The JBL Endurance Dive is JBL’s set of wireless waterproof earbuds for swimmers and are IPX7-certified to show for it. The company’s proprietary TwistLock mechanism allows for a comfortable and secure fit, making it easy to forget the large build of the headset. If you want a pair of swimming earbuds that double as a fine pair of workout earbuds, the JBL Endurance Dive should be in your bag.
Editor’s note: this review was updated on March 14, 2019, to reflect proper underwater usage.
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Who is the JBL Endurance Dive for?
As signified by the name, Dive, these waterproof earbuds are intended for swimmers. They provide 1GB of onboard storage, are IPX7 rated, and allow for a secure fit. In order to use the Endurance Dive underwater, you must play music directly from the earbuds. Using Bluetooth underwater renders them inoperable. Additionally, these are fine for land workouts like running and weight-lifting.
Related: What makes good workout earbuds?
Much like the JBL Endurance Peak, I was worried about the colossal size of the earbuds and thought they’d be uncomfortable. The Endurance Dive borrows the Peak’s PowerHook design, which wraps around the back of the ear with an appropriate amount of clamping force. Extending behind each earbud module is a rubber-coated cable connecting the two pieces. Although it’s flexible, it maintains its shape and follows the contours of the head well.
By attaching the hook to the back of the earbud nozzles, the headphones are automatically shut down. Detaching the hooks from the back of the nozzles automatically powers the JBL Endurance Dive on and forces it to automatically connect to the most recent source.
The earbuds are quick to auto-connect, and require the use of its 1GB storage capacity to function underwater.
It’s not just a magnet hidden beneath that silicone exterior, though; there’s 1GB of storage integrated into the headset. That means you can upload ~200 songs and take them anywhere with you, which is great. Doing so is as easy as plugging the earbuds into your computer and dragging and dropping your music to the headset—very early 2000s.
Touch controls are identical to those on the true wireless version of these earbuds. The right earbud houses all controls. Tapping the right earbud’s “L” one, two, or three times pauses, skips, and plays the previous track respectively. To begin pairing mode, just hold the same spot for five seconds. Volume controls require you to slide a finger up or down the earpiece lengthwise, which works most of the time. All of this is great but it’s disappointing that the JBL Endurance Dive lacks virtual assistant access. In order to switch between wireless listening and the songs uploaded directly to the headset, tap and hold the right earbud for three seconds.
Working out and swimming are great
JBL gets it right with its proprietary PowerHook, TwistLock, and FlexSoft technologies. The headset really is comfortable to wear during workouts of all kinds. Be sure to avoid the mistake I made, which was trying to swim with them while in Bluetooth mode. Doing so automatically disconnect anytime they take a plunge. However, the ~200-song capacity should be enough to keep you going during even the longest workouts.
Battery life is pretty good. Our objective testing showed that the JBL Endurance Dive can last 7.47 hours when subjected to a constant 75dB(SPL) output. This is just short of JBL’s listed eight-hour battery life, and if you play your music a bit quieter you can probably reach that.
If you happen to forget to charge the earbuds before a workout, they do support fast charging when the battery is low: 10 minutes attached to the microUSB cable provides an hour of music. While it would have been nice to see USB-C charging, the quick charging support is somewhat compensatory.
The JBL Endurance Dive uses Bluetooth 4.2 and supports only the SBC codec. Connectivity is fine on land, but the moment I entered the water, the earbuds immediately disconnected from my phone be it the LG G6 or the Samsung Galaxy S10e. In fact, the only time that the connection between the Dive and my phone completely dropped was when they were submerged. Other than that things were, only slightly below par.
While these look a bit like bone conduction headphones sound quality is better as a full seal, albeit a weak one, is formed with the ear canal. Due to the dubious isolation properties, bass response is lacking. Similarly to the Endurance Peak, outside noise is quick to mask low-end frequencies.
As shown by the isolation chart, the Endurance Dive isn’t the best performer when it comes to blocking out external noise, which corresponds to the underwhelming bass response. It’s not just the fit though, the Dive—like the Peak—places greater emphasis on higher frequencies. Doing so is likely strategic to feign clarity.
Lows, mids, and highs
Regina Spektor’s song Eet opens with her cycling through A#m-G#-C#-F# on the piano. While these aren’t bass-centric chords by any means, their fundamental frequencies lack a great deal of emphasis. This makes the song sound strange since it’s so clearly led by Spektor’s piano playing. That said, Spektor’s voice comes through rather clearly. In fact, her vocals are so clear in the first verse that it’s super easy to hear the contact between her tongue and forward palate in the word “it” at 0:25.
On the whole, it’s a pleasant sound, but it isn’t for everyone. I enjoyed it for its differences relative to most workout earbuds and headphones but felt something was severely lacking during my workouts. While I wouldn’t typically reach for exaggerated bass for at-home listening, most of us seek it out for exercise.
Should you buy it?
If you’re an avid swimmer who requires music in the lap pool, yes. While 1GB may not sound like much, it’s certainly enough to keep your ears occupied for many workouts before getting bored. Additionally, the media you upload to the headset isn’t static and may be modified via your computer at any time. Additionally, these serve as an operable pair of gym earbuds that fit well and have fine touch controls. That said, if money isn’t an issue, I’d recommend just jumping up to the JBL Endurance Peak for completely wireless listening.
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