Harman is entering the heart rate headphones fray this year with the help of Under Armour. Created under Harman’s JBL brand, the Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate headphones are the duo’s next generation of in-ear wireless headphones, coming after their first set of wireless in-ear headphones, which lacked heart rate monitoring. The new model is built to monitor the user’s heart rate throughout their workout while still providing the same high quality sound. Over a week and half, we tested the headphones using an iPhone SE while at the gym and in urban environments.
Right off the bat, the user will notice the lightweight headphones and soft silicone eartips. Fit is a big positive for these headphones. In the box, there are four sets of silicone eartips of different sizes. When worn for hours on end, the eartips never become tiresome. Adding stability and comfort, the eartips and flexible ear-loops add a sense of security to prevent the headphones from falling out. During the initial fitting, there’s a high possibility that the user will have some difficulty adjusting the headphones on the ear. However, it’s fairly intuitive after a few uses.
Wireless is incredibly noteworthy these days, but the Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate is not entirely wireless like the Samsung IconX earbuds. This is important to note as they may interfere with clothing such as hooded sweatshirts. But, a clip attached to the headphones can be snapped onto clothing. This will work in your favor in two ways: minimizing constant wire movement and reducing the chances that the headphones will fall to the ground if the earbuds ever come loose from your ears. When moving about in crowded areas, these headphones don’t tend to get caught on other items. It is a huge advantage that the Under Armour Sport Wireless Heart Rate does not get tangled.
Bluetooth connectivity is somewhat of a struggle at times, with disconnections that can often interfere with heart rate monitoring. Connectivity issues mostly cropped up when moving from a building to open air environments. There were also some range issues, as the music can be heard skipping at times. We tested this further by moving the mobile device away from the headphones and then closer. The connection became choppy when the device was further away from the headphones. JBL recommends that you place your phone in an arm band, which seems to be the ideal range. It’s definitely something to consider based on your workout gear preferences. And, if you’re concerned about battery life, the five-hour description is accurate. One charge managed to provide full performance throughout four one-hour workouts and some non-gym use.
As far as tech goes, fitness data from the headphones can be synced to Nike Running or the Under Armour Record app. Under Armour Record has all the frills and thrills for performance athletes like running trends, calories, nutrition, history of previous workouts, tracking of different types of activity, etc. The holistic look at fitness allows the user to not only focus on running, but provide insights for all types of workouts. Interest in the Under Armour Record App is bolstered by the ability to switch easily between high intensity workouts and everyday casual circumstances like walking down the street. Touch controls on the earbuds can be used to initiate heart rate monitoring, so there’s no need to open the app. Getting on with your day is as easy as walking off the treadmill and moving on.
When the sound was fully functional, we immediately noticed the strong bass from various songs, particularly rap and percussion-heavy alternative. At no point is it overwhelming, but quite noticeable compared to other headphones. As far as noise canceling, these headphones truly block out exterior sound, which is great for a crowded commute or loud gym. This may have its cons if you’re in an environment when others may need to communicate with you. For example, when asking if you’re done with a machine, the user will need to remove the headphones completely in order to fully understand anyone trying to talk to them.
The in-line ControlTalk remote has excellent responsiveness, which helps the headphones work efficiently with iOS, eliminating clumsy phone tussling when working out. Receiving updates on your heart rate is super simple with just a light touch on the right hand side of the ear piece. Calls are also easy to accept, should you want to use them at work or at home.