I’ll spare you the need to plough through this thousand-word monstrosity. If you need a pair of earphones for your workouts, and wires don’t deter you, get the JBL Endurance Run. At SGD 35, you probably can’t find a pair of earphones as durable, as well-designed, that is purpose-built for rough use. There you have it.
But if you want to find out why, go ahead – read on.
The entry-level option in JBL’s Endurance line of fitness earphones, the JBL Endurance Run came in a box with just two extra pairs of replacement ear tips – one larger, one smaller. You might be tempted to upturn it, and apart from the manual and warranty paperwork falling out, the box will yield no other bounty. But that’s OK, since you’d probably expect that of an SGD 35 pair of earphones, right?
Straight out of the box, the earphones immediately struck me in their design. They’re not ostentatious, but still pretty bold in terms of styling. I received the version in blue, which had white accents around the bits that go into your ear, but the JBL Endurance Run is also available in Red, Sky Blue and Black, each with grey accents instead.
And it’s not just the assortment of loud colours (you could opt for the stealthy black version if you’re looking to fly under the radar). The 35mm jack is off-set to a 45-degree angle, the perfect compromise between 90-degree advocates and straight-plug aficionados. There’s plenty of strain relief on the rubber housing, but I wouldn’t wrap this one around my iPod. But then again, you shouldn’t wrap any pair of earphones around an iPod.
The microphone box is beefy, and only features a single button which is used to pause, play and deal with calls.
The earbuds are where the magic happens. On the insides, below the nozzles, each channel has both L and R written on them. I was momentarily stumped – until I realised that the earbuds were made to be used both with the wires in the regular dangle-down-the ear configuration, and in the ultra-secure looped-over-the-ear style.
The left and right indicators correspond to the orientation of the earbuds when you’ve got them ready in either configuration: in simple white letters for the regular way, and with a white circle when worn over the ear.
Either way, the earbuds wore comfortably, with the sculpted and ridged white segments providing sufficient grip within the auricle.
Out of the ear, the earbuds avoid tangles by allowing both channels to magnetically attach (probably with the magnets on the dynamic drivers) on their flat surfaces on the back. this essentially turns the earphones into a single strand, making it easier to store and much more unlikely to warp into a Gordian Knot of frustration.
Going down the wire, it’s worth noting that the earphones lack a cable cinch – something I demand from all my earphones. I once bought, sliced and stick a wooden bead on the cable cinch-less wires of my IEMs, irked by the cable slack slapping my neck and chin. You’d want another pair of earphones or a DIY solution up your sleeve if cable cinches are essential to you.
Sound-wise, the JBL Endurance Run isn’t far-off from JBL’s sound signature we’ve seen on their recent slate of fitness products.
I usually get my fitness on to my exercise playlist Midnight Runs, an electronic and rock-and-roll ensemble that includes songs like I Feel It Coming by The Weeknd, My Type by Saint Motel, and Manhattan by the Kings of Leon. Yeah, I’m pretty cool.
Coolness aside, it’s an important note: with a strong emphasis on bass, my workout tracklist often proves to be a hit-or-miss situation with most earphones. Being a stickler for audio quality, I had opted for Xiaomi’s Hybrid earphones which offered excellent audio quality (dual drivers) with great build quality (kevlar cables and milled aluminium driver casings). These came in about the same price as the JBL Endurance Run.
But good as they sounded, they weren’t designed for the job. Braided fabric cables started to get sticky and smelled, and the milled aluminium were heavy and tended to fall out of my ears. In fact, I got a pair of triple flange ear tips just to prevent that from happening.
In any case, the JBL Endurance Run shone in clarity and tonality. Music sounded natural as they did on my more expensive devices. The finest details were lost, perhaps from the plastic construction of the earphones, but you’d probably miss them over the thumping in your ears.
Microphonics were minimal despite the lack of a shirt clip and could be attributed to the smooth and lightweight wires. They held out well against my bass-heavy playlist, bringing out the shimmering guitars and thumping drums. Running can pit your will against physical pain, and great-sounding music helps distract you a little.
If you’re looking for a pair of earphones to do it all from the train to the boardroom, this isn’t it. It’s not the best sounding, nor the best looker. But if you’ve got an expensive pair of headphones you wouldn’t risk on the treadmill, or on your sweaty neck, this is the best choice by far, and a thousand times over.
At only SGD 35, the JBL Endurance Run is a great proposition with its sport-oriented features, good sound, and bold design. It is available on all official online and retail outlets at present.