JBL brings open or closed listening flexibility to true wireless earphones
Back in 2016, Brit audio brand Rock Jaw unveiled an interesting pair of headphones that offered listeners the choice of a closed-back or open-back audio experience from the same over-ear cans. Now JBL is doing something similar with true wireless earphones.
Headphones rocking an open design allow more air to flow around the drivers for more natural, spacious audio delivery. But they're not really suited to use on a packed train as sound leaks in and out, potentially getting on everyone's nerves.
Closed-back headphones stop much of that leakage, particularly if noise cancellation technology is employed, but listeners can lose the wide staging and open feel as a result.
The vast majority of true wireless earphones released to date have isolated wearers from the world outside for closed-in listening, though Sony did allow the music to share the stage with ambient sounds with the recent LinkBuds. Now Harman brand JBL is giving mobile music lovers a two-in-one choice with the launch of the Tune Flex TWS buds.
The earphones come with sets of open and sealed eartips. The open listening style could be useful when bustling through traffic, chatting with friends, waiting for announcements at the local transport hub, or just enjoying a more natural feel to playback in a quiet room. The sealed tips help shut out distractions from around about to focus on the music, while also preventing sound leakage.
Either way, audio performance can be further personalized via the Sound Fit feature in the companion Headphones mobile app. JBL also mentions six ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) modes with dual mics and a Smart Ambient feature for both open and closed listening, though doesn't explain exactly how that would work when using the open eartips.
Elsewhere, the Tune Flex earphones are IPX4-rated so should survive a sweaty workout or dash in a downpour, Pure Bass Sound is onboard to pump out the thunder, there are four microphones primed for call-taking or chatting to Google Assistant, and each earbud should be good for up to 8 hours of per-charge usage with the ANC disabled, with 24 additional hours available via the supplied charging case.
Going on sale in Europe next month (there's no word on a US release), the JBL Tune Flex true wireless earphones come with a €99.99 price tag.