Written by Cheryl Tan
There are so many true wireless earphones out on the market now, it’s hard to keep track of them. One of the newest true wireless models from JBL is the JBL Free X. You might wonder if it’s an upgrade from the JBL Free, but it’s merely a name change.
So let’s take a look at these earphones. Housed in a circular case, the buds sit snugly in a moulded area with magnets helping to keep them secure. The case offers 20 hours of battery life in addition to the buds’ 4 hours, making it a total of 24 hours. While it’s not a bad amount, the 4 hours on the buds themselves are on the short side. With my music levels (around 70% of maximum volume), I found that it lasted me 3 hours and 35 minutes, so your mileage may vary.
The case has four LED lights near the front that displays the amount of charge left in the case, which is insanely helpful. When you put the buds into the case, there’s an LED ring on the faceplate that lights up to indicate that the buds are charging as well. I do appreciate how intuitive JBL has made this. The closing force of the lid is quite strong however, so pay attention to that as I’ve gotten my finger clamped a couple of times before.
There are also beeps when you put the buds in your ears, when the buds are in pairing mode and when they’ve finally connected. I doubt most people will be able to discern which beeps means what, but it’s nice to have an audio cue.
Connection was generally decent, but putting a glass wall in between and about 7 meters of space resulted in the connection dropping. With clear line of sight, you’ll probably get around 10 meters of distance before connection drops, which is standard. I didn’t experience any connection drops in crowded places, so that’s a plus.
Unfortunately, there is a bit of latency on occasion when watching livestreams or videos. I tested it out with some baseball matches, and the ball hit the catcher’s glove on my screen about half a second before the sound came through. But the commentators’ voices were clear and detailed.
Despite a smaller soundstage, music sounded good on these earphones, with relatively accurate imaging. Bass is present, but on the clear side with a tight punch. There is a slight dip in the mids, but highs are bright and there’s a bit of a sparkle in the treble. Cymbals could get a little harsh at higher listening volumes, however. Overall, the tuning is well balanced and it’s a pair of enjoyable earphones for most listening tastes.
The one big issue I have with these earbuds, is that the raised part near the charging area rubs against the inside of my ear and can be incredibly uncomfortable if you’re prone to readjusting your earphones like me. Once it’s situated and not moving however, it doesn’t irritate my ears as much. I’m not quite sure if it’s an isolated incident because of the shape of my ears, but definitely something to watch out for.