JBL / Under Armor True Wireless Flash X.

"A few key upgrades keep the Flash X in the wireless workout mix."

  • Comfortable fit

  • Good passive noise cancellation

  • 10 hours of battery life

  • No volume controls

  • Ineffective ambient noise mode

JBL and Under Armor have teamed up again to launch the new True Wireless Flash X, a $ 170 version of the original second generation True Wireless Flash. Instead of making extensive changes to the workout earphones that are already perceived as good, the Flash X has been updated in some target areas. A few more would have been nice, but let's examine what they put in the newest pair and see if it makes them a more convincing purchase.

Out of the box

JBL / Under Armor has given the packaging of the Flash X some pomp and circumstance. To find the way to these buds, you need to take a shiny envelope out of the box and then lift the lid to reveal the buds. Charging case in a T-shaped foam layer. Additional earplugs and ear fins are located in their own housing on one side of the foam, on the other side there is a USB-C charging cable. Not to forget, all of the documentation you'll ever need for these buds is right under the buds and accessories.

JBL Flash X earphonesNick Woodard / Digital Trends

When you plug in an increasing number of earbuds to perform this function – Apple AirPods, Google Pixel Buds 2 and LG ToneFree – Flash X has a fast pairing function for compatible Android 6.0 devices or higher. If you have one of them, an easy task is now even easier. The buds do the introduction to your phone for you, and all you have to do is keep the conversation going to connect. If you miss this, don't fret. The traditional Bluetooth setup route takes you to the same destination with less excitement.

The Bluetooth 5 technology in the Flash X is great for maintaining connection and providing a solid range.

As with most recently tested real wireless earbuds, the Bluetooth 5 technology in the Flash X works remarkably well to maintain the connection and ensure a solid range. There is of course a limit; I was almost to the end of my side street to take out my trash cans before the buds were finally cut out, well over 50 feet from where I left my phone in my house.

design

In terms of design, the Flash X hasn't changed much from generation to generation. The buds themselves have the same understated aesthetic as the originals, with the Under Armor logo on the end cap and the JBL logo on the side of these otherwise black earbuds. The charging case is also incredibly similar and can be slid open to display the earbuds in the same way that your old filing cabinet was opened in your office cubicle (remember?).

JBL FLash X earphonesNick Woodard / Digital Trends

After finding the best combination of earplug and ear fin, the Flash X showed the same comfortable but tight fit as its predecessors. This style is great for training as these buds do not move while walking and running during transportation and this airtight seal provides effective passive noise cancellation. But after prolonged periods of my body, I submitted to a certain amount of fatigue just because they were implanted in my ears. I would honestly do that about the alternative – buds that stubbornly refuse to stay in your ear – but the Flash X doesn't compete with the Jabra Elite Active 75t, currently the best-fitting real wireless earbuds, so the collective heads of Digital trends.

It's absurd to offer real wireless earphones for $ 180 without a function as simple as volume control.

One thing about the now nostalgic design of the charging case for the Flash X: it's big. Like 117 grams. In comparison, the case for the Apple AirPods is a lively 40 grams. As a training-oriented earphone, I don't know how often you will lug the case around in your pocket. But if so, there is certainly something to explain.

I enjoyed using the controls for Flash X with one exception. There is a single button in each bud that is integrated into the Under Armor logos. You need to remember how many presses on which bud correspond to which command. But the system worked well after a short acclimatization period and was free from the annoying accidental commands associated with budding with touchpads. However, there is no control to increase or decrease the volume unless you go to your preferred language support and ask them to do it for you. I've criticized a lot of earbuds for this in the past, and I'm perfectly fine with the fact that this is the hill I'm dying on. It's absurd to offer real wireless earphones for $ 180 without a function as simple as volume control.

properties

JBL / Under Armor has redesigned some key features of the Flash X, and luckily for those buds, it kept them talking about the top options in the real wireless training class. For example, if the Flash X had maintained the original battery life of five hours (a positive hint for these buds at that time), they would have been blown away by options like the Sony WF-SP800N or the JLab Epic Air Sport.

JBL Flash X earphonesNick Woodard / Digital Trends

Instead, the Flash X has a battery life of up to 10 hours (an exact specification, according to my tests), with four additional charges for a total of 50 hours of playback. This is not the case with the Sony models, which can play inactive noise cancellation for 13 hours, but with the Epic Air Sport it is just right and significantly better than with the Jabra Elite Active 75t, which occurs at 7.5 hours and 28 in total for $ 30 more.

The Flash X has first generation IPX7 weather resistance and protects the buds from immersion in up to three feet of water. This is undoubtedly solid for workout earphones. However, the Elite Active 75t has the protection class IP57 for protection against dust and water. The Epic Air Sport offers IP66 protection. Perhaps this would have affected the pricing of these new earbuds, but adding dust protection to the Flash X would have been a significant advance for buds designed for harsh environments.

The Flash X has a bionic hearing function, which is essentially an umbrella term for two similar functions: TalkThru and Ambient Aware. According to these companies, TalkThru lowers the music volume and amplifies the language to simplify the conversation with these earbuds. In my experience, this worked well and allowed me to exchange courtesies with people I passed on the way without pulling out a bud. Ambient Aware is designed to amplify ambient noise in order to draw your attention to your surroundings. Perhaps the passive cancellation is just as good, but I found that Ambient Aware mode was largely ineffective to the point where it was difficult to determine whether this feature was enabled or disabled. Fortunately, TalkThru has abated somewhat here, but a lackluster ambient noise feature is a seriously bad combination with great passive noise cancellation.

Audio quality

The Flash X has what is called "JBL Charged Sound" or "bold sound for sports with rich bass to improve your workout" on its datasheet. You should largely ignore all the marketing talk. To go, the 5.8mm drivers in these earphones are full of sound.

JBL Flash X earphonesNick Woodard / Digital Trends

I didn't have the original True Wireless Flash on hand to test the sound alongside the Flash X, but when I compare everything we said about these first generation buds to the Flash X, I don't think the sound The quality has changed a lot here. The bass is big and brave and makes tracks like Drake & # 39; s Gods Plan really unique. You don't have to worry too much about getting pumped up for your workout – with the right music, these buds take care of it themselves.

You don't have to worry too much about getting pumped up for your workout – with the right music, these buds take care of it themselves.

Thanks to melodies such as an acoustic reproduction of Stand By Me by Tom Speight, I also found good details in the upper register. However, as much as the good things about these buds have not changed, a problem of the first generation has raised its head again: I have also noticed a persistent problem when I use it in connection with video. The first generations were noticeably out of sync with YouTube and Netflix videos, and this issue was obviously not addressed in Flash X. I have to guess that watching and working out of videos doesn't overlap often, however, if you are thinking of using them on a treadmill while watching Netflix or live sports on your phone or tablet, we advise you not to . The delay is seriously noticeable.

The Flash X has taken the path of dual microphones to improve call quality, effectively. I wouldn't say that these earbuds are something to write home about when it comes to skillfully handling calls. They do the job enough not to be upset with them, but not enough to be impressed by their call quality.

Our opinion

The True Wireless Flash X from JBL / Under Armor has some important improvements to keep you talking alongside the best training buds you can buy. They stay in your ears and sound great about what we expect from music to keep your blood pumping during exercise. However, they do have a handful of unaddressed issues that are difficult to ignore at their price, so they cannot make much progress if they stand up to the competition overall.

Are there any better alternatives?

For some, it might be worth spending the additional $ 30 on the buds with better protection (Jabra Elite Active 75t) or the buds with better batteries (Sony WF-SP800N). Or, it might make sense to save $ 20 and opt for a less slim design in the JLab Epic Air Sport, but with similar features.

How long will they last?

I would prefer dust protection, but I am satisfied with the Flash X with IPX7 weather resistance, lasting build quality and a one-year guarantee. You should get these through many workouts.

Should you buy them

Yes. I wasn't originally sold for $ 170 for second generation True Wireless Flash X, especially because the buds had few major improvements, namely battery life and Bluetooth technology. But they were high-quality earphones the first time, and they still go well with their more expensive counterparts.

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