Jam Ultra Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds provides a truly wireless experience with an included protective/charging case.
One of the neat things about modern smartphones is that you have the option to use and customize them to your liking. When it comes to music, you have multiple sources to choose from and you can then utilize a variety of earphones or headphones to enjoy your selection. You may have a style that you enjoy at the gym, one to use while traveling, and one for leisure activities. Regardless, with the variety of options available, nobody should have difficulty finding a device that fits them perfectly. Whether you’re interested in intra-aural (in-ear), supra-aural, circumaural (around ear), wired, wireless, etc. you can enjoy music, your movies, and gaming, in your own way. One of the latest trends is wireless Bluetooth in-ear systems.
The jam Ultra wireless earbuds arrived in a unique looking package, with rounded edges instead of the standard boxy feel. The packaging sticker suggests a ribbed appearance to the sides, but the feel is actually smooth. The cover shows two black, unwired, Bluetooth earbuds on a white background. The back of the case shows the portable charging case and provides a summary of the product. You can expect a portable storage device that also serves as a portable charger for the earphones. The packaging promises three hours of playtime per charge, ten charges per case, wireless freedom, sweat resistance, hands-free calling and amazingly, the ability to charge your smartphone. I was truly excited to test the 2016 REDDOT award-winning earbuds.
After you slide the bottom of the case downwards, you will notice a thin black plastic tray. Along the top, you will find the earphones and the charging case is located in the middle. Along the left, you will find a triangular cutout, housing the accessories box “ACCESSORIES INSIDE.” Within the accessories case, the company provided a set of small and large silicone ear tips and a one-foot USB-A to USB-micro charging cable. The 3 3/16 inches long by 2 inches wide by 1 7/16 inches tall charger is shaped just like the packaging, complete with ribbed texturing. Beneath the charger, you will find the instruction manual and product warranty card.
To open the charger, orient the device so that you can see the discreet black “jam” logo. Press the right side of the case and slide the internal section towards the left. Two earbud shaped holes are located within the inside section of the charger-case. Remove the earbuds from the packaging and then place them into the case. A red LED will illuminate on the back of the earbuds, alerting you to the charging status. When finished, the LED will turn off (done when checked again an hour later). To use the earbuds, remove them from the case and they will automatically turn on and sync to one another. The LED will illuminate a solid blue for about 5 seconds and then will flash blue, alerting you to the pairing mode status. Navigate to settings on your smart device and then to Bluetooth. Select Jam Ultra and hear a beep on the devices. Interestingly, you can utilize the earphones in tandem or in mono mode (surroundings and sound). To use this mode, remove a single earbud from the case, and hold the side button for 2 seconds. Again navigate to the settings but this time connect to Jam Ultra Mono. To turn them off, simply put them back into the case or hold the side button for 5 seconds (you will hear a beep).
The earbuds arrived with medium tips installed. The medium tips were not comfortable and did not stay seated in my ears that well. Changing the tips proved to be an easy process, simply grab and pull outward. You can then add the small or large tips. The small tips proved to be much more comfortable. Having averagely sized ear canals, I typically find that I have to choose between medium and small tips. To place the tips into the ears, grip the sides and press firmly into the canal. The fit into the canal will determine the sound quality and thus you want to make sure that they are well seated. Each device weighs 0.1 ounces and has a single button. You will likely press the button multiple times while trying to get a good fit into the ear canal, at least until you get used to placing them into your ears.
The Jam Ultra device is very similar to other wireless earbuds. The best method that I found to seat the earphones was to place the tip into the canal, with the main body facing directly upward. With the right ear tip, I rotated counterclockwise until the device rested on the antihelix/antitragus (inside lip of the ear). To place the left earphone, I repeated the steps but rotated the earphone clockwise. You should not be confused about the left/right earphone as you will find an L or R imprinted underneath each of the devices. Using the preinstalled medium tips, the earphones would not stay in my ears. Switching to the smaller tips, the earphones rested amazingly well inside of my ear canal and rested on the antitragus, quite comfortably. To test the secure fit, I ran 1/4 mile, did 50 jumping jacks, 10 up-downs and 60 situps. Neither rotating my head from side to side nor side flexing towards the left or right caused the tips to loosen. The fit was surprisingly comfortable for a pair of in-ear earphones.
When I initially tried to pair the earphones, I was only able to get mono sound from one device. I had to replace them into the case a few times to get them to sync. Once synced, they easily paired with my iPhone 7 plus. You can use the single button on the side of either tip to play/pause or to connect/disconnect from a phone call. To test the utility of my earphone/headphones I navigated to audiocheck.net and used their Audio Tests. Through this site, I was able to test the Left/Right/Center and stereo perception. If you have not yet heard the original binaural recording, you will be taken aback by the knocking. Truthfully, it appears as if the knocking originates from behind you and I dare you to not look. Following these tests, I used the low and high-frequency tests to evaluate the range (20Hz-15kHz). The upper output range may be different than the actual level heard, as it is dependent upon the age of the user. As we get older, our hearing decreases and our upper range of hearing is reduced. I am able to hear from 15kHz-16kHz and my six and eight-year-old sons can hear up to 17-18kHz. Once the above tests were complete, I turned to my test tracks.
To test the bass, I like to use Cee Lo Green “Bright Lights Bigger City,” “Why So Serious” Joker Theme from Dark Knight Rises]\ and the Gladiator soundtrack. I found that the bass was rather strong and thumping and drowned out the treble. I did not use any type of sound modulation tech/apps and used Youtube, Spotify, Audible, Pandora, Amazon Prime Music, and my iTunes library. The goal was to keep the test as true to an average user as possible. I really had mixed feelings about the bass, as this device can use some balancing. To test the highs of the device, I like to use the Far and Away Soundtrack as well as the Soundtrack to Braveheart. Having played in music ensembles for many years, I absolutely love instrumental music and appreciate staging. A really neat author/track to test Staging (visual imagery of location based on sound), can be found in the Yosi Horikawa – Wandering – YouTube track. Personally, any of the tracks from Horikawa provide an enjoyable listening experience. Upon completion of the test tracks, I listen to some music from CCR, Alabama, Beach Boys, and Billy Joel, etc. I also really like Acapella groups such as Pentatonix and Twisted Measure.
Other than the overpowering bass, the sound was average and comparable to most ~$100 headphones that I have previously tested. The three-hour life is a little underwhelming, but I would not expect to use these for long listening anyway. If the song is mixed for heavy pumping bass, you may have to turn down the sound. I found 1/4 to 1/2 sound was best for most of my testing. I have read multiple reviews and never experienced the high whining/whirring sound that some detailed. To review the earbuds, I compared the Jam Ultra device to other similar devices, avoiding comparison with on-ear/over-ear styled devices. This is a perfect device for the gym, for a vacation, and for short bursts. The calling feature is an add-on and is no different than other devices. The microphone on the ear catches a lot of ambient noises and is subject to wind distortion. Additionally, others will tell you that you are in a wind tunnel. It will provide convenient handsfree features, which can be a useful benefit.
The left earbud is the main control device and will be the only device you hear when using Siri or making phone calls. It is a nice feature, which will allow you to hear the surrounding environment, namely for driving. The hand free functions are relatively lacking as you only have a single button on the side of each device. You can use them interchangeably and do not have to remember which button you pressed last. The variety of silicone tips will provide a nearly universal fit, which is necessary for the sound production (poor fit means poor sound). The device has no wings, which may be considered a pro or a con. I found that the wings were not necessary as the devices rested on my lower ear. If you are looking for a listening device for long-term use, these are not the earphones for you. Rather, an over-ear wired set like those from Bose or Sennheiser may be more to your liking. They are not designed for portability, nor wet environments, however.
I enjoyed the devices for roughly 2.5 hours before having to recharge and never made it to the full 3 hours. Testing them over the last week, while camping, was quite a fun experience. The devices will charge again in just about 1.5 hours and the case will easily charge overnight. There is no way to know how many charges are remaining on the case, which is a big drawback. I tried to charge my iPhone 7 Plus and was able to get a top off, but it was slow. The Best Buy site states that the device has a 6000 mAh battery, which will provide roughly 4800 mAh of useful charge. Assuming the 2900 mAh battery of the iPhone 7 plus, you can charge your device up to 1.5 times. Using my Drok USB multimeter, I found that the device charged about 1% every 2 minutes at 1 Amp. As the output is only 1A, I was not able to charge my iPad Air 2 at all (it did not even show that it was charging). After evaluating fit, sound and all of the features, I found that this kit performed better than expected. This kit may be perfect for camping and has become the device that I take on my Cubscout outings. I would rate the device at 4/5 stars.
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Charging/Protected case is amazing (although 1A output may not be powerful enough to charge some devices)
- Super lightweight
- Charging case will serve as emergency phone power.
- Difficult to synchronize the earphones (occasional drops)
- 2-3 hour life is a little short but on par with many similar devices
- Cannot change track/volume from the device
- Button placement is not ideal, you will pause sound by repositioning the earphones.
- No ear wings may be a deficit to some.
- No indicator on the case for remaining charge