J&L 100 Wireless Bluetooth Earphone Review + Community Discount Code
If you are like me, you probably use earphones extensively on a daily basis. Whether be at the gym, while travelling through public transport or simply at home for a personal media experience, earphones are perhaps my most used phone accessory. My personal preference for earphones since long have been small and discreet in-ear earphones, which more than often turned to be wired with 3.5mm plugs. The universality of the 3.5mm socket in recent years meant that I could use these with whichever device I was using, and also swap on over easily to computers and laptops for when I needed to.
With the upcoming trend of OEMs switching out the 3.5mm headphone jack for their own reasons, it was a good opportunity for me to make the leap towards newer technology which still had universality to it. The absolute cutting edge choice would be USB Type C based earphones, but since this is still something that is not universal as of right now and would still take few more months to become widespread in its adoption, I looked forward to trying out the next best thing: Bluetooth based earphones.
Bluetooth is not a new technology by any means. But for my use case, and I believe I echo a lot of “normal” users around the world, Bluetooth based audio solutions did not have a lot of pull over the wired solution. Unless you absolutely needed to cut the cord, a wired 3.5mm earphone/headphone was as good as an alternative (arguably even better) as a wireless earphone solution for personal audio. In fact, a wired earphone is one less device you needed to charge, which in turn balances out the drawback of being tethered to a device. Combined with the comparative lower price (generally speaking) of wired solutions, and it becomes clear why these still continue to be the de-facto choice of people despite being a development with ancestors dating back to 1878.
I was contacted by J&L Real, a company that I had never heard of before, to try out and review one of their wireless bluetooth-based earphones. Although the company was personally unheard of, the product did look interesting with a fair share of positive reviews to it on Amazon. So, here is a review of the J&L 100 Bluetooth Wireless Earphones based on usage spread over a week:
But before we jump in, a small note regarding shipping: As per my talk with the representative, the package was supposedly dispatched from their end on 20th May. Along the way, it seemed to have gotten stuck somewhere, as I only just received them on 8th June. I am not sure where the package was stuck as I was not provided with a tracking number, but the representative assured that it was in transit. I would like to blame this on Indian customs (I did have few phones delayed because of them previously), but the cause is not 100% ascertained, so your mileage would definitely vary.
Now, getting back to the earphones themselves, they come in a small box without much fancy packaging. But for something that is under $25, you actually hope that the money is not spent on fancy boxes.
Inside the box, however, you do get a few things. First is the main earphones themselves. Along with them, you get a storage pouch, a short USB charging cable, two extra sizes of both eartips and the stabilizers (S and L, with the M pairs already installed on the earphones), a cable clip and a small user manual.
First impressions of the earphones, they seemed to be a bit large. I say this as someone who does not like big headphones and prefer small in-ear type earphones. I own a wired Sennheiser CX 275s earphones as my main go-to earphones, and the main pieces on it are tiny. Comparing the CX 275s with these, the J&L look gigantic. These aren’t something that you can put on your ears and lie down on a pillow (as tends to be my frequent personal use case for audio consumption), but that is alright since these target a different use case altogether.
Actually wearing and moving about with these earphones is very comfortable. You will not notice their size once they are on your ears. I found the preinstalled M size eartips and stabilizers large for my liking, so I swapped over to the S size within a minute, hassle-free. The stabilizers hooked into perfectly into the spot inside your ear where they are supposed to hang onto, and the eartips went inside the canal and closed off perfectly. The eartip portion of the hardware is angled to facilitate this, and it does the job very well. These worked perfectly for my Ingress runs and I had no issues with them falling off my ear or becoming loose — I was genuinely surprised by the consistency of the fit as I wrongly pre-assumed that the size would work against it. I had these on for around 3 hours straight at one instance, and it would have been easy to forget they were there if they weren’t blasting music straight into my brain.
On a slight downside, these are not a 100% wireless solution, as there is a connecting wire between the L & R side of the earphones (unlike 100% wireless solutions like the Samsung Gear Icon X). I had a small issue with the way the flat cable is positioned on the individual earphone, as it currently sticks up at 90 degree angles to the neck. If you use the clip from the box to shorten the cable (as you would need to, these are quite long ear-to-ear), the wires tend to stick out. A better choice here would have been to use regular round cable, or to shift the angle so that it stays flat on your side-neck.
Coming to the sound quality, my personal preference is to have a neutral and flat soundboard. For my tastes, the J&L’s had a slight hint of bass over my neutral Sennheisers. I am okay with this for this particular use case as this is less noticeable outdoors (whereas I usually use my CX 275s indoors). The sound quality actually surprised me, as I went into the review with low expectations since this was a low-budget device which appeared very generic. I half- expected slight buzzing static that I had experienced in the past with other Bluetooth earphones, but there was none of it on this. Music was clear and good for this price, but it does distort when you push it towards the maximum settings (which I would not recommend for your ears as these do get loud). The earphones work for calls as well, and all my calls went through without a hitch with no complaints regarding microphone as well.
The earphones pack in buttons on the right earpiece. There is a Dialer-symboled button on top, which works as the main Power button. Long pressing it for three seconds powers on the device and auto connects to previously paired devices. To pair it to a new device, you have to begin from a switched-off state and long press for 5 seconds. To power down, long press for 3 seconds while the device is on. To answer calls and to pause/play music, press the button once. There is a volume rocker on the side, and if your phone supports seeking tracks with long press of volume buttons (my OnePlus One on temasek CM13 does), you can actually control your entire music without touching your phone. This is something I sorely missed from my iPod Shuffle days, and it really helps push the wireless connectivity aspect of the earphone. I can connect and put my phone in my bag (often a necessity for public-travelling in crowded Mumbai) and still be in complete control of the music. Right below the volume rockers is what I believe is the microphone hole. The buttons themselves are clicky and thoughtfully placed. There is also a LED on the other side, which works to indicate battery status (low/charging). On the left earpiece is the flap that hides the micro-usb port.
The earphones are rated for IP54 level sweat and water protection. IP54 rating: 5 stands for dust resistance, and 4 stands for resistance against splashing water. For these claims, the device stands on solid grounds. Mumbai is hot and humid, and sweat is inevitable unless you are under 18°C AC all the time. I sweat naturally and unapologetically when outdoors and the device has given me no problems so far. It might even be able to handle the slight rains. But these are not water-proof, they are water-resistant, so putting them under larger splashes is not recommended.
Battery life is one area of the device where it does not stand as long as it claims. The Amazon listing claims 3.5 hours at 100% volume, but I could get 3-3.5 hours at around a bit over 50%. As is the case with all Bluetooth devices, this does mean that you have one extra device that you need to charge, something that I am still getting used to as a long time wired earphone user.
I actually like the earphones based on my experience so far. They are pretty good for costing <$25 (and you shouldn’t really be expecting audiophile-level quality at this range anyways). For earphones that are geared to stay on your ears when you go running or to the gym, these do the job very well, and even provide good sound quality as a bonus. At $25, these work pretty well for the use case they are meant to satisfy. But, make no mistakes, these are not Jaybirds or other higher-end earphones, so do not expect to be blown away by the out for sound quality.
If you are looking for an inexpensive pair of earphones for the gym or for the run, the J&L 100 are a good buy for $24.99 for the black color variant, and $25.99 for the green color and red color variants. And, if you enter this community code COW2PU4P, you get an additional 20% off, bringing the price down to around $20.