With the Live 500BT, JBL offers powerful, wireless over-ears that offer a separate touch control for voice services, in addition to a long-lasting rechargeable battery with quick charge function. The 3-button remote is used for device control, and multipoint connections are also supported. In addition to a TalkThru and Ambient Aware function, the foldable headphones also connect to an app with EQ for sound adjustment.
These over-ears have oval-shaped shells, which are not straight but suspended at a slight slant, so that your ears are enclosed by a rather luxurious artificial leather padding. In this respect, there is good shielding from the noises of the outside world. Due to the materials, a certain amount of heat develops while you are wearing them, but it is within acceptable limits. The fit is rather tight, but this is an advantage when you’re on the move, as the headphones do not slip, even during sporting activities. For pressure-sensitive people, however, this model seems to be suitable only to a limited extent. Otherwise, these headphones, which are primarily made of plastic, appear robust and well manufactured, while the foldable design enables space-saving transportation.
The battery performance of these Bluetooth headphones – which provides a runtime of over 37 hours until a power supply is required – is a positive feature. Thanks to the quick charge function, the headphones can also be used for more than six hours after just fifteen minutes of charging. Complete charging of the lithium polymer battery via the supplied USB cable, on the other hand, takes just under two hours. Optional wired use is also available, as the headphones have a 3.5 mm audio input. A corresponding mini jack cable with 1-button remote and integrated microphone is also included in the package.
Device control and voice service integration
The coupling of these headphones, which support Bluetooth standard 4.2, offers stable ranges of up to ten metres. The headphones are automatically set to pairing mode when switched on via the power slide button, and they work in combination with various Android and iOS devices. If there is a wireless connection, the central remote button controls the start/stop function as well as the acceptance and termination of telephone calls. The speech intelligibility is extremely good when telephoning. Separate buttons are available for adjusting the volume, and these can also be used for title navigation by holding down the button and pressing the plus button to jump forward or backwards. The remote reacts reliably and without delay. Another extremely useful feature is the seamless switching between two paired devices, especially since calls are given priority so that they are not missed when you are using a smartphone and tablet in parallel.
If you enjoy using the services of Google Assistant, you will enjoy successful integration with these headphones. You can communicate at any time with the assistant, as soon as the voice control is set up with the JBL Headphones app. An integrated touchpad covers the surface of the left headphone shell. In addition to asking questions, it is also possible to read messages aloud and reply to them via voice support. According to JBL, Amazon’s Alexa is another voice service which can be used with these headphones.
These headphones have a powerful output with plenty of reserves and are clearly tuned for bass, with the rich foundation reaching quite deep down. A slight feathering of the superficial basses is noticeable, but they don’t seem obtrusively overloaded and leave enough room for vocals and lead instruments to unfold. While the low-frequency range has a slight dullness, the sound is otherwise clear. The treble is present, pleasantly balanced and quite constant so that there is no noticeable drop. At the same time, there is a dynamic response and the warm sound is lively. If you like a strong bass sound you will enjoy listening with these. These over-ears, on the other hand, cannot meet ambitious demands on sound quality as the resolution appears limited and only the SBC codec is supported. In addition, discreet background noise can be perceived in a quiet atmosphere.
TalkThru and Ambient Aware Mode
If you want, you can use the TalkThru function to talk, as the mode minimises the volume at the touch of a button and amplifies voices successfully, making communication easy. The Ambient Aware function, on the other hand, enhances external perception by allowing a mix of playback and ambient noise to be heard. Both technologies can be activated and deactivated via an additional button on the right-hand side of the headphones. From my point of view, the only thing worthy of criticism is that both modes amplify background noise, which restricts long-term use.
JBL Headphones app
The free app allows you to adjust the sound via EQ to your own needs and to save the settings as a preset. Alternatively, pre-configured templates are available with “Bass”, “Vocals” or “Jazz”. Another advantage of the app is the ability to refresh the headphones with firmware updates.
JBL’s Live 500BT scores points with a high battery life, the quick charging function, and the successful integration of Google Assistant – very handy for everyday tasks. However, the existence of background noise and the lack of support for high-quality audio codecs such as aptX or AAC can be seen as shortcomings. Apart from that, these portable Bluetooth headphones offer a harmonious, bass-heavy sound, making them fun to use.
Measurement ResultsMore measurement results
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)18 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance34,4 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)104,09 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head700,5 g
- Weight with cable259 g
- Weight without cable248 g
- Cable length120 cm