JBL Reflect Flow Pro Review: Spectacular Sports Earbuds





JBL Reflect Flow Pro.

JBL Reflect Flow Pro review: Spectacular sports earbuds

Recommended retail price $180.00

“Features galore and powerful sound make them perfect training buddies.”

Pros

  • Firm, secure fit

  • Excellent noise reduction

  • Choice of hands-free speech AIs

  • Completely waterproof

  • Wireless charging

cons

  • Limited Control Options

  • No fast charging option

JBL isn’t always the most consistent company when it comes to personal audio. Sometimes, like with his Tour Pro+ earbuds and Tour One ANC headphones, he absolutely nails it. Other times it falls short, as I felt was the case with its flagship Club One cans. But lately it’s been more hits than misses, and that certainly goes for JBL’s latest active lifestyle true wireless earbuds, the $180 JBL Reflect Flow Pro, a product that competes with the $200 Beats Fit Pro, the $180 Jabra Elite 7 Active, and JBL’s own $150 Reflect Mini NC. How good are the Reflect Flow Pro? Let’s take a look at them.

Great fit without the Frankenstein

JBL Reflect Flow Pro.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Reflect Flow Pro are in theory the successors of the Reflect current model, a comfortable and waterproof set of sports earplugs that unfortunately had a few drawbacks. They were huge – they stuck out a lot from your ears and gave what I consider Frankenstein’s monster look. Their physical buttons were a bit hard to press, their sound quality was uneven and their transparency (ambient) mode was only so-so.

But one look at the design of the Reflect Flow Pro and it’s clear that despite their name, they are actually the Pro model of the Reflect Mini NC, not the Reflect Flow. The Reflect Flow Pro are smaller and lighter, and they address pretty much every flaw we found on the original Reflect Flow.

The Reflect Flow Pro comes with three sizes of silicone ear tips and four sizes of wing tips (“powerfins” in JBL’s vernacular) that range from large to barely there, meaning more people are likely to find a combination that fits. That’s in stark contrast to the Beats Fit Pro which has a single, permanently installed set of wingtips.

Contents JBL Reflect Flow Pro box.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

JBL says the fit is so snug that you can go surfing with the Reflect Flow Pro. I respectfully disagree. Yes, they fit very well, but no, I wouldn’t risk finding out the hard way that they are no match for a head-first wipeout. Still, as long as they stay put, they’ll have no problem dealing with all that water – with an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance, they’re just about the strongest earbuds you can buy.

The charging case is not waterproof or dustproof, but it is well built and quite robust. The built-in lanyard loop is just big enough to put the bag through the loop, so you can attach it to a bag belt or even a belt loop on your pants.

From Zero to Hero

The Reflect Flow Pro not only improves on the design of the Reflect Flow, they are also packed with features. Wireless charging, wear sensors, a choice of voice assistants, active noise cancellation (ANC), transparency mode, custom controls and EQ. It’s like JBL is challenging us to find something that’s missing and frankly it’s hard to find fault. And that’s before we even get into things like sound quality, call quality, and useful extras (but don’t worry, we’ll cover those too).

Hours of power

JBL Reflect Flow Pro charging case.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

One of the things the original JBL Reflect Flow did well was their impressive power capacity: 10 hours per charge and two full charges in the case battery. The Reflect Flow Pro doubles these numbers if you have ANC and transparency turned off. But even using these features, you’ll still get up to eight hours per charge. That’s better than both the Beats Fit Pro and the Beats Powerbeats Pro.

The only thing missing here is a fast charging option. Normally I’d sue JBL for this omission, but when you can provide people with up to 10 hours per charge, the need for fast charging is greatly reduced. In addition, the Reflect Flow Pro’s charging case supports Qi wireless charging, something that no Beats products have been able to do until now.

Sound that touches you

Man with JBL Reflect Flow Pro.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

A punchy and punchy bass can be fun no matter what you’re doing while listening to music, but it’s a huge asset for people who need motivation to work out. The Reflect Flow Pro won’t disappoint: they sound great right out of the box, with plenty of low-end boom and pretty clear mids and highs. Throw on a track like Billy Idol Rita Hayworth and the Reflect Flow Pro delivers a high-octane sonic attack guaranteed to get you moving.

Subtlety isn’t their forte – these aren’t the earphones for finding lost details in your favorite jazz ensembles – but they aren’t a blunt instrument either. JBL’s headphone app offers a very capable EQ tool that will reward some patience and experimentation with lots of tuning variations. My only criticism is that the company hasn’t added a few more built-in presets – you only get three: bass, jazz, and vocals.

Calm or pleasant

JBL Reflect Flow Pro.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

I was already quite impressed with the noise cancellation of the JBL Reflect Mini NC, but the Reflect Flow Pro is even better. So good, in fact, that when comparing it to the Beats Fit Pro (which have an excellent ANC), I found almost no difference. Outside, traffic noises were kept well at bay, allowing me to hear my podcasts clearly without turning the volume up. Inside, the bathroom fan that’s six feet from my desk — but which can sound like it’s next to my head — was almost completely neutralized.

The transparency mode is also very good, with the option to choose between two versions: Ambient Aware (for general ambient sounds) and TalkThru (for conversations). Both can be quickly activated with a single or double tap on the earbuds, making them very convenient.

The illusion of control

Operation is the only area where JBL still has some work to do. The Reflect Flow Pro’s touch controls are excellent – they respond quickly and accurately to touches and a small tone confirms when a touch took place, which is an essential form of feedback when a physical click is not available. The problem is that JBL lets you choose from four possible “control groups” and you can only have two active at a time.

For example, you can choose from playback control, ambient sound/ANC/TalkThru, volume control or voice assistant. If you want playback and volume control, you cannot use Ambient Sound/ANC/TalkThru or Voice Assistant. If you want playback controls and voice assistant, you can’t use ambient sound/ANC/TalkThru or volume control.

If this was inherent in true wireless earbuds, I wouldn’t complain, but it isn’t: Jabra’s Elite series of earbuds give you total control over every gesture, without forcing you to choose between mutually exclusive options.

I also wish there was a way to disable voice feedback. Switching quickly from ANC to ambient mode is great, but it’s a little less convenient if your earbuds keep saying “Ambient mode on” or “Noise-cancelling on.”

Speak and be heard

Call quality is generally very good on the Reflect Flow Pro. They can struggle a bit in very noisy situations, but few earbuds excel in these conditions. More importantly, they handle wind noise better than most earplugs I’ve tried, which is helpful as they will be a good choice for runners or even cyclists. You are perfectly heard under relatively quiet conditions.

But these earbuds also allow you to use your voice to summon various assistants – a rare feature that comes in very handy. iOS users can use “Hey Siri” just like you would with Apple’s H1-based products (AirPods, Beats Fit Pro, Powerbeats Pro, etc.) plus there’s the option to use Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant instead. to go – both of which work with their respective hands-free wake words.

Extras

If you are the kind of person who constantly loses items, the JBL Headphones app may force the Reflect Flow Pro to produce a loud beeping sound. Each earbud may beep individually, but the feature will not work when placed in the charging case. There is also no map to show their last known location, which some other earbuds (AirPods, Jabra Elite, etc.) provide.

The app can also help you figure out whether the earplug size you’ve chosen will give you a good seal from the outside world. If you’re not getting the sound quality you expect – especially if it’s bad bass – this is the place to start.

Our opinion

With excellent protection from the elements, great sound and noise cancellation and excellent battery life, the JBL Reflect Flow Pro is the perfect alternative to the Beats Powerbeats Pro and Fit Pro for those who want a great training partner.

Is there a better alternative?

I think the best alternative to the Reflect Flow Pro is the one from JBL Reflect Mini NC. It’s less expensive, has a smaller charging case that fits more in your pocket, and has many of the same features as the Pro. You won’t get the same caliber of sound quality, noise cancellation or call quality, but for some people this will be a perfectly acceptable trade-off.

If you want a smaller earplug, the Beats Fit Pro will do the trick, and if you want a much more secure fit, consider the Powerbeats Pro.

How long will they last?

With an IP68 rating and a very long battery life on start up, the JBL Reflect Flow Pro should give you years of enjoyment. They are built solidly, as is their charging case. JBL backs them up with a one-year warranty.

Should you buy them?

Yes. If you’re looking for a rugged set of workout earbuds that can handle it all – and packed with solid features and great sound – the JBL Reflect Flow Pro are an excellent choice.

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