The Ultimate JBL Synchros Reflect BT Earbuds Review
JBL is one of the largest names in audio, manufacturing products for consumers and professionals alike. However, their venture into the world of wireless earbuds has proved to be a little problematic. While not completely broken, each one of the wireless pairs from JBL seems to hold some issue that holds back an otherwise fantastic product.
The Synchros Reflect BTs are a solid designed and constructed pair of earbuds, offering first class performance expected from JBL. Still, an incredibly short battery life hold these earbuds back from winning out in every category. Designed with those working out in mind, the headphones do feature convenient features, minor sweat-proofing, and inline controls, but don’t feel completely justified for the cost.
|Frequency Response||10Hz – 22kHz|
|Battery Life||Up to 5 Hours|
|Range||Up to 40 Feet|
|Price||$69.95 (check this listing for the latest live prices)|
Design and Construction
If there’s any area that the Synchros Reflect BTs shine, it’s in their design. The clever cable between the headphones, fantastic Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and comfortable winged ear tips make these earbuds excellent in this department.
Bluetooth 4.0 provides ranges of up to 40 feet away from the device, line of sight. While the most current version of connectivity is Bluetooth 4.1, this slightly older revision still provides similar performance. There’s very little to miss on between the two.
Outside of that, the earbuds are comfortable to wear in a way that isn’t too impressive, but still above par in context of many other pairs. The only option included fit nicely into my ear, with the soft rubber wing contouring to my ear with ease.
However, I realize that won’t be the case for all. While they fit nicely into my ears, there is a huge variation in ear size, leading to potential irritation or constantly falling earbuds. The lack of customization here is, frankly, insulting.
While there are large and small options for the ear tips, neither of them quite fit a mid sized ear. What this leads to is either an earbud that is way too big, or way too small.
Regardless, these earbuds are competently constructed, not falling victim to a cheap plastic construction. While they are made out of plastic, they don’t feel like you could break them by closing your fingers together which is a plus.
However, the focal point that gives these headphones their name is the reflective cord that connects the earbuds together. The strip will reflect light in the dark, making them an excellent choice for running at night. This brain-dead simple solution is really nice to see and I’m surprised more brands don’t jump on the train.
Additionally, JBL included two magnetic strips on the cord that can be used to tie up excess cabling to fit them perfectly around your neck. Again, another simple, but elegant solution that more companies should adopt.
For those who like to color coordinate, you’re in luck. These earbuds come in black, blue, green, and red so you’re sure to find a color that you like.
JBL is known for excellent sound quality and, while the Synchros Reflects BTs don’t sound bad, they don’t necessarily showcase the best of JBL. A slightly crowded soundscape leads to a sense of discomfort and confusion when listening, falling below the mark in this category as well.
Let’s start with the good stuff though. The mid-range is actually pretty good here. There’s plenty of punch and a good amount of clarity in this area of the frequency spectrum, something not seem on lower end earbuds.
However, everything else just kind of falls short. The 8.5mm driver is simply too small for JBL is attempting to do with it. An excess amount of low-end falls short out of the small drivers, drowning out the top-end and making these earbuds sound dull.
That isn’t to say that they’re bass-heavy either. In fact, there’s little punch in the low-end at all. The low-end boost reaches into the mids a bit, making the whole area sound cluttered. What results is a headset that lacks clarity and low-end punch, which is never a good thing.
For many listeners, there isn’t too much to complain about and if you’re not interested in the best audio quality, you’ll get by. However, for those who care even a little bit about audio quality, you may want to look elsewhere.
There are some issues presented outside of the sound and design of the earbuds, however. Most notably, the battery life. Despite the rated 5 hours of playback time, these headphones fall incredibly short of that.
They are some of the worst performers I’ve tested in this area, barely squeezing out a couple hours before needing to be charged again. That’s a huge issue, especially considering these are earbuds targeted at people running at night.
For any runners out there, you know that sometimes a few hours of music and running is all you need and these earbuds won’t stand up to that amount of time.
However, it’s not all bad. Inclusion of an in-line microphone is a huge plus, granting easy one touch operation for answering calls and adjusting volume. That’s if the charge allows it.
Best Feature of the JBL Synchros Reflect BT
While I’ve had a lot of criticism of these earbuds, there is some things to like. Most notably, the inclusion of the reflective strip. This design choice makes too much sense not to see on more earbuds and I commend JBL for including such an awesome feature.
The only thing I would’ve liked to see is some sort of system to change out this reflective strip so it doesn’t become annoying in situation where you don’t want it. For instance, running on a treadmill with the bright lights of a gym could spell trouble, with reflected light bouncing in your eyes with each bounce of the cord. Maybe an interchangeable cord would work, although adding a lot to cost.
Worst Feature of the JBL Synchros Reflect BT
I’m tempted to say that the battery life is the worst feature here. While that’s true, it’s not the most offensive, and understandable given the age of the product. The worst, in that case, is the sound quality. The entire frequency spectrum is drowned out by the small drivers trying to push too much low-end, leading to a subpar experience.
While I would love to rip on the battery life, it’s simply not as bad as the sound quality. No matter how good everything else is on the earbuds, it’s hard to excuse subpar audio quality and, for that, these headphones don’t get a pass.
The JBL Synchros Reflect BT are an interesting product. On one hand, they implement features I wish I saw in more earbuds, like the reflective strip, magnetic cable management system, and competent build quality. However, it’s hard to appreciate any of that in context of the poor audio performance and insulting battery life.
What is really a shame about this is that I know JSL is capable of making a fantastic product. I’m certain that this could be no exception to that, but, unfortunately, it is. The crowded frequency spectrum is simply too much for the 8.5 mm drivers to handle and, despite what the promotion material claims, the battery life is too short to even enjoy the headphones.
If you run a lot at night, then these are still a solid option. The combination of the reflective strip and magnetic cable management bars is essential for any night runner and provides safety and convenience in an intuitively simply package. However, if you don’t fit in that specification, you may want to look elsewhere for a pair of wireless earbuds.