While true wireless earbuds are convenient for commuting and general listening, the complete lack of wires is most beneficial when working out. Hoping to deliver the perfect true wireless experience for athletes, JBL and Under Armour have partnered up to create the True Wireless Flash. Admittedly, $170 is exorbitant for most of us; however, the included safety and durability features may make it a worthy investment for outdoor athletes.
The full review is available at our sister site, SoundGuys.com.
What is Under Armour True Wireless Flash by JBL like?
The IPX7 water-resistant earbuds rock a stout, cylindrical design and slightly protrude from the ear. Bulkiness is counteracted by the included ear and wing tips which maintain a firm hold to the outer ear without irritation. Under Armour’s logo is brazenly stamped upon each earbud panel, either of which can be pressed to control playback or alternate between listening modes.
Listeners receive a 12-month premium membership to MapMyRun, enabling interval training and more.
Included with the True Wireless Flash is a 1,500mAh aluminum charging case, which relies on a sliding mechanism to reveal the earbuds. It requires two hours to complete a full charge cycle via the included micro-USB cable and provides an additional 20 hours of playback to the earbuds’ nearly five-hour battery life.
Seeing as these are designed for athletes — specifically runners — Under Armour includes cautionary features like Ambient Aware mode. This amplifies external noise during media playback, so you’re always made aware of your surroundings. Ambient Aware mode, however, isn’t to be confused with TalkThru which increases the loudness of others’ voices. I was able to carry a conversation with a friend without needing to remove the earbuds. While I don’t find the latter to be incredibly useful, Ambient Aware mode is a necessity for outdoor athletes who don’t like the idea of bone conduction headphones.
Fickle connectivity remains a common problem for true wireless earbuds, and the Under Armour True Wireless Flash by JBL is no exception. Granted, connectivity stutters only occur a few times an hour but it may be too frequent for some listeners. The earbuds operate via Bluetooth 4.2 and lack high-quality Bluetooth codec support. If you plan to stream video from the treadmill, be prepared to experience audio-visual lag.
How do the earbuds sound?
The True Wireless Flash earbuds house 5.8mm dynamic drivers tuned by JBL, and it’s apparent that they were tuned with gym-goers in mind. Just like the Sport Wireless Flex, another Under Armour-JBL partner product, these earbuds reproduce an astounding amount of bass assuming the listener is using properly fitted ear tips.
While there are isolation and frequency response charts available at SoundGuys.com, the gist is this: the earbuds handle narrow frequency ranges well and produce them clearly. It’s when kickdrums, snares, and a piano accompany a vocalist that sound reproduction gets sloppy due to auditory masking.
Bass lovers will appreciate the exaggerated low-end produced by the True Wireless Flash.
In all fairness, these aren’t parading around as studio headphones or even general consumer ones. The True Wireless Flash is a specialized product for people who intend to use them during vigorous activity. Taking this into account makes the wild bass emphasis and so-so clarity excusable. In fact, many athletes take to embracing a boosted low-end, myself included. For casual listening, it is tiring though.
Should you buy the True Wireless Flash?
If you’re an avid runner who enjoys taking things to the streets, yes. Regardless of how much my head bounced while running, the earbuds remained stable against my outer ear. Additionally, the panels are easy to press for on-the-fly playback controls.
Ultimately, the price is steep but one could argue that safety is paramount. If you must listen to music while exercising outdoors, then I implore you to invest in earbuds with an optional Ambient Aware mode be it these, the JLab Epic Air Elite, or any other viable workout earbuds.