It all started about halfway through a song by the British prog band Elbow. A new single called Dexter & Sinister picks up where Coldplay left off a few years ago. The bass slips into a brilliant mental breakdown, a back-up singer goes into full operatic mode. It’s immersive and cathartic -- even more so using a new set of earbuds I’m testing.
The JBL Under Armour True Wireless Flash are unique in that they are completely wire-free — no elongated chord to go around your neck, no Bluetooth interference. Many earbuds, including the Apple AirPods, don’t have enough oomph for bands like Elbow (or Taylor Swift, natch) but JBL solved that by pumping out more power. On my test song you can hear the screeching guitar and every rattle and tap on the drums.
And, you hear all of that for a longer period of time. The earbuds last five hours on a single charge, but the included carrying case provides another 20 (meaning, you can recharge four more times without reaching for a power cord).
The earbuds are fully waterproof so you can use them on a surfboard or wear them in the rain. I have to say, syncing over wireless is super easy -- just press and hold on either earbud and connect. Nice that the JBL Under Armour True Wireless Flash also turns on automatically once you fit them in your ears.
These are one of the first earbuds that passed my Starbucks test, too. They are not technically noise-canceling (which would require more power anyway), but they fit so snugly and there’s such a clear signal I had no trouble working around a bunch of loud coffee snobs. I activated a feature called Ambient Aware by pressing one earbud, which lowers the music volume so I can hear people talking to me nearby. On a test call, the person on the other line sounded clear and crisp (thanks test call person). I even liked how the carry case has a small strap that I could attach to my commuter bike bag. Nice touch.
Are they for you? At $170, the sound quality trumps the AirPods, which cost $159, last about the same amount of time, but are not even remotely waterproof. | Shop at JBL >
Scouted is internet shopping with a pulse. Follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter for even more recommendations and exclusive content. Curious about a specific product? Let us know! Don’t forget to check out our coupon site to find great deals from your favorite brands. Please note that if you buy something featured in one of our posts, The Daily Beast may collect a share of sales.