In the extremely unlikely event that you’ve been hoping and wishing for a Walkman comeback with a futuristic twist, congrats: Your time has come, thanks to JLab.
The iconic Sony portable cassette player — though “Walkman” became a sort of catchall term, like “Chapstick” or “Band-Aids” — soundtracked many a workout in the ’80s and ’90s, with Discman CD versions remaining popular until MP3 players like the iPod took hold in the early aughts. Now, JLab is bringing us all back to the good old days (or, for some of us, the pre-birth days) with the $20 Rewind Wireless Retro headphones, a modern update on the classic Walkman design.
The Rewind Wireless Retro headphones (henceforth referred to as Retro) are a sight to behold, a technological portal to the days when bright orange foam earpads and flimsy aluminum headbands were the standard. As you might expect, though, JLab updated the tech inside the headphones so you don’t need a tape cassette (or CD, or MP3s) to listen.
The Retro are fully wireless, designed to connect to your phone via Bluetooth 4.2, and capable of carrying a 12-hour charge (a Micro USB port is nestled between one of the pads and its plastic plating) to boot. There’s a built-in microphone for taking calls, and they also come with black earpads, if you find the orange a bit gaudy.
In our time with the Retro, the headphones worked as intended, which is pretty much all you can ask from a $20 pair. They didn’t actually come with any instructions, which would have been nice — apparently you can swap between three EQ settings (“signature,” “balanced,” “bass boost”) while music is playing, though we never found out how — but most of the functions were pretty easy to figure out. There’s just one button on the back of the right earpad, which controls power, answers phone calls, and allows you to play/pause (quick tap) or skip to the next track (long press).
The headphones sound decent for the price, but they (predictably) do a terrible job sealing sound out, so you need to crank up the volume if you’re outside (or at the gym, on the train, or sometimes even in the office).
If you’re taken by the Retro’s retro stylings, picking up a pair won’t break the bank, but we wouldn’t recommend them for any serious listeners. We do, however, recommend some of JLab’s more performance-focused gear, like the excellent Block Party multiroom speakers.
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