Powerful bass response matched with sculpted, bright highs. Easy to use heart rate monitor gives live results, can also sync with popular fitness apps. Sweatproof design.
Audio performance not for those seeking accurate mix. Extra secure fit might feel a tad uncomfortable/invasive for some users.
- Bottom Line
The JBL Reflect Fit delivers Bluetooth audio with intense bass depth and bright highs—along with a built-in heart rate monitor.
JBL's latest exercise-focused Bluetooth earphones feature a built-in heart rate monitor that works quite well. At $149.95, the Reflect Fit seems fairly priced for what you get—the aforementioned monitor, as well as a powerful pair of earphones that can deliver serious bass depth and solid clarity.
Anyone seeking an accurate sound signature should look elsewhere—the audio here is sculpted, but it's well-balanced, at least, and if bass helps motivate your work out, the added oomph here won't disappoint. The fit is exceptionally secure, and the monitor can also be synced with various fitness apps. The strong seal of the in-ears and the presence of a collarband may not be for everyone, but all in all, it's another winner in the wireless exercise department from JBL, and it earns our Editors' Choice award for its solid design, performance, and functionality.
Available in red, blue, black, or teal models, the Reflect Fit has a collarband that rests around the lower neck—the reflective cables extend the earpieces up to the ears. The exterior is a rubber material and is rated at IPX5, which means the earphones can withstand low pressure water from any direction. Don't submerge the the Reflect Fit, but be comfortable knowing that it's sweatproof and can be used in the rain, as well as rinsed off.
On the left side of the collarband, there are Plus and Minus buttons for controlling volume and track navigation. A long press goes to the next or previous track. We're not huge fans of combining those two functions on the same button—it's too easy to skip a track when you meant to only adjust the volume. On the right, there's a Heart Rate Monitor button and a multifunction button that controls playback and call management.
The earpieces are outfitted with clear silicone tips, as well as separate fins that fasten on to the base of the earpiece—this presses the fin against your ear gently and allows for a very stable fit. Inside each earpiece, a 5.8mm driver delivers the audio. The earpieces also house the internal heart rate monitor, which works with a wide range of apps, though JBL doesn't offer up one with purchase. However, you also don't need an app to use the heart rate monitor—properly positioning the earpieces and pressing the Heart button will give you a read out (or ask you to adjust the eartips until a heart rate can be detected). If you want to sync the heart rate monitor with a fitness app, the Reflect Fit works with most popular fitness apps, like MapMyRun and Endomondo. Some apps may require a premium membership or in-app purchase, but we had no problem both using the sensor on its own and using it within MapMyRun's standard app. I also compared the monitor's readings to the free Cardiio app's heart rate monitor readings (using my iPhone's camera lens, and without the Reflect Fit being synced with the Cardiioapp) and they were both very close to each other on multiple measurements, so it would seem the Reflect Fit's monitor is also fairly accurate.
One note about the feel of the fit—to say it is secure is an understatement. In order to get an accurate heart rate reading, you may find that the eartips feel a bit jammed into your ears. I personally didn't find it uncomfortable, but I can see how some people might want a more relaxed in ear fit. This is probably the most secure and sealed off-feeling exercise earphone pair I've tested.
The built-in mic offers ideal intelligibility—using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, we were able to understand every word we recorded and we didn't detect any obvious audio artifacts. The mic offers solid clarity, though its level can sound a little low.
The Reflect Fit ships with a micro USB-to-USB charging cable (there's a covered connection port near the center of the collarband), three pairs of eartips (S, M, and L), and three pairs of the stabilizing fins (S, M, and L). There's also a circular zip-up protective pouch that's large enough to house the earphones and all included accessories.
JBL rates the Reflect Fit's battery life at roughly 8 hours, but your results will vary, based mainly on your volume levels—though using the earphones with the heart rate monitor off adds 2 more hours of battery life per full charge.
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On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like the Knife's "Silent Shout," Reflect Fit delivers some thumping low-end that will appeal to bass lovers, especially those who get extra motivation during workouts from it. The highs are also quite sculpted and notably bright—it's a balanced sound with some definite rumbling bass push.
Bill Callahan's "Drover," a track with far less deep in the mix, gives us a better sense of the Reflect Fit's overall sound signature. The drums on this track sound full and round without feeling too overly thunderous, while Callahan's baritone vocals get an added dose of low-mid richness. There's also plenty of high-mid and high frequency presence and sculpting, providing the vocals and guitar strums with some crisp treble edge. Again, the sound signature feels balanced, despite plenty of sculpting on both ends of the frequency range—it's a big sound, with full, powerful drums and bright, crackling percussive hits and guitars.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West's "No Church in the Wild," the kick drum loop gets enough high-mid presence to retain its sharp attack and cut through the layers of the mix, but the high-mids here feel outdueled slightly by the lows and low-mids that beef up this drum loop a bit more than usual. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with serious power—those who love subwoofer-style bass presence won't be disappointed with the Reflect Fit's abilities. The vocals on this track are delivered with plenty of high-mid presence and clarity, but there's perhaps a bit of added sibilance at times.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene in John Adams' The Gospel According to the Other Mary, get the amount of added bass depth that will have purists rolling their eyes, but it's not a boring sound signature, even if it's not terribly accurate. Things never sound muddy, despite the bass boosting, thanks to a bright presence that allows the brass, strings, and vocals to maintain their prominent place in the mix.
So, unsurprisingly, the JBL Reflect Fit is not a pair for audiophile purists looking for the most accurate sonic performance—this is a bass-forward, highly sculpted in-ear pair that won't disappoint bass lovers who still want some balance in the mix. In terms of fit, it's among the most secure-feeling in-ears we've tested—something that might actually scare some users off, as the heart rate monitor does seem to require that the eartips are thoroughly sealed and in place, more so than is necessary when simply enjoying the earphones for audio. But overall, the Reflect Fit is an excellent product—the built-in heart rate monitor seems pretty accurate and useful, the audio performance is high quality, and the design is ideal for exercise, earning these earphones our Editors' Choice. That said, there are plenty of great options in the Bluetooth exercise earphones realm, and if you don't need or want the heart rate monitor, it's worth checking them out—the Bose SoundSport Wireless, JBL Reflect Mini BT, Jaybird X3, and JayBird Freedom 2 are all winners.
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By Tim Gideon Contributing Editor, Audio
Contributing Editor Tim Gideon has been writing for PCMag since 2006. He specializes in reviewing audio products, and is obsessed with headphones, speakers, and recording gear. More »
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