For Bluetooth headphones in this price range, the JVC HA-S91N’s active noise cancellation meshes remarkably well with their sound image, which can be adjusted via three sound modes. In addition, they impress with a long playing time, convenient functions and extremely pleasant wearing comfort.
At just under 200 grams, the JVC HA-S91N from JVCKenwood Corporation can be considered a true lightweight among circumaural wireless headphones. The low weight is due to the compact plastic construction. Since the headband with its black leatherette padding is very narrow and slender, it fits small heads. For larger heads, you can pull out the two metal extensions that lock into place in twelve steps. The oval, circumaural capsules adjust to the position of the ears using a combination hinge that allows them to be folded outwards by 90 degrees and completely into the earpiece. The latter is for space-saving and protected transportation of the headphones.
All buttons for the functions are located on the right ear cup, as are the USB-C socket for charging the headphones and the mini-jack input for cable operation. The voice microphone and two status LEDs are also hidden there. For active noise cancellation, a microphone is installed in each of the two ear cups.
The manufacturer provides the HA-S91N with a USB charging cable, a 1.2-metre mini-jack audio cable and a net bag. A leaflet with a brief description of the product is also enclosed.
Its low weight pays off not only when carried in a pocket but especially when on the head. During long listening sessions, you literally forget they are there, thanks to the very fluffy interchangeable earpads. These tight headphones fit snugly around the head without pinching. The oval shells also feel good on the ears. I can feel the padding on the outer ear, but that gives me a sense of security.
With 42 hours of continuous use without ANC switched on, these headphones have a real marathon run time. Even with active noise cancellation, they still last up to 37 hours. After that, it only takes three hours for the charging station to refuel the battery.
When the headphones are switched on, they immediately enter pairing mode, which means they just need to be confirmed as a Bluetooth device on your smartphone. Thanks to Bluetooth version 5.0, the connection only breaks after about ten metres. Unfortunately, only SBC is used for audio coding.
The buttons on the right ear cup stop, start, pause and skip streamed music, and the volume can be adjusted. Of course, phone calls can also be accepted and ended, as well as made via the built-in microphone. The voice quality is quite acceptable. But both incoming voice messages and phone calls sound noisier and somewhat muffled than via a mobile phone’s loudspeaker. In addition, the signal captured via the microphone fluctuates in its frequencies, which markedly impairs intelligibility.
The microphone can also be used to communicate with voice assistants such as Siri.
Since sound is a matter of taste, the manufacturer tries to play it safe and gives the JVC HA-S91N three sound modes available at the touch of a button for wireless operation. The normal mode, which also corresponds to the sound with the cable connected, seems to me to be quite balanced in the lower frequency spectrum. Its bass, which makes the 40-millimetre neodymium drivers pulsate even at 10 hertz, sounds natural and harmonious. Having said that, a few more nuances between 60 and 100 hertz would have made them even better.
The mid and upper treble frequencies are more in need of some discussion, as they noticeably lose some of their linearity. Here I felt they were missing a certain amount of sparkle, transparency and brilliance. Compared to linear headphones, there is a diminishing bell jar effect on the sound that is particularly noticeable in direct A/B comparisons. The additional modes cannot remedy this shortcoming; after all, the “Bass” setting only adds a little bit to the sound without masking the other frequencies. “Clear” sounds very mid-range because it does without bass. For me, this mode is more suitable for phone calls than music.
Because their dynamic drivers have a sensitivity of 100 decibels and their impedance is a low 32 ohms, these headphones deliver a punchy sound even with a smartphone that doesn’t rattle or distort even at full power.
Active noise cancellation
In addition to use when switched-off, the ANC offers an ambient sound mode that plays ambient sounds via microphone, somewhat unnaturally and exaggeratedly. The noise-cancelling filters the lower and middle frequencies of the interfering signals, so that they are almost drowned out in the music. The closed ear cups also do a good job with shielding. If you compare the sounds with ANC on and off, the noise reduction doesn’t work wonders, but it sounds more pleasing.
The aesthetically simple JVC HA-S91N Bluetooth headphones impressed us with their light weight. At just under 200 grams, their compact design favours long listening sessions, as does their battery which offers up to 42 hours of playtime. For which they require only three hours of charging time. The sound is convincing with balanced bass and restrained mids. At higher frequencies, however, it lacks some brilliance at the expense of transparency. Three adjustable modes offer individual sound management. The active noise cancellation counters the environmental noise. If you don’t want to isolate yourself completely, you can activate the ambient sound, which plays the sound somewhat exaggeratedly via the microphones. At 129 euros RRP, these small shortcomings deserve to be taken into account.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)10 - 22.000 Hz
- Impedance32 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)105,04 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head435 g
- Weight with cable211 g
- Weight without cable198 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- Audio cable with 3.5 mm jack plug
- USB-C charging cable
- Carrying pouch
- BT codecs: SBC
- BT version: 5.0
- BT profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP