I don't do product reviews very often but it's something I do really enjoy doing. Love getting my hands on new kit / technology and then looking for faults in it. Maybe it's from my computer programming background, who knows, but either way you can be sure, I've put these headphones through their paces.
What am I reviewing?
1 pair of JVC HA-EC30BT-Y Bluetooth headphones (right)
Both models come in a variety of colours.
The HA-ET50BT come in: black, blue and yellow
The HA-EC30BT come in: black, blue, red and yellow
What JVC say about these headphones:
- Wireless connection with Bluetooth
- 9 hours of listening with built-in rechargeable battery for the HA-EC30BT and 8 hours for the HA-ET50BT
- In-line 3-button remote and mic
- Water resistance: headphone units IPX5, remote unit IPX4
- Pivot Motion Fit and dimples on the unit provide comfortable and stable fit while running (HA-ET50BT)
- Headphones with magnetic clasp for wearing around neck etc. when not in use
- Open type earpieces allow users to be aware of ambient noise while running
- Supports AE Run & Music training app for smartphones
What I say about these headphones:
Before I go into the details of the review, I'll give a bit of background about how I tested the headphones and how many miles I've ran with them.
The headphones arrived pre-public release so I had to wait a while before publishing any details about them, that in itself was exciting. I wondered why I was sent two pairs though, I couldn't see any massive difference between the two sets, other than the way that the headphones fit in your ear, but I'll come to that in a moment.
I was sent a black pair (ET50BT) and a yellow pair (EC30BT) and for the rest of the review, I'll refer to them as black or yellow, as it's easier than using their product name!
Bluetooth connection: Really easy to setup and both pairs sync'd with my Samsung Galaxy S7 phone really easy. I was up and literally running within about 5 minutes of the headphones arriving in the post. I'd been looking to replace my wired sennheiser headphones for a while now as the wire kept on getting in my way when running. The cable on the JVC headphones is small enough to stay out of the way and sits just at the back of your neck. Really comfortable and hardly noticed it at all. The photo on the box makes it look like the cable is solid, it's not. It's just a cable.
Battery life: I haven't been for runs of 8 or 9 hours to fully test how precise the claim is but I have used both sets for a week of morning runs and not had to recharge them. To charge the headphones is as simple as plug the USB cable into your computer and the other end into the headphones, job done!
I've done a quick charge of 15 minutes and had enough power to get me through a 6 mile easy run. Handy if you are caught out and really want music!
In-line remote and mic: Super easy to use, 2 buttons for turning the volume up or down and the middle button to turn the headphones on or off. The buttons are shaped differently but I think I'd maybe prefer the volume buttons to be raised slightly higher than the power button. This would make it easier to identify if my finger is on the volume or the power button while running. You can't see the buttons when you have the headphones in your ears so it's down to trial and error. The good thing is, the power doesn't cut off straight away, you do need to hold the button down a couple of seconds which gives you just enough time to realise the volume isn't changing and you must be on the wrong button. When powering the headphones on and off, they do make a short noise to let you know they have powered on or off. Handy as it could be quite easy to think you've turned them off and you hadn't.
I tend not to answer my phone when running so I haven't tested the mic and to be honest, I think this feature is a 'nice to have' rather than a function that runners would use regularly. I don't know many people who would have a phone call while out running.
Water resistance: Running in Scotland does mean I've had these headphones out in some pretty heavy downpours! I've had no issues with them in the rain.
IPX-4 offers protection from a splash of water in any direction for at least 5 minutes
IPX-5 offers protection from a 6.4mm spray of water (12.5 litres per minute) in any direction for at least 3 minutes
So, don't go for a shower or a swim with them on. If you are running with them on, even in a downpour, I reckon they would be fine.
Pivot Motion Fit: This applies to the black headphones and I found these perfect for long runs. The pivot motion locks the headphones nicely into my ear and I've ran some of my long runs (15+ miles) with them on and had zero issues.
The yellow set (EC30BT) took a bit of setting up. Both sets of headphones come with a selection of rubber ear buds and I've tried all the different sizes, small, medium and large and I'm still trying to decide what works best with the yellow headphones. I'm not sure if the bigger buds give a more secure fit or if the smaller buds allow the headphones to sit deeper in the ear and make them more secure. If I find the answer I'll update this blog!
Magnetic Clasp for wearing around neck when not in use: I thought this was a bit of a gimmick, why would I want this as a feature but in actual fact, it's a great idea. I just pull the earphones out and the two buds stick together which prevents them falling off when not in use. I've used it a couple of times when out walking and but I did try to use this feature when running but I found the headphones bounced too much so ended up putting them in my pocket.
Open type earpieces allows users to be aware of ambient noise while running: Does what is says on the tin, however, due to the fact that they are still 'in-ear' headphones, they are banned by UK Athletics for use during races. Not that I use headphones when racing but if you were tempted to use these during a race, I'd advise against it as it may lead to a disqualification!
This is probably where the difference in the headphones becomes more obvious for me as well. The black pair seemed to block out more noise than the yellow pair. Maybe this is because the black pair have the pivot motion fit and so give a tighter fit in the ear. The yellow pair are great when running on busy cycle paths as I can still hear someone ring a bell on their bike when approaching.
Support AE Run & Music training app for smartphones: This is true, I did download and install the app but I'd say it's not worth it. If you have spotify / itunes on your phone then I'd stick with that. The app is very basic and it requires you to have MP3's on your phone, which I tend not to have. I just stream it.
I really like the JVC headphones, both sets fit well once you find the right rubber bud to use. The sound quality is fantastic, even at a low volume my tunes sound great. Compared with my wired sennheiser headphones, I'd say the JVC headphones win hands down, which if I'm honest, surprised me! There is more bass in the JVC headphones and the music just sounds, fresher? Not sure if that is the right description but it just sounds good.
I've used both sets while running, walking to work and the odd occasion I'm in the gym and they are really good. I'd say the HA-EC30BT probably suit me better in the gym than running, just because I still haven't quiet got the fit right for me.
Having no wires to worry about is a big plus point for me. I used to always catch the wire when running which would yank the headphones out of my ears!
I have found that my right hand earbud does come lose more often than the left. I put that down to the small volume controlled either bouncing around or catching on my tshirts. I guess one solution would be to put the control in the centre of the wire that joins the two ear buds but then it probably wouldn't work as a mic. It would also be pretty difficult to access while on the move.
One negative point is I can't use the headphones with my traditional MP3 as it doesn't have bluetooth so I do need to take my phone with me. Taking my phone with me isn't a massive issue as I tend to run with it anyway but if you don't have music on your phone and you are used to streaming your tunes maybe over wifi, you may notice your data usage increase quicker. Keep that in mind if you do consider wireless headphones.
You can get an adapter for ipods to allow for bluetooth headphones though - maybe something I will look into for my old ipod.
HA-ET50BT - £69.99
HA-EC30BT - £59.99
They are available from Currys and Argos online.
Many thanks to JVC for sending two sets of bluetooth headphones to test for free. This did not influence the outcome of the review.