JBL’s Live 650BTNC have active noise cancellation, are equipped with a 3-button remote for device control and also support multipoint connections. For interaction with voice services such as Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa, a touchpad is used, while the app connection of these portable headphones allows individual sound adjustments to be made via EQ.
These comfortably fitting over-ears are primarily made of plastic, and appear robust and perfectly finished. The fit is tight rather than loose so that there is a stable hold even in the event of an intermediate sprint. Since the oval-shaped shells are not suspended straight but slightly slanted, the ears are enclosed by the imitation leather upholstery which enhances shielding from the outside world. At the same time, development of heat is perceptible, but this stays within acceptable levels.
On the energy side, these foldable and space-saving portable headphones offer a running time of a good 26 hours at a high level. What is remarkable here is that the quick charge function provides capacities for up to six hours after just fifteen minutes of charging, while full charging of the lithium polymer battery via the supplied USB cable takes just under two hours. In ANC mode, on the other hand, the battery life is almost 20 hours, with noise reduction also available as a wired feature, which, according to the manufacturer, is possible for up to 35 hours per charge cycle. For alternative use of the 3.5 mm audio input, a mini jack cable with 1-button remote and integrated microphone is also included in the accessories.
Device control and voice service integration
Pairing of these over-ears, which support Bluetooth standard 4.2, is done directly when they are switched on via the power slide button as they are automatically set to pairing mode. The central remote button can then be used to control the start/stop function and to accept and end calls. In addition, a separate volume control is available, and the buttons can also be used for title navigation by holding down the button and pressing the plus or minus to jump forward or backward. While the remote responds reliably overall, it is the good speech intelligibility when telephoning and the stability of the wireless connection, in conjunction with various Android and iOS systems, that have attracted positive attention. In some cases, the range was over ten metres. It is also useful that two coupled devices such as a Smartphone and tablet give priority to calls and can be switched seamlessly.
An additional plus point is the successful integration of Google Assistant, which allows you to communicate at any time as soon as voice control has been set up via the JBL Headphones App. A touch pad, which covers the surface of the left headphone cup, serves as the button to activate the assistant, this interaction also covers reading out messages and answering them using voice support.
These Bluetooth headphones are balanced, have a clear sound and a high output that offers reserves. The slightly springy basses appear slim rather than voluminous, well defined and reproduce the deep bass range. While vocals and lead instruments are presented in a spacious manner, the trebles show a constant presence without noticeably decreasing. Even the well-structured sound stage is not too compact and conveys a sense of three-dimensionality, especially as the sound has an appealing liveliness. In this respect these headphones are versatile and cover a wide musical spectrum. The only thing worthy of criticism is that the sound is a little blurry and only the SBC codec is supported.
In ANC mode, on the other hand, there is a more bass-driven tuning that does not cover mid-range and treble. This gives the sound a richer density and eliminates monotonous, low frequency external noise. Even the rattling of a sewing machine, for example, is hardly noticeable. Complex street noise, a kettle boiling or the kitchen radio do noticeably reduce noise suppression. One drawback is the existing background noise, especially as it can be perceived as annoying that the ANC mode is automatically active when the headphones are switched on. If you don’t want to use noise suppression, you have to switch it off first, which is done via a separate button.
JBL Headphones App
With the free app, the headphones can be refreshed with firmware updates. In addition, an equalizer offers the option of individually adjusting the sound, which can be done using preconfigured presets such as “Bass”, “Vocals” or “Jazz” or your own settings.
The highlight of the Live 650BTNC from JBL in everyday use was the successful integration of Google Assistant. The noise suppression was also very versatile, but a little background noise has to be accepted. Otherwise, these universally oriented Bluetooth over-ears score points with a powerful quick charging function, seamless switching between two paired devices, and plenty of freedom of movement thanks to stable wireless connection with a long range. However support for high-quality audio codecs such as aptX or the AAC format has not been included.
Measurement ResultsMore measurement results
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance37,7 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)103,11 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head613 g
- Weight with cable273 g
- Weight without cable262 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- Mini jack cable with 1-button remote and integrated microphone
- USB charging cable
- Carrying pouch
- available in black, white and blue
- BT version: 4.2
- BT profiles: HFP v1.6, A2DP V1.3, AVRCP V1.5
- BT codecs: SBC