JBL has been flowing from strength to strength recently. Between their Endurance and Reflect series of workout earphones to their durable, machine of a portable speaker – the Xtreme 2; JBL’s recent releases have been impressive, to say the least. Now, the wholly-owned subsidiary of HARMAN International and Samsung Electronics Co. has released the new LIVE Series of headphones range that aim to pair incredible sound with sophisticated technology. Are they worth it?
Not only are they worth it, but they’re price point is deceiving – companies are charging much more for worse. In short, the LIVE 400BT (AU$149.95) are on-ear headphones with 40mm drivers and a dynamic frequency response range of 20Hz-20kHz. They feature a touch responsive side for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, Ambient Aware and TalkThru volume control, touch controls and 24 hours of battery life. Ambient Aware is a mode that softens the audio in your headphones and allows outside noise in. We found this particularly useful in the workplace where music was loud enough to listen too, but we wouldn’t miss any important questions or team discussions in the room.
The LIVE 650BTNC (AU$249.95) are also powered by 40mm drivers with dynamic frequency range of 16Hz-20kHz. Unlike the 400BT, this model features Active Noice Cancelling (ANC), side touch panel that also incorporates Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa as well as the ability to play/pause/pick up calls with the tap of a finger. With ANC off, we experienced 29 hours of battery life and just over 17.5 hours with ANC on.
Whilst the 400BT do not feature the JBL’s Active Noice Cancelling technology, they are pulled tight to the ear, whilst remaining comfortable, to block out outside noise nearly as well as the ANC on the 650BTNC. I usually have a personal preference for over-ear headphones, but I found myself rather enjoying the firm hug of the soft ear cushions. With the assistance of the My JBL Headphones App, it’s remarkable how much outside noise is removed when pressing the button to turn the ANC on and off – how did I ever exist on public transport before this moment? Voices on podcasts are clean and crisp and there is no lag between mouths moving and the sound in your ears when using YouTube or watching downloaded content (as experienced on other bluetooth headphones). The sound of high quality streams of music is lushiously bass-y and warm, especially when using the supplied AUX cable versus Bluetooth. The 650BT also has the ability to connect to two devices at once – think, audio on your computer at work AND the ability to have text messages read discretely in your ear.
Both headphones feature a fitting fabric headband that is an aesthetically and physically pleasing textual change between the plastic of the outer shell. We did notice the fabric on our white pair of LIVE 400BT’s retained dirt from hands quite easily. Both headphones come with an AUX cable but only the 650BTNC comes with any type of case – a simple carrying pouch. We wish the 400BT’s came with at least a pouch to help ensure their safety.
Both models come in black, navy and white.