The Jabra Sport Coach will make you want to throw away your fitness tracker, but it’s worth pondering: Why don’t more exercise-focused wireless earphones include some sort of added fitness app functionality? The $285 Jabra Sport Coach earphones work with an app that motivates you and keeps track of your workouts—it even charts your runs on maps using GPS. It’s a simple level of integration, but one that can eliminate the need for added exercise accessories. The audio can almost be viewed as secondary here, but the sweat- and weather-resistant earphones also deliver distortion-free, fairly balanced audio with strong (if not throttling) bass response and clear (if not exceptionally crisp) highs.
Available in gray, with either red, yellow, or blue accents, the Jabra Sport Coach earphones use a combination of “ear gels” – flexible fins that stabilize the fit against the ear itself – and eartips that enter the canal to provide a comfortable and stable fit. The cable connecting the two earpieces rests behind the head where the shoulders meet the neck, and two included clips can be used to adjust the amount of slack on the cable to reduce thump and prevent it from distracting you during workouts. The earphones also ship with three gel pairs in varying shapes and sizes, and four pairs of eartips.
An inline microphone and remote control near the right earpiece has three buttons: two for adjusting volume (it works together with your mobile device’s volume, not independently) and a central multifunction button that controls playback, track navigation, call management, power, and Bluetooth pairing.
The outer panel of the left earpiece houses a motion sensor (which can measure distance, pace, steps, cadence, and calories burned) and the aforementioned Sport button on the outer panel. The Sport button pauses and resumes your workout with the free Jabra Sport Life app, which I’ll discuss in a moment. Holding down this button will enable or disable on-the-go audio updates.
The Sports Life app requires a quick and easy setup process with your earphones, after which you arrive at a general menu. You can choose from options like Running, Cycling, Walking, Cross-Training, Hiking, and even Skiing. Each of these categories has sub-categories, like BellyBurn or CardiCore, which starts a new workout. Select BellyBurn, for instance, and you’re guided through a six-minute workout of 20 sit-ups followed by 10-second intervals of rest. There are also built-in tests, like the Cooper Test, which measures your endurance. You can also use the headphones to simply just track your movement or time your runs. It can be a little easy to get lost at first, but selecting the activity menu brings you back to a list of options.
The app accesses your iTunes library so you can exercise to playlists, or it will use its own internal music, which is mainly audio intended to get you moving. Voice cues that guide your workout can be turned on or off, and once you have selected your exercise routine, the Sport button on the earphones is all you need to control things.
Jabra also offers a Dolby-designed sound app as a free download for use with the earphones, but it’s not required. If you don’t use either of the apps, the Sport Coach is essentially just a standard pair of fitness-focused Bluetooth earphones, intended to stay in place and handle sweat during tough workouts.
You can pair the Jabra Sport Coach easily with any Bluetooth mobile device, and the earphones will also pair via NFC with compatible devices. Jabra estimates battery life to be roughly 5.5 hours of talk time and 10 hours of standby, but your results will vary, mostly depending on how loudly you play your music back and whether you use those motion sensors. A micro USB port under the right ear gel lets you charge the Sport Coach with the included cable.
Jabra Sport Coach – Performance
On tracks with powerful sub-bass, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the earphones deliver a strong low-end response and don’t distort even at top, unwise, listening levels. The bass is not over-the-top, however, so those seeking the highly exaggerated low-end that is common in many exercise-focused earphones might be slightly disappointed. This is a big bass sound, but not so extreme that it feels like there’s a subwoofer in your head.
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass content, gives us a better idea of what the Jabra Sport Coach’s sound signature is like. The baritone vocals are delivered with plenty of richness in the low-mids, with a pleasant, crisp high-mid presence to keep things clear and well-defined. The drums on this track get some added bass depth, but nothing too extreme. Generally speaking, this is a balanced sound—though it could have benefited from even a bit more high frequency presence.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop’s attack gets enough high-mid presence to retain its sharp edge and slice through the mix, but a little more in that department might have made things sound a bit crisper. Instead, we get more in the even higher frequencies, making the vinyl crackle of the loop a bit more apparent here than usual. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with plenty of body and depth.
The Jabra Sport Coach earphones deliver plenty of bass and enough balance in the highs that the mix always sounds clear. The Sports Button and integration with the Sport Life app only adds to the pair’s value. If you’re after booming bass for motivation during your workout, you’re not alone; most exercise-focused pairs seem to go that route.