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Meet the JBL Endurance Run, a budget-friendly and feature rich set of corded headphones. Corded, you ask? In a time when many high end phone manufacturers are eliminating headphone jacks? Yes, you read that right. In fact, with the introduction of the Endurance Run, JBL has effectively doubled down on the affordable corded market and built something pretty great for audiophile runners.
Since we’ve tested JBL headphones in the past, they asked us to try out a review copy of the Endurance Runs at no cost. We gladly accepted, but please note this is not a paid review. After a few weeks of in-ear testing while running on Park City singletrack, here’s what we thought.
The biggest factor in whether running headphones succeed or fail is weight. Yes, the Endurance Run is corded but extremely lightweight as a result, thanks to the lack of a battery needed to power Bluetooth and a simple one-button control unit. The less bulk bouncing around on a run means less dropouts and adjustments.
JBL hits this one hard, packing three separate features in the Endurance Run to keep it in place. First, the ‘FlexSoft’ silicon earbuds are part of a sweat-proof package, helping maintain friction on the ear after the initial fitting. Pair that with JBL’s clever ‘TwistLock’ fitting system that essentially “locks” the buds in place with a special secondary silicon apparatus, and it take a lot to make these headphones move out of place. In fact, on one five mile test trail run I adjusted the Endurance Runs only twice, an absolutely outstanding performance.
If those first two features aren’t enough to keep things locked down, users can also opt for JBL’s third featured called ‘Fliphook’. This design allows for the headphone to be wrapped around the top of the ear and then inserted into the ear on a downward path. Cord pull while running is eliminated by the cord being supported by the top of the ear. It’s very effective, but relatively annoying with feeling of the cord on the top of the ear. For me, the first two features kept the Endurance Run in place, enough to opt out from using Fliphook.
As mentioned above, the control unit is a simple one-button design. As you can imagine, one button doesn’t do much. Play and pause music with one short click, or hold a long click to activate voice controls like Siri or Google Now. Song skipping, volume adjustments and all other controls are sacrificed for simplicity and weight. If you like having those features available from your headphones, the Endurance Runs will be hard to get used to. If you want to simply put your music on and forget about anything else, then the Endurance Runs are for you.
The sound quality is superb. But what else would you expect from JBL?
For being such a focused piece of equipment, it’s hard to believe the Endurance Runs cost just $20. Light headphones, full wallets.
The best bang-for-the-buck running headphone out there. Jam packed with features designed specifically to meet the demands of running with headphones with staying power that is second to none. However, not designed for those who want total control over music directly from a button unit.