After I finally received my iPhone 7 Plus, I had to come to terms with the fact if I wasn’t going to go completely wireless to listen to music, I’d have to find a pair of Lightning headphones. And just like that, JBL’s Reflect Aware headphones arrived to review (thanks, Judie). Now the question is … are they worth it?
Labeled as the first Lightning headphones available on the market, the JBL Reflect Aware headphones are not only stylish, but they do not require that God-awful headphone dongle Apple put in the iPhone 7 boxes.
The JBL Reflect Aware style is pretty simple; they honestly don’t have much flash to them, but that is actually a good thing. The gray and black colorway is pretty pleasing aesthetically, and it blends in well with my Matte Black iPhone 7. There are various other colors that you could choose from as well. The cable isn’t multi-colored like Bose’s, which I appreciate, and it has an awesome feel while wearing in the gym, or against a shirt.
The actual earphone itself is pretty oversized, which is especially good for someone like me with rather large earlobes. Made of a silicone-like material, the ear tips are oval in shape and cover the insides of your ears enough to not fall out if you pick the proper size. Although JBL includes three extra ear tips, the standard medium tips attached to the JBL after unboxing seem to fit perfectly. Naturally, the actual earphone itself has JBL branding on each ear as well as a grill above it that fitted noise courtesy of the Reflect Aware’s having noise cancellation capabilities.
The in-line controls are actually really nice and sturdy, and they sit between each headphone square in the center of the cable, which I love. Too many headphone companies have their in-line control sitting on the right side of the headphones, and for someone like me who likes to be able to quickly change a track while on a run, the way the Reflect Aware controls sit close to the collar of my shirt is excellent. There are four buttons in total that help to change tracks as well as manage the volume.
JBL is known for durable headphones, so it’s no surprise that the JBL Reflect Aware are sweat-proof. Since the majority of the earphones is made of a silicone material, I was pretty impressed with how the headphones handed five-mile run being drenched in sweat and earwax, all without getting that muffled in ear effect from sweat inside of my earlobes. Also, the cable is a bit longer than most on the market, which could be a good or bad thing depending on how you wear your headphones. If you are the type to wear an armband when you are on the treadmill, the dangling cable might be a bit annoying tapping you consistently as you make your motions. However, if you are the type to put your phone in your pocket on a run or workout, the cable is not only long enough to tuck in your shorts, but it won’t tug at your ear while sprinting.
Coming from a pair of Bose in-ear headphones that I usually just tossed into a gym bag when I wanted a workout, the JBL headphones are much more my style, and they suit my needs. The noise cancellation feature is simply marvelous when you have that annoying person on the elliptical beside you grunting and attempting to get through their workout with their headphones blasting. The Reflect Aware, even at the most moderate volume with the noise cancellation feature on, no outside sound interfered with me getting my daily workout in. Coupled with JBL’s music app, I can actually set my noise cancellation as well as set a particular ambient awareness to EACH ear individually, which is ideal if you are a fan of running without background noise, but only in one particular ear. So GREAT job, JBL, for thinking of this in particular.
Apple getting rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack was a bit disappointing, and I was pretty concerned about how audio would sound coming from a set of headphones using the Lightning port as its main source, But with the JBL Reflect Aware, that is not an issue for me at all. Listening to “Father, Father” by Jay Prince, I could not only hear the vocals crystal clear, it did not compromise the bass as a result. Depending on your preference, just like with changing the noise cancellation, you can set your EQ settings in the JBL app between Jazz, Vocal or Bass. If none of these fit your mood, you can create your own setting, which is awesome. One thing I would like to see is the ability to see other people’s EQ settings, such as celebrities or my friends, so possibly in an update? Listening to a more mellow track like Pell’s “In The Morning”, Pell’s voice in the “Vocal” setting is perfect as it is, but on the “Bass” setting gives the track an extra boost, and the tempo actually feels a bit better. I’ve learned to adjust the headphones accordingly, so I’m strictly on “Bass” when I’m in the gym or on a run, and when I’m commuting to work, “Vocal” seems to work just fine as I’m just going from point A to B.
Overall, the JBL Reflect Aware’s are honestly the only current in-ear earphones for the iPhone 7 that I have tried, but then again, it’s the only that I would consider after using due to the subtle details like the sound quality, and the fact that unlike the similar headphones you might see on Amazon, the Lightning connector that goes into your iPhone is VERY secure.
If you look at the bottom of the iPhone, the JBL port is a little wider than Apple’s own lightning cable port, which adds a bit more security thanks to the rubberized bottom that will prevent from fraying after twisting and turning during workouts.
Since the iPhone 7 has been a hot commodity this fall, the demand of the Reflect Aware has been through the roof and they are actually backordered, and expected to ship (at the time of this post) on December 29th. Whenever the finally do ship, at $199.95 they are a bit pricey, but my motto has always been you get what you pay for. If you are looking for a great sport earphone that submerges you in your favorite jam during that workout, look no further; head over to JBL today to get yourself a pair of the JBL Reflect Aware’s.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I Like: Durable, sweatproof, and appropriately lengthy cable
What Needs Improvement: Nothing