Committing to a single sport is hard: do you want to be a runner, a swimmer, a weight-lifter? While the JBL Endurance Peak can’t decide what type of athlete you are, its versatility allows you to experiment with different types of exercise. These IPX7 earbuds can be completely submerged in water, while the SportHooks mold comfortable to the ear and stay there during any workout.
Editor’s note: this review was updated to adjust scoring per new objective measures regarding battery life and connectivity.
Who is the JBL Endurance Peak for?
Athletes of any calibre will benefit from the JBL Endurance Peak workout earbuds. JBL’s Endurance line boasts products centered around durability and, well, endurance. The Peak includes a boxy, rugged charging case and IPX7 water-resistant true wireless earbuds. The certification means the ‘buds may be submerged up to one meter for 30 minutes at a time, which is great for casual swimmers.
Related: What makes good workout earbuds?
My first impression of the JBL Endurance Peak earbuds was that they would be far too cumbersome to be comfortable. Fortunately, I was proven wrong upon first listen. JBL’s PowerHook design comfortably wraps around the back of the ear without applying excessive pressure. I even found them comfortable to wear with glasses.
The PowerHook design plays nicely with glasses and applies an appropriate amount of force for a stable fit.
Said PowerHook also serves as an on/off switch for each earbud. The backsides of the nozzles house a small magnet, allowing the hook to latch onto itself. When it’s locked in, the earbuds automatically power off. If you want to enter mono mode—for safety reasons or otherwise—just keep one earbud in the case and use the other. It’s a nice alternative to bone conduction headphones with better audio quality.
Due to the strong magnets used to latch the charging case closed, the plastic and silicone construction feels premium. The case manages to feel durable while maintaining a lightweight and reasonably small footprint. The back left corner of the case can be used for looping cord through to hang it from your bag. Oddly enough, JBL omits the inclusion of a cord to use for this.
A cutout on the front edge reveals four notification LEDs, each of which represents a 25 percent charge. If all four are illuminated, the case’s battery is full. Transitioning over to the right edge is a microUSB input. It’s a shame that the case doesn’t charge via USB-C since cheap true wireless earbuds are starting to adopt the technology, but it’s not a deal breaker.
JBL outfitted the right earbud with touch-capacitive controls, which are intuitive to operate. Tapping the “L” on the right earbud for one, two, or three times pauses, skips, and plays the previous track respectively. In order to enter pairing mode, hold the right earpiece for five seconds.
While testing, controls were reliable but sometimes only volume controls worked. This was a strange occurrence that usually resolved itself within a few minutes. My only true complaint is that the JBL Endurance Peak doesn’t allow for hands-free virtual assistant access.
Working out is a breeze
I absolutely love working out with these earbuds. The PowerHooks are the most comfortable, secure earhook mechanism I’ve worn; though, the JBL Epic Air Elite and Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 earbuds are a close second. During runs, I kept to listening in mono mode with the right earbud to have quick access to playback controls and never doubted the stability of the earbuds.
Even though I didn’t double-dog-dare myself to take a polar plunge with the Peak earbuds, I did submerge them in water and they held up just fine. That said, if you do swim with these, allow them to dry off completely before placing them in the case.
As revealed by our objective testing, standalone battery life exceeded JBL’s listed four hours by clocking in at 4.22 hours of constant playback with a 75dB(SPL) output. The 1,500mAh charging case allows for an additional 24 hours of playback and surprisingly isn’t dual-purpose like we’ve seen in other large capacity cases.
A full charge cycle of the case charges via microUSB rather than USB-C, likely a cost-cutting measure. The Peak earbuds require two hours to complete a full charge and can quick charge when low on battery: 10 minutes in the case affords an hour of playback.
The JBL Endurance Peak uses Bluetooth 4.2, and connectivity is somewhat reliable within the 10-meter range. Stutters randomly occur from time to time but for the most part media playback is seamless. Of course, if there are physical barriers in the way, say a few sets of walls, connection strength may become more of an issue. During testing, though, connectivity never completely dropped.
Connectivity stutters are unavoidable but not unbearable with the Endurance Peak.
Like most workout earbuds, these don’t offer any high-quality Bluetooth codec support. Cardio enthusiasts who like to watch YouTube videos from the elliptical may want to consider something else since audio-visual lag is obvious.
Related: Bluetooth sounds good enough
Sound quality is interesting for a product billed for athletes since bass is not the prominent auditory force. Quite the contrary as our frequency response chart reveals that mids and harmonic frequencies receive the most emphasis, resulting in a perceptibly clearer sound than other workout headphones. The lackluster bass response is likely due to the just ok isolation properties of the JBL Endurance Peak earbuds. Since a strong seal isn’t formed, external noises mask the low-end. To get the most out of the bass response, be sure to use properly fitting ear tips or even invest in third-party options.
Lows, mids, and highs
Abhi the Nomad’s song Somebody To Love opens with bass guitar picking immediately followed by Abhi saying, “Yeah, another day another damn dollar.” Rather than the bass guitar obscuring the vocals, the separate frequency ranges compete for the listener’s attention when played through the JBL Endurance Peak. This isn’t necessarily unpleasant, but it’s odd since I know the bass guitar is supposed to sound much more prominent than it does.
That said Abhi’s voice comes through clearly during the initial verse. Once the song picks up at the chorus (0:48), a barrage of claps and cymbal hits enter and sound surprisingly tame. During the interlude (1:20), just the bass guitar and interspersed clapping fill the air and the claps become easier to hear. Generally speaking, cymbals and snare drum resonances are too emphasized. This creates a jarring sound that’s too loud relative to the attenuated low-end.
Should you buy it?
For $120, the JBL Endurance Peak feels like an absolute steal. True, it doesn’t support high-quality Bluetooth codecs and uses microUSB charging, but when it comes to true wireless workout earbuds, those seem like the smartest features to cheap out on so to speak. Seeing as these are an effective option for athletes of all varieties with an appealing price tag, the Endurance Peak is an easy recommendation.
The JBL Endurance Peak provides all the necessities for a great pair of workout earbuds at a cost-effective price.
In all fairness, not everyone enjoys an earhook design. If that’s the case for you, there are plenty of other workout earbuds like the True Wireless Flash by JBL or the JLab JBuds Air if you’re looking to spend less than $50. If you do end up giving the Peak a try, you may be surprised and fall in love with its PowerHook mechanism.
Still looking? Read up on our list of the best true wireless earbuds
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