Running can get boring quickly, the gym is a melting pot of bassy music, grunts and weights slamming the floor, and even when you’re cramming yourself into a quick home workout, the sound of your own breathing can be something you’d rather not want to deal with it.
With this in mind, a pair of headphones can be an essential purchase for your workout. But if you want to keep costs down then your options will be limited as most of the best earbuds and headphones for workouts top out at £100.
So when we found a pair for just £29.99 we were intrigued. Can headphones this cheap get you through your weekly training session? Will they be comfortable? And above all: Can they sound good?
How do they look and feel?
It won’t surprise you that you’re not exactly getting a luxury product at this price point. Both the charging case and the headphones are made of a cheap-looking but very stable plastic.
If you actually plug in the headphones, however, that’s not a problem. In fact, these headphones feel great when you wear them. They’re lightweight and thanks to the hook design, they stay secure throughout your workout.
I’ve frequently had headphones come out while running, which required an adjustment from time to time, but the Go Air Sport True stayed in with no issues.
However, due to the shape of these headphones, the sound can often be muffled as the earbud pops out a bit during exercise. A quick tap back solves that problem, though, and is a common experience when using running headphones.
Thanks to the lightweight design, these headphones remained comfortable for a long time. It took just over an hour of practice to notice any discomfort with them.
Do they sound good?
The most important question: Can headphones that only cost 29.99 euros produce a good sound? Surprisingly yes. Of course, these won’t blow you away by any means, and they certainly won’t compete with more expensive headphones, but for the price we were very impressed.
You get three different equalization (EQ) settings: JLab Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost. There is a noticeable alternation between these, particularly on certain songs.
JLab claims Signature mode works best for all music and audio types, balances podcasts and audiobooks, and Bass Boost is best for hip-hop, rap, electronics, and well…obviously anything with a lot of bass.
I sat in Bass Boost mode most of the time, but occasionally switched to Signature as well. Balanced mode seemed a bit redundant and sounded very similar to Signature mode.
If you want to crank up the volume and play drum and bass, metal, or anything else that’ll scare you on your last mile, you’ll be glad to know the headphones can keep up. While some songs can have a slightly tinny sound, these buds replicate both bass and drums well.
The same applies to softer songs, audio books and podcasts. You won’t notice any major audio issues while lifting heavy weights to Beethovens For Elise – just as it was surely intended to be enjoyed.
Audiophiles out there will easily track the hushed mids of songs with big soundstages or the inflated bass of albums like Thundercat’s It is what it is, but for most it is barely noticeable.
What features do these headphones have?
Like most Bluetooth headphones, these have a series of buttons for performing different actions. This comes with three challenges: pressing hard enough to activate it, dealing with the noticeable lag, and trying to remember all the different actions required.
Your left earbud controls volume, voice assistants, and going back a track. On the right, increases volume, plays or pauses a song, and skips to the next track. This is done by single tapping, double tapping, and pressing and holding. There are also actions for interacting with calls and changing EQ settings. Because you have to press pretty hard and there’s a noticeable lag in those actions, I’ve often performed the wrong one, skipped a track when trying to change the volume, or accidentally activated the Google Assistant.
My other major gripe with the JLab Go Air True headphones is the charging feature. The charging case has an attached cable that you plug into a USB connector. However, the cable is absolute tiny.
This means the headphone case hangs awkwardly from the plug, not really able to touch the ground with most wall plugs. It’s a minor feature, but one that looks like it could have been easily avoided.
This issue is somewhat alleviated thanks to the headphones’ playtime. You can get over 32 hours on one charge. If you only use these for exercise, you won’t have to awkwardly dangling them from your wall to charge them too often.
While these earphones are not waterproof, they are water and dust resistant. That means a little light rain, sweat, and general splashes are absolutely fine – just make sure you don’t drop them in puddles or pools of water.
Should you buy the JLab Go Air True?
It feels difficult to massively fault the JLab Go Air True headphones. The company bills itself as an affordable audio company, and with these running headphones, you get just that.
If you’re looking for impressive audio performance or headphones that offer a premium look and feel, these aren’t the headphones for you. But for something cheap and decent for casual exercise, these are a good choice.
They’re affordable, offer long battery life, fit comfortably, and while the audio isn’t incredible by any means, it gives you the quality you need for podcasts, audiobooks, or that quick burst of bass-heavy music to get you through your run.
Anker Soundcore Sprint X2
If you’re willing to splurge on a pair of sports headphones, Anker’s Soundcore Spirit X2 could be a good alternative. These are around £80 but offer improved audio performance, a much more premium design and feel, longer battery life and most importantly, a better charging system.
These will especially appeal to those who like some bass in their music. While still not as good as some pricier headphones, these earbuds offer strong bass audio performance.
For something at a similar price point to the JLab Go Air Sport True earbuds, the Skullcandy Dimes might be the way to go. They are even cheaper than JLab’s buds and for some the hookless design is preferable. However, they don’t offer the same touch controls as the Go Air Sport and are very basic in terms of their features.
Beats Powerbeats Pro
At the completely opposite end of the spectrum is Beats Powerbeats Pro. These are expensive, costing over £200. That will obviously make them a much bigger investment than JLab’s earbuds. However, these are some of the best earbuds available for working out, boasting a high-end lightweight metal design, fantastic sound performance, and fast-charging technology.
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