Running can quickly become boring, the gym is a melting pot of bassy music, grunts and weights smacking the ground, and even when you’re squeezing in a quick home workout, the sound of your own breathing can be something you’d rather not have to deal with.
With this in mind, a pair of headphones for your workouts can be an essential purchase. But if you’re looking to keep the costs low, your options become limited with most of the best earbuds and headphones for exercise exceeding £100.
So when we found a pair for just £29.99, it left us curious. Can a pair of headphones this cheap get you through your weekly bout of exercise? Will they be comfortable? And most importantly, can they sound good?
How do they look and feel?
It won’t come as any surprise to hear that, at this price point, you’re not exactly getting a luxury product. Both the charging case and headphones are made of a cheap-feeling, but very sturdy, plastic.
However, when you actually put the headphones in, this isn’t a problem. In fact, these headphones feel great when you’re wearing them. They are lightweight, and thanks to the hooked design, they stay secure throughout your workout.
I have frequently had headphones come out when I’ve been running, requiring an adjustment every so often, but the Go Air Sport True stayed in without any issues.
However, because of the shape of these headphones, the sound can often dampen as the earbud comes out a little bit during exercise. A quick tap back into place solves this issue though and is a common experience when using running headphones.
Thanks to the lightweight design, these headphones stayed comfortable for long periods of time. It took a bit over an hour of exercise to notice any discomfort with them in.
Do they sound good?
The most important question: can headphones that only cost £29.99 produce a good sound? Surprisingly, yes. Of course, these are by no means going to blow you away, and they certainly aren’t going to compete with more expensive headphones, but for the price tag we were thoroughly impressed.
You get three different equalisation (EQ) settings: JLab Signature, Balanced and Bass Boost. There is a noticeable switch between these, especially on certain songs.
JLab claims that the Signature mode works best across all music and audio, balanced fits with podcasts and audio books and bass boost is best for hip hop, rap, electronic and well… anything with a lot of bass, obviously.
I found myself mostly sitting in Bass Boost mode, but occasionally switched to Signature as well. The Balanced mode seemed somewhat redundant, sounding very similar to the Signature mode.
If you like to kick up the volume and play drum and bass, metal or anything that will scare you into your last mile, you’ll be glad to know the headphones can keep up. While there can be a slightly tinny sound to some songs, these buds replicate both bass and drums well.
The same goes for softer songs, audiobooks and podcasts. You won’t notice any major audio issues while you lift heavy weights to Beethoven’s Für Elise – the way I’m sure he intended it to be enjoyed.
Audiophiles out there will easily track the dampened mids of songs with big soundstages, or the blown-up bass of albums like Thundercat’s It Is What It Is, but for most it’s hardly noticeable.
What features come with these headphones?
Like most Bluetooth headphones, these come with a set of buttons for performing different actions. This comes with three challenges: pressing hard enough to activate them, dealing with the noticeable delay and trying to remember all of the different actions needed.
Your left earbud controls the volume down, voice assistants and going back a track. The right is for volume going up, playing or pausing a song and skipping forward to the next track. This is done through single taps, double taps, and pressing and holding. There are also actions for interacting with calls and changing the EQ settings. Because you have to press quite hard, and because there is a noticeable delay with these actions, I would often perform the wrong one, skipping a track when I tried to change the volume, or accidentally activating Google Assistant.
My other big gripe with the JLab Go Air True headphones is the charging feature. The charging case has an attached cable that you plug into a USB plug. However, the cable is absolutely tiny.
This means the headphone case awkwardly hangs off the plug, not actually able to touch the ground with most wall plugs. It’s a small feature but one that seems like it would have been easily avoided.
This problem is slightly alleviated thanks to the playtime of the headphones. You can get over 32 hours from one charge. If you’re only using these when you exercise, you won’t find yourself having to awkwardly dangle them from your wall to charge all too often.
While these earbuds aren’t waterproof, they are water- and dust-resistant. This means some light rain, sweat and general splashes will be absolutely fine – just make sure you don’t drop them in puddles or tubs of water.
Should you buy the JLab Go Air True?
It feels hard to massively fault the JLab Go Air True headphones. The company labels themselves as an affordable audio company, and with these running headphones, that’s exactly what you’re getting.
If you are after an impressive audio performance, or headphones that offer a premium look and feel, these are not the headphones for you. But for something cheap and decent for the occasional bit of exercise, these are a great choice.
They are affordable, offer a long battery life, fit comfortably, and while the audio is by no means incredible, it will provide you with the quality you need for podcasts, audio books or that quick shot of bass-heavy music to get you through your run.
Anker Soundcore Spirt X2
If you’re willing to put a bit more money into a pair of headphones for exercise, Anker’s Soundcore Spirit X2 could be a great alternative. These sit at around £80 but they provide an improved audio performance, a much higher-quality design and feel, a longer battery life and importantly, a better charging system.
These will especially appeal to those who like some bass in their music. While still not as good as some pricier headphones, these earbuds offer a strong bass audio performance.
For something at a similar price point to the JLab Go Air Sport True earbuds, the Skullcandy Dimes could be the way to go. They are even cheaper than JLab’s buds and for some, the design will be preferable, not featuring any hooks. They don’t offer the same touch controls as the Go Air Sport though and are very simple in terms of their features.
Beats Powerbeats Pro
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is Beat’s Powerbeats Pro. These are expensive, costing over £200. That is obviously going to make them a much bigger investment than JLab’s earbuds. However, these are some of the best earbuds available for exercise, offering a high-end design made of lightweight metal, a fantastic sound performance and quick charging technology.
Read more reviews: