Tech Review: Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate (2017, JBL): Sturdy fitness headphones for those who aren’t particular

The Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate, are aside from having a name that goes on very nearly forever, are a pair of bluetooth sport earphones that can be connected to your smartphone during regular exercise. While they do their best to stand up in terms of sound, software design and practicality, they come with a couple of glaring issues that may give adopters pause.

So for those who aren’t aware (I was not because fitness is something I engage in only grudgingly), Under Armour are a company that make skin tight clothes for people who enjoy moving their bodies as a hobby. It’s possible this was at the forefront of the design team’s philosophy for these headphones because the earbuds can be twisted and locked directly onto your ears so that they won’t budge, even during vigourous exercise.

This proved true when I did take the headphones to the gym with me. The standard size buds already on the device when I pulled it from the packaging fit my ears quite well and, while the headset comes with a clip on the cable designed to attach to your collar, I found I never really needed it. The speakers themselves are quite a bit larger than I was expecting or was used to, and I did find they grew a bit uncomfortable during longer periods of use.

Charging while on the go presents a minor issue in that there’s no mobile charging unit included with the headset. You do have a micro-USB cable so if you have a smartphone with a decent battery or portable charger of your own handy, you should be fine.

Don’t worry about sweating up a storm during your workout either, the headset is IPX5 water resistant so they’ll survive even if you go running and get caught in the rain.

The Under Armour Record app that the headset uses to communicate with your smartphone is an excellent little piece of software that provides reliable coaching by using your phone’s GPS when out and about. It also uses, as its name suggests, an optical heart rate monitor at all times to let you know how your ticker’s going.

In terms of audio quality, the Under Armour Sport certainly sits at the higher end of the spectrum as far as fitness headsets go, but those expecting the kind of quality JBL is known for in a fitness model may be left wanting, at least a little. On the one hand the bass does feel a little thin, but on the other the firm hold the headset exerts on your ears means there’s a certain amount of passive noise cancellation that helps with overall clarity. For someone like me who takes a less-is-more approach to bass overall, it was odd to find myself feeling like they could stand to pump it up a little.

I did take a few calls to test the headset’s inline microphone and, while I had no issues hearing the person calling me, in each case the person calling claimed that I was so muffled that I couldn’t be heard at all. In every case I had to disconnect the headset and call them back without it. This issue may present a significant hurdle for professionals who still need to take calls easily while getting in a quick lunch-break work out.

The JBL Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones are a solid, well-produced set of fitness headphones and provide a nice middle ground between other headsets in the same price range. At AU$369, these headphones are not cheap and there are headsets with better sound or better coaching. It’s rare, however, to find a fitness headset that sports both and in that, JBL is trying to walk the line. That’s commendable.

Score: 7.5 out of 10
Highlights: Great design; Great companion app functionality
Lowlights: Sound could be better; Can become uncomfortable during long sessions
Manufacturer: JBL
Price: $369 AUD
Available: Now

Correction: An earlier version of this review stated the price of the Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate Headphones incorrectly. It has been updated to reflect the correct price.