Handy, fast-charging Bluetooth On-Ears with voice control options

JBL’s wireless On-Ears Live 400BT are compact and portable on the one hand, but at the same time offer many technical refinements. This includes the integration of voice services, support for multipoint connections, a Talkthru and Ambient Aware function, as well as an app connection. In addition, a 3-button remote with integrated microphone for device control and a long battery life round off the lavish feature list of the powerfully tuned headphones.

With their foldable design, the on-ears are space-saving, collapsible and easy to transport, while the non-slip fabric coating of the temple and the imitation leather ear padding ensure a comfortable fit. This is by no means loose, but rather quite tight, so that the listeners do not slip, even during a short sprint. For pressure-sensitive people with larger head shapes, however, the fit can be too tight. All in all, the on-ears, which are primarily made of plastic, are impeccably crafted and robust, especially as the metal-reinforced folding mechanism promotes durability.

In practice, the battery performance of these headphones proved to be remarkable in view of the compact form, since the battery only required a recharge after 25 hours of playback at high output levels. Thanks to the quick charge function, 15 minutes are enough to continue using the battery for over five hours, while a full charge of the lithium polymer battery, which has a capacity of 700 mAh, takes less than two hours. Alternatively, if no power is available, the 3.5 mm audio input can be used for wired listening. In addition to the USB charging cable, a corresponding mini jack cable with gold-plated plugs (which also has a 1-button remote with integrated microphone) is included in the scope of delivery.

Device control and voice assistant integration

The Live 400BT supports the Bluetooth standard 4.2 and, in combination with various Android and iOS devices, offered ranges of sometimes more than twelve metres with a high stability, which is a very good result. If the system is switched on via the power button, direct pairing is possible, as the handsets are automatically set to pairing mode. Subsequently, device functions such as starting and stopping playback and answering and ending telephone calls can be controlled using the central remote button. For volume control, separate buttons are available, which can also be used to help with title selection by holding down the button and pressing the plus button to jump forward or backward, which is done without delay. Another good solution is the seamless switching of multipoint connections with two devices, whereby calls are given priority. Despite the large reverberation chamber, these calls can be handled with good and clear speech intelligibility.

One highlight from my point of view is the integration of Google Assistant. Once the voice control via the JBL Headphones App has been set up, you can communicate with the assistant at any time. This is done by touching or holding the left headphone shell, which is equipped with a touch-sensitive surface. This makes it possible to retrieve information, read messages aloud and, with the help of voice support, answer them without the coupled device having to be in the same room. According to JBL, Amazon’s Alexa is supported in addition to Google’s assistant.

Talkthru & Ambient Aware mode

To counteract, if necessary, the rather high shielding from the outside world, the headphones are equipped with two modes, which can be (de-)activated via an additional button on the right side. While the Talkthru function makes entertainment easy by greatly reducing the playback volume and amplifying the voice of the other listener via the microphone, the Ambient Aware mode aims to improve perception of your surroundings. In direct comparison to the insulation properties of the on-ears, this is indeed increased, whereby the proportion is adjustable via the app, so that the function can also be adapted to the situation.

App connection

The free JBL Headphones App offers both firmware updates for the headphones and individual setting options such as sound adjustment via EQ. Prefabricated presets such as “Jazz”, “Vocals” or “Bass” can be used. In addition, it is also possible to save your own EQ settings so that personal preferences can be taken into account.


The Bluetooth headphones have high output with good reserves and a powerful bass foundation that reaches quite deep down. Despite the presence in the bass, the tuning is harmonious and pleasing, as midrange and treble are by no means dominated. The sound appears clear, defined and has a lively, dynamic attack, which conveys an appealing liveliness and immediately makes listening fun. Only the resolution is limited, which is why the support of high-quality audio codecs would have been desirable. The stereo stage is also more compact than expansive, but has structure and offers a rather direct sound that skilfully adds presence to vocals. In this respect, the on-ears have good all-rounder qualities with a powerful sound, even if higher demands on resolution cannot be fulfilled.

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

Fans of the Google Assistant benefit from an extensive integration, which proves to be a flexible support in everyday life, especially in combination with a smartphone. And apart from the desire for high-quality audio codecs, there is not much to criticise about the harmonious overall package, as both the handy format of the on-ears and the technical functions are convincing. If you are looking for versatile and durable Bluetooth headphones with a round, bass-driven tuning, JBL’s Live 400BT is the right choice for you.

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingOn-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principledynamic
  • Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
  • Impedance34 ohms
  • Sound pressure level (SPL)98,75 dB
  • Pressure averaged from big and small head522 g
  • Weight with cable217 g
  • Weight without cable205 g
  • Cable length120 cm

What's in the box

  • Mini jack cable with 1-button remote and integrated microphone
  • USB charging cable

Special features

  • available in black, white, red and blue
  • BT version: 4.2
  • BT profiles: A2DP V1.3, AVRCP V1.5, HFP V1.6