JBL Club 950NC

Robust Bluetooth over-ears with ANC, voice control options and high runtime

These Club 950NC foldable over-ears from JBL are powerfully tuned, quick-charging, have active noise suppression and, in addition to functional device control, offer a large button for interaction with voice services such as Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. Sound and system adjustments are also possible via these wireless headphone’s app connection, while Ambient Aware and TalkThru technology can be used to enhance external perception or communication if required.

One thing is obvious as soon as you take them out of the box: these headphones are not lightweight. No, the solid construction is not primarily made of plastic, but it gives a feeling of value and durability because of the metal content. The impeccable workmanship is also an indication of this quality, the folding hinges are made of solid metal and the earpads can be easily replaced thanks to the clever magnetic holder. Despite the weight of 370 grams, the fit is not uncomfortable and is neither too loose nor too tight, maintaining a stable hold when on the move. The heat generated by the circumaural system is also fairly low, which is a positive feature for longer use or when wearing in higher temperatures. Those who travel a lot will also find it advantageous that the Club 950NC, with its tilting, swivelling and collapsible ear cups, can be folded to save space. They can be transported safely and easily in the hardshell case which is included in the package.

These over-ears also prove to be suitable for travelling in terms of their available battery capacity, as the runtime in our practical test was over 46 hours despite usage at a high level. Especially impressive is the downright amazing performance of the quick charge function, which allows more than ten hours of use after fifteen minutes of power supply. The system is fully recharged in 105 minutes via the USB-C connection, for which a USB-C to USB-A charging cable is included in the package. With active noise suppression, the running time is reduced to around 24 hours, which is still a respectable result. In addition, according to the manufacturer’s specifications, the ANC mode is also available wired for up to 30 hours per charging cycle. However, there is room for criticism as they elected to use a 2.5mm audio input. A 2.5mm to 3.5mm cable with a 1-button remote and microphone is included with the headphones, but it is susceptible to cable noise and cannot be replaced by standard mini jack cables.

Device control and voice assistant integration

Pairing these over-ears, which support Bluetooth standard 5.0, can be done directly at power-on by holding down the power button, which automatically puts the headphones into pairing mode. If a wireless connection exists, a 3-button remote control on the right side of the ear cup is used to control device functions. The central button starts and stops playback, and receives or ends calls. Voice assistants such as Bixby or Siri can also be called up by double-clicking. The buttons on the outside of the ear cup are available for volume control and also enable title navigation: holding down the plus button causes the volume to turn up and the minus button turns down. While the remote reacts reliably and there were no connection problems with various Android and iOS systems, the range of the Bluetooth connection was not particularly high at around seven to eight metres. Especially since frequent dropouts occurred, mainly during movement. Convincing features were the multi-pairing with two devices, which makes it possible to switch seamlessly between them, and the decent speech intelligibility during phone calls.

Integration of Google Assistant has also been well realised. As soon as voice control is set up via the JBL Headphones App, the user can communicate with the Assistant at any time via the surface of the left ear cup, which functions as an action button. The interaction here includes information requests as well as reading messages aloud and answering them by voice, which can provide useful support in everyday life and when travelling.

TalkThru and Ambient Aware mode

These over-ears provide good shielding, but this is not the only advantage as the outside world can be amplified by the integrated microphones if desired. Both modes have a background noise, which is more pronounced with the TalkThru function. Nevertheless, perfect communication is possible by lowering the playback volume and raising voices in a targeted manner. In contrast, the Ambient Aware mode generally increases ambient noise so that it is possible to perceive the environment during playback. However, only one of the two functions can be accessed directly via a button located on the left side of the ear cup. Which mode is to be used is determined via the app.

Sound

The basic sound of these over-ears is quite universal and has a clear sound with present bass and treble. All in all, the bass foundation appears round, has a compact fullness without being overloaded, sounds well defined and offers powerful listening enjoyment, even if more depth might be present in hip-hop or club music. Although these headphones are equipped with a bass-boost button on the right-hand side, the low frequency range is amplified at the touch of a button. However, the benefit is limited, as the function tends to overdrive, which varies depending on the device and was more pronounced on iOS devices in our test. Compared to the bass, the mids appear a little more restrained, but they are clear with a soft, warm character and reproduce vocals in an appealingly lively manner. The highs are also characterised by clarity and a certain effervescence, with a slight drop in the high frequency range. Given the price, it seems questionable that no higher quality audio codecs are supported. They must, therefore, be used with the standard SBC codec, regardless of the system employed.

When the headphones are switched on, the ANC mode is automatically used, which is indicated by a white LED. Since the noise-cancelling function shares a button with the TalkThru or Ambient Aware function, holding down the button for a few seconds triggers deactivation and activation. If noise reduction is active, a background noise must be tolerated, otherwise a more bass-accentuated tuning is present, which gives the sound a fuller density. Monotone, low frequency noise is especially well suppressed, whereas complex sources like street noise or a kitchen radio are at the very least noticeably attenuated.

App connection

In addition to the configuration of voice control, button assignment and firmware updates, the free JBL Headphones App can also be used to adjust the sound via EQ, where your own settings can be saved. Furthermore, the feature called “Stage+” gives access to the settings of club stars like Tigerlily, Armin van Buuren, Nicky Romero, Sunnery James and Ryan Marciano. With multiple presets, however, overdriving occurs similar to the Bass Booster, which is why some tweaks would be desirable.

Maike Paeßens
4 months ago by Maike Paeßens
  • Rating: 3.88
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

JBL’s rugged, portable Club 950NC wireless headphones are built for endurance and, in addition to a superb fast-charging capability, offer helpful support through the successful integration of Google Assistant at the touch of a button. These modern tuned all-rounders also score points with useful functions such as the TalkThru/Ambient Aware modes and a noise reduction that is respectable for background noise. The downsides are quite frequent Bluetooth dropouts, a rather short range, the lack of high-quality audio codecs and an overdriving bass booster.

  • robust, portable design
  • long battery life with powerful quick charge function
  • TalkThru and Ambient Aware function
  • App connection
  • Hard shell case
  • no support of high quality audio codecs
  • quite low Bluetooth range with dropouts
  • bass booster tends to overdrive
  • noise in ANC mode

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingOver-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principledynamic
  • Frequency response (headphones)(passive) 16 - 40.000 Hz; (active) 16 - 22.000 Hz
  • Impedance32 ohms
  • Sound pressure level (SPL)105 dB
  • Weight without cable372 g

What's in the box

  • 2.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable with 1-button remote and microphone
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Hardshell case

Special features

  • BT codecs: SBC
  • BT version: 5.0