JBL Reflect Mini NC Review: Headphones That Fill Your Ears

With its new Reflect Mini NC, JBL is tackling noise reduction in a true wireless format. But is the price of 150 dollars enough to overshadow the top names in the genre? This is what we will see in this complete test.
The JBL Reflect Mini NC
JBL is not a newcomer to true wireless headphones. In January, the brand of the Harman Kardon group launched two pairs of headphones at particularly affordable prices, at less than 150 dollars. Now, JBL shows in functionality with its new model, the JBL Reflect Mini NC.

Technical Sheet Of JBL Reflect Mini NC :

Model JBL Reflect Mini NC
Format in-ear headphones
Active noise reduction Yes
Autonomy announced 21 hours
Bluetooth version 5.1
Weight 13.6 grams
Voice Assistant Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa

Massive, But Comfortable Earphones :

The new headphones from JBL are surprising at first glance. Indeed, unlike the previous models, the JBL Live 300TWS and JBL Tune 220TWS, the Reflect Mini NC display a format that is at least original.

This is particularly the case in the case since the headphones are stored in an all-plastic rectangular case with some curves. A rather compact size that fits well in hand and pocket. Only small regret, the case does not easily open with one hand due to its elongated shape, despite a small notch to slide the thumb or nail. The hinge, on the other hand, looks solid and is wide enough that you don’t have to worry about it coming loose after a hundred or so openings.

The JBL Reflect Mini NC housing

Another small originality of the JBL Reflect Mini NC case, it incorporates a small cord in the shape of a wrist strap. A choice that may seem strange at first glance, but which is much less when you understand its usefulness. You can easily hang the case on a backpack strap or a belt loop, on pants, without having to regularly remove them from your bag or pocket. In addition, on the back of the case, we will find a Bluetooth pairing button as well as the USB-C socket. On the front, JBL has integrated an LED strip under the opening to indicate the battery level and, inside, we will find a second LED that will indicate the battery level, as well as the pairing status.

The JBL Reflect Mini NC The JBL Reflect Mini NC

The other surprise of these JBL Reflect Mini NCs comes from their size. These are indeed bulky headphones with a weight of 6.8 grams each – compared to 45.4 grams on the case side. Unlike AirPods for example, we are not dealing here with a cotton swab format, but with headphones that fill the inside of the ear pin. And that’s no way of speaking.

The JBL Reflect Mini NC

The JBL Reflect Mini NC are indeed particularly large headphones so it is not always easy to wedge them in the ears. These are in-ear models that also benefit from fins for better support in the ear pinna. Concretely, it took me several seconds each time to fit the headphones properly in the ear, but, once in place, they don’t budge an iota. Even when moving your head, tilting it, jumping or running, the JBL Reflect Mini NCs stay in place. To be sure, however, we recommend trying the different tips and fins offered by the manufacturer. In addition to those that dress the headphones by default, we will be entitled to two pairs of tips and two pairs of additional fins.

The JBL Reflect Mini NC occupies the whole ear

In use, the JBL Reflect Mini NC are quite comfortable to use. It must be said that the first few minutes of use let fear the worst as they tend to grow on the tragus and antitragus with the bulky format. However, you get used to it rather quickly and the soft fins help prevent too much pressure on the anthelix.

Also, note that JBL headphones are IPX7 certified and can therefore be used perfectly in the rain or while playing sports. This certification even ensures water resistance to a depth of 1 meter in fresh water for 30 minutes.

Anecdotal Noise Reduction :

To pair the JBL Reflect Mini NC to a smartphone, nothing could be simpler. It must be said that JBL headphones are compatible with Fast Pair, the Google function allowing you to quickly connect to headphones near the smartphone. During the first pairing, all you have to do is open the box and then connect to your smartphone. If you want to connect to an iPhone, another Android smartphone, or a computer, however, you will need to press the button on the back of the case for five seconds for the headphones to connect to another device.

The pairing button of the JBL Reflect Mini NC

Once the headphones are connected, on Android, a screen will appear to offer several functions related to Google Assistant such as the management of voice notifications. This is mainly where you can press to download the dedicated application, My JBL Headphones.

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As we quickly saw a little earlier, JBL headphones offer tactile controls thanks to the large surfaces on each ear cup. JBL had a good idea to incorporate sound feedback with every touch so that it’s clear whether the earpiece has registered the gesture or not. A dumb feature, but one that many competing headphones lack that you sometimes press twice, thinking the earpiece didn’t register the first touch.

The JBL Reflect Mini NC are controlled by touch

By default, the left earpiece is used to manage the voice assistant. A double press will therefore read your latest notifications, a single press will cancel the command and a long press will allow you to launch a voice command. On the right earphone, playback will be managed with a press to pause, a double press to go to the next track, a triple press to go back to the previous track and a long press to activate the voice assistant.

From the My JBL Headphones app, however, it is possible to modify these types of controls. While we cannot directly modify a control, we can however manage the type of interactions on the headset. For example, we can manage the left earphone so that it takes care of the volume – with a single press to increase it and a double press to decrease it – or the management of ambient noise – with a single press to change mode and a double press to switch to Talkthru mode.

Because yes, JBL headphones offer an active noise canceling function. This can be activated from the application or using touch controls if you have configured them. It can also be managed using a gauge within the application, on 13 levels. However, it is difficult to understand, in the absence of units, values, or anything that can help to understand. We just have a bar on which we can move a cursor. After a few tries, it is not a question here of adjusting the level of noise reduction, but rather of selecting the frequencies that will be filtered. Suffice it to say that we are far from an automatic and efficient system as offered by high-end headphones like the Bose QC Earbuds.

As such, noise reduction won’t work wonders, far from it. It will barely filter out your computer fan noise, but don’t rely on the JBL Reflect Mini NC to filter out voices, subway noise, or car noise. In fact, if these sounds can be slightly masked, it is more because of the in-ear format, and therefore the passive isolation, than the active noise reduction. Regardless of the slider setting, the noise reduction fails to convince.

Note also the presence of a transparent mode – here called ambient aware – as well as the Talkthru mode which will activate the transparent mode and considerably reduce the volume of your music to allow you to have a conversation.

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The application will also allow you to manage the automatic shutdown of the headphones when not in use, after 15, 30, 60 or 120 minutes, as well as the automatic pause of the Reflect Mini NC when you remove them.
Finally, note that JBL’s headphones are Bluetooth 5.1 compatible with good connection stability. Even with the smartphone in my pocket and my hand over it, I never suffered from micro-cuts. The headphones can also work in mono, either with the left or right headphones.

A Sound That Lacks Medium :

For audio reproduction, the JBL Reflect Mini NC is equipped with 6 mm diameter transducers. The headphones are also capable of reproducing a fairly standard sound range ranging from frequencies from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Concerning Bluetooth codecs, the Reflect Mini NC is only compatible with SBC and AAC, aptX, nor LDAC is not supported, not that we are really surprised given the value for money.

JBL Reflect Mini NC transducers

To test JBL’s headphones, I connected them to an Oppo Find X2 Pro. The tracks listened to came from Spotify, in “very high quality”, equivalent to an MP3 file encoded at 320 kbps.

Overall, the Reflect Mini NCs deliver a rather powerful bass sound, surprisingly anyway for headphones with 6mm drivers. This is especially noticeable while listening to Bad Guy by Billie Eilish. On the midrange, however, JBL headphones are clearly lagging behind. On Come Away With Me by Norah Jones, the singer’s voice, however predominant, is dry, as if muffled. On the other hand, JBL headphones manage to restore the treble, especially on Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Too bad, however, that the sibilance – the “s” sounds that drag on in length – is so marked.

Fortunately, these various settings can be changed within the My JBL Headphones app which takes advantage of an equalizer. This has three presets – jazz, vocal or bass – but also allows you to customize the equalizer as you wish by adding points to the curve.

However, what the equalizer cannot change is the lack of richness of the sound offered by the headphones. Not only are the JBL Reflect Mini NCs drastically lacking in dynamics on classical music titles, like Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, but they also lack detail. The sound seems to be largely compressed and the Reflect Mini NCs do not manage to transcribe all the details of the scene. This results in a decent sound, but quite poor.

On the phone call side, the JBL Reflect Mini NCs successfully filter out the muffled noises of the city. The person you are talking to will not hear the hum of traffic very much, but the sounds of horns or engines nearby will remain quite noticeable. On the other hand, in a noisy environment, your voice may seem weakened and metallic. The JBL Reflect Mini NCs may also cause a feeling of distance, as if the sensitivity of the microphone has decreased, especially at the end of sentences.

A Correct Autonomy Of Six Hours :

For its headphones, JBL has integrated a 50 mAh battery on each headset, and a 300 mAh accumulator in the battery. Enough, according to the manufacturer, to listen to music on its Reflect Mini NC for seven hours, then enjoy two additional charges for a total of 21 hours of battery life.

In use, starting from a 100% load, pushing the volume to 75%, and activating the noise reduction, I was able to use the JBL Reflect Mini NC for 6:09 before they both fell off. out of battery. Note that the left earphone went out ten minutes before the right which then switched to mono listening. The actual battery life is slightly less than that advertised by JBL but remains in the high average of truly wireless headphones with active noise reduction.

The JBL Reflect Mini NC can only be recharged by wire

For charging, once the headphones are stored in their case, they will only regain 35% of the battery within 30 minutes of charging. We had to wait for 1 hour and 12 minutes before the two headphones were fully charged. For its part, during this time, the case went from 100 to 39% battery.

For charging the case itself, JBL provides a USB-C to USB-A cable, but no AC charger. The case is also not compatible with wireless charging.

Price And Availability Of JBL Reflect Mini NC :

The JBL Reflect Mini NC headphones are priced at 149 dollars. They are available in three colors: black, beige, or blue.

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