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JBL Live 460NC Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed May 13, 2021 at 09:38 am
JBL Live 460NC Wireless Picture
7.2
Mixed Usage
7.3
Neutral Sound
7.4
Commute/Travel
7.3
Sports/Fitness
7.2
Office
5.8
Wireless Gaming
7.4
Wired Gaming
6.7
Phone Calls
Type On-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling Yes
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The JBL Live 460NC Wireless are on-ear headphones with active noise cancelling (ANC). Out-of-the-box, they have a neutral sound profile with a bit of extra thump and rumble, which is suitable for lots of different audio content. If you prefer a different sound, their companion app has a parametric EQ and presets. They also support multi-device pairing with up to two devices at once and have a continuous battery life of under 30 hours. However, while their ANC does a decent overall job of blocking out background noise, it struggles more to cut down bass-range sounds like bus or plane engine noise. Some users may also find their on-ear fit to be uncomfortable for long listening sessions.

Our Verdict

7.2 Mixed Usage

The JBL Live 460NC are decent for mixed use. These headphones are designed for casual use, thanks to their ANC, wireless design, and customizable sound profile. While they may not be stable enough for intense sports, they can help block out some ambient chatter at the office. Their ANC fares a bit worse when it comes to blocking out rumbly bus and plane engines, though, and they're a bit bulky. They also have a poor passive soundstage, which doesn't make your audio sound very immersive.

Pros
  • Parametric EQ and presets available.
  • Comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Poor passive soundstage.
  • Sub-par noise handling.
7.3 Neutral Sound

The JBL Live 460NC are decent for neutral sound. Right out-of-the-box, they have a neutral sound profile with a touch of extra bass to bring out thump and rumble in your mixes. If you're looking for an even more neutral sound profile, their companion app offers a parametric EQ and presets to help tweak their sound to your liking. On the downside, their passive soundstage doesn't feel very immersive, spacious, or wide.

Pros
  • Parametric EQ and presets available.
Cons
  • Poor passive soundstage.
7.4 Commute/Travel

The JBL Live 460NC are decent for commute and travel. They're well-built, have a long-lasting continuous battery life of under 30 hours, and have a breathable fit. However, they're a bit bulky, which can make them hard to take with you on the go, and their ANC struggles to cut down bass-range noise like the rumble of bus and plane engines. While they're comfortable, some users may find them tight or fatiguing.

Pros
  • Comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Struggles to block out bass-range noise.
7.3 Sports/Fitness

The JBL Live 460NC are decent for sports and fitness. They're comfortable, well-built, and can be used wirelessly, which helps eliminate the chances of something snagging the headphones and pulling them off your head. However, the headphones can fall off your head with moderate head movements. They also don't have an IP rating for dust or water resistance, although we don't currently test for this, and some users may find them fatiguing to wear for long gym sessions.

Pros
  • Comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Could fall off your ears with moderate physical movement.
7.2 Office

The JBL Live 460NC are satisfactory for office use. They're well-built, have an ANC, which helps cut down office chatter around you, and have under 30 hours of continuous playback time, so you don't need to worry about recharging them throughout your day. They also have a comfortable fit, though some users may find they feel a bit tight and fatiguing over a long workday. They support multi-device pairing too, so you can connect them to your phone and work computer at once.

Pros
  • Comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Poor passive soundstage.
5.8 Wireless Gaming

The JBL Live 460NC are compatible with Bluetooth-enabled PCs, but their latency is likely too high to be suitable for wireless gaming. They aren't compatible with Xbox One or PS4 consoles.

7.4 Wired Gaming

The JBL Live 460NC are decent for wired gaming. While they can be used wired, they only support audio, so you can't use their mic while gaming. That said, you can customize their sound profile using their app's parametric EQ and presets, and they have a comfortable fit, although some users may find them fatiguing to wear for long periods. On the downside, their mic offers an okay recording quality, but it struggles to separate your voice from background noise.

Pros
  • Parametric EQ and presets available.
  • Comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Poor passive soundstage.
  • Sub-par noise handling.
6.7 Phone Calls

The JBL Live 460NC are alright for phone calls. They have an integrated mic which does an okay job of recording your voice, but it still sounds thin and muffled. The mic also struggles to separate your voice from moderate background noise, so if you want to be heard clearly, you may want to take phone calls from a more quiet space. On the upside, their ANC can help cut down some ambient noise around you.

Pros
  • Comfortable and well-built.
Cons
  • Sub-par noise handling.
  • 7.2 Mixed Usage
  • 7.3 Neutral Sound
  • 7.4 Commute/Travel
  • 7.3 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.2 Office
  • 5.8 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.4 Wired Gaming
  • 6.7 Phone Calls
  1. Updated May 26, 2021: We've retested 'App Support'.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The JBL Live 460NC have a fairly non-descript design that looks very similar to the JBL Live 660NC Wireless. These on-ears have a mesh fabric-lined headband with plastic ear cups marked with the brand's logo. They come in four different color variants to better match your style: black, white, blue, and pink.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.47 lbs
Clamping Force
0.8 lbs

The JBL Live 460NC are comfortable. They have a lightweight feel, and the ear cups have a good range of motion to accommodate several head sizes. The headband also feels comfortable. However, some users may find that the clamping force of the headphones is a bit uncomfortable, especially over long periods.

7.7
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control On/Off
Talk-Through
On/Off
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

The JBL Live 460NC have good controls that are easy to use and provide good feedback. There are volume up and down controls that also allow you to skip the track forward or back with a press and hold, respectively. The middle button allows you to play or pause your audio and answer or end a call. You can hold down this button to decline a call too. If you touch the JBL's logo on the left ear cup for two seconds or hold the middle button for two seconds, you can activate voice assistant (either Google Assistant or Alexa). You can also click the ANC button once to turn on or off ANC or Ambient Aware, which allows you to hear background sound while still listening to your audio. You can press this button twice for talkthrough, too, so you can chat with others without removing the headphones from your head. The buttons feel very clicky and are easily distinguishable from one another. There are also max and low volume chimes and a chime for powering on or pairing the headphones.

8.2
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 1.9 °C

The JBL Live 460NC have great breathability. Since they're on-ear headphones, they don't fully cover your ears, so your outer ear should stay fairly cool. They also don't trap in a lot of heat, so you shouldn't notice too much of a difference in temperature if you're wearing them during physical activity or long listening sessions.

6.4
Design
Portability
L 6.5"
W 3.9"
H 2.6"
Volume 66 in³
Transmitter Required No

The JBL Live 460NC are passably portable. The ear cups can swivel inwards to help reduce their footprint, making them a bit easier to fit into a bag. However, they don't come with any carrying case to protect them when you're on the go.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A
7.5
Design
Build Quality

The JBL Live 460NC have a good build quality. The headband is made of a rigid mesh fabric with slight padding. There's also a metal plate to help reinforce the frame. There's faux leather padding on the ear cups too. Overall, even though the hinges feel like a weak point, these headphones feel sturdy and should survive a few accidental drops without taking too much damage. However, they lack an IP rating for dust or water resistance, although we don't currently test it.

6.5
Design
Stability

The JBL Live 460NC have fair stability. While they should stay in place during casual listening sessions, they can easily fall off with more intense head movements. Luckily, their wireless design eliminates the worry of a cable snagging and pulling them off your head.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • JBL Live 460NC headphones
  • 1/16" to 1/8" TRS audio cable
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
1.63 dB
Treble Amount
-1.24 dB

The JBL Live 460NC have a neutral sound profile with a touch of extra thump and rumble, making them suitable for a variety of audio content. If you prefer a different sound, their companion app offers a parametric EQ and presets so that you can tweak their sound to your liking.

7.6
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.48 dB

These headphones have good frequency response consistency. The bass range is very consistent. However, treble accuracy can vary depending on fit, seal, and positioning. That said, if you take the time to adjust the headphones on your head, you should get a more consistent sound each time you use them.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
9.0
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.38 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
2.39 dB
Mid-Bass
0.36 dB
High-Bass
1.01 dB

The JBL Live 460NC have outstanding bass accuracy. They have a slightly overemphasized low-bass which delivers a touch of extra thump and rumble to your mixes. The rest of the response is well-balanced and flat, resulting in a warm and punchy sound.

8.8
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.59 dB
Low-Mid
-0.02 dB
Mid-Mid
-0.68 dB
High-Mid
-1.31 dB

The JBL Live 460NC have impressive mid accuracy. The range is fairly flat and neutral, though the dip in the high-mid can weaken vocals and lead instruments.

7.4
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.51 dB
Low-Treble
0.59 dB
Mid-Treble
1.53 dB
High-Treble
-10.14 dB

The JBL Live 460NC have decent treble accuracy. The slightly overemphasized low-treble ensures the detail and articulation of vocals and lead instruments. A peak in the mid-treble can make sibilants bright. However, the treble response here represents the average treble response, and your experience may vary.

7.3
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.98 dB
Dips
0.84 dB

The JBL Live 460NC have decent peaks and dips performance. There's a slight mismatch in the left and right driver in the mid-mid range, resulting in the left driver having a bit more boxy and forward sound while the right driver pushes vocals and lead instruments to the back of the mix. Another dip in the high-mid slightly weakens vocals and lead instruments, while a peak in the low-treble makes the upper harmonics of these sounds a bit harsh. Another peak in the mid-treble makes sibilants like cymbals piercing.

7.4
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.32
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
2.46
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.27
Weighted Phase Mismatch
7.31

The JBL Live 460NC have a decent imaging performance. Most of the weighted group delay falls below the audibility threshold, which results in transparent treble. However, some peaks in the bass range indicate a slightly loose bass, but it's fairly minor. There is also some amplitude mismatch between the L/R driver, which could indicate a noticeable difference in level between the left and right drivers. That said, L/R drivers are well-matched in frequency and phase response, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (like voices or footsteps) in the stereo image. These results are only valid for our unit, though, and yours may perform differently.

3.5
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
4.39 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
2.1 dB
PRTF Distance
4.13 dB
Openness
3.0
Acoustic Space Excitation
3.1

The JBL Live 460NC have a poor passive soundstage. Since they have an on-ear design, they struggle to interact with your outer ear. The soundstage seems unnatural, small, and as if coming from inside your head rather than from speakers placed all around you. They also have a closed-back design, so the soundstage won't sound as open or spacious as open-back headphones.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
6.9
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.380
WHD @ 100
0.491

The weighted harmonic distortion performance of these headphones is okay. There's some distortion present at high volumes, particularly in the right driver. There are also a couple of peaks at regular listening volumes in the treble range. As a result, there may be some distortion present in your audio. However, this can be relatively hard to hear with real-life content.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
v2.6.0
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
Off
ANC
On
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test the JBL Live 460NC. Our results are only valid in this configuration.

These headphones also have a smart audio mode which is advertised to improve your audio latency based on what you're doing. We tested our model using the 'Audio Mode', but we don't know how the other modes perform.

Isolation
7.0
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-17.61 dB
Bass
-12.35 dB
Mid
-13.6 dB
Treble
-26.82 dB

The JBL Live 460NC have a satisfactory noise isolation performance. Thanks to their active noise cancelling (ANC) feature, they can cut down a bit of bass-range noise like bus or plane engines. However, it may not be enough for commuting. They do a better job of reducing mid-range sounds like ambient chatter, though. They can also block out the high-pitched noise of an AC unit, although their ANC doesn't offer much better performance than their passive capabilities in this regard.

7.3
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
37.84 dB

The JBL Live 460NC have a decent leakage performance. A significant portion of the leakage is concentrated between the mid to treble range, which sounds somewhat thin. If you're listening to audio at high volumes in a noisy environment, people around you shouldn't hear it.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
6.7
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
472.58 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3 dB
HFE
5,830.6 Hz
Weighted THD
0.178
Gain
3.03 dB

The recording quality of the JBL Live 460NC's mic is mediocre. It sounds thin and muffled, but you should still be understood by whoever is on the other end of the line.

5.8
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
8.86 dB

The microphone offers a sub-par noise handling performance. It struggles to separate your voice from moderate ambient noise around you and performs best in quiet environments.

Active Features
8.7
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
29.2 hrs
Additional Charges
0.0
Total Battery Life
29.2 hrs
Charge Time
2 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Auto-Off Timer
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Yes
Charging Port USB-C

The JBL Live 460NC have an impressive battery performance. Although they're advertised to last roughly 40 hours with the ANC, we measured just under 30 hours. That said, battery life can vary according to use, so your real-life results may vary. These headphones are advertised to have a 10-minute quick charge which supplies 4 hours of continuous playback time, although we don't currently test for this. Luckily, you can use the headphones passively with their audio cable if you run out of battery life.

8.0
Active Features
App Support
App Name JBL Headphones
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
Parametric + Presets
ANC Control
On/Off
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

Update 05/26/2021: We have raised the scoring of this test from 7.5 to 8.0 to better reflect the app's features and ease of use.

The JBL Headphones app is great. It has a parametric EQ and presets, so you can customize their sound to your liking. You can also turn 'Ambient Sound' on and off, as well as ANC, Ambient Aware, and Talk-through. You can also turn the auto-pause on or off, adjust the auto-off timer, check the headphones' battery, and set up the voice assistant.

There's also a smart audio mode advertised to improve your audio latency based on what you're doing. There are three settings: 'Video Mode', 'Audio Mode', and 'Normal'. We tested our model using the 'Audio Mode', but we don't know how the other modes perform.

Connectivity
8.4
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
335 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
207 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
98 ms
Android Latency
110 ms

The JBL Live 460NC have great Bluetooth compatibility. They support multi-device pairing, so you can connect the headphones to your phone and laptop at once. Using 'Audio Mode', they have low latency on iOS and Android, which is nice if you like to stream video from your smartphone. Their latency is higher on PC, though, so they may not be suitable for gaming. That said, if you use them in 'Video Mode', they have 50ms of latency on Android and 111ms on iOS, which still falls within good levels. However, note that some apps and devices seem to compensate for latency differently, so your results may be different.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 4.1 ft
Connection 1/8" TRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

The JBL Live 460NC come with a 1/16" to 1/8" TRS cable that only transmits audio, so you can't use their mic. They also come with a USB-C to USB-A cable to charge the headphones.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

The JBL Live 460NC can wirelessly connect to Bluetooth-enabled PCs with full compatibility. You can also use their TRS cable on PCs or by plugging it into your PlayStation controller. However, you can only receive audio, and you can't use the mic.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No

The JBL Live 460NC are only partially compatible with Xbox consoles when using their audio cable plugged into the controller. While you can receive audio, you can't use the mic.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The JBL Live 460NC come in four color variants: 'Black', 'Blue', 'White', and 'Pink'. We tested the 'Black' variant, and you can see its label here. We expect all the color variants to perform similarly to our model.

If you come across another variant of these headphones, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The JBL Live 460NC are on-ear headphones that have an active noise cancelling (ANC) feature. While overall, their ANC doesn't perform as well as the Beats Solo Pro Wireless, they do a better job of cutting down bass range noise like the rumble of bus or plane engines than the Beats. That said, like many JBL headphones, they have a neutral sound profile and come with a companion app that offers a parametric EQ and presets so that you can tweak them to your liking. They also support multi-device pairing with up to two devices at a time, which is a nice addition.

Check out our recommendations for the best on-ear headphones, the best on-ear wireless headphones, and the best headphones.

JBL Live 400BT Wireless

The JBL Live 460NC Wireless are slightly better on-ears than the JBL Live 400BT Wireless. Although both headphones have similar battery life and are compatible with the JBL Headphones app, the Live 460NC are more comfortable, better-built, and have an active noise cancelling (ANC) feature that can block out a decent amount of noise around you.

Beats Solo Pro Wireless

The JBL Live 460NC Wireless are slightly better headphones than the Beats Solo Pro Wireless. The JBL are more comfortable and have a slightly more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer. Their battery performance is better, and they have a companion app with a parametric EQ and presets so that you can tweak their sound to your liking. However, the Beats are better-built and more stable. They also have a better noise isolation performance.

JBL Live 660NC Wireless

The JBL Live 460NC Wireless and the JBL Live 660NC Wireless are very similarly performing headphones, and you may prefer either model. While both headphones are decently comfortable and well-built, the biggest difference is that the Live 460NC are on-ear headphones with more consistent audio delivery. In contrast, the Live 660NC are over-ear headphones with a somewhat better noise isolation performance and leak less audio.

JBL Tune 660NC Wireless

The JBL Live 460NC Wireless are slightly better on-ear headphones than the JBL Tune 660NC Wireless. The Live 460NC are more comfortable and feel better-built.  They have a better performing active noise cancelling (ANC) feature and are compatible with the JBL Headphones app, which allows you to adjust their sound profile using their parametric EQ and presets. However, the Tune 660NC have longer continuous battery life.

JBL CLUB 700BT Wireless

The JBL Live 460NC Wireless are slightly better on-ears than the JBL CLUB 700BT Wireless. While both headphones are comfortable and well-built, the Live 460NC have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, and have an active noise cancelling (ANC) feature that's able to cut down a decent amount of noise around you. However, the CLUB 700BT have better battery life and come with a carrying pouch.

Marshall MID ANC Wireless

The JBL Live 460NC Wireless are slightly better on-ear headphones than the Marshall MID ANC Wireless. While both headphones are well-built and comfortable, the JBL have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer. Their ANC does a better job of isolating noise around you, and they have a longer continuous battery life, too. Thanks to their companion app's parametric EQ and presets, you can customize their sound profile to your liking too.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 are better headphones than the JBL Live 460NC Wireless. The Bose are over-ear headphones that are more comfortable, have a more neutral sound profile overall, which some users may prefer, and their ANC delivers superior noise isolation. However, the JBL are on-ear headphones with better battery performance and their companion app allows you to customize their sound profile via a parametric EQ and presets.

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