JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate review: In-ear headphones with heart rate monitoring

Audio / Audio Hardware Reviews / Fitness & Health / Fitness & Health Reviews / Reviews
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If you’re not a fan of fitness trackers, the JBL UA Sport Wirless Heart Rate headphones accurately track your heart rate while letting you enjoy your music.

We’ve reviewed a few of JBL’s UA earbud offerings here at Techaeris, and our JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate review takes a look at a pair of wireless earbuds that have built-in heart rate monitoring.

Specifications

The JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones have the following features and specifications:

  • Speaker drivers: JBL 5.8mm dynamic
  • Maximum volume: 111dB SPL
  • Frequency response: 10Hz – 22kHz
  • Bluetooth version and profiles: 4.2, A2DP v1.3, AVRCP v1.6, HFP v1.6, HSP v1.2
  • Bluetooth transmitted frequency and power: 2.402GHz – 2.48GHz, <4dBm
  • Bluetooth transmitted modulation: GFSK, π/4, DQPSK, 8-DPSK
  • Battery type: rechargeable lithium-ion (3.7V 2x50mAH)
  • Battery life: up to 5 hours with audio and heart rate enabled
  • Battery charge time: Less than 2 hours
  • Controls: three-button controller, right earbud touch sensor
  • Connector: Micro-USB
  • In-ear heart rate monitoring
  • Touch control for on-demand heart rate
  • Heart rate workout tracking with real-time audio stats and heart rate zone coaching with UA Record
  • Bluetooth 4.1 – Compatible with most Bluetooth devices
  • JBL Signature Sound with PureBass performance
  • Twistlock™ Technology – Never to fall out
  • Three button mic with volume, music and call control
  • IPX5 Sweat Proof with Nano-coating protection

What’s in the Box

  • 1 pair of Bluetooth sport headphones
  • 4 sizes of ergonomic ear tips (5, 6, 7, and 8)
  • 1 micro USB charging cable
  • 1 premium zippered pouch
  • 12-month premium membership to MapMyRun
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What’s in the box…

Design

The JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones differ from the JBL UA Sport Wireless and JBL UA Wireless earbuds in two ways. The first noticeable design difference is the fact that the earbuds are attached to the end of an earloop on either side. The second, and less noticeable difference, is the key feature of these headphones and that’s the small heart rate sensor in the left earbud.

Aside from that, these headphones have a typical wireless earphone design. The two earbuds are connected with a single wire, with a remote control/battery unit placed just under the right earbud. The JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones also include a clip in the middle of the wire which you can attach to the neck of your shirt for added security and increased cable stability.

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The JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones.

The remote control/battery unit consists of three buttons: the middle multi-function (which turns the headphones on and off, answers/hangs up on calls, and plays/pauses the current track), a volume up/next track, and a volume down/previous track button. The microphone is located on the backside, and a small cover on the side is where you’ll find the Micro-USB charging port. At the bottom end of the top of the remote (the top being where your buttons are located) is an LED light that blinks blue or red depending on what it is indicating.

I’ve never been a big fan of the earloops that go over the ear, as I wear glasses which give the earloops less room over your ear and usually feel a bit weird and uncomfortable. While these felt a bit weird, they were pretty comfortable and once you find the right sized ear tip it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to dislodge the earbuds from your ears.

Ease of Use

On the headphone side of things, the JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones are pretty simple and easy to use. Once paired with your phone, simply insert the ear tip into your ear and rotate back before sliding the earloop up and over the top of your ear. Controlling music and calls works as expected, and is easy with the remote control unit.

The heart rate tracking function is just as easy to use, but it does require you to download and install the UA Record app. The headphones are compatible with other apps that support heart rate sensors as well like MapMyRun. If you use a UA Band, you can also start a workout from it and see heart rate updates from the headphones on your band.

Once you’ve installed the app and set up an account, simply start a workout and you’ll hear an audible “heart rate connected” message. If the headphones can’t detect your heart rate, it will tell you your left earbud needs adjusting. Once you’re adjusted properly, a simple tap of the right earbud will prompt the headphones to tell you what your current heart rate is. Once you finish your workout, you’ll hear a “heart rate disconnected” message letting you know that your heart rate is no longer being tracked.

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The heart rate monitor is on the inside of the left earbud.

It’s very convenient to just tap near your ear to get an update on your heart rate while working out, no need to check your wrist or smartphone for an update. During our testing, the heart rate reported by the headphones was pretty well in sync with what was being reported by the UA Band when we started a workout from UA Record and not the UA Band. When started from the UA Band, the heart rate was updated from the headphones and easily viewable on the UA Band.

Sound

Like the other JBL UA headphones, these offer crisp, clear sound. Various types of music sounded great, although they could definitely use a little more bass than they provide. Depending on your device, this can easily be rectified by enabling the equalizer in your music app to get the sound you want. Aside from that, everything from rock to EDM to classical and everything in between sounded clear and crisp, and there is a good balance between lows, mids, and highs.

Reception/Call Quality

The microphone is placed on the backside of the remote control/battery unit, and when wearing the headphones the placement offers clear communication when on a call. During our test call, I had no issues hearing the other party and they had no issues hearing me.

Battery Life

JBL claims that you’ll get up to 5 hours of battery life while listening to music with heart rate enabled. During repeated tests, I was able to get roughly 4 hours of battery life before needing to recharge the headphones. Music volume was just under two-thirds volume, and I had the heart rate monitor enabled checking it once every 15 minutes or so. As is the case with wireless headphones, the volume you listen to your music at definitely has an impact on battery life.

Given JBL claims up to 5 hours, it would have been nice to see another half hour to an hour squeezed out of these, but 4 hours is definitely plenty for most workout sessions or rides. Recharging the earphones took about an hour and 45 minutes each time we recharged them using the included Micro-USB cable.

Price/Value

With an MSRP of $199.95USD, the JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones are currently available for pre-order with shipping expected to start next week. The inclusion of a heart rate monitor definitely has value for athletes or those who like tracking their heart rate while exercising, cycling, running, or walking. The headphones also come with a 12-month premium subscription to MapMyRun (as do most other JBL UA headphones), which adds a bit of extra value.

Wrap-up

If you’re not keen on fitness trackers or heart rate straps and are looking for a solution to track your heart rate while working out while listening to music, the JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones definitely fit the bill and have you covered.

JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate
4.7 Out of 5
Nailed it
Great fit, comfortable, easy to use. Accurate heart rate monitoring. Crisp, clear sound.
Needs Work
It'd be nice to be able to check your heart rate without having to start a workout in UA Record. Battery life could be just a bit better.
Bottom Line
If you're not keen on fitness trackers or heart rate straps and are looking for a solution to track your heart rate while working out while listening to music, the JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones definitely fit the bill and have you covered.
Design4.75
Ease of Use5.00
Sound4.75
Reception/Call Quality5.00
Battery Life4.25
Price/Value4.50
*We were sent a review sample of the JBL UA Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones for the purposes of this review.
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