Amia DalveySep 20 2022, 17:10:27 IST
Active audio output
– The sound can be modified through the accompanying app
– Durable construction, fit well
IP67 . Dust and Water Resistant
– Ambient Aware and TalkThru Thoughtful Extras
Very good spare battery
– Touch controls are not too sensitive, and provide limited customization
– No sensors to detect corrosion or ANC
– Design on the larger side
price: 5999 rupees
Rating: 3.7 / 5
JBL brand needs no introduction. They have a variety of audio products in India, including several wireless earbuds (TWS), to cater to different types of users. The Endurance Race TWS we reviewed today is a sports earphone aimed at people looking for a constant workout companion. This product’s feature list seems to tick a lot of boxes. Time to take it out of the box and put it to the grind.
JBL Endurance Race TWS: Design and Comfort (7/10)
These JBL Buds are totally chunky yet feel sturdy with all the rubber protection. These earbuds have an IP67 dust and water resistance rating, and you can wear them not only during workouts or jogging but also in the shower (avoid wearing them in the shower). You also get extended silicone grommets for a better fit, and they work really well because the buds never came out of my ear even during workouts, and at the same time, I didn’t feel too much pressure on my earlobe.
The silicone ear tips go into the ear canals and provide a decent seal. You get a couple more tips in the package if the pre-installed broker option isn’t the right size for you. The shape of the buds is difficult to describe in words; Just look at some pictures below. The design reminded me of the Soundcore Liberty 2 earbuds I reviewed a couple of years ago. Although the earbuds stick out a bit from the ear, they don’t look awkward.
Buds and case largely have a matte black finish with a hint of gloss, and the combination works well aesthetically without attracting too many smudging marks. The charging case is also on the heavier side and weighs approximately 45 grams. It’s not quite in your pocket, unless you don’t mind a noticeable bulge in your pocket. The case does not have any ingress protection, so try not to take it out in the rain. The charging indicator LED is on the front of the case, while the USB-C charging port is on the back.
The earbuds have touch zones on the back, and the touch sensitivity isn’t the best I’ve come across. I would suggest clicking at a more relaxed pace rather than dashing through taps, otherwise it tends to miss a click which leads to unwanted results, especially the triple click gesture. More on that shortly.
JBL Endurance Race TWS: Features and Specifications (7.5/10)
Each earbud is equipped with a 6mm driver, but don’t be fooled by the size as it can produce some serious bass. There’s no Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) here, however you get two transparency modes that JBL prefer calling Ambient Aware and TalkThru. While the former allows ambient noise to pass through, the latter focuses on optimizing audio frequencies, facilitating a quick conversation without removing the headphones from the ears.
There are no wear sensors on the JBL Buds, which I would have liked to see given their price. These earbuds are Bluetooth 5.2 compliant and support SBC and AAC codecs. You can access the various headphone settings after installing the JBL Headphones app and syncing the earbuds with it. The application basically allows you to change the audio profile, configure the controls, update the firmware among other things.
Just like in the case of Sony earbuds, you can’t assign an individual function to each gesture. You should assign one complete set to each earbud. You can choose from ambient sound control, playback control, volume control, and voice assistant control. Most combinations assign functions to single tap and double tap gestures, with playback controls being the only exception, triple tap is set to the previous track function, which isn’t very smart.
As I mentioned earlier, these JBL headphones often miss the third click, and when only two clicks are recorded, they switch to the next track instead of the previous one. Jumping two lanes back from there can be an ordeal because you need to time your triple taps to perfection. It may also use the phone to go back to the previous track. Long press is a better gesture to jump to the previous track than triple tap. Something JBL could consider fixing in a future firmware update.
JBL Endurance Race TWS: Performance (7/10)
These headphones aren’t the loudest but are loud enough at volume levels around 70% and 80%, indoors and outdoors respectively. When the company announces “JBL Pure Bass Sound,” you can guess the endurance racing’s default sound signature. Yes, it does sound heavy, but since one is expected to use these earbuds primarily while working out or jogging, the extra punch isn’t a bad thing. The extra bass swallows up some of the mid-range frequencies, but the overall output is very lively.
Some mid-range frequencies are masked, but the audio clarity is pretty decent. The hikes are steep but roll in very soon. Fortunately, the companion app offers you a 10-band equalizer to tweak the sound to your liking. If that takes a lot of work, you also get five audio presets to play with. Boosting specific mid and high frequencies in the equalizer results in a better balance of the overall sound without compromising the bass. Definitely worth a try.
The sound stage here is reasonably spacious and doesn’t make the output seem cramped into a smaller space. While the company does not specify latency numbers, there was no appreciable lag between video and audio when streaming videos. Wireless range is pretty standard with the buds maintaining a strong connection up to 10m with a clear line of sight. Ambient Aware and TalkThru modes work well when you want to be aware of your surroundings or people around you, and don’t affect audio quality when enabled.
JBL Endurance Race TWS: Call Quality (7/10)
Call quality on the JBL Endurance Race is average. Although the person on the line can hear you clearly, the singing is not the sharpest. Several people on call realized that I was using some kind of hands-free device to make the call. When you’re outdoors, the microphones pick up some background noise like traffic noise, but they manage to keep it in the background without affecting the conversation too much.
JBL Endurance Race TWS: Battery Life (8.5/10)
The spare battery for the JBL Endurance Race is absolutely fantastic. The company claims an ambitious 10 hours with the Bud and 30 hours overall with the charging case, which isn’t far from the truth either. With volume close to 75% during the testing process, the earbuds were able to last for nearly 9 hours before one of the earbuds ran out of juice, while 20% of the other earbuds stayed. This should be one of the longest battery life numbers for the Buds alone. Now you know why they weigh more than 12 grams.
The charging case was able to charge it fully two more times, taking the total battery backup of approximately 27 hours for the buds and case combined, which is excellent. It supports fast charging but the numbers are modest. A 10-minute charge gives you nearly an hour of playtime, which is useful but not special. The product can be fully charged in less than 2 hours using a standard USB-C charger.
JBL Endurance Race TWS: Price and Verdict
The JBL Endurance Race is priced at Rs 5,999 with a one-year warranty and can often be spotted at 10% less. For that price, you get a pair of tough TWS earbuds with IP67 protection, vivid audio output that can be further tweaked from the companion app, transparency modes, and of course, great battery backup. For all that and JBL brand value, the price seems reasonable. However, less than 5K would have been more appropriate given the competition.
Yes, we know these are sports earbuds and the focus is mainly on durability, but you get earbuds with similar sound and active noise cancellation in this budget or less. Two options that immediately come to mind are the OnePlus Buds Z2 and Realme Buds Air 3 for Rs 4,999 and Rs 3,999 respectively. Both also let you assign specific functions to each touch gesture, and their companion apps offer some audio tweaks as well. Choose the option that checks you more boxes.