There’s so much to like about the JBL Reflect Aero headphones, which offer a similar experience to the Reflect Flow Pro but at a lower price.
- Secure fit
- Sound quality
- Long battery life
- Reflect Flow Pro have more battery
- Wind noise issues when using awareness modes
- Reflect Flow Pro often discounted to same price
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The JBL Reflect Flow Pro buds are among the best sports headphones I’ve tested and I was also impressed by the JBL Reflect Mini NC buds when I tried them. Given that the Reflect Aero headphones stick to a similar formula, it’s not surprising that I rate them highly too. The Reflect Aero are a little cheaper than the Flow Pro buds, making them the best option for sports use in JBL’s range.
JBL Reflect Aero: Price And Availability
The JBL Reflect Aero headphones are available now and cost $149.95 in the US and £119 in the UK, which is cheaper than the $179.95/£159.99 RRP of the Reflect Flow Pro. However, the Pro headphones are often available for the same price as the Aero – JBL is selling them for £119 in the UK at the moment.
Design And Fit
The Reflect Aero have a similar design to the Flow Pro, but the headphones and the case are smaller. The buds are still fairly big, though, compared with alternatives like the Jaybird Vista 2 or Jabra Elite 4 Active. They have an in-ear tip and a wing, with three sizes of each included in the box.
The headphones sit securely in the ear once you have picked out the correct wing. I did have to go for the largest wing to keep the buds in place during sweaty runs on hot days, and if I wore the buds for longer than a couple of hours this large wing would cause a little pressure on my ear. Overall, though, I’d say the Reflect Aero are surprisingly comfortable for in-ear buds with a wing.
The case has a large loop on it that makes it easier to attach to running belts and backpacks, and though it isn’t as small as others it fits into a pocket easily enough.
Each bud has a touch panel on the outside that you can set up in the app with your preferred controls. These include changing the sound mode from active noise cancellation (ANC) to awareness, playback and volume controls. The panel was responsive and easy to use even with sweaty hands on the run, with a little beep each time you touch it so you can get the right amount of taps to trigger the desired effect. There is also a voice prompt to let you know which sound mode you are in, which is helpful.
The headphones come in four colours – white, black, blue and mint green – and are dustproof. They have an IP68 rating, which means they can be submerged in water up to 1.5m deep for 30 minutes. You need have no concerns about their durability for sports use.
Sound quality, ANC and awareness
The sound quality of the Reflect Aero is comparable to the Flow Pro’s, which is to say very good. The sound profile is heavy on the bass as standard, though you can adjust the EQ in the app using preset profiles or by creating your own. Even at maximum volume I didn’t experience any distortion and the higher ranges are always clear even if you opt for a bass-forward set-up.
I found that the ANC made a difference, when travelling in particular, though the secure in-ear fit blocks out a lot of external noise passively already. You can choose to set the exact amount of noise cancellation you want or use adaptive ANC, where the buds will automatically adjust the level of ANC based on your surroundings.
There are two awareness modes on the buds: ambient aware and TalkThru. Both of these allow in more external noise, but TalkThru is designed to allow you to have a conversation without taking your headphones out. You can hear people clearly in both modes. I didn’t notice any real difference in the sounds that filtered through when switching between ambient aware and TalkThru, but both are useful at times. In the app you can set the amount of sound you want coming in when using the ambient aware mode.
Unfortunately, when using the awareness modes during outdoor runs there was a lot of wind noise, to the point where they were not useful in increasing awareness. They are handy when in a gym or office so you don’t miss someone speaking to you, but during runs I found it better just to take one bud out.
The Reflect Aero buds last eight hours on a charge and there is another 16 hours of power in the case, with those numbers dropping to seven and 14 hours if you have the ANC turned on. You can also get four hours of use out of the buds from a 15-minute charge.
Those are good numbers, though the Reflect Flow Pro last slightly longer (10 hours in the buds, 20 more in the case). Also, in one instance the right bud wasn’t sitting correctly in the case and didn’t charge, which was surprising given the magnets that pull the headphones into the case with a satisfying click.
Are The JBL Reflect Flow Pro Worth It?
The JBL Reflect Aero are great headphones for exercise and general use, and a genuine rival to the Jabra Elite 4 Active, which I rate as the best sports headphones. The two sets cost the same in the UK – though the Jabras are cheaper in the US at $119 – but the wings on the Reflect Aero provide a more secure fit. I found the Jabras secure enough for sports and more comfortable because of the wingless design, but if you want peace of mind on the fit front then the Reflect Aero offer it.
One thing that does muddy the waters is that if you shop around the Reflect Flow Pro are generally available for the same price as the Reflect Aero. Even on JBL’s UK site at the time of writing, both sets of headphones are £119. The Reflect Flow Pro are similar and offer more battery life, so may be worth grabbing instead if you do find them at the same price.
Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.