A few months ago, I had an unfortunate incident with my older, over-the-ear headphones at the gym (let’s just say pre-workout was the culprit). So, to avoid breaking another set of headphones, I figured I would give an earbud-style pair a try. After some research, I purchased the JBL Free X headphones and wanted to share some thoughts I have on the product.
As I listen to music and podcasts pretty much all day at work and the gym, I wanted to choose a company whose performance and sophistication I was familiar with. I have used JBL products in many of my car audio builds, ranging from mid-range speakers to amplifiers and subwoofers. JBL always has the power, quality of materials, and clarity of sound I desire, and the JBL Free X headphones are no exception.
The JBL Free X’s unique design offers both style and functionality, all in a package that easily stores in your pocket. I find the storage case to be quite amazing as it stores a battery charge, so your headphones always remain ready-to-use. The case features a transparent cover so you can see the battery level indicated by lights, and when combined with the illumination from the earbuds in the charging position, creates a light-up smiley face (kind of cute).
Since this product was my first introduction to the earbud style, I was quite nervous about the earbuds falling out of my ears during my intense workouts. Thankfully, the multiple tips and rubber sleeves come in numerous sizes, offering great clamping force and comfort. After a long day at work, I often forget they are even in my ears, continually boosting my mood by adding a soundtrack for my daily IT duties. When working out, the earbuds are quite breathable, barely causing any noticeable temperature increase since they do not fully cover the ears.
Compared to over-the-ear headphones I am accustomed to, the controls of the JBL Free X are somewhat limited; while they offer effortless abilities to pause songs, answer calls, and trigger voice assistance on the right earbud, and switching and rewinding songs with the left, there are no volume controls to be found. While I do use a smartwatch to control the sound levels, it would be nice to have the ability to, for example, hold down the button on the left and right earbud to increase and decrease the volume, respectively.
Now for the most crucial aspect of any set of headphones/earbuds, sound quality. I was admittedly expecting an extreme loss of volume level compared to over-the-ear headphones. However, I was quite surprised when I had to turn the JBL Free X’s volume down in my first time using them. Featuring a deep, well-balanced bass, crystal-clear mid-range, and awe-inspiring treble, JBL’s earbuds are versatile and suitable for all genres, from bass-heavy EDM to easy-listening tech podcasts.
JBL’s Free X earbuds block a significant amount of external noise; while not on the same level as noise-canceling headphones, the JBL Free X still allows you to forget the outside world and focus on the lyrics of a song even in a crowded setting. Furthermore, due to the in-ear style, you can turn up the volume significantly higher than over-the-ear headphones without distracting the people around you; as I need to be fully immersed in my music at the gym, it is nice not to have to worry about others hearing my often-strange song choices (you don’t even want to know).
While I have only used the mic a few times, I found that it is pretty mediocre when compared to other headphones I have used in the past. Even in quiet environments, the speech recorded/transmitted is noticeably lacking in clarity. However, since I never desire to be one of those individuals seeming talking to themselves (loudly), I doubt I will ever really use the microphone feature anyways.
The JBL Free X’s connectivity is by far my least favorite aspect of the product. While I have an excellent connection at work when the earbuds are close to my phone, the range at the gym leaves me aggravated. Many of the over-the-ear headphones I have used in the past was able to transmit sound from my phone regardless of the location at the gym (generally my phone would remain in the locker room). With the JBL Free X, I have to carry my phone around with me to each area of the gym; even with this procedure, the left earbud would often disconnect entirely or switch on and off.
For the price, (I think I paid around $100) the JBL Free X earbuds are great for office use, however, are severely lacking in range/connectivity while in the gym. The sound quality, design, functionality, and comfort of the earbuds are all phenomenal. Though, due to the significant amount of time I spend in the gym and the desire to not have to carry my phone with me the entire session, I find myself already wanting to upgrade to a more expensive/higher-performing product. As this product was my first introduction to wireless earbuds, the next time I purchase a set I will definitely research more thoroughly before I buy. For additional information on this product, check out their website.
Image and Content by JBL. (2019). JBL Free X: Truly Wireless In-Ear Headphones. Retrieved from https://www.jbl.com/wireless-headphones/JBL+FREE+X.