It’s been a while since we have been able to review a set of earphones, and so it was very nice to be able to try out a set of ear buds from our good friends at Jabra. The model in question is the Jabra Sport Pace wireless ear buds, which are said to offer a premium sound, the peace of mind of a secure fit, and an integrated training app to help add more diversity to any sport – and so it would be very interesting to see how this feature performs while out on a run.
While I did have a chance to try out these earphones, it was very important to get my girlfriend’s opinion, seeing as though she has run several marathon’s, and so has tried out several models in the past. This is why this Jabra Sport Pace hands-on review will combine my perspective as a general user, along with someone that has a great deal of experience with using other headphones of many types.
You have to hand it to Jabra, as they have been tweaking the design over the past few months to come up with the Sport, with the Pulse and Coach all leading up to this model. It seems as though the previous two were combined to come up with the Pace, which they say is the best of this type of earbud to date from them in a more competitive price range – and so it was interesting to see if this was in fact true or not.
Jabra have not said that the Sport Pace is the best that you will ever buy, just that they are very positive that this is the best they have achieved in terms of the price of this model. We have tried this product in different scenarios to see just how they perform, and while there were some concerns, we have to say they did exceed our expectations.
The one thing we have always like about Jabra is their packaging, as they come in a well presented box, where you are able to open the front lid and see the Sport Pace in all their glory. Ok, so we know that some of you out there may think it is a bit of an overkill, and is a waste, but then again because it’s mostly made of card, you are able to recycle it once you have finished with the packaging.
Upon opening the box you will find that you get the earbuds, along with a choice of three different ear sizes, these are small, medium and large to fit most ear types. There is also a clip that is already attached to the cable, which is optional, and will get to later in the review. There is also the charging cable, and finally the instructions manual.
Once we had unpacked the Sport Pace and made certain it had a good charge, we then download the Jabra Sound app onto my iPhone, and also the girlfriend’s iPod touch, so that we could see what that was all about, along with trying to get the full benefit of the earbuds.
Connecting this model has been a little difficult at times, although not for the first time. We did try this not only on iOS devices, but also Android as well, and paring via Bluetooth was very easy the first time. However, when going from one device to another, there have been occasions when the devices were unable to find the Sport Pace, and so took several attempts to finally do so. We’ve never had such an issue before, and so wonder if this is an issue that other owners have experienced? Upon further investigation, it seems you can only have the Sport Pace paired to two devices at a time, and so this could have been one of the issues, seeing as we did try to have three devices paired.
Trying out the fit of the headphones, I personally found the larger eargels to be better for me, and it did not take too long to get used to placing the earbuds on my ears, as you have to make sure they hook around and face straight forward. You will notice in the images below that my girlfriend who also tested them wears glasses, and therefore the earbuds do not fit as snug around the ears as they would usually do on a person that does not wear glasses.
This is only a small issue, and did not really cause too much of an issue, and was not too long before she got used to putting them on. We both liked the little clip on the cable, as they allowed you to adjust it, as to not have as much cable sagging around on the back of your neck.
With this model being Bluetooth there are no hanging wires, and my girlfriend did point out the fact that this was especially good because having used earphones with hanging wires in the past would often lead to then being pulled or caught, and therefore would either wear them out, or even being pulled out – something that can become very annoying not only during a marathon, but also while training for months beforehand as well.
Going back to fitting these earbuds on, and we have found that getting the correct position of the over-the-ear hooks does have a profound effect on the sound, as it does help to improve it significantly. It’s this area that we thought we would discuss now, because it’s worth noting that you might wish to play around with the equaliser settings on your device, rather than rely on default, as these buds sound different to the headphones that came with your device, and the fact that different forms of music do have a different sound.
The area that we feel Jabra have improved with the Pace when compared to the Pulse and Coach are the lower profile of the earbuds, which is helped in parts thanks to those hooks to help keep them in your ear. This helps to seal the noise in, although we would like to point out that it was good to have a device that you are able to hear the music very well, and at a decent level where the road noise around you is not totally blocked out. We have used earphones in the past where they tend to block out far too much noise, and this does pose a safety issue, as was prone to taking them out when crossing the road to hear the traffic. This is why when we were out running with the Sport Pace, we never had to take them out at all – and therefore a very good safety aspect.
You may think by looking at these that the cable is too short, but they really do not need to be any longer, as we found out once having them on, and adjusting that Fitclip as they are called behind our necks so that it all stays securely in place made things even better. Oh, make certain that you do not lose this handy clip, as you cannot get a replacement for it.
The controls are very easy to reach, and take no time in getting used to, as they are very much the same as most other earbuds out there. You have the volume up and down, along with the middle button, which acts as the pause and skip, as well as keeping it pressed down when it first comes to paring the device. There is also a built-in microphone so you can take and make calls; this is also a good safety aspect, as you do not need to get your phone out to take or make these calls, something that people do tend to worry about when out in certain places. Oh one other thing, Siri and Google Now can also be used with the main button, which is ideal when you want to play a certain track or album on your run or workout.
After having the device in for almost an hour while running on a warm day they still felt comfortable, and never slipped once, meaning that there was no need for a headband to keep it in place. Not once did they move around, which would certainly do your head in while training for yet another marathon, and they did not clog with sweat.
Keeping with that aspect, there is a feature that was of interest to my girlfriend, and that was the Jabra Sport Life app, which is technically a coach that helps to keep track of your data, which includes distance you have run, and calories burned.
You first need to download and install the app, and then allow it to use your device GPS. It’s very easy to access for when you are ready to do a run, as you just press the Sports button on the left earbud, and the app will open up, and you just need to hit the start button. During our run when found that when you press the button during a workout you are given an update on your progress, then can be disabled at any time, as this can also be set to automatically inform you, which can get annoying for some people.
We mostly used the running feature on the app, although there are ones for cycling, cross-training and also a treadmill at home or in a gym. Ok, so we never really needed this app because of having a Fitbit, but it was good to see that this feature did work very well, and provided an accurate account of the distance run. Having said that, we did like how it also kept a track of our route that was being run, although this was only thanks to the use of our iPhone, and so cannot be used with the iPod Touch, seeing as there is no GPS feature built-in, and so therefore this app does become a bit useless if you no not have a smartphone. By the way, my girlfriend then had to use her Galaxy S6 to try this feature out, hence why we had an issue with pairing, and so had to tell the iPod to forget the device first.
If you find the Sport Life app not for you, then the Sport Pace earbuds are also compatible with other apps, such as Endomondo, RunKeeper, Strava, MapMyFitness, and Runtastic.
Going back to that sound quality while running, and some of you might not like that some of the sound does bleed out because of hearing some road noise, and so are unable to give you the full range of bass levels. Don’t get us wrong, some of Jabre’s other models have been far worse in this department, and while the Pace seems to solve this, there is still that bit of bleed. We personally do not care because we feel it offers a safety aspect, which we did touch on above.
We do find it hard to really complain too much about these earbuds, although with a 4 hour battery life that’s not going to fare too well when running the next marathon, even if Jabra does quote it as being five hours. There is a rapid charing feature, so 15 minutes of charge will give you 60 minutes of use, but that’s not going to help if you are in the middle of a long run. There are ways to make the battery last that bit longer, the first is to have a long playlist so that you do not have to keep using the controls, and the other is to have the volume at a reasonable level, and so not too loud. The coach and the Pulse do not fare much better, although the Coach are rated with an extra half hour, and so it would be interesting to try those out at some stage.
The good points are:
- Better fit
- Improved audio fidelity
- Rapid charging
- Integrates with third-party apps
The Bad points:
- No built-in sensors
- Short battery life
- Limited volume and bass
The Jabra Sport Pace comes in a choice of three colours, and those are red, blue (which we reviewed), and yellow. The price for these are £79.99 and can be purchased direct from Jabra.