JBL Reflect Aero: One-minute review
The JBL Reflect Aero can look like most sports headphones on the shelves with its circular frame with wing tips to help keep them in place when you’re working out. However, there is more to these headphones than the eyes can see.
The one obvious thing that sets them apart from others training headphones is its waterproofing. With an IP rating of IP68, these wireless headphones they are not just water resistant. You can dive 5 feet in salt or fresh water with them for 30 minutes, and they’ll keep playing these tunes (although you have to take into account the fact that Bluetooth signals don’t travel well in water).
But wait, there’s more. JBL doesn’t stop there. It also includes the headphones with other premium features like active noise cancellation, touch controls, in-ear detection and up to 8 hours of battery life (24 hours total with the charging case). That’s already a lot for this sub-$150/£150 price point, not to mention its excellent sound quality and the fact that you can customize your touch gestures to give you volume control.
The JBL Reflect Aero isn’t just one of the most feature-packed headphones we’ve tested; are also one of best waterproof headphones in the market.
JBL Reflect Aero: Pricing and Availability
- How much does it cost? $149 / £119
- Where is it available? Available now
- Where can you get it? Available in the US and UK
JBL Reflect Aero: SPECIFICATIONS
Interface: Bluetooth 5.2
Battery life: 8 hours for headphones, 24 hours total with case
Noise cancelling: Active noise cancellation
water resistance: IP68
Weight: 0.5oz (13g) per earphone
The JBL Reflect Aero is surprisingly affordable for what it offers. These true wireless headphones are just $149 / £119.
Granted, this price isn’t in the budget range, but it still puts these headphones in the mid-range market, making them more affordable than the Sony WF-1000XM4, Apple AirPods Pro 2, and even the Beats Fit Pro. To be fair, these three models offer superior sound and better ANC. But, none of them are submersible and they have a 10-band equalizer app so you can really customize the sound.
All things considered, the JBL Reflect Aero is definitely the best value out of all these headphones. They are an excellent proposition not only for swimmers and active users, but also for budget-conscious consumers looking for some premium features.
JBL Reflect Aero: Design
- Ear tips are not the best for smaller ears
- Touch controls are amazing
- JBL Headphones app expands functionality
In terms of design, the JBL Reflect Aero isn’t all that different from other sports headphones. In fact, they look a lot like the Beoplay E8 Sport Bang & Olufsen headphones, except these are a little more clunky and definitely not suitable for smaller ears, and the JBL Reflect Aero has that nice honeycomb pattern on the side that faces your ears.
So we won’t go into the details of the design and will focus on the details that set them apart. The charging case, for example, comes with a strap that lets you wear it on your wrist or clip it to your backpack so they don’t come off when you’re on the go.
Perhaps the best aspect of the JBL Reflect Aero’s design is the touch controls, which we should commend for being responsive and customizable, with helpful beeps. You can even program two of these touch gestures to control the volume – something the popular AirPods Pro range didn’t offer until the second generation launched, months after the JBL Reflect Aero hit the streets.
To make them more comprehensive in different ear sizes, these headphones come with not only silicone tips in three sizes, but also three pairs of different sized wing tips. Unfortunately, these ear tips can be a little smaller. Its smaller size may still be a little too big for users with small ears (or ear canal openings).
The JBL Reflect Aero comes with app support, that app being the JBL headphones (not to be confused with the JBL Portable which is for JBL speakers). You certainly don’t need to download the app to use the headphones, but it’s worth having. Not only does it expand its functionality, it also allows you to customize your sound using the 10-band EQ, which allows you to significantly customize these frequencies.
JBL Reflect Aero: Performance
- Ambient Aware is good, ANC just ok
- Very good sound quality, bass a little weird
- Mic has less low-end and no background noise rejection
There’s a lot to unload in terms of the JBL Reflect Aero’s performance, as they do most things well. The Ambient Aware feature (JBL’s transparency mode), for example, is great. We’ve found that it lets you hear enough of your surroundings to talk to another person while the music is still playing at around 50% volume.
You can also pair two devices at the same time to easily switch between your phone and laptop, for example when receiving a call on your phone while watching a movie on your laptop. There’s also very responsive in-ear detection which is very good at detecting when you take off a headset or put it back on. Meanwhile, the microphone sounds good for making phone calls – so you can be sure the person on the other end is hearing you clearly.
As far as sound quality goes (with in-app EQ off), the vocals are clear and colorless (unfiltered). The high end in general sounds very clear and detailed, albeit a bit on the bright side.
The rest are just ok, decent at best. Active noise cancellation is nothing to write home about, as it doesn’t really block out higher frequency sounds – anything that’s in the mids or highs. The only way it works well is when you have music playing at a higher volume.
While you can connect to two devices at the same time, you can only listen to one input at a time. In addition, you also need to stop or pause one source, wait a few seconds and play the other, which can be inconvenient when you are in a hurry. The microphone is also limited in its frequency range, so there is less bass and no background noise rejection.
As far as sound is concerned, the mids sound a little set back. On Gemma Hayes’ “Hanging Around,” the guitars sound polite when they should be more in your face, as it’s a rock song. They just don’t hit as hard as they should. The bass is a little weird. On Taylor Swift’s “Maroon” and Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever”, the bass comes out thick and powerful. However, on Japanese Breakfast’s “Paprika”, the bass sounds anemic.
Our guess is that the bass frequencies are inconsistent, as if there is a valley in the frequency curve somewhere on the low end. And since the bass on “Maroon” and “Happier Than Ever” is distorted and getting a little in the mid-range, it’s not being affected by that drop. On the other hand, as the bass in “Paprika” is pure bass, it is losing a piece of it due to this drop.
Be warned: if these silicone tips don’t fit properly in your ears, these headphones will sound terrible. The overall sound will not sound full and rich, with the mid sound set back, the bass being too contained and the treble not providing the same level of detail. Make sure these ear tips completely cover your ears before playing music or watching videos.
We’re pointing out these shortcomings to make it clear that the JBL Reflect Aero doesn’t sit at that premium audiophile level, meaning they won’t have the most superior sound or the fanciest features. However, this only matters for people who are much more demanding or used to expensive headphones.
As it stands, the JBL Reflect Aero are great-sounding, feature-rich headphones that, despite a few quirks, make good training companions – especially if there’s water involved. With their IP68 rating, they can be fully submerged for up to 30 minutes with no effect on performance. Having tested this ourselves, we can confirm that only they survive submerged in water, but they also continue to play music. And as long as your phone is nearby and you’re not doing deep dives, you can swim with them. Let’s see other headphones do this.
Should I buy the JBL Reflect Aero?
Don’t buy if…
JBL Reflect Aero: Bulletin
|Value||You’re getting a lot of features and great performance for the price.||5/5|
|Project||The design is nothing special, but the headphones are loaded with many features, including an IP68 rating.||4/5|
|acting||Their sound quality is very good, and the waterproofing really works.||4/5|
|Total||The JBL Reflect Aero are great value waterproof headphones that offer great performance and a great feature set.||4.5 / 5|
- reviewed for the first time November 2022
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