The JBL Reflect Mini NC – BT, ANC, IPX7 earphones are for sporty types. Up to seven hours battery, active noise cancelling, smart ambient pass-through for street use, and my favourite – an ear fin for a secure fit.
JBL must be trying to set a record for earphones. At last count, it covered ‘drops’ (dorky Apple AirPod style), Club Pro series, Live series, cabled, Qualcomm True Wireless, and a massive range of features that its website helps you to focus on. Frankly, if you can’t find a JBL for you, then you are not looking hard enough. Let’s not even mention the range of over-the-ear headphones.
I like this brand for its absolute dedication to maintaining the distinctive JBL sound signature, whether in an earphone or a speaker. Simply put, JBL tries to remain faithful to the original musicians intent – content dictates the sound. It then provides a rich and easy to use EQ app to customise that to your listening profile.
JBL online and reputable CE retailers like JB Hi-Fi
Country of Manufacture
JBL (Est. the mid-40s) is short for James B Lansing (Yes, he was the Lansing in Altec Lansing as well.) Now it’s part of the Harman group of companies owned by Samsung.
You can read more GadgetGuy JBL news and reviews here.
Let’s define these earphones (in-ear canal)
Bluetooth 5.1 (latest)
TWS – Qualcomm’s True Wireless, meaning each bud joins to the host device (Dual Connect + Sync technology)
ANC – Adaptive Noise cancelling that changes to suit the environment. ANC is dependent on noise isolation as well via the right sized ear tip
Smart Ambient noise pass-through
TalkThru – lets you hear what others are saying without removing the earphones
Ear Fin – a fin that fits inside the outer ear to provide a secure fit
Hands-free and Voice assistants – Apple, Google or Alexa using tap to talk
JBL Headphone app for added value
The only feature it lacks is Qi case charging.
All tests were on default settings over a two week period where use varied from about an hour to an eight-hour day.
Being ANC, it needs effective noise isolation from the small, medium and large tips supplied. Unlike the JBL Club Pro+ (review here 9.1/10), it does not have the ‘fit my ear calibration’ that is really innovative. And like the Club Pro+, I needed large ear tips (I usually need a medium size in other brands) for good sound isolation. You know it is working when you can blame the headphones for not hearing your partner’s dulcet tones.
Battery – up to 7 hours with an additional 14 in the case
As is usual, battery life statements use lab tests – usually at 50% volume with BT on and ANC off. The reality is that with ANC on and volume at 75%, usable life is somewhere between 4-5 hours. With ANC, off can add 20%.
The case has a 3.7V/.3A/1.1W battery, and each earphone has 3.7/.05A/.19W batteries.
JBL recommends a 5V/.4A/2W charger (not supplied), but we long ago threw those out. Charge time using a standard USB-A 2.0 5V/1A/1W charger is about two hours. It has a USB-C connector but does not support PD charge. Ten minutes charge gives about 60 minutes of use.
ANC – excellent but not the class-leader
The app has an ANC tuning slider that looks like it allows you to ramp up ANC levels. No, it is about blocking specific frequencies. The slider is not intuitive and needs more explanation, e.g., to block voice, select X Hz.
In default mode, I found it effective in blocking a mechanical ‘clackety’ keyboard. But it seems to let more background voice though than others. Yes, the slider can fix that, but I am not sure how.
Ambient Aware – just enough to keep you aware
Ambient aware levels let just enough of the outside world in to feel safe when crossing roads, etc.
Talkthru – amplifies both the speaker and speakee
Particularly good for workers wanting to converse with colleagues. It is also good as this amplifies your voice in hands-free calls.
The app – the EQ offers superb customisation.
It is the standard JBL headphone app that morphs to the features your earphones have. I particularly like the drag and drop EQ and pre-sets for jazz, vocal, bass and custom. And this brings me to the point about the JBL sound signature. So many earphones and headphones give you what the maker thinks you want to hear – Apple and Bose, we are looking at you. JBL is rawer and natural, and the EQ is yours to play with. After two weeks of testing, I particularly like the jazz setting that ramps up the bass, recesses the mid and accentuates the treble for piano and brass instruments. But this setting is the opposite of clear vocal. No matter, it is easy to change.
And it has ‘Find my headphones’ – handy for such small devices.
Sound – excellent and customisable
Its default state is bass-forward (good mid-bass), and it is relatively flat (good) to about 18kHz. The maximum in-ear volume is 55dB that equates to about a speaker at 80dB (loud).
The sound stage is ‘within your head’ because its closed-back ANC exclude a more expansive space. I could listen to Blues Brothers all day – I did.
Comfort is a perception. Some love ear fins, and some don’t. The fins are there to stop them from falling out during exercise and do a fantastic job. The larger ear tips exert an evident pressure inside the ear canal, but you get used to that. Let’s just say you know they are there.
At 7g each, I found them comfortable enough for the eight-hour test (with a break at five hours to recharge).
Hands-free calling – loud and clear
JBL doesn’t state how many mics, but there appear to be two external and one internal on each bud. You get terrific hands free mic coverage in stereo mode as both buds are working in tandem – four mics. Callers commented on the clear voice even when I was jogging, OK, fast walking.
You can also use them in mono mode – one earphone (it does not matter which).
Buying anything JBL is a safe bet – the JBL Reflect Mini NC included. Sure there are probably many BT sports (IPX7) earphones, but the closest feature for feature is the Jabra Elite Active 75t (on sale at $199 from JB), so any decision comes down to established brands. But the Reflect Mini is also on sale at $199 from JB.
At the top end of sports earphones is Bose SoundSport at $296, Bose Sports at $299 and Audio-Technica SPORT7TW at $299. Having listened to most of them, I would say the JBL are the bargain without compromise.
JBL Reflect Mini NC
The JBL Reflect Mini NC – BT, ANC, IPX7 earphones are for sporty types. My favourite – ear fins for a secure fit.
Value for money
Ease of use
IPX7 – sweat resistant with ear-fins for a secure fit
Infinitely adjustable EQ from good bass to high treble
Good ANC – it costs a lot more to buy the class leader
Battery life is 5-7 hours
Black, white or blue colours
Reflective JBL Logo for night use
Great hands-free use
You need to use the app to set EQ for the music genre
No audio feedback on mode changes – need to view the app
Snug fit – typical of any ear fin earphones