JBL SoundGear Sense Open-Ear Earbuds Review

JBL has launched brand new open-ear wireless earbuds, allowing you to stay aware of your surroundings while enjoying music or podcasts. The JBL SoundGear Sense is available for just £130. In this SoundGear Sense open-ear earbuds review, we going to deep dive into its design, comfort, audio quality, app support, and battery life to determine whether it’s worth the investment or not.

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Design and Comfort

JBL SoundGear Sense Open-Ear Earbuds Case Design

First, you may have noticed that the case for the SoundGear Sense is rather enormous, It kind of reminds me of a suppository, it is reasonably skinny, and its rounded design allows it to slip into a pocket or a purse without much kerfuffle. When you pop open the case, you’ll find the SoundGear Sense. It features a bit of LED action on the front of the case. When the buds themselves pair up, a little blue LED flashes on them as well. Getting them on your ears isn’t too tricky. You’ll quickly get used to it. The little ear hooks can rotate out, which helps you hook them over your ears comfortably.

Design and Comfort

The fact that the ear hooks rotate and the buds themselves can be adjusted up and down means that the earbuds should fit various ear sizes and shapes. Despite their bulky appearance, the SoundGear Sense earbuds only weigh 13 grams each, making them comfortable to wear for extended periods.

The idea with these buds is that instead of sitting inside your ear canals and blasting music straight into your brain, they sit just outside your ears. They channel music into your ears from the outside. If you’re not a fan of traditional true wireless earbuds because they feel uncomfortable or claustrophobic, these are worth considering as an alternative.

As for the design, it gives off a strong early 2000s businessman vibe, like rocking a pair of Bluetooth headsets because you’re just that important. Whether it suits you or not is a matter of personal preference.

JBL SoundGear Sense with support Necklace

If you don’t want to wear the buds all day long, a nifty necklace is included in the box, You can wedge the ends of the buds into slots on the necklace and wear them around your neck. It might be a bit unconventional, but at least they’re readily accessible when you need them. JBL SoundGear Sense buds are also IP54 water and sweat-resistant, so there’s no need to worry if you get a bit moist from jogging.

Setup and JBL Headphones app

JBL Headphones App Features

The JBL SoundGear Sense connects to your phone via Bluetooth 5.3, and it offers Android quick pairing. Once you’re connected, you’ll receive a prompt to download the JBL Headphones app, which is worth doing, While it may not be the most comprehensive true wireless earbuds app in the world, it does offer several standard features.

In the app, you can quickly check the battery life of your earbuds and the charging case. There’s also an equalizer a Find My Buds feature, and a couple of tools that aren’t always found in these types of apps. This includes a Left-Right sound balance slider. Additionally, you can set the SoundGear Sense to automatically power off when not in use, which helps conserve battery life.

The app also provides the usual quick start guides, general facts, and the option to update the firmware.

Touch controls and Voice Assistance

Touch Control Customization

In the app, you can customize the touch controls of the JBL SoundGear Sense, though the customization options are rather limited. By default, the left bud controls the volume, while the right bud handles your media controls, such as play, pause, and track skipping. You can also press and hold either bud to activate your smartphone’s voice assistant. Both buds have touch controls, but unfortunately, you can’t personalize each individual tap or double tap action. Your options are to change the volume controls to playback controls or disable them entirely.

It’s the same for the right bud, but the controls are reversed. Personally, I found these touch controls a bit tricky to get used to. I often tapped the wrong part of the buds, usually towards the fleshy part of my ear. In reality, you only need to tap the part of the buds closest to your face. Fortunately, if you make a mistake like I did, you’ll receive audio feedback to let you know if your tap was successful. You’ll hear a quiet tone every time you interact with the buds, indicating whether it was a double tap, triple tap, or if it didn’t register at all.

The voice assistant feature generally works fine. To activate it, simply place your finger on either bud and hold it there. The assistant should pop up, and you’ll receive an audio confirmation in your ear. Occasionally, I experienced situations where I’d long-press my finger, get the initial tone feedback, but the assistant wouldn’t activate. This might be an early issue or possibly user error on my part.

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Audio Quality

Audio Quality

The SoundGear Sense buds deliver what JBL terms its signature sound, powered by mighty 16.2-millimeter drivers. The drivers are impressively large for a pair of true wireless earbuds which makes sense given the substantial size of these earbuds themselves.

I have to admit that I typically prefer the sound quality from in-ear buds, as I find that having audio blasted into your ears from the outside can lead to some loss of finer details, even if it’s just a slight separation. However, I must say I’m incredibly impressed with the sound quality of the JBL SoundGear Sense, despite this slightly clunky sentence.

No matter what genre of music I listened to, it all sounded good and delivered a robust audio experience. Surprisingly, these JBL earbuds produce a strong amount of bass, especially considering that they sit outside your ears. While you do lose some of the finer details, the overall sound quality is still quite impressive.

Additionally, within the JBL Headphones app, you have access to various equalizer presets, such as Jazz, Vocal, Bass, Club, and Studio. You can also create your own equalizer settings, fine-tuning the on-screen visual equalizer to match your personal preferences.

Audio bleed

It’s important to note that with a pair of open earbuds like these, you will experience a fair amount of audio bleed. In quiet environments, such as a cafe or office, anyone sitting within a few feet of you will be able to hear a somewhat tinny rendition of whatever you’re listening to. So, if you’re secretly enjoying the Vengaboys or any other guilty pleasure, be prepared to be instantly busted.

Regarding the microphone, it’s located right below my chin, and it’s picking up an all-time banger in the background.

As you might expect with open earbuds like the JBL SoundGear Sense, there’s no form of noise cancellation, active or passive, because they don’t create a seal between your ears and the outside world. Consequently, they’re not very effective in noisy environments, such as a screeching subway or a bustling train station. You’ll hear every little noise and commotion around you.

Additionally, I found it challenging to listen to audiobooks or podcasts while strolling down a busy street with cars passing by. Even with the volume turned up, I sometimes missed a word or two. However, if your goal is to listen to music while jogging and remain aware of your surroundings, these earbuds are up to the task. They’re also well-suited for listening to audiobooks and podcasts in quieter environments like cafes or offices, where you want to maintain awareness of what’s happening around you.

Mic Call Quality

Indeed, the JBL SoundGear Sense earbuds come equipped with built-in microphones, which is excellent for utilizing your smartphone’s voice assistant. These microphones also come in handy when taking calls while wearing these earbuds. It’s almost like a throwback to the early 2000s when Bluetooth headsets were all the rage.

My voice is picked up clearly. But what happens when we introduce a lot of disruptive background noise, such as heavy traffic? Well, even in these challenging conditions, the JBL SoundGear Sense does a commendable job of picking up my voice and distinguishing it from the cacophony of noise happening around me.

Battery life

JBL SoundGear Sense Battery life

JBL claims you’ll get a full six hours of audio playback from the SoundGear Sense on a single charge, and I found that this prediction was pretty accurate. In fact, I sometimes managed to get a bit more than six hours, which is quite impressive. This extended battery life is likely aided by the fact that these earbuds don’t have noise cancellation features, and they probably have sizable batteries inside.

Given that they pack mighty 16-millimeter drivers, around six hours of playback per charge is slightly above average, especially for over-ear true wireless earbuds like these. When you do need to recharge them, simply place them back in the case, which, as you mentioned, is reminiscent of a Kraken suppository. Just 15 minutes in the case will give you a substantial four hours of playback.

You can expect to get approximately three full recharges of the SoundGear Sense buds from the case before the case itself needs to be recharged. This is quite good, considering that most true wireless earbuds offer around two to two and a half full charges, although those cases are generally about half the size of this one. Recharging the case takes a couple of hours, but it’s a straightforward process. Just connect it using a Type-C USB cable, and you’ll receive alerts from the LED indicators and the app when the case needs a recharge.

Final Though

Thats the review JBL SoundGear Sense true wireless earbuds are open earbuds, not lodging themselves inside your ears. If you have any reservations about inserting things into your ear, they are worth considering. Priced at around $130, they offer strong audio quality, decent battery life, and more. However, keep in mind that you will remain aware of everything happening around you, which can be advantageous in some situations but less so in others.

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