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Jam Live True
May 31, 2017
82 x 51 x 27 mm
Keeping up with the latest and greatest true wireless earbuds is tiring, but the Jam Live True tries to standout with its fabric wrap design and dual-purpose charging case that provides an extra 15 cycles to the earbuds’ standalone battery life. With the rise in cheaper true wireless earbuds though, the $100 market is becoming rather saturated, making it harder for products like the Jam Live True to stand out from the crowd.
Who is the Jam Live True for?
- Athletes. If you’re in need of true wireless earbuds to get you through your workout, the IPX4 water-resistant ‘buds can do it. Plus, the cloth wrap makes it easy to grip the earbuds with sweaty fingers, like the ribbed design of the Rowkin Ascent Micro.
- General consumers. If you don’t want to fumble with wires nor spend upwards of $150 for top-tier true wireless models, this is a solid middle-ground option that provides ample on-the-go battery life.
Listeners get four pairs of silicone ear tips that vary in size, three individual backup ear tips (S, M, L), a micro-USB charging cable, the charging case, and true wireless earbuds.
How is the Jam Live True built?
Much like the previously reviewed Jam Ultra True, the Live True case and earbuds are enveloped by a textured fabric that makes it easier to grip. While it’s a functional design, it’s not necessarily the most striking or appealing and is reminiscent of the JBL Flip line of waterproof speakers.
Both earbuds house inlaid buttons, which offer minimal functionality. Listeners can’t skip tracks or adjust volume via the earpieces; they can, however, play and pause music and answer calls. While the earbuds don’t feature integrated Google Assistant support, they are compatible with various virtual assistants.
Playback control is limited as users can only play or pause music and can’t even skip tracks.
The charging case stands as the highlight of Jam Live True as it provides an extra 15 charge cycles. Although in all fairness, you may get less out of it if you end up doubling up on charges and using it for your smartphone as I did. The case’s mechanics are nearly identical to its predecessor seeing as it slides out from the shell and features the same silicone port cover.
Plan on working out? You can do better than these
Isolation and fit aren’t great. The former degrades audio quality since a fair amount of background noise permeates the weak seal, and the latter made me worried about the earbuds plopping out while jogging and working out. Then again, the IPX4 rating does mean you can breathe a sigh of relief if water spills on them.
The mic makes voices sound hollow
While the microphone isn’t as bad as that found on the Soul Emotion true wireless earbuds, it’s not great. The presumably omnidirectional polar pattern allows voices to remain audible, but my conversation with a frustrated customer service rep forced me to switch back to my LG G6’s microphone because he kept having a hard time hearing what was being said.
As with all wireless headphones and earbuds, we subjected the Jam Live True earbuds to a consistent 75dB(SPL) output until the battery life depleted. Although the earbuds are given a 3-hour standalone time, we found they lasted 3.56 hours under these conditions, a pleasant surprise seeing as many true wireless earbuds fall short of their listed playback times.
These operate via Bluetooth 4.1, which seems a bit archaic in an age where more and more devices come with Bluetooth 5.0 support to boot. The firmware’s age shows, too; just as Adam struggled with connectivity on the Jam Ultra True, the Jam Live True have the same follies. Autoconnect is finicky at best and connection stability is dubious even in low-traffic areas like my 900-squarefoot apartment.
How do the earbuds sound?
To be frank, they don’t sound twice as good as the JLab JBuds Air or even the Monoprice True Wireless. They can, however, get loud. Whereas I typically listen to earbuds around 50 percent of my phone’s volume, I kept these down to 25-30 percent during regular listening.
The frequency response chart reviews the altered, bass and mid-centric sound signature, which is audible to an untrained ear. The bass emphasis was useful in the gym, but for casual listening, there are better and cheaper alternatives.
Lows and mids
The bass guitar in Fleetwood Mac’s song Rhiannon is loud, even compared to the drum hits, but clarity is severely lacking. The song sounds like it’s missing a lot of its character and charm, especially as it pertains to the resonance of Stevie Nicks’ vocals. Unfortunately, the harmonic resonance of her raspy vibrato as she sings the word “life” at 1:00, is completely masked by the drums and keyboard.
Highs are reproduced with even less emphasis and clarity as demonstrated by the song Little Shadow by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Hi-hats are a constant throughout the song, and what should sound like a powerful, defined crash of drumstick to cymbal is relayed as an underwhelming cymbal hit. On the flipside, the harmonic frequencies that reverberate from the opening guitar picking is surprisingly well-replicated relative to the hi-hats.
Should you buy the Jam Live True?
If you’re committed to the Jam brand or are drawn in by the fabric wrap design, yes, these are a fairly affordable pair of true wireless earbuds that are just fine. For just under $100, though, listeners should expect something better than “suitable” or “fine” for their listening purposes, and can easily find comparably priced, better-sounding options out there.
Aside from the increased battery life, it's hard to justify buying this over the Jam Ultra True seeing as they share identical designs.
Perhaps you like the idea of the dual-purpose charging case but don’t like the unreliable fit and generally bunk sound; if that’s the case, then the Rowkin Ascent Charge+ is an excellent pick. It includes a Qi Wireless charging pad, dual-purpose charging case, and touch capacitive earbuds that form a cogent seal for $139. In fact, as of publishing the Ascent Charge+ comes with an extra $20 discount.
Still looking? Read up on our list of the best AirPods alternatives