JBL has had quite a year. The company launched a few new additions to its Everest line of flagship headphones, including the Everest 110 wireless in-ear headphones, and it refreshed its E-Series of headphones. Now, it’s adding yet another model to that E-Series — the JBL E65BTNC.
As the name suggests, the JBL E65BTNC headphones are both Bluetooth (BT), and noise cancelling (NC). That makes it the only model in the E-Series to offer both those features. But is it worth buying? After all, these may be part of JBL’s budget lineup of headphones, but they still cost $200. We put the JBL E65BTNC headphones to the test to find out.
The first thing to notice about a new product is always its design, and JBL has stuck pretty much in line with the other E-Series headphones for the E65BTNC. They’re made largely from plastic, with metal used where necessary — like in the hinges for the foldable design. The headband is made from a cloth material, which feels nice and helps give the headphones a premium look.
The JBL E65BTNC headphones are available in a few different colors — including black, blue, and white. We’re reviewing the black pair, and they look quite good. They’re relatively sleek and stylish, and the black color helps give them a subtle tone.
On the left earcup, you’ll find the MicroUSB port, but that’s it. Everything else, including playback controls, wireless controls, and an aux port, are found on the right earcup. There are quite a few controls to get used to there — and it might take a few minutes to memorize where the controls are while the headphones are on your head.
In the box, you’ll get the headphones themselves, along with a MicroUSB charging cable and a 3.5mm aux cable. That’s really all you would expect, though a carry case is always a nice addition.
The headphones look nice, and they’re relatively comfortable too — though there are a few quirks to keep in mind. Some reviewers have noted that these headphones don’t entirely cover their ears, and that might be true for some. We didn’t experience that issue — but the fit was still a little tight.
Also tight was the clamp. This makes sense from a sound perspective — in order to truly cancel outside noise, there needs to be a relatively tight seal. Still, at least from a comfort perspective, there is a trade-off.
That’s not to say its a deal-breaker. It’s not. The clamp isn’t overly done, and you’ll get used to it relatively quickly. We were able to wear the headphones for extended periods of time without too many issues.
Design and comfort are important enough, but in the end these are a pair of headphones — so sound is the most important thing to consider. Thankfully, these headphones don’t sound bad at all. In fact, they sound great.
Let’s start with the bass response, which is powerful and deep — exactly what you would want from a pair of $200 headphones. The bass is quite clearly a little boosted here — but that’s what many will be looking for. Don’t buy these for a super accurate sound profile, but for most consumers the bass response is exactly what you’ll be looking for.
The mid-range of the headphones is also very well tuned. There are plenty of low-mids to help give the headphones a warm tone, and the high-mids are accentuate vocals exactly how you would want them to.
These headphones really shine in the high-end. It’s clear, sibilant, and very present, which is exactly the opposite of what many headphones have to offer. That made for a great listening experience no matter what the genre — whether it be Katy Perry’s California Girls, or Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor.
Of course, these headphones go beyond just offering a relatively well-tuned sound profile — they’re also noise cancelling. The noise cancellation here is actually very well done. Make no mistake, it’s not going to take out the level of noise cancellation you’ll find on the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones — but in this price range the JBL E65BTNC headphones could be the headphones to beat.
It’s important to note that the noise cancellation on these headphones does seem to have a small impact on sound profile. We noticed a slightly boosted response in the high-end when noise cancellation was on, while there was a slight boost in the high-mids with it off.
The JBL E65BTNC headphones are both Bluetooth and noise-cancelling — and that often taxes the battery quite a lot. Thankfully, the battery life on these is pretty good. You’ll get 24 hours of battery life with noise cancellation on, and 15 hours with it off.
Note: Unlike what some other reviews have noted, you can toggle noise cancellation on and off while the headphones are connected via Bluetooth.
The Bluetooth connection on these headphones is Bluetooth 4.1, and you’ll get a standard connection range of 10 meters, or 33 feet. We didn’t experience any real skips or stutters under normal use, except at unreasonably long distances or through a lot of obstacles.
JBL has built an excellent pair of headphones here, and one that stands as one of the best options for those looking for a great pair of noise cancelling headphones under $200. The JBL E65BTNC headphones are well-designed, reasonably comfortable, and they sound great.
But there’s some serious competition — the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC, which come in at the exact same price, but offer a little extra battery life. In general, if you’re looking for the best pair of noise cancelling headphones under $200, we still recommend the Sennheisers.
Still, you can’t really go wrong either way. If you’re a fan of JBL’s design and prefer a slightly more tweaked sound, then these may be a better choice for you. In fact, because of their excellent value for money, we’re awarding the JBL E65BTNC headphones the Headphone Review Silver Medal.
|20Hz – 20kHz
|Active noise cancellation
|Total harmonic distortion
|Rated input power
|24 hours (BT only), 15 hours (BT and NC)
|Maximum input power
|Black, blue, white