to deal with that quite quickly.
Connectivity – Battery
In broad terms connectivity is excellent and the signal is strong. I pulled my earbuds out, forgot to turn them off because I didn’t have the charging case at my desk and wandered downstairs, received a call and the JBLs were still connected, two floors down, fortunately, my phone can deal with redirecting the speaker output!
Battery usage seems to be fine, JBL claims 10 hours are held in the earbuds and there are a further 20 hours in the case so portable wise, there are 30 hours here. I’ve not verified this but my phone tells me the bud charge and this has gone down to 50% after about 5 hours of monitored use and turning off deliberately, without using the charging case, so this seems reasonable.
Playback is fine, particularly the podcast vocal is very clear, I’m really happy with the sound. Music-wise there is a decent bass sound married with a good vocal. These are not ‘beats’ bass heavy but there feels a degree of control. My Tidal Masters download of ‘Gold’ (Ryan Adams) is a really nice listen on a sunny walk, the bass line and rhythm on ‘Nobody Girl’ is nicely controlled and the detail in Sylvia Plath is wonderful.
Talk through/Ambient noise/Phone usage
Pause and stop is on the button on the right earbud, this is really good and effective. There is a talk through option on the left ear if you do bump into someone and want a chat, this is fine and very useful. There is also an ambient noise pass through with an extra tap, for listening to traffic. Because the buds are noise isolating you can’t hear much around you so the ambient option is excellent, though not if it is windy, to be honest.
You can just turn off the buds without the charging case with a 5 second lean on the right earbud button. A double-tap on the right earbud enables Google Assistant and for me with a Pixel, this is brilliant.
Rowing machine (sports usage/walking in general)
I bought the JBL Reflect Flow Sport because I’m trying to improve my fitness on my rowing machine, I need music to take away the pain. On or over-ear headphones are non-starters, other direct wired headphones are useless and the wireless Focal Sphears have been good, though they are wired to each other with a battery pack on the neck wire. But this is a different level and I’m absolutely delighted with the performance so far. The sweating thing is not a big deal for me but I’ve had no problems with comfort or connectivity over this period of time. I’m really happy with the fit and on a rowing machine, all is good (I am not a runner at all).
If you want a wireless sports earbuds option, that fits, is comfortable and has the quality you desire, these are the guys; you get what you pay for. Connectivity for me has been excellent, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these on this basis.
Ease of connection
Controls are well thought out
They had left/right on them
From the JBL site
Driver Size: 5.8mm Dynamic Driver
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Sensitivity: 102dB SPL@1kHz/1mW
Maximum SPL: 96dB
Microphone sensitivity: -40dBV@1kHz/Pa
Driver Impedance: 14 ohm
Bluetooth transmitted power: <9.5dBm
Bluetooth transmitted modulation: GFSK, π/4-DQPSK, 8DPSK
Bluetooth frequency: 2.402GHz – 2.480GHz
Bluetooth profile version: A2DP 1.3; AVRCP 1.5; HFP 1.6
Bluetooth version: 5.0
Headset Battery type: Lithium-ion Battery
(110mAh / 3.7V)
Charging chase Battery type: Lithium-ion
Battery (850mAh / 3.7V)
Power supply: 5V, 1A
Charging time: <2 hrs from empty
Music playtime with BT on: up to 10 hrs
Bought from Amazon for £89.99 last month, they are also available from the JBL site too (link above). I am an Amazon Affiliate, to help pay for the site, I’ve earned £0.00 so far, just so you know!