We’ve reviewed so many headphones here at Techaeris that it’s hard to get excited about most of the new offerings. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say we don’t enjoy reviewing headphones and there are plenty of decent pairs out there, but it takes something different to get us excited sometimes. For some reason, o.k., fine… the first time I saw these, my inner 80’s child cried out in joy with how retro-cool they looked and I couldn’t wait to be able to take these for a review spin.
The JLab Audio Rewind Wireless Retro headphones have the following features and specifications:
- 12-hour Bluetooth playtime
- Bluetooth 4.2
- 36mm driver
- EQ3 Sound: Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost
- Built-In Microphone: Answer & hang up phone calls
- Controls: Play, pause, & track forward
- Activate Siri, Google Assistant, & others
- Lightweight design: .14 lbs. (2 oz.)
What’s in the box
- JLab Audio Rewind Wireless Retro headphones
- Two sets of foam ear cushions
- Micro-USB charging cable
- One Year Warranty
Of course, it’s been almost 30 years since the first Sony Walkman headphones came out and at least 20 since I last used my Discman, but damn if the JLab Audio Rewind Wireless Retro headphones don’t come close to being an exact replica with a few minor changes.
The originals had a black plastic headband and the earphones were attached with thin adjustable metal sliders. The Rewind Wireless are the reverse of this and sport a thin, narrow metal headband attached to a pair of black plastic earpiece holders. On the underside of the headband is a flat plastic coated wire which connects the earphones together. Each earpiece holder allows the metal headband to slide up and down for a better fit. The holders angle outwards towards the back, so there’s no confusing which way these go, and wrap around a circular centerpiece with the JLab Audio logo on it. The earpieces tilt back and forth on these to further give a proper fit. The stem of the right earpiece holder has the JLab wordmark stamped into it.
The earpieces themselves are covered with the familiar foam earpad that the Sony Walkman headphones of yesteryear were so famous for. Our review sample came with black foam earpads, and you can also get blue and white variants. I can happily say that all three variants also include the classic orange foam earpads. I won’t deny that I immediately removed the black ones and replaced them with the orange ones. When the foam earpads are removed, you can see the 36mm drivers through the plastic speaker grilles. On the right earpiece, on the bottom of the plastic underneath the foam is a Micro-USB port and an LED light which blinks red or blue depending on the current function. The location of the port is about my only complaint about the headphones as it’s a bit difficult to get to given its location and also the fact that its covered by the foam earpad.
The circular centerpiece on the right earpiece doubles as a multi-function button, more on that in the ease of use section. Basically, you use it to turn the headphones on and off, as well as control playback, the equalizer, answer/hang up on calls, and invoke your digital assistants like Siri or the Google Assistant.
Given their simple throwback design, the JLab Audio Rewind Wireless Retro headphones are lightweight and comfortable to wear. And as I’ve mentioned a few times already, the retro 80’s-style is pretty bang on and everyone who’s seen them has commented how they used to have a pair for their Walkman or Discman “back in the day.”
Ease of Use
If you’ve used Bluetooth headphones before, the JLab Audio Rewind Wireless Retro are just as easy. Holding the right button for 8 seconds will turn them on and trigger the Bluetooth pairing mode. Look for JLab Rewind on your iPhone or Android device, pair, and you’re good to go. Holding the button for 4 seconds will turn them off and holding it for 2 seconds while it’s off will turn them back on.
As far as playback control, pressing the button once will play or pause the current track, as well as answer or hang up a phone call. Pressing and holding for two seconds will skip to the next track. Pressing it twice will launch Siri or Google Assistant, while pressing it three times will toggle to the next of the three available EQ settings.
In fact, JLab Audio even created a video showing just how easy they are to use.
With headphones and earbuds, the price is usually a direct correlation to sound quality. Sure, we’ve tested expensive headphones that don’t justify the price due to mediocre sound quality but we’ve also tested a few cheaper headsets that surprised us with the sound quality. Thankfully, the Rewind Wireless Retro fall into the latter quality. At normal volumes, the sound is crisp, clean, and nicely balanced between mids, lows, and highs.
The addition of three onboard EQ settings — Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost — lets you fine-tune the sound without having to dive into your smartphone’s EQ settings. Signature mode enables the JLab C3 signature sound with amplified bass and vocals (my preferred setting), Balanced gives you an even (if somewhat flat) sound, while Bass Boost amps up the bass. In all modes, the sound was crisp and clear with the expected tendencies based on what EQ mode you have it set to.
The only issue with the sound quality on these is that they start to distort when above 85% or so volume. To be honest, the volume at 60-75% is more than ample for most tracks but distortion in the form of crackling does happen at higher to max volume so it’s worth mentioning. It’s definitely not a deal breaker though considering how loud these actually are at listenable volumes. After writing this bit up, I revisited the distortion and it actually only seems to be the right earpiece so it’s possible it’s an anomaly with our review sample. Either way, they’re plenty loud at lower volumes that I don’t see how anyone can listen to them at volumes where the crackling starts.
JLab Audio also suggests a 40-hour burn in time for optimal sound but to be honest, I didn’t notice any difference after using them beyond 40 hours of use. Then again, given the fact I remember this style when it first came out, my hearing could just be going!
I had no issues with reception when streaming from my Android smartphone. With the phone on the kitchen table, I could head outside to the far corner of the backyard or up or downstairs to the opposite side of the house and still have a solid signal.
Call quality is pretty decent as well, although I usually feel like I am talking louder than required when using them as a microphone for an incoming call. The other party during our test call indicated that they had no issues hearing me and said it sounded fine. Voice activation for Siri and Google Assistant worked great as well and Google Assistant had no issues picking up my questions and promptly answering.
JLab Audio claims the Rewind Wireless Retro have a battery life of 12 hours between charges. During testing, we achieved just around the 11 1/2 to 12-hour mark multiple times, so these will definitely last you all day. Once depleted, the headphones take about 3 hours to fully recharge.
With an MSRP of $20USD, these headphones are definitely in impulse buy territory for their nostalgic look alone. However, given the sound quality at regular volume levels, you are getting more than your money’s worth in value as well. To be honest, I’m sure JLab Audio could probably get away with charging $30 for these… I’d give these a 20/10 for Price/Value if I could!
The JLab Audio Rewind Wireless headphones have been a huge hit since their recent release and the company is officially launching them in store with BestBuy with a discount. From June 17- June 23, both black and blue colors will be available for only $15.99 both on the Best Buy website and in stores, which is a no-brainer for these retro-styled wireless headphones.
The JLab Audio Rewind Wireless Retro Headphones aren’t the flashiest or most luxurious wireless headphones you can get on the market. However, as I mentioned, they are more than worth the price for the retro look but definitely impressed with the decent sound quality and built-in EQ as well. As such, they’ve definitely earned a Top Pick of 2018 here at Techaeris.
*We were sent a sample of the JLab Audio Rewind Wireless Retro headphones or the purposes of this review.
JLab Audio Rewind Wireless Retro$20 USD
Ease of Use9.5/10
- Bang on retro design
- Fantastic sound
- Onboard equalizer
- 12h+ battery life
- Voice assistant activation
- VERY affordable
- Micro-USB port is a bit of a pain to get to
- Sound distorts at max volume