Review: JBL Endurance Peak 3 – a Sports True Wireless In-Ear That Performs and Sounds Great!

I’ve had terrible luck with what we call True Wireless headphones.  For a headphone to be defined as truly wireless, both left and right earbuds must transmit without being tethered by any wire whatsoever; meaning both the right and left in-ear headphones have transmitters and also batteries.  I know it gets confusing since there’s also a category called Wireless headphones; while not attached by wire to your music source, they do have a wire between the right and left ear bud.

True Wireless was all that we were talking about a few years back, with both brands and the media touting the freedom of not being attached or restricted by any wires.  The future had arrived!  I have tried to get on the True Wireless bandwagon, but my history usually involves some kind of pairing problem: I hear fine from the right ear but not the left or vis versa. I also have found that in the race to have the best battery life, manufacturers just kept making the in-ears bigger and therefore heavier and that leads to my biggest problem of all, the anxiety of an in-ear falling out and not having any wire to prevent it from smashing to the floor. Watch any video of an alpinist climbing Everest and you’ll see they are tethered by a rope to one another. If one climber falls the others are there to anchor their nose-diving comrade from falling to an untimely death – Smart!  When wireless headphones have a wire between each ear, I take comfort that if my left earbud falls out there’s the right earbud to come to the rescue.  True Wireless headphones can be so big, some even incorporating planar technology, that I am terrified to move for fear of the (expensive) in-ears jumping ship. And if I am going to be forced to sit down while listening to music, give me a pair of fully wired over-the-ear headphones plugged into my amp!  Wireless headphones are for moving around so don’t make them so big that they will fall out if I start to run!

The new JBL Endurance Peak 3 are IP68 rated so getting them wet on the beach is not an issue

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple sells about 62 million sets or over $12 billion worth of their AirPod true wireless headphones each year with replacement AirPods and cases representing 7% of all sales.  CBS News reported in 2020 that more than 100 AirPods were found on New York Subway tracks.  Lost AirPods are so common that Apple has a dedicated link on their e-commerce site so you can buy just one in-ear or a new charging case, and the popular white earbuds are now part of the Apple “Find My” ecosystem so you can track with your phone where you might have left them.

The JBL Endurance Peak 3 comes with a carrying case that holds a 50-hour battery life

So that brings me to a call I had with Erikson Multimedia, JBL’s Canadian distributor. Early last month Erikson asked if I would test and review the new true wireless release from JBL called the Endurance Peak 3, an update from the previous Peak 2.  I love JBL and I am fond of the folks who run Erikson, so of course I wasn’t going to say “no thanks”. Since their arrival they have been sitting un-opened on my desk, with me dreading having to work through my pairing, connectivity, battery issues and the falling-out-of-my-ear anxiety all over again.  I was sort of hoping they’d forget they had sent them to me and I’d be off the hook, but not a chance – the Endurance Peak 3 are a big deal to JBL and an important release in what is called the sports category of True Wireless, so after the third “hey, when are you going to do that review” email, I finally opened the box.

Sun, sand, salt and heat and the JBL Endurance Peak 3 endured everything that I could throw at them

Let’s just get one thing out in the open, just because a product category has given you performance issues in the past doesn’t mean things won’t improve with future releases and my pre-conceived “here we go again” criticisms have not materialized with the Endurance Peak 3.  I have been punishing these headphones for the past two weeks waiting for them to fail so I could smugly say “Ha told ya so!!  I soaked them while jumping in the waves, but the IP68 rating allows the ear buds to endure depths of 1.5 meters of salt or fresh water or a run in the rain with no failure.  I attempted to exhaust the battery but my fitness exhausted me first. I climbed a mountain thinking the two hours up would make them uncomfortable to wear, it didn’t.  I even dropped them in the sand but with a quick rinse-off they just kept playing.  These poor headphones have been so abused in my attempt to find a weakness, but they just kept on delivering as advertised.

The silicon ear hook remains compatible with eyeglasses for outdoor activity

In a word, the Endurance Peak 3 are terrific!  Zero connectivity problems, just pick them out of the supplied charging case and both right and left ear are on and ready, and best of all, while there are no wires, the Endurance Peak 3 has a silicone ring that attaches around your ear.  JBL calls this their “Powerhook”, a bendable ear hook that securely fastens the headphone to your ear ensuring the Endurance Peak 3 will not fall out. My biggest complaint of True Wireless resolved!

When you take the Peak 3’s out of the case they automatically turn on and connect, and when you remove them, they immediately shut off even if you don’t put them back in the charging case – a great feature for battery preservation.  The Endurance Peak 3 are rated at 10 hours battery life of constant playback and will give you one hour of playback in a measly ten minutes of charging.  If you leave them in the case, they will stay fully charged for 50 hours without being plugged in.

JBL legendary bass is driven to the Endurance Peak 3 from 10mm dynamic drivers, and the EQ is fully customizable with the JBL app.  Walking on a windy Florida beach, all environmental sounds were fully eliminated (although these do not have noise cancellation) including crashing waves and yet when I received a call, no one was the wiser that I was walking with my toes in the sand thanks to dual beamforming mics in each ear giving me voice clarity and JBL’s feature called “voice aware” allowed me to hear myself speak while on a call.

The JBL Endurance Peak 3 are compatible with the JBL headphone app for a fully customizable EQ experience as well as controlling ambient sound and seeing battery percentage

The JBL Endurance Peak 3 have an MSRP at $149.00 which is staggeringly inexpensive for such a great sounding, feature rich in ear headphone.  That’s well below what Apple’s AirPods sell for.  Speaking of Apple AirPods, it drives me absolutely bonkers that my daughter bought a pair of AirPods at full retail, knowing I could probably call in a favor and buy an alternative brand from one of Wifi Hifi’s partners.  For a second opinion, I had my daughter use the Peak Endurance 3’s for a day, just so she could compare to her AirPods.  By the end of the day, she asked if we could swap with her keeping the JBLs and in return she’d give me her AirPods.  No thanks.

The JBL Endurance Peak 3 are a Wifi Hifi 5-star product based on terrific customizable sound, a secure fit that will never fall out, a rugged water-proof build that allows these in-ears to be used in any outdoor environment rain or shine, and available at a ridiculously low price for what you get. Plus, they have resolved all my old anxiety of not enjoying True Wireless.