I've reviewed many of the best headphones over the years and always revel in the opportunity because I love music and good audio quality. That said, I can't wear them all the time for all things, such as when I'm cycling outside – but JBL has just announced a product that's the earphone solution I've been waiting on for years... I just didn't know it until now.
The JBL Soundgear Sense are earphones with a difference: designed with speakers that sit outside the ear canal, sound is then projected to the wearer's eardrums using air conduction, no bothersome earbuds to squash into your ears. As a sportier-designed product the inclusion of adjustable earhooks will also ensure stability during use.
I'll let you in on a little secret: despite knowing there are heaps of superb wireless earbuds out there, I simply find I can't wear them owed to that 'pressure' sensation when putting the earbuds into my ears. That's why the team at T3 are the in-ear experts instead. So for the Soundgear Sense to remove that need is a major bonus for someone like me.
The idea of headphones that are 'open' isn't exactly new though. From the best wired headphones with open-back designs, to the earlier release of Sony's LinkBuds WF-L900 – the latter which do sit in your ear canal, but also have an open 'hole' for audio to pass – there are designs which permit ambient sound to enter but also emitted music to exit and be heard.
Think of the Soundgear Sense as open-backed in-ears – hence JBL calling the design 'OpenSound Technology'. Which, granted, might not be ideal for me owed to sound leakage – but would be a necessary tick-box in having headphones that I could safely wear when cycling outdoors. I've never seen a product that served that want before without the need to be placed into my ear canals before, which sounds great.
The JBL Soundgear Sense will be available from 31 August, priced £129.99/€149.99 in either white or black finishes. Included in the box is a charging case, said to be good for a further three full charges (6 hours in the 'buds themselves, so 24 hours all-in). Which for a first-ever product design such as this sounds like good value to me, especially if I can listen to tunes whilst cycling outdoors, safely and comfortably.