JBL Reflect Mini NC review: Almost perfect workout buds. Jbl reflect mini nc waterproof

JBL Reflect Mini NC review: Almost perfect workout buds

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

JBL sells a lot of different true wireless earbuds aimed at fitness fiends. Between the company’s own JBL-branded products and its partnerships with Under Armor and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, you can pick from eight different models, ranging in price from 100 to 200. Announced at CES 2021, the newest addition to this lineup are the 150 Reflect Mini NC, JBL’s first workout buds to feature active noise cancellation (ANC).

With an impressive list of features, excellent water-resistance, and a price that’s surprisingly accessible, it makes you wonder: What’s the catch? Let’s take a look.

What’s in the box?

The Reflect Mini NC, like most JBL headphones, come packaged in a box that is beautifully designed, but a recycling nightmare, with lots of plastic, foam, and embedded magnets. Inside, you’ll find the earbuds, their charging case, a USB-C charging cable, a total of three sizes of silicone eartips and wing-tips, and paper documentation including a quick-start guide.


Most other charging cases feel flimsy by comparison.

Available in black, white, or blue, the Reflect Mini NC and their compact charging case exude ruggedness. Despite its light weight, the charging case is very solid, thanks to a tough plastic shell and a hinge that is impressively robust. The lid opens easily and stays in the open position until you flip it closed, which happens with a very satisfying magnetic snap. Most other charging cases, even JBL’s own Reflect Flow, feel flimsy by comparison. A built-in lanyard loop is handy for toting the headphones along when you have no s, or securing it to a gym bag or backpack.

I’m also kind of obsessed with the charging indicator on the front of the case. Most cases feature a tiny LED dot, or maybe a series of dots if you’re lucky. But on the Reflect Mini NC, you get a big, bold LED bar to indicate the charging status of each earbud and the case itself. The only thing missing here is wireless charging.

The earbuds are also solidly built, and true to their name, they’re a little smaller than the Reflect Flows — though not by a lot. As a perk for nighttime runners and walkers, the JBL logos on the touch surfaces have had reflective paint applied.

No workout buds would be complete without some kind of water resistance, and the Reflect Mini NC don’t disappoint, with an IPX7 rating that means they’re effectively waterproof. They won’t work if you go swimming with them, but they won’t be damaged by it either.

Comfort, controls, and connections

True wireless earbuds designed for workouts often use an ear-hook design to ensure a secure fit. The Powerbeats Pro are the poster child for this feature. But if you can get the same level of security without an earhook, I think that’s a plus, and the Reflect Mini NC definitely deliver. The compromise — if you consider it a compromise — is that these earbuds make your ears feel really full.

You’ll have zero concerns about an accidentally dislodged bud.

The silicone eartips and wing-tips are denser than the ones JBL uses on the Reflect Flow, presumably to improve stability, but it means they’re not quite as comfy. You’ll have zero concerns about an accidentally dislodged bud, but you’ll also never forget you’re wearing them, so they’re probably not the best choice for extended wear in an office or on an airplane.

The touch controls respond quickly, as long as you make contact with the logo’s surface and not just the edges. Each earbud comes with preset functions from the factory. The left bud lets you switch between ANC modes, or activate Talk-thru mode (more on that later). The right earbud is set to control play/pause and track skip forward/back. Both earbuds can access your phone’s built-in assistant and both let you answer/end phone calls and mute/unmute the microphones. So far, so good. There’s no volume control by default, but that’s not unusual — many true wireless earbuds lack this function.

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

The problem comes when you use the free JBL headphones app to customize the controls. Instead of letting you pick which functions go with which gestures, you’re forced to pick from presets. So, the left earbud can control noise canceling, for example, or playback functions, but not a mix of these functions. If volume control is important to you, you can set either earbud to control it, but then you’ll be forced to pick just one other feature to control with the other earbud. What will it be? And if you don’t like the gesture assigned to a specific function (like a single tap for switching ANC mode), you can’t change it.

You can configure the Reflect Mini NC to access Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa instead of your phone’s built-in assistant, but if you use this very cool feature, it takes over an entire earbud. This leaves you with Alexa (for example) and volume. Or Alexa, and ANC. You get the picture. I asked JBL why the controls seem to be set up like a bundle of channels on cable TV, but I never got a satisfying answer.

Like more and more earbuds these days, the Reflect Mini NC have an auto play/pause feature that halts your tunes when you remove an earbud. It’s very responsive and you can disable it within the app if you wish.

You can use the earbuds individually (both can answer/end calls) and their wireless range is excellent. Pairing is also very quick and easy for both iPhone and Android phones.

There’s a bass-forward sound signature that you can feel through your whole body.

In the JBL app, you can pick from three different Smart Audio modes that are claimed to alter the parameters of the wireless connection: Normal for the most stable connection, Audio for the best sound quality, and Video for the lowest latency (also ideal for gaming). I didn’t notice a lot of difference between these modes, but I like that they’re included if you need them.

JBL also includes a “find my earbuds” function, which causes each earbud to emit a high-pitched beeping sound. It’s loud enough that you’ll hear it even if a bud becomes wedged between sofa cushions.

Sound quality

When it comes to a set of workout earbuds, big, bold bass is arguably one the most important elements. After all, it’s the beat that keeps most of us going, whether we’re out for a serious walk or trying to set a new personal best at the gym. Thanks in part to their super-tight seal, the Reflect Mini NC nail this requirement, with a bass-forward sound signature that you can feel through your whole body.

Spin up Post Malone’s Wow. or Ariana Grande’s 7 rings and wait for those ultra-low bass notes to hit — it’s powerful stuff. That same low-end rumble is perfect for action movies, too.

You can tweak EQ to your heart’s content inside the JBL app, with a few presets but also your own collection of custom settings. These are worth exploring — you can drastically change the Reflect Mini NC’s signature.

They’re not the most nuanced set of earbuds I’ve ever heard. The midranges can get a little overpowered by the strong lows and highs,and their soundstage isn’t as wide or as open as you’ll get on models like the Jabra Elite Active 75t. Still, as a workout companion, they couldn’t be more on point soundwise.

Noise cancellation and transparency

After a lukewarm experience with JBL’s ANC technology on its Club One wireless headphones, I was prepared for an underwhelming performance from the Reflect Mini NC as well. Surprisingly, the opposite was true. Once again, their tight ear-canal seal is the key: These earbuds do such a good job of passive noise isolation that the ANC circuitry doesn’t have a lot left to cancel, and it does a very effective job.

It’s so good, in fact, that even without music playing, family members were able to sneak up on me totally undetected while I had the earbuds in.

You can dial in the specific set of frequencies you want to cancel using a slider adjustment within the JBL app — it’s not quite as convenient as the presets you’ll find from Sony, Jabra, or Soundcore, but it’s still very handy for fine-tuning ANC performance to your specific environment.

The Reflect Mini NC have excellent call quality.

Transparency mode is good too, but with two minor drawbacks: Unlike ANC, you can’t adjust how much sound transparency mode lets in, and there’s no way to flip back and forth between ANC and transparency modes without passing through an ANC off mode — two more customizations JBL should consider adding.

Talk-thru mode, a handy way to temporarily engage transparency while simultaneously lowering the volume of your tunes, also works very well.

Battery life

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

Jabra Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t, but not quite as impressive as the Powerbeats Pro’s nine hours. The charging case holds two full recharges, adding another 12 or 14 hours. From what I can tell, these numbers are pretty accurate.

A 10-minute quick charge nabs you an extra hour of playback time, though this is at the very low end for true wireless earbuds.

Call quality

Once again, JBL has managed to surprise me — the Reflect Mini NC have excellent call quality. To put it in perspective, when using them outside, near traffic, you simply couldn’t tell that I wasn’t indoors. There was an occasional wobble as the noise suppression dealt with car and wind sounds, but overall, these earbuds are impressively clear.

While on a call, you can still switch the ANC to Ambient mode, which is perfect for hearing your own voice without the muffling effects of the earbuds.

Our take

Boasting massive bass, the JBL Reflect Mini NC are also well-priced and feature-heavy, making them an ideal set of workout companions. If JBL could fix the awkward and limiting control schemes, they’d be just about perfect.

Is there a better alternative?

I think JBL has nailed the sweet spot for workout earbuds with the Reflect Mini NC’s price, sound, and features, but here are three alternatives worth considering:

Sony’s 200 WF-SP800N are some of our favorite workout earbuds and they offer better sound quality and better ANC, plus a massive nine-hour battery life.

The 200 Jabra Elite Active 75t offer better sound quality (though not as much bass) and controls, as well as longer battery life, while still offering excellent water and dust protection. I think they’re more comfortable too, but without ear hooks or wing-tips, they aren’t as secure.

The 150 JLab Epic Air Sport are one of our favorite Powerbeats Pro competitors. They don’t have ANC, and their earhook design makes them less versatile, but they have great sound and enormous battery life.

How long will they last?

Backed with a one-year warranty from JBL, the Reflect Mini NC are very ruggedly built and I expect them to last a long time. The silicone eartips and wing-tips will probably need to be replaced after a year of continuous use, but that’s normal for these parts.

Should you buy them?

Absolutely. As long as you’re OK with a very snug-fitting in-ear design and don’t mind spending some time figuring out which controls you want to use, the JBL Reflect Mini NC are awesome workout earbuds.

Editors’ Recommendations

Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…

You might think that after having received a horrible reception for its first product.- the Palm 2018 mini smartphone.- Palm would FOCUS its energies on making a new and improved phone. But that’s not the plan, at least, not for the moment. Instead, the Palm team has decided to take a shot at true wireless earbuds, with the 129 Palm Buds Pro, a set of noise-canceling earbuds aimed squarely at the 249 Airpods Pro, that promise booming bass and “studio-grade” sound. Pre-orders for the new buds start October 26 at a special price of 99 until November 9.

Design-wise, Palm seems content to use a set of molds provided by their contract manufacturer. The Palm Buds Pro are physically identical to the 60 Enacfire A9, right down to the charging case. But Palm claims the internal components have been developed to their unique specifications. “Our engineers have also developed one of the most advanced Active Noise Cancelling and Environmental Noise Cancelling systems on the market,” said Howard Nuk, co-founder at Palm. That sounds promising, but then, in one of the frequently asked questions provided to journalists, the company said, “Unlike other connected earbuds on the market, Palm Buds Pro have 10mm dynamic range speakers,” a statement that is not accurate, as there are many true wireless earbuds that have 10mm drivers.

Sony, a company that has historically made very capable but very expensive true wireless earbuds, is now heading into more affordable territory with the 100 WF-C500, a set of earbuds that compete with Jabra’s 80 Elite 3. Sony’s previous lowest-priced earbuds were the 130 WF-XB700. It also announced its latest full-size noise-canceling wireless headphones, the 250 WH-XB910N. Both models are available for pre-order today at Sony.com, Amazon, and Best Buy.

Compared to Sony’s other true wireless offerings like the WF-1000XM3, WF-1000XM4, and WF-SP800N, all of which possess advanced features like active noise cancellation (ANC), transparency mode, in-ear detection, built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and in the case of the XM4, wireless charging, the C500 are relatively bare-bones. They’re still compatible with Sony’s Headphones app, and they benefit from Sony’s Digitial Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE), which helps to restore lost high-frequencies in compressed digital music. But otherwise, there are few bells or whistles.

We know from experience that 1 has a proven track record for delivering premium audio products at affordable prices, and its latest true wireless earbuds, the 80 ColorBuds 2, appear to be no exception. Packed with active noise cancellation (ANC), transparency mode, and wireless charging, you can buy them today in black, white, and gold. And 1 is offering a 10 discount for orders received before October 5 if you use the code “COLORBUDS2.”

They’re the most recent set of true wireless earbuds from smaller brands that manage to include a huge array of features for well less than 100, putting pressure on more established brands like Jabra, whose recently released Elite 3 also cost 80.

Upgrade your lifestyleDigital Trends helps readers keep tabs on the fast-paced world of tech with all the latest news, fun product reviews, insightful editorials, and one-of-a-kind sneak peeks.

JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless Review

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

Other than providing great entertainment, JBL’s latest in-ear sport headphones helps you manage those important calls and keeps you safe on the road. In our JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless review, we’ll talk about a set of earbuds that does more than providing quality music.

With features like ANC, Smart Ambient technology, Virtual AI support and more, you will learn to love this device and all the things that come with it. With that, let’s jump right into our JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless review.

JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless Packaging

Before we get right into our JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless review, we will go over the items that come with the product.

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

The JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless comes in a small white and black/blue themed package. You will see the image of the product and the branding on the front of the package.

At the back of the package, you will see more of the product as well as several features and functions. Here, you will be provided with descriptions of those features. With that said, let’s check inside.

To open the package, just simply lift the cover from the side like a book. There, you will find the earbuds and their respective charging case held in a mould that is covered in plastic.

The purpose of the mould is to prevent the items from moving around. This protects it from scratches. Apart from that, the plastic shields the items from unwanted substances that may enter the packaging.

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

There is a small black box containing the different ear tip sizes, different earfin stabilisers, charging cable and instruction manual. The charging cable is a USB Type-C which is common for most people to have.

JBL does an excellent job in securing the safety of its products, and it’s seen here. You are sure to have your product safely intact when purchasing this product.

JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless Review – Design and Functionality

Alright, now let’s go over the product’s physical properties in our JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless review. Understanding the physical characteristics tells us more about the product.

The JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless earbuds is one of JBL’s latest in-ear sport headphones. It is perfectly made for your athletic endeavours. They offer an amazing set of features for your physical activities.

JBL wanted to keep you active in your workouts while at the same time keep you in touch with your music. The earbuds also have an ANC, which helps you zero in on those intense training sessions. Other than that, a Smart Ambient technology that helps with your spatial awareness.

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout
reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

Besides working out, they work just as well for entertainment purposes like listening to or watching movies. There is also a microphone embedded in the earbuds that let you receive or make calls.

Our Reflect Mini NC earbuds start us off with a black modernistic design. You will see the logo on the sides of each earpiece. On each earbud, you can attach an ear tip and earfin stabiliser. These help keep the device locked in on your ear hole and prevents them from falling.

On the circle around the logo, that is the touch sensor. The touch sensor is used for adjusting volume, managing calls and more. Plus, there is a tiny hole right next to it that is used for the microphone.

For the inner part of the earbud, you will find the proximity sensor, three charging pins and an LED. The proximity sensor is responsible for determining whether the earbud is inside the ear or not. As for the LED, it notifies you regarding the battery level and the Bluetooth connection status.

These component s are small but they play big roles on the earbuds. Besides those components, the earbuds are waterproof and sweatproof thanks to the IPX7 rating.

This determines whether the device can be submerged or not. For the IPX7 rating, only about 1 meter for 30 minutes can it be submerged.

Lastly, the earbuds offer in-ear independence. This means that you can take a call with one of them and the other can be assigned for other tasks. By that, your connections are more stabilised and reliable.

With all that’s been said, the Reflect Mini NC earbuds are an outstanding set of headphones that highlights versatility in their capability.

Key Features of the JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless

Going away now from its looks, we will discuss the features of the product in our JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless review.

JBL Signature Sound

As most people can tell, JBL is well-known for providing quality sound in their products. So when a new product comes up, they expect nothing less. That’s their signature, bringing quality entertainment in the form of music to people’s environment.

In the Reflect Mini NC earbuds, they offer first-class sound for both outside and inside listening. With that in play, you can FOCUS on the tasks before you. They set the right motivation for any given circumstance, whether that be indoors or the great outdoors.


One of the best things about this product is that it offers more than just one cool feature. The Reflect Mini NC earbuds give you Active Noise Cancelling, Smart Ambient technology, and support both Hey Google and Amazon Alexa. Let’s start with Active Noise Cancelling.

Active Noise Cancelling is a feature in a lot of Bluetooth headphones that actively block unwanted background sounds from coming into your ear. This eliminates distractions and disturbances when doing heavy workouts that require a large amount of FOCUS.

For the Smart Ambient technology, it works as a notifier. Let’s say you’re jogging around a street; what it does is that it lets you hear certain sounds to keep you aware of where you are. This also informs you whether something is approaching you or not.

It acts as a safety feature that enhances your spatial awareness by allowing sounds that will inform you. With that running, you can get home safe and sound.

Lastly, the Reflect Mini NC earbuds support both Hey Google and Amazon Alexa. These are intelligent AI programs that offer a multitude of functions at home. If you happen to have this AI software at home, you can connect it to the earbuds to fully utilise the device and its features.

Fits, Sizes and

Other than the main product, which is the earbuds and the charging case, you are given earpiece sets. These sets are the ear tips and earfin stabilisers. JBL wanted to FOCUS on the quality of the sound and the experience of the user as well.

They offer comfort with a snug fit in various sizes made to size any ear. This also secures the earbuds in place and prevents them from falling off during those intense workouts. Feel free to go all out, all the while enjoying the pleasures of your own entertainment from your phone.

Keep In Touch

It can be distracting to take calls while doing workouts, having to pause your music and manage your phone. What JBL has done for this issue is that they have come up with a hands-free stereo call system in the earbuds.

What this does is that it allows you to take calls, adjust volume and use even a voice assistant to handle the situation. There are microphones placed in both earbuds that will pick up your voice and put you on stereo.

over, JBL wanted to allow independent earbud activity for each earbud. By that, it doesn’t matter which earbud you remove from the case; they function independently and harmoniously. This literally means that you can use one earbud for listening to calls, while the other acts as a microphone.

With this in play, you can manage your calls, entertainment, system and more without forfeiting your hands.

My JBL Headphones

Apart from all this, JBL has an application that offers even more personalisation and control over your earbuds. With this application, you can reconfigure and fine-tune your setting to fully maximise the potential of the earbuds.

This also allows you to optimise the earbuds to your device’s specifications and other aspects of the system and its settings.

21 hours Total

When we look at the amount of time total, we get 21 hours. How does this work? Well, with its long battery life, you get 7 hours. You also have the charging case, which gives you 2 extra lives, which is 14 hours, since the case can hold a 14 hours maximum charge.

That makes a full 21 hours total. With that, you have an extensive amount of playtime with the earbuds.


reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

Our JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless review will now look into the fine prints of this wonderful product.

General Characteristics

The JBL Reflect Mini NC True Wireless earbuds is a small, lightweight device that only weighs 13.6 grams. Its charging case weighs 46 grams. Inside, you have a driver size of 6 millimetres which is also a dynamic driver.

On the driver, it contains a sensitivity level of 97 dB at the 1k Hz / 1mW ratio, but its total SPL is 94 dB. Other than that, a dynamic frequency response range of 20 to 20,000 Hz. For the Impedance, you get 16 Ohms.

The Best Headphones for Running

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

We’ve added the Shokz OpenRun as a recommendation for runners who don’t like wearing earbuds.

There’s a little ritual I do before every run. After the required prelude of lacing sneakers and applying Body Glide, I put in my earbuds, close my eyes, take a deep breath, and press play. In that moment, I shrug off the worries and responsibilities of the day. For the time being, it’s just me, the music, and the movement.

The act of propelling your body forward through space can have significant benefits for your physical and mental health, but the hardest part is taking that first step. If a good playlist is the motivation you need to get going, earbuds are an essential piece of running equipment.

How we picked and tested

Some runners like to block out noise completely. Others prefer to hear their surroundings. We have recommendations for both.

We looked for wireless running headphones that comfortably and securely fit all of our panelists, despite diverse ear shapes.

These headphones should be easy to use. And they should have the buttons you need, so you can put your phone away during a run.

To endure sweat, headphones need a rating of IPX4 or higher. The more punishing the environment, the higher the rating.

Our conversations with runners—from casual beginners to marathoners—have revealed that different runners value different headphone features. So instead of giving you a single top pick for all runners, we’re recommending a variety of earbuds to suit assorted needs.

We have a noise-isolating pair for treadmill runners, a couple of open designs that let you hear your surroundings when running outdoors, and an inexpensive set for occasional runners or folks on a budget.

Our recommendations in this guide come from the research and testing we’ve conducted for our general guide to the best workout headphones. Whereas that guide looks more broadly at sweat-resistant headphones and earbuds for a variety of workout activities, this guide focuses on some of the unique concerns that runners have.

The Best Wireless Workout Headphones

The completely wireless Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds are our top pick, thanks to good performance, sweat resistance, and a secure, comfortable fit.

Best for runners who want to block out noise

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

For runners who want to block out noise

This pair reduces gym and street noise, sounds great, and has easy-to-use controls. But the sealed design isn’t ideal when you need to hear your surroundings for safety.

Who it’s for

Runners who want to block out external noise, whether it’s the sound of a treadmill or the general din of big-city life.

Why it’s great

The JBL Reflect Aero TWS true wireless earbuds have an exceptionally high level of protection against water and sweat (with an IP68 rating), and these small, light earbuds should stay securely in place when you run, thanks to the stabilizing wings.

The sealed design and active noise cancellation will reduce the sounds of traffic, the gym, or noisy workout equipment. And if you need to have a quick conversation or listen for an external sound, a natural-sounding hear-through mode is a tap away. Or when you want more situational awareness, you can choose to wear only one earbud at a time.

The battery life of eight hours is good for true wireless earbuds, and the.sized case offers up an additional 16 hours of juice. The large, touch-based controls are easy to learn and use—and they’re less prone to misfires than other touch-based controls we’ve tried.

Google and Alexa users will appreciate the hands-free, voice-activated-assistant compatibility. The six-microphone array helps to reduce wind noise and ensures that your voice is clear for phone calls and video chats. This pair can also connect wirelessly to two devices at once.

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

Out of the box, the Reflect Aero TWS earbuds sound good, with some added oomph in the bass and added energy in the frequency range where consonants sit. Many people will enjoy the sound as is, but we liked it better after doing a little EQ tinkering in the app. If anything goes wrong, JBL covers this pair with a one-year warranty.

You can read more about the Reflect Aero TWS in our guide to workout headphones.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The stabilizing wings may bother people with sensitive ears or small ear canals. Though the winged design is ideal for running because of its grip, it can be fatiguing to wear for hours on end.

While the touch-based controls are easy to use, you can assign only two sets of controls: playback controls, ANC/hear-through controls, or volume controls (not all three at the same time). Alexa and Google fans may not mind this, since their preferred digital assistant is always listening for its wake word—so no tap is necessary.

Apple users can access Siri, but it involves a tap-and-hold on the touch control. (If you want hands-free “Hey Siri” control, consider the Beats Fit Pro instead.) We also wish the case supported wireless charging.

Best for podcast-loving runners who want to hear the world around them

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

For runners who prefer to hear external sounds

Those who run outdoors will appreciate that these earbuds fit securely and allow the wearer to hear the surrounding world. However, the sound lacks low-end presence, so music lovers may be disappointed when the bass line fails to kick in.

Who it’s for

Outdoor runners who want to hear their surroundings and generally prefer listening to podcasts or audiobooks when they run.

Why it’s great

The Cleer Goal earbuds are designed to let the wearer hear noises in the surrounding world; this is key for runners who are concerned about outdoor safety. The ear tips are funnel-shaped and rest inside your ear, but they don’t close off your ear canal completely—so you’re better able to hear and locate the sounds of cars, animals, and people.

This design is also beneficial if you are annoyed by the footstep-amplifying occlusion effect that traditional sealed eartips create; with this pair, you’ll feel less like Godzilla stomping through your jog (though, admittedly, pretending to destroy a city while getting in your cardio is kinda fun).

The stabilizing wings keep the earbuds in place rather well, which we love for smaller or harder-to-fit ears.

Although the Cleer Goal earbuds don’t produce deep bass notes, they do offer crisp detail in the human vocal range. So they’re great for listening to podcasts and audiobooks or hearing the verbal cues of navigation software.

The large, easy-to-access touch-based controls (located on the side of the earbuds) handle volume, track skip, calls, and voice-assistant activation. With an Ingress Protection rating of IPX4, the Cleer Goal set can endure sweat or a light rain, and Cleer backs it with a one-year warranty.

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

The charging case offers about 14 additional hours of battery life, but it’s a bit too large to fit in the of most running shorts. Photo: Michael Hession

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

The Goal earbuds have stabilizing wings that help keep them in place, which is good for people who have harder-to-fit ears. Photo: Michael Hession

The charging case offers about 14 additional hours of battery life, but it’s a bit too large to fit in the of most running shorts. Photo: Michael Hession

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Unfortunately, most touch-based controls are finicky, and those on the Goal earbuds are no exception. You’ll need to practice the pace of the tap-and-hold sequences before you can perform them consistently.

The sound isn’t bass-heavy enough for an unsealed design, so bass notes are significantly lower in volume compared with the rest of the mix; this aspect of the sound quality is a bummer and will likely leave music fans disappointed.

Additionally, the battery life of six hours per charge is middling, and though the charging case offers 14 additional hours of battery life, the case is too large to fit in a shorts However, most running belts should accommodate it.

Best for runners who don’t like earbuds

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

For runners who don’t like earbuds

If you don’t like the feeling of earbuds, these bone-conduction headphones transmit music directly to your inner ear and keep your ear canal open. Voices are clear, but you won’t hear a lot of bass.

Buying Options

At the time of publishing, the price was 100.

Who it’s for

Outdoor runners who dislike the feeling of earbuds and/or want to hear their surroundings.

Why it’s great

The Shokz OpenRun (and its counterpart for smaller heads, the OpenRun Mini) is the best-performing pair of bone-conduction headphones for the price.

Unlike earbuds or headphones that use the air to transmit sound waves to your ears, bone-conduction headphones use vibrations that pass through your skull. So instead of sitting on or in your ears, this pair has pads that hug the sides of your head. Nothing blocks your ear canals, so your ears are left free to hear your surroundings.

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

Fans of bone-conduction headphones will love this set’s clear vocal range, easy-access controls, solid build quality, light weight, and IP67 waterproof design, as well as Shokz’s two-year warranty. People with smaller noggins may prefer the Mini model to get a more secure fit—which is essential for sound to transmit effectively.

The set’s eight-hour battery life should get you through the better part of a day. And the quick-charge function provides about an hour and a half of battery life, after 10 minutes of being plugged in.

The microphone quality is clear but not noise-reducing, so to take calls, you’ll want to stop moving, to reduce windy interruptions.

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Bone conduction will not appeal to everyone. If you are accustomed to a thumping bass line to power your run, this style is not for you.

The OpenRun pair has more low-end prowess than other bone-conduction pairs we’ve tried. But to truly hear any deep notes, you’ll need to turn the volume up to an intensity that causes the little pads on your temples to buzz and tickle your face. Voices and higher-pitched sounds are very clear, so fans of podcasts or acoustic guitar will be pleased with the sound, but hip-hop aficionados might be less thrilled.

Additionally, the use of a proprietary charging cable means you’ll need to be sure to keep the cable with you when traveling.

If you’re in doubt, Shokz has a 45-day return policy when you purchase through its site. So if you’ve never worn this style of headphones before, you may want to take advantage of that.

Best for occasional runners and those on a budget

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

For budget-conscious runners

This pair is affordable without sacrificing what’s most important—but it doesn’t let you hear your surroundings.

Who it’s for

New or occasional runners or anyone who doesn’t want to spend a lot on wireless earbuds.

Why it’s great

If you don’t want to spend a ton of cash on running earbuds—either because you’re new to the hobby or you jog only once in a while—the JLab Go Air Sport durable and affordable earbuds are a great option. This true wireless pair is sweat-resistant, with an IP55 Ingress Protection rating.

The hook-over-the-ear design keeps the earbuds in place, even for tricky-to-fit ears or folks with a super-bouncy stride. Eight hours of listening time per charge is ample for most long runs, and the case holds an additional three full charges. You get a full suite of touch-based controls that are reasonably simple to use while you’re in motion—with a little practice.

While the sound quality can’t match that of our more expensive picks, it is still enjoyable—and pretty stellar for 30.

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

The Go Air Sport’s hook-over-the-ear design may be more comfortable for people with small or sensitive ear canals. Photo: Michael Hession

reflect, mini, review, almost, perfect, workout

The JLab case is large and probably won’t fit in a. but it should fit in a running belt. Photo: Michael Hession

The Go Air Sport’s hook-over-the-ear design may be more comfortable for people with small or sensitive ear canals. Photo: Michael Hession

Flaws but not dealbreakers

This sealed pair doesn’t let in any outside sounds and has no awareness or hear-through mode, so it isn’t a good match for runners who want to hear their surroundings to be safe. As with any isolating earbuds, the sealed tips of the Go Air Sport earbuds will amplify footfalls and breathing sounds.

Like the JBL Reflect Aero TWS set, this pair lets you use either earbud independently, if you prefer to keep one ear open. The large case likely won’t fit in a. but it should fit in a running belt.

The microphone quality is somewhat muffled—people should be able to understand you, but they may ask you to speak up on occasion if you’re naturally soft-spoken. This pair is the budget pick in our main guide to the best workout headphones, so just pop over to that guide to get more details.

Why you should trust us

In addition to having tested more than 1,750 pairs of headphones for Wirecutter, I’ve contributed articles to Fast Company, Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, and Time, and I’ve done segments on Good Morning America, the BBC World Service, and NBC Nightly News. In fact, I’ve likely tested more headphones than anybody in the United States.

I’m also an avid runner in my free time, so I run with our picks on a regular basis.

For this guide, we tested the earbuds with the help of both runners and experienced audio reviewers who have a variety of ear and head shapes.

How we picked and tested

We interviewed dozens of runners—from casual joggers to hardcore marathon runners. And the important lesson we learned is that there is no single headphone or earbud design that will please every runner.

However, there are some important considerations that apply to all good running headphones:

  • Sweat and water resistance is a must. Standard headphones aren’t built to withstand the beating that running headphones can take, so their warranties aren’t likely to cover moisture damage.
  • Fit and comfort are always important, but especially with running headphones. If they fall out, chafe, or pinch, you won’t want to use them.
  • Ease of use is key. Good running earbuds have intuitive controls that you can use without much thought.
  • Brand reliability and a good warranty are both critical. For the latter, coverage should be at least one year against sweat damage.
  • Sound quality is crucial. It should be solid and not distracting.

We put all of our running headphones through the same gauntlet of fit, sound, water resistance, Bluetooth connectivity, and training tests that we use for all workout headphones. You can read more about our lengthy testing process in our guide to the best workout headphones.

No matter how much testing we do, we can’t possibly account for every variety of ear shape and size (though we definitely try our best). You may have to try a few pairs of running headphones before you commit to one, so look for retailers that allow you to return or exchange. And save the packaging until you’ve had a chance to test out your new earbuds. Shake your head around, jump a few times, and give your running headphones the same sort of trial run that you’d give a new pair of sneakers.

Ill-fitting headphones are like a pebble in your shoe: tolerable for a while but distractingly painful over time. Size up your headphones with the same care you’d apply to any other piece of sporting equipment—miles down the road, you’ll be glad you did.

The competition

We’ve tested more than 250 pairs of workout headphones over the years. Below are some popular earbuds we’ve tested specifically for running that did not earn a spot on our list. If you don’t see a certain model you’re interested in, check out our comprehensive list of workout headphones we’ve tested.

Attitud EarSport: This pair places drivers above the ear, aimed down, to avoid blocking the ear canals. The Ear Sport pair offers more bass response than bone-conduction headphones, but the overall sound quality is coarse. The build quality felt flimsy for the original 140 price tag, and one tester said that the headband didn’t really stay in place until he was sweaty.

Apple Airpods (2nd gen): These earbuds aren’t rated as being sweat-resistant—and because Apple’s warranty doesn’t apply to water or sweat damage, if the Airpods short out, you’re out of luck.

Apple Airpods Pro (2nd gen): Although the IPX4 rating of the Airpods Pro means they’re protected from some mild sweat damage, these earbuds aren’t our first choice for runners. The controls are fiddly and can be tricky to activate while you’re on the move, and people who do have a bouncy stride may find that the earbuds can slip out of place.

Beats Fit Pro: This is our runner-up workout earbud pick. The wings on this true wireless pair will keep the earbuds in place for occasional jogs, and the sealed design and active noise cancellation can block out gym noise. But the Pro pair is less water- and sweat-resistant than the JBL Reflect Aero TWS, and it lacks full controls. And the “Hey Siri” function doesn’t work consistently well when there is a lot of breeze (like when you’re running). Folks who sweat a lot or run in the rain will want to get a more durable pair.

Cleer Arc: The Arc pair is essentially a pair of small speakers that rest on top of your ear to allow unencumbered situational awareness. We appreciate the clear mids and highs, but the Arc set’s bass response is lacking. The hinged earbud design squeezes the upper ear, which can become uncomfortable after 20 minutes or so. And the microphones sound distant and muffled over phone calls.

Cleer Roam Sport: The stabilizing wings are pliable and comfortable, but the shape of the earbuds made it difficult for medium and large ears to get a seal. Even when used with third-party tips that fit our ears properly, the Roam Sport’s noise cancellation wasn’t exceptional. If the earbuds happen to fit you, the hear-through mode is surprisingly natural, and the sound quality is decent.

Google Pixel Buds Pro: The main reason to get the Pixel Buds Pro is a desire to stay in the Google device ecosystem. Though the earbuds are IPX4-water-resistant and the case is IPX2-rated, the design may not be secure enough, especially for ears on either end of the size spectrum. If you aren’t doing high-impact workouts or don’t have issues with earbuds staying put in general, the Buds Pro earbuds are good, if somewhat pricey.

Jabra Elite 7 Active and Elite 7 Pro: The Elite earbuds have a comfortable but standard earbud design without wings or hooks—so runners may find that these don’t feel as secure. The sound quality is great with a little EQ adjustment, and the noise cancellation is okay but less than we’d hoped for from earbuds at this price.

Jabra Elite 4 Active: We love the fit, high water/dust resistance, and controls. But the device connectivity is fussy, the microphone sounds muffled on calls, and the active noise cancellation is middling. If call quality and noise cancellation aren’t a priority for you, these are a solid buy.

Jaybird Vista 2: We like the fit, size, single-bud capabilities, and impressive moisture and dust rating of IP68 (the case is IP54-rated). When they work properly, the Vista 2 earbuds are wonderful. However, we had two separate sets fail during our testing process. Although the third pair worked great, other people continue to experience issues at a frequency that makes us reluctant to recommend these.

JBL Endurance Peak 3: If you prefer earbuds that hook over the ear, this pair offers great performance and a few nice bonus features. However, the charging case is quite large (similar in size to a bar of soap), and the touch controls require you to choose between volume, hear-through mode activation, and track controls—you can’t have all three. You can read more on how they compare in our workout headphones guide.

JBL Reflect Mini NC: We like the diminutive earbud and case size, IPX7 sweat resistance, decent noise isolation, hear-through awareness mode, and EQ adjustability. However, the tap controls are limited and occasionally temperamental—even thick hair may interfere with the accuracy. And though this pair isolates well, the active noise reduction is minimal at best.

Mu6 Ring: This pair is designed to be an alternative to bone-conduction technology for folks who don’t like headphones or earbuds that cover their ears. It’s a good idea, but it’s poorly executed. The fit is uncomfortably tight even on small heads, so the design won’t work on people with low ponytails, thick and curly hair, or larger hat sizes. Additionally, in our tests the sound lacked any bass response, with only overtones present.

Philips Go TAA7607: If you like bone-conduction headphones and want a little extra visibility when training at dusk, this pair is pricey but good for what it is. Its performance is similar to that of the less-expensive Shokz OpenRun, but there’s a red LED strip across the cable in the back that can glow solid or flash so you’re easier to spot.

Shokz OpenRun Pro: This pair is nearly identical to the OpenRun but adds quick-charge capabilities and two more hours of battery life. However, it’s less dust- and water-resistant, so unless you need an upgraded battery, we’d stick with our pick.

Skullcandy Grind Fuel: This set has a bunch of nifty features, such as a voice-assistant system that doesn’t require an internet connection to function (though you need to leave the Skullcandy app open). It also offers voice-activated Spotify and the ability to use the earbud button as a remote to take a picture with your phone’s camera. Unfortunately, the voice-activation system can be fussy in windy conditions. And even though the fit is comfortable, these earbuds are not as stable in the ear as our top picks are.

Skullcandy Push Active: This pair features the same voice-assistant system as the Grind Fuel, but we were less enthusiastic about the fit. The buds are large, and the hook doesn’t arch over the ear as it does on most earbuds—instead it seems to sit like a backward C. Our test panelists with smaller ears found the fit odd but passible. However, anyone who has larger ears or ears that stick out may find that these headphones simply don’t fit.

Skullcandy Sesh Evo: These earbuds offer a fun, bass-forward sound; a comfortable fit; water resistance (with an IP55 rating); easy-to-use controls; Tile integration; and USB-C charging. But the five-hour battery life is middle-of-the-road for true wireless earbuds. Fortunately, you do get 19 hours from the included charging case, which is small enough to fit in a

This article was edited by Adrienne Maxwell and Grant Clauser.

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