Best Sports Headphones Under $120?
True wireless in a sports headphone is a goal of many of today’s top headphone brands. The latest in-ear waterproof-rated sports headphones are the ENDURANCE PEAK from JBL. PEAK is the 5th model in the JBL ENDURANCE line. At the time of this writing, the ENDURANCE PEAK has received rave reviews earning a 4.4 out of 5 rating from respondents on JBL’s website, feel free to read their testimonials. So without further delay, let’s take a closer look at this JBL Endurance PEAK headphones review.
• High-quality audio
• Touch control design
• Secure wrap around design
• IPX7 waterproof rating
• 28 hours of total battery life
• Changing case does not have USB-C connection
• $120 price may be an issue to some
JBL Endurance PEAK Headphones Review
What You Need To Know About Operation
- To power on the headphone, remove the right ear headphone and unhook the POWERHOOK™. You’ll hear an engine startup noise. Do the same with the left headphone so that it pairs with the right. A red light will appear when they power on.
- For Bluetooth pairing of the headphones to your mobile device, go into your Bluetooth Settings within your mobile device and pair them. You’ll hear a few guitar sounds, and it’ll be complete.
- For Bluetooth pairing to a new device, tap the control panel on the right headphone, then tap and hold for five seconds. Now you’re all set. When both headphones are in use, a solid blue light will appear.
- All controls are on the right headphone.
- To control music, tap the control panel once to play/pause, twice to advance a track, and three times for the previous track.
- To adjust volume, brush your finger up or down the control panel to increase or decrease it. You should see the volume adjusted live on your mobile device too.
- To control phone calls, tap once to answer a call or to hang up, double tap to decline a call.
- To charge the headphones, simply place them into the charging case. There are four lights on the front of the case indicating the percentage level of charge.
- Playtime lasts for 3-4 hours. Charging of the headphones takes up to two hours. A 10-minute charge will lead to one hour of additional battery life.
- On the right side of the case is the USB charging port. The case provides 24 hours of battery.
Design and Features
For the past week, I’ve been testing the JBL Endurance PEAK headphones at my gym Lifetime Fitness. The first thing I noticed is how eye-catching they were to other gym members. I was approached by no less than a handful inquiring about them. It turned out that no one had ever seen this JBL model before.
During that week, the Endurance PEAK headphones were put through their paces during numerous workouts including plenty of time on a treadmill. Surprisingly, they never once budged from my ears.
The headphones allow for passive audio to come through rather than blocking it all via auto noise cancellation (ANC.) In my opinion, when exercising you need a little bit of external noise to prevent from being startled. On the flip side, so much passive audio was blocked making it difficult to participate in a conversation. Every now and then, I found myself removing the left earpiece to hear those attempting to speak with me.
To counter this issue, there’s a mono mode should you decide to forgo the left headphone altogether. This takes some time to get used to as each ear hears something different.
Per the JBL website, “The flexible and secure ear hook design automatically turns the power on/off when putting on or taking off the earphones. These headphones can switch on and off without the need to replace them back in their case every time.” In other words, there’s a wear detection feature. Automatic shutoff occurs after five minutes when no audio is played. Standby mode is good up to three hours, then it’s time to recharge.
If you’ve not worn this type of headphone before, there’s a slight learning curve with respect to its control panel. But don’t worry, it should only take a couple of workouts to master the tapping sequence. See Items 5-7 in the list above. I encountered no issues with anything related to playing music or taking calls. However, I was unable to pause a live stream webinar or the CNBC player.
The (black, blue, or red) outer shell is rubbery and flexible, yet sturdy, particularly the POWERHOOK™ portion of it. The (white or gray) inner shell is of hard plastic. Both shells are sweat and waterproof garnering an IPX7 rating. Per the literature, you can go swimming with these headphones. Just remember to dry them before placing them back into the charging case.
The Endurance PEAK headphones come with three pairs of ear tips and one pair of enhancers. Earbuds are angled and noticeably so to fit your ears better. It is currently available in three colors: black with gray, red with gray, and blue with white.
• Driver Type: Dynamic 10 mm per ear
• Waterproof Rating: IPX7:
• Frequency Response: 16 Hz – 22 kHz
• Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.5, HFP 1.6
• Bluetooth Version: 4.2
• Available in Black, Blue, Red
• Battery Life: Up to 4 Hours
• Battery type: Rechargeable Polymer Li-ion
Battery (3.7 V, 75 mAh)
• Charging Case Battery: 24 Hours
• Charging Case Charge Time: 2 Hours
• Charging Case Battery: Rechargeable
Polymer Li-ion battery (1500 mA est.)
What’s In The Box?
• Charging Case
• USB Charging Cable
• Quick Start Guide
• Warranty Booklet
• 3 Pairs of Ear Tips
• 1 Pair of Ear Enhancers/Secures
Amazon Music Playlist
• Tove Lo – Queen Of The Clouds
• Halsey – hopeless fountain kingdom
• Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody Soundtrack
• The Black Keys – El Camino
• Play List – Dark Pop
• Play List – Caffeine For Your Ears
As I often state, in my opinion, the most critical factor regarding headphones is sound quality. The JBL Endurance PEAK in-ear sports headphones were tested across music from the artists and playlists listed above.
Two changes were made to the music playlist I used from my previous headphones review. You can see a link to that review at the bottom of this section. I added a couple of rock albums to mix things up a bit from the electronica and female-heavy pop music.
The first thing I noticed was how low and deep the bass could get. After having listened to Caffeine for Your Ears and Dark Pop Amazon Music playlists, I can state that these in-ear headphones have not only met but exceeded my expectations. Overall, the audio was high-quality and distortion free.
Take a listen to Ping Pong from Bassnectar and Pure Grinding from Avicii. You’ll be most impressed with the bass and percussion of these audio tracks in less than 15 seconds. I played these songs repeatedly to focus on whatever sounds (instrumentals) I may have missed the previous times around. Hearing the ping pong ball set to the audio track was terrific.
For a great test of keyboards including sounds that appear to be from other instruments, but you know they’re actually produced by a keyboard, then listen to Mantra from Timmy Trumpet. Listening to what seems to be a xylophone is a trip in an electronic track.
I would have been remiss if I didn’t listen to Halsey’s album hopeless fountain kingdom. While the Endurance PEAK reproduced its audio well, and the album is a joy to listen to, she’s not the ideal artist to listen to while working out. When I need to get my pump on, my go-to choice is electronic and rock music. Halsey was more of a test of the headphones capabilities.
As mentioned earlier, these headphones can be used underwater. While that opportunity has yet to present itself, I was able to test the Endurance PEAK during heavy snowfall. Not only did they get wet and perform as advertised, but the headphones also blocked out a substantial portion of the high-decibel noise generated by my Toro snow thrower.
If you live in New England as I do, I suggest you wear a pair of headphones while your machine tosses the snow. Your ears will thank you for the better listening experience. Mine were happier for having listened to Babel from Mumford & Sons.
From a physical design perspective, the JBL Endurance PEAK headphones look very similar to earlier models within the Endurance family, minus the neckband. When compared to their competition, JBL definitely stands out, and in a good way.
I found these sports headphones to be very comfortable in and around the ear, more so the latter. After wearing for a short while, I didn’t notice the ear hooks at all. I’ve come to like this design very much and see myself using them for the foreseeable future. Why some choose to wear those bulky over-the-ear sports models is beyond me. They’re not practical for cardio workouts.
Audio life of 3-4 hours is good enough to cover two days of workouts. The charging case increases its life to about two weeks without the need to recharge. A 10-minute charge will lead to an hour of playback. The audio quality is quite good with an extensive range of 16 Hz – 22 kHz.
As I often state, you get what you pay for. The $120 list price is quite fair. In fact, I’m surprised these sports headphones don’t list for more. Those I spoke with in my gym were surprised that the JBL Endurance PEAK was only $120. If you time a sale right, you might grab them for an even $100.
• Features – 4.0
• Value – 4.25
What do you think of this JBL Endurance PEAK headphones review? Do you agree or disagree with our verdict? Let us know in the comment section below or via social media. We’re eager to hear your thoughts.
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Don’t hesitate to head over to the JBL Latest Products Page to see their newest products. To learn more about warranties, click this link for JBL Help information. These headphones come with a one-year limited warranty.
FTC Disclosure: JBL provided Beantown with one (1) Endurance PEAK headphones sample for review purposes. This writer’s opinion is 100% his own and not a paid product ambassador.
All photographs are the copyrighted property of Beantown LLC © 2019.
Patrick Sadler says
I’m a little confused with these ear buds sure they shut off after 5 mins when no audio is played. But the big question is how do you power them back on without having to take them out and putting them on again this is very annoying. Or is it that I’m missing something. Love to hear your reply.
Hakan Can says
Good morning Patrick. I went ahead and retested your exact scenario as I’ve run across this before too. You’re not missing anything. You do have to remove the right ear bud and place it back in your ear. Then you have to wait for it to sync and reconnect via Bluetooth. I kept the left side in my ear as part of my test.
It’s a bummer we can’t swipe or tap either ear phone to reactivate the sync and connection. I do hope you’re enjoying the Endurance PEAK. I continue to use my pair a few times a week. Take care.