Jabra Sport Pulse full review
Jabra's Sport Pulse wireless in-ear headphones aim to help motivate you during your workout. They allow you to listen to your favourite music while they discreetly track your heart rate, offering regular updates on your workout progress without requiring you to look at your smartphone or a wrist-worn accessory. We've put the headphones through their paces to bring your our Jabra Sport Pulse review.
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Jabra Sport Pulse wireless review: Design & comfort
We'll start with the first thing you'll notice about the Jabra Sport Pulse headphones: the design and how comfortable they are to wear. It's a particularly important aspect of sports headphones as you'll want to be able to focus on your workout and forget about the tech you're using.
At first glace you'd think that the headphones are going to be really uncomfortable. They've got the usual headphone shape but with an extra portion that houses the heart-rate tracker and other tech sticking out at the bottom. Actually, that extra portion helps keep the headphones in place, and the small rubber wing that sticks up from the main portion of the headphone provides additional support.
I found the Jabra Sport Pulse headphones to be really comfy. They managed to stay in my ears for the majority of my workouts and runs, and after experimenting with the various different ear wings and headset buds provided (three wing sizes and four bud sizes) I managed to find a combination that suited me.
There were a couple of occasions when one of the earphones would move out of place slightly and therefore momentarily lose the ability to monitor my heart rate, but you'll be subtly alerted if this happens by the soft-spoken female voice that Jabra's used for the headphones, so you can quickly adjust them rather than get back to find that your workout wasn't recorded properly.
As the Jabra Sport Pulse headphones are wireless, connecting quickly and easily to your device via Bluetooth or NFC, there's just one reasonably short cable that sits behind your neck as you run. There are little clips provided to help you make this cable more comfortable, though I found that the cable had a tendency to find its way onto my shoulder, which was a bit irritating at times.
There are a few buttons on the headphones that allow you to control various things. For example, there's a remote control on the cable that lets you increase or decrease the volume, skip tracks or activate Siri if you're using an iPhone (there's a microphone there, too).
On the outside of the left earbud is a physical button that, when pressed, will give you an update on your workout progress.
To begin with, we loved the idea that the Jabra Sports Pulse headphones combine two potential wearables into one, meaning you won't need headphones and a wrist-worn gadget. There is one major downfall to this, though. If you decide you want to take the earbuds out at any point you'll no longer be tracking your heart rate. Plus, you'll need to find somewhere to store them if you want to take them off as the cable isn't secure enough to keep the headphones resting around your neck.
In terms of durability, the Jabra Sport Pulse seemed sturdy and robust during our testing, and they're water-resistant so you won't need to worry about sweat or rain.
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Jabra Sport Pulse wireless review: Fitness features & the Jabra Sport app
When it comes to actually using the Jabra Sport Pulse headphones during a workout, we think you'll be suitably impressed.
Paired with the dedicated Jabra Sport app, you'll be able to use the headphones to track activities including running, cycling, walking, hiking, skating or skiing, and even gym-based activities such as walking or running on a treadmill.
You won't be able to track your steps, but you will find information about the duration of your workout, the distance travelled, your average pace and an estimate of how many calories you burned. Of course, you'll also see your heart rate, which is also used to calculate when you're in the light training zone, fat burn, cardio, intense or maximum, all of which we found really interesting post-workout.
By default, the headphones will fade out your music and give you a workout update including distance (it utilises the GPS in your smartphone so you'll need to have it turned on), pace, heart rate and training zone every ten minutes or after every two kilometres, but if you feel that's too regular or not regular enough you can change it in the settings menu.
While we found the updates extremely useful, there were times when we'd prefer to zone out and just listen to music, so we adjusted ours to once every five kilometres or 15 minutes. You can also change the read-out volume, and content of the read-outs. For long-distance runners the updates will be a huge boon.
If you've got a particular goal in mind for your workout, you can set a target distance, time, calorie burn or pace, or set a target heart rate zone that you'd like to reach. Then, when you've reached that goal, you'll be congratulated by the headphones. You can also set up your own custom interval training workouts.
When you've finished your workout, you'll get a detailed summary, which can include a map of where you travelled, and an analysis of your heart rate during your workout. You'll also find out whether you beat your personal bests for the week, month or year.
Additionally, you'll be able to carry out fitness tests such as the Rockport endurance test, the Orthostatic Heart Rate test and the Resting Heart Rate test using the headphones and the Jabra Sport app.
Jabra Sport Pulse wireless review: Sound quality
It's a bit strange to be this far into a review of headphones and only just begin talking about sound quality, but it's not necessarily the most important element in this case.
The sound quality is certainly not the best we've experienced, but for sports headphones it sure does the trick. There's just enough bass to help motivate you during your workout but not too much that it becomes overpowering, and at high volumes there's a little distortion but you probably won't need them that loud, especially if you're out running or cycling and need to be aware of your surroundings.
That said, sound isolation is excellent and we found that leakage was minimal. You'll want to make sure that you're using the right sized rubber eartip to get a good seal, though.
If you're particularly concerned about sound quality you can try Jabra's Sound app, which comes free when you buy the headphones. It'll let you play music from your phone's music library or from YouTube, but with tailored acoustic tuning for Jabra headphones, optimised Dolby high-definition sound with virtual surround sound, bass enhancement and high frequency enhancement, a graphical equalizer and more.
If you'd prefer, you can play music from Spotify, Soundcloud and other services through the headphones while monitoring your workout – simply pick the service you want to use in the menu before you press 'Start'.
Jabra Sport Pulse wireless review: Battery & charging
You'll find that the Jabra Sport Pulse battery life is around 5 hours on a full charge, which we think is a bit disappointing. Having to charge headphones at all is something you'll need to get used to, but it's the price you pay for the huge benefit of no wires to get tangled up in during workouts.
The good news is that the battery level indicator you'll see when you launch the Jabra Sport app seemed to be very accurate during our testing, which is helpful it'll allow you to decide whether your battery is going to last the full length of your workout or whether you need to plug them in to get a bit of extra juice before you set off.
They charge through a microUSB cable, which attaches to the port expertly hidden on the right earbud beneath the rubber wing attachment.
Jabra Sport Pulse wireless review: Price & Availability
The Jabra Sport Pulse wireless headphones are available to buy in the UK now from various retailers including Amazon, but they come with a hefty price tag of £199.99. In the box you'll get everything you see above, including various wing and earbud attachments, a charging cable and a carry case.
You won't get the sound quality that you'd expect with any ordinary pair of headphones at this price, but for the added fitness extras it'll be a price that many sports enthusiasts are willing to pay.
Alternatives include LG's Heart Rate Monitor earphones that cost around £130 but require a data processing hub to be worn, while the SMS Audio Bio Sport Earbud with heart monitor are £130 but don't have the wireless quality that the Jabra Sport Pulse headphones boast.
Jabra Sport Pulse: Specs
- 16g, Bluetooth 4.0, up to 5 hours battery life, USB charging, NFC
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