Even though it’s now 2019, I still get folks asking me about wired earphones for exercising. “Aiden,” they’ll say. “I want a good pair of earphones for running or working out, but I don’t want Bluetooth. What do you recommend?” And in the past I’ve usually recommended something cheap and acceptable from Audio Technica.
However, today I’m checking out the new JBL Endurance Run. And I have to say, if you’re in the market for a wired pair of workout buds, this one is the best there is. The real kicker, though? This earphone retails for a shockingly-cheap $15.95.
JBL Endurance Run Review
The JBL Endurance line has been around for some time, but the Run marks the first earphone in their lineup to offer such a competent sound at such a low price.
Design-wise, the JBL Endurance Run offers some nifty features. Foremost among these, though, is a forward-thinking form factor that allows the earphones to be worn one of two ways – with the cable hanging strait down, or with the cable looped over the back of the ears. A convenient Left and Right label allows for easy selection based on the preferred wearing style.
While sweat-proof, the Endurance Run isn’t necessarily water-proof. However, the build still feels solid and resilient enough for most weather.
Included with the earphones, you’ll find four pairs of eartips and two rubber twist-lock guards that allow the earphones to sit more securely in your ears. These guards aren’t fins or over-ear loops, but the same kind of rubber apparatuses found on the Yurbuds earphones – just bulky enough to stay in the ear without causing discomfort.
Cabling measures a standard 4 ft (1.2 m), and offers an integrated mic and remote for taking calls. Call quality sounds decent, and while the remote can handle most playback functions, it doesn’t control volume. For volume adjustment, I still have to dive into my pocket and adjust volume on my phone. Not a deal breaker, just a slight downside.
Last but not least, the backs of the earphones are magnetized. So when I get done jogging and want to strut like the sweaty stud I am, I can slap these turkeys together around my neck like an Olympic Medal. Eat your heart out, honeys.
Marked by an energetic and driving low end, the JBL Endurance Run offers some good detail. Complimenting this, the bass impact comes in precise and sharp, with real weight behind it. The resultant heavy low end works well with rock, hip-hop, electronica, and pop, but may be a bit off center for critical listeners.
Mids seem fairly accurate, though there’s a small amount of distortion and compression in the sound. For the price, though, this seems acceptable, and vocals really don’t suffer that much. Taking these less-than-perfect mids in stride, the sound remains pretty impressive for an earphone so inexpensive.
In contrast to these mids, the highs seem more accurate, even if they are rolled off in the highest frequencies. However, instrumentation still remains decent, provided you aren’t listening to too many symphonies. Female vocals sound smooth and fluid, and still stand apart from accompanying instrumentation, leading to an articulate sound.
While not boasting any real soundstage, there’s still the slightest bit of depth in the Endurance Run. Not enough to give you an impression of three dimensional space, this depth still manages to keep music interesting and engaging.
If you need a wired earphone for exercising, this one is it. The JBL Endurance Run sounds great, offers two kinds of wearing styles and plenty of fit options, and it’s cheap as chips. At $15.95, it’s the most affordable earphone I have ever reviewed. And it still sounds better than some of the more expensive stuff.
If you work out to classical music, skip this model and try the Mackie CR Buds. At about $20, these earphones offer a similar level of build (minus the sweat resistance), but sound much better for classical listening.
Otherwise, my recommendation goes to this JBL headphone. Cause it don’t get no better than this.
Headphone Dungeon Score
I had to give the JBL Endurance Run 4 skulls. Really, I wanted to dish out five, but this is still a $15.95 earphone we’re talking about, folks. It may sound good for what it is, but objectively speaking, there are still better earphones out there.