31 UA Sport wireless cHow much extra would you pay for a cool brand? When I first saw the Under Armour logo on a tee-shirt at the gym I thought it was maybe a new trademark for United Artists, or perhaps a new H for Helly Hansen. But it was explained to me by the guy wearing it, who was a bit miffed, that Under Armour is as cool as sports gear gets. Whatever. I’m the guy who wondered why every second woman at the gym was named Lorna Jane.

Lots of people work out with music and at my gym most do it with earbuds, but I prefer full-sized headphones both for comfort and sound. However, this is the gym and full headphones dislodge easily. Once dislodged, and until you get your hands back from the weights or handles occupying them, not only do you miss the music but you look ridiculous. No one likes looking ridiculous, so I thought I’d give Under Armour’s $300 sport wireless headphones a go.

31 UA Sport wireless aThe gym is what Under Armour headphones, which are actually reworked JBLs, are all about. The website declares they are ‘tested and designed by athletes’ and the pictures show sweaty people with perfect bodies working out. The controls are generous, which helps when you’re on a cross trainer, and the earcups are vented to cope with sweat should that actually happen. So you’ll appreciate that the earpads can be removed for hand-washing. There’s also a talk-through function (tap the UA logo) that reduces the volume so you can hear the person waving at you.

These certainly stay in place as you thrash about. JBL says it’s the ‘grip material’ on the earpads but I suspect it’s more about the clamp pressure, which is as tight as I’ve ever experienced in headphones. The earcups go on your ears, rather than around them, and push them against your head hard enough to make people think you play rugby. Some folk aren’t bothered by this but I’m not that fortunate; I was uncomfortable after 45 minutes and had to take them off after an hour. Taking them off felt really good.

Which brings me to some sage advice I give all headphone buyers; comfort is just as important as sound quality. If they’re uncomfortable you won’t use them even if they sound like Callas, Pavarotti and the Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys all rolled up into one. I guess I could do an hour’s workout in these, no more.

The other attraction these have down the gym is that they’re Bluetooth, so you don’t have a cord getting in the way. The sound quality is noticeably better when you use the supplied cord but you may end up strangling yourself. Given that you’re more likely to be concentrating on your workout than the music I guess the basic Bluetooth available here is fine, but you’ll need a second pair of headphones for close listening because these miss much of the nuance and atmosphere of premium models.

31 UA Sport wireless bThe sound is typical of JBL, generous bass, lots of muscle, lots of beat. High range; not so much. In other words, ideal for working up a sweat. With all that thump you can always tell your personal trainer you simply didn’t hear the request for once more and a bit of effort this time please.

JBL’s Live 400BTs sound and work much the same as these and cost half as much. But they don’t have the sweat resistant stuff and they don’t carry that UA logo that made my friend at the gym so happy.

First published by www.smh.com.au August 2019.


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