Preferred headphones store
Reviewed on Jul 05, 2019 , Jake Thauvette, Marc Henney, Sam Vafaei, Yannick Khong

JBL Live 500BT Wireless
HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.8
Mixed Usage
What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
7.3
Critical Listening
What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.8
Commute/Travel
What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.0
Sports/Fitness
What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.0
Office
What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
5.6
Gaming
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The JBL Live 500BT are fairly versatile headphones that have a decent sound profile. These headphones are quite similar to the JBL E55BT, which seem to be the previous lineup before the Live series. The Live 500BT will be suitable for most music genres and have amazing battery life. Unfortunately, this model doesn’t have active noise cancelling (ANC), which means they won’t be ideal for commuting. For similar noise cancelling headphones, look at the higher-end Live 650BTNC. On the upside, the Live 500BT have a good companion app that gives you access to a full parametric EQ, which allows you to customize their sound to your liking.

Test Results
Design 6.7
Sound 7.3
Isolation 6.0
Microphone 6.0
Active Features 8.4
Connectivity 6.5
Pros
  • Decent audio reproduction.
  • Amazing battery life.
  • Great full parametric EQ for audio customization.
Cons
  • Sub-par noise isolation.
  • Tight fit, can get uncomfortable after a while.

Check Price

6.7

Design

Score components:

The JBL Live 500BT are decently well-designed closed-back over-ear headphones. They are comfortable, but their padding isn’t as plushy as that of the Live 650BTNC and their cups are fairly shallow. On the upside, they have a good control scheme and feel solid enough to last a while. They won’t be the best option for sports, as they aren’t that breathable and portable, but you can fold them and make the cups swivel, which makes it easier to carry them around. You can also use them passively with their included audio cable.

Style

The JBL Live 500BT are fairly stylish headphones and are practically identical to the Live 650BTNC. The cups are large and have thick padding, while the headband has a mesh coating, which seems to be a recurring design choice for the JBL headphones. They look like premium headphones, although they are mostly made of plastic. They come in different monochromatic styles such as black, navy, green, red, and white.

7.0 Comfort
What it is: Adjustability and degrees of freedom, pressure, stiffness and weight.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used for long durations.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Weight : 0.54 lbs
Clamping Force
What it is: The force that the headphones exert on your head, once you have them on. This is purely a measurement of the force applied, which does not take into account the earpad's surface area and the resulting pressure you will feel, on or around your ears.
When it matters: The tighter the headphones, the more force they put on your head. This can get uncomfortable or cause pain and soreness during long listening sessions.
:
1.4 lbs

The JBL Live 500BT are fairly comfortable over-ear headphones but aren’t quite on the par with the Live 650BTNC. Their padding is a bit stiffer and they are very tight on the head, which may be even more uncomfortable for people with larger sized heads. The cups are also small and a bit shallow; some may feel their ears touching the drivers. On the upside, the headband is decent and distributes the weight of the headphones well.

7.4 Controls
What it is: The control scheme of the headphones, the number of functions provided, button layout and ergonomics as well as the quality of tactile feedback.
When it matters: If you want to control volume, pause your music or make phone calls without directly interacting with your audio device.
Ease of use : Decent
Feedback : Decent
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
What it is: Being able to mix audio channels directly on the headphones.
When it matters: This is most useful when using a separate chat software so that you can mix in-game audio and chat audio depending on your needs.
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
What it is: A transparency feature that uses the mics of the headphones to let you hear what is doing on around you without removing them.
When it matters: If you want to be aware of what is going on around you without removing your headphones or while still listening to your audio. This is typically a feature for the noise canceling headphones and passively isolating in-ears that block a lot of noise.
Good value: Yes or adjustable.
:
Adjustable
Additional Buttons : Voice enabled controls

These headphones have a decent control scheme, with physical buttons that are fairly easy to use and offer common functionalities. You have control over your calls, music, and volume, on top of being able to skip tracks. You can also cycle through their talk-through mode and the ambient mode, or disable both. You can also cover the left cup with your palm to easily trigger your voice assistant, which you can also do by double tapping the middle multi-purpose button.

6.4 Breathability
What it is: How hot the headphones get when you wear them for an extended period of time.
When it matters: If you often have long listening sessions or use your headphones while doing physical activities like running or working out.
Score components:
Avg.Temp.Difference : 5.8 C

Like most over-ears, the Live 500BT trap a decent amount of heat under their ear cups. These headphones are very tight and create a good seal around your ears, which obstructs airflow. Working out with these won’t be ideal and most people will sweat more than usual when using them for sports.

5.8 Portability
What it is: The volume of space occupied by the headphones when folded into their most compact format.
When it matters: If you're often on the move and need to carry your headphones in a bag, purse , or pocket.
Score components:
L : 6.8 "
W : 6.1 "
H : 3.1 "
Volume : 129 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

Like most over-ears, the Live 500BT are quite bulky. On the upside, they do fold into a more compact format and their cups also swivel to lay flat. This makes it easier to wear them around your neck or to slide in a bag. Unfortunately, they don’t come with a case to protect them when you’re on the move.

0 Case
What it is: The provided carrying options to protect your headphones when transporting them.
When it matters: To prevent damaging your headphones, if you often carry them in your bag or pocket.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
Type : No case
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

These headphones don’t come with a carrying case.

7.5 Build Quality
What it is: Durability, material quality, cheap/expensive feel.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used by multiple users (classes/studios), by children, in tough conditions, on a daily basis, or for exercise.
Score components: Subjectively assigned

These headphones are well-built and feel a bit more solid than the E55BT. The folding joints are made out of metal and don't give a cheap feel when folding the cups. Also, the cups feel fairly dense and shouldn’t break from accidental drops. The headband is also reinforced with a thin metal sheet. They are built the same way the Live 650BTNC are with a similar polished look.

7.5 Stability
What it is: How the headphones are designed to prevent them from slipping off your ears or falling off your head.
When it matters: If you plan on using the headphones while doing sports or other physical activities that requires a lot of movement.
Score components: Subjectively assigned

Since they are quite tight on the head, they can be stable enough for a run. Also, you shouldn’t have any problems during casual listening sessions, but they might wobble around a bit when doing intense sports. On the upside, their wireless design means you won’t have any cables in your way, and it can’t yank the headphones off your head if it were to get stuck or hooked on something.

Cable
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4.1 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRRS

The JBL Live 500BT come with a 4.1-foot 1/8” TRRS audio cable with an in-line remote and microphone, and a flat USB to micro-USB charging cable.

Top
Headshots 1
Headshots 2
7.3

Sound

What it is: How accurately the audio is reproduced. The tests are performed with the headphones' most commonly used features enabled (noise-cancelling, wireless, etc.)

The JBL Live 500BT are decent sounding over-ear closed-back headphones. They have an extended and powerful bass, a well-balanced and even mid-range, and a good treble as well. However, their bass has excess thump and rumble, but fans of bass-heavy genres may prefer this. The vocals and lead instruments may sound a bit thin and their treble range is slightly uneven, but this shouldn’t be audible for most. These headphones will be fairly versatile for a wide variety of music genres and should satisfy most users. However, they might not be the ideal choice for vocal-centric music.

8.0 Bass
What it is: Frequency Response from 20Hz-250Hz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on bass frequencies, such as those of kick drums and bass guitar.
Score components:
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in bass frequency response (20Hz-250Hz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) bass performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.92 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
What it is: The lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: Shows how extended the bass is.
Good value: <40Hz
Noticeable difference: 5Hz
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 20Hz-60Hz.
When it matters: Kick drums and low frequency effects get their 'thump' from this range. Mostly felt than heard.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.8 dB
Mid-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 60Hz-120Hz.
When it matters: Melodic bass instruments have most of their fundamental frequencies in this range. This is where the 'body' and 'punch' of the bass sits.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.02 dB
High-Bass
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 120Hz-250Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments get their warmth and full-ness from this range. When over-emphasized, mixes tend to get muddy and boomy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-1.91 dB

The bass performance of the JBL Live 500BT is great. Their LFE (low-frequency extension) is down to 10Hz, which is excellent. The 4dB overemphasis in the low-bass results in a bass that has a bit excess thump and rumble, but fans of bass-heavy music may prefer this. The mid-bass, responsible for the kick of drums and body of bass guitars, is also slightly over our target curve. However, there’s a small dip in high-mid, which could thin out the bass a bit.

8.6 Mid
What it is: Frequency Response from 250Hz-2KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on mid-range frequencies. This is the case for the majority of audio content.
Score components:
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in mid frequency response (250Hz-2.5KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) mid performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
1.82 dB
Low-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 250Hz-500Hz.
When it matters: Most instruments have their fundamentals or low harmonics in this range. Over-emphasis in this range sounds muddy and cluttered. Under-emphasis, thins out the vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-1.47 dB
Mid-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 500Hz-1KHz.
When it matters: This range is occupied mostly by upper harmonics. Over-emphasis sounds forward and boxy. Under-emphasis pushes instruments to the back of the mix.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.15 dB
High-Mid
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 1KHz-2KHz.
When it matters: Most instruments, especially vocals, get their intensity and clarity from this range. Over-emphasis sounds honky and harsh, under-emphasis sounds weak and distant.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-0.99 dB

The Live 500BT’s mid-range is also great. There’s a small underemphasis in low-mid, which thins out the vocals and lead instruments a bit, but this won’t be very audible to most people. Also, the rest of the response is virtually flawless throughout the range, resulting in an accurate reproduction of vocals and leads.

7.6 Treble
What it is: Frequency Response from 2KHz-20KHz
When it matters: When the material is heavy on high-range frequencies, such as voice, cymbals, and any other material where brightness, brilliance and airiness is desired.
Score components:
Std. Err.
What it is: The amount of deviation (weighted standard error) in treble frequency response (2.5KHz-20KHz) as compared to a target response that would sound perfectly balanced to most people.
When it matters: When a balanced and neutral (reference) treble performance is desired.
Good value: <4dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
3.79 dB
Low-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 2KHz-5KHz.
When it matters: Almost all instruments rely on this range for their presence, detail, and articulation. Over-emphasis can sound harsh and painful. Under-emphasis hurts the comprehensibility of vocals and lead instruments.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
2.24 dB
Mid-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under emphasis in frequency response from 5KHz-10KHz.
When it matters: This is the sibilance range. Cymbals, vocals, and lead instruments rely on this range for brightness and presence. Over-emphasis sounds piercing and painful, under-emphasis sounds dull and lispy.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-1.11 dB
High-Treble
What it is: The average amount of over/under-emphasis in frequency response from 10KHz-20KHz.
When it matters: This range gives brilliance and airiness to the sound. Over-emphasis sounds hissy, under-emphasis sounds closed-up and lifeless.
Good value: +/-3dB
Noticeable difference: 0.1dB
:
-6.4 dB

The treble performance of the Live 500BT is good. However, the response is slightly uneven and may sound overly bright and piercing, especially on already bright tracks. On the other hand, there’s a dip centered around 6kHz, which will negatively affect the detail and brightness of those frequencies. However, not everyone hears treble frequencies the same way, so your experience may vary.

Raw Frequency Response
What it is: The average uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. For in-ears and earbuds, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the dummy head (HMS). For over/on-ear headphones, this corresponds to the average of 5 measurements/re-seats on the HMS (Head Measurement System) for the mid and treble ranges, and 5 measurements/re-seats on 5 human subjects for the bass range.
When it matters: This is for those who want to see the raw and uncompensated frequency response of the headphone. Some of the more advanced users, are able to read and evaluate headphone frequency response in its raw form and without compensation. This will be especially useful to them if they have their own headphone compensation/target curve, which may differ from the compensation curve/target response used by RTINGS.com.
6.9 Frequency Response Consistency
What it is: The amount of deviation of each frequency response pass, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Score components:
Avg. Std. Deviation
What it is: The average amount of deviation in frequency response of 5 re-seats, from the average frequency response.
When it matters: Shows how consistently the headphones perform after re-positioning them.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.65 dB

The JBL Live 500BT have decent frequency response consistency. The headphones seemed to perform quite consistently across most of our human test subjects, but only one experienced a noticeable drop in bass. This may be due to the amount of hair between the cup and the skin, creating a break in the seal. On the upside, they perform very consistently in the treble range in between different reseats.

8.3 Imaging
What it is: Imaging qualities are inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'reproduce' them rather than 'create' them. They determine how accurately the objects are positioned in the stereo image, and how transparent the imaging is.
When it matters: When accurate positioning of the objects in the stereo image, and clear and transparent imaging is desired.
Weighted Group Delay
What it is: The average amount of group delay calculated based on a perceptual weighting filter. Group delay indicates how long it takes for each frequency to reach their maximum amplitude. This is a monaural quality and can be perceived even with one ear.
When it matters: Headphones with lower group delay have more transparent imaging and a tighter bass. Headphones with higher group delay in the bass range tend to have a wimpy and loose bass, and headphones with higher group delay in the treble range tend to have a less transparent imaging.
Good value: <0.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.46
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
What it is: The Left/Right balance of our test unit, that is, the amount of amplitude difference between the left and right drivers. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When a properly balanced stereo image and low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates a noticeable difference in level between the left and right drivers.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.53
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the frequency response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance, is desired. A poor score indicates there may be 'holes' in the stereo image at certain frequencies.
Good value: <2
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.33
Weighted Phase Mismatch
What it is: The amount of difference (Std. Err.) between the phase response of the left and right drivers of our test unit. This is not a design test, but a marker for manufacturing tolerance and ergonomics.
When it matters: When an even and stable stereo image, as well as a low manufacturing tolerance is desired. A poor score indicates there may be inaccuracies in the stereo image reproduction at certain frequencies.
Good value: <16
Noticeable difference: 3
:
4.82

The stereo imaging performance is great. The weighted group delay is at 0.46, which is within good limits. The GD graph also shows that the group delay response is almost entirely below the audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (instruments, voice, footsteps), in the stereo image. However, they had a small frequency mismatch, which seems to be mostly in low-bass, which shouldn’t be too noticeable. Note that these results are only valid for our test unit, and yours may perform differently.

4.7 Soundstage
What it is: Soundstage qualities are not inherent to the audio content, the headphones have to 'create' them rather than 'reproduce' them. They determine whether the sound is perceived to be coming from inside or in front of the head, how open and spacious the soundstage is, how much the headphones acoustically interact with the environment, and how strong the phantom center is.
When it matters: When an accurately produced, large and spacious soundstage, similar to that of a stereo loudspeaker setup is desired.
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
What it is: The standard deviation of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: An accurate pinna activation is mainly responsible for how natural and speaker-like the soundstage is perceived to be. The less error in the shape of the PRTF, the more natrual and speaker-like the perception of the soundstage will be. High amounts of error may indicate a soundstage that is unnatural or odd.
Good value: <2.5
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.14 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
What it is: The average amplitude of the PRTF (Pinna-related transfer function) of the headphones compared to that of a reference loudspeaker's PRTF at 30°. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is responsible for the perceived size of the soundstage. The higher the value, the larger the perceived size of the soundstage. However, values above the reference (5.0dB) could result in a soundstage that is perceived as unnatural or odd.
Good value: >3.7
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
1.85 dB
PRTF Distance
What it is: The depth of the "10KHz notch" of the headphone's PRTF, which is caused by phase cancellations at the concha. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test does not apply to in-ears and earbuds, due to the lack of pinna interaction.
When it matters: This value is mainly responsible for the perceived distance and elevation of the soundstage. A small distance value may result in a soundstage that is perceived to be located inside the head. Larger values may help pull the soundstage out from inside of the head and bring it to the front.
Good value: >13
Noticeable difference: 1
:
6.21 dB
Openness
What it is: How open the headphones are, and how open and spacious they sound. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This test differentiates between acoustically and electronically produced crosstalk and only takes the acoustically generated crosstalk into account. This value is the inverse of the Noise Isolation test score, and could be indirectly related the acoustic impedance of the headphones.
When it matters: When a headphone with a sense of an open, and spacious soundstage is desired. A value of 10 indicates a fully open headphone, and a value of 0 indicates a fully closed headphone.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
4.7
Acoustic Space Excitation
What it is: How loud the headphones are, and how much they excite their environment acoustically. If the headphones are loud and open enough, the sound leaking from the headphones will be affected by the environment (reflections/reverb) before reflecting back into the open headphones and to the listener's ears. This quality is monaural and can be perceived even with one ear. This value is the inverse of the Leakage test score.
When it matters: Headphones with higher excitation values, similar to openness, tend to have soundstages that are perceived as more open and spacious.
Good value: >7.5
Noticeable difference: 0.5
:
2.8
Correlated Crosstalk
What it is: How strong and solid the phantom center is. This is mostly a stereo quality and its effects on mono content are minimal. This test is sensitive to the phase of the crosstalk and whether it is produced acoustically or electronically.
When it matters: When a true reproduction of the stereo image is desired. A value of 0 indicates no crosstalk, or that the existing crosstalk is not correlated enough to affect the phantom center. A negative score means the crosstalk is out of phase with the original signal, resulting in a slightly wider stereo image at the expense of creating a 'hole' at the center of the stereo field. A positive score means the crosstalk is in phase and positively affecting the phantom center.
Good value: >1dB
Noticeable difference: 0.3dB
:
0.0 dB

They have a sub-par soundstage. The PRTF response graph shows that the JBL Live 500BT don't activate the resonances of the pinna (outer ear) much, which is one of the big factors in creating a speaker-like soundstage. There’s also no notch present around the 10kHz region. This and their closed-back design suggest a soundstage that is small, unnatural, and should be perceived to be located inside the listener's head, as opposed to in front.

7.8 Total Harmonic Distortion
What it is: The subtle, unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Score components:
Weighted THD @ 90
What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 90dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at moderate listening levels.
Good value: <0.100
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
0.938
Weighted THD @ 100
What it is: The overall amount of harmonic distortion measured at 100dB SPL. To make the score more perceptually relevant, more weight is given to the higher frequencies.
When it matters: How pure the sound is at loud listening levels.
Good value: <0.300
Noticeable difference: 0.1
:
2.176

Harmonic distortion performance is good. The THD in the bass range is within good limits, but there’s a big jump at 100dB SPL, which could mean these headphones have a bit of difficulty when it comes to creating clear bass at very high volumes. There are also a few spikes in THD around 1.6kHz and 4kHz, which could make the treble sound a bit harsh and fatiguing.

6.0

Isolation

Score components:

Just like the very similar JBL E55BT, the Live 500BT have mediocre isolation performance. They create a decent seal around your ears that blocks some high-frequency noise from seeping into your audio, but unfortunately don’t do much against lower-end noises since they lack an ANC feature. However, in most cases, they won't isolate enough for loud, noisy environments like those involved in commuting and traveling. On the upside, since the headphones don’t leak too much, you can mask more noise by playing your music at higher volumes without bothering those around you.

5.2 Noise Isolation
What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy environment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:
Isolation Audio
What it is: The simulated noise isolation of the headphones, demonstrating how much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on. This recording is created using an EQ and is not an actual recording. For headphones with ANC (active noise cancellation), the playback simulates the isolation with ANC enabled.
When it matters: When the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
:
Overall Attenuation
What it is: The overall amount of environmental noise reduction in dB.
When it matters: In loud envinronments like planes, trains, offices, etc.
Good value: <-20dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-14.0 dB
Bass
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the bass range (20Hz-250Hz).
When it matters: When the outside noise is bass-heavy, like in airplanes.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-0.35 dB
Mid
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the mid-range (250Hz-2.5KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is mid-heavy, like in an office.
Good value: <-15dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-11.63 dB
Treble
What it is: The overall amount of noise isolation in the treble range (2.5KHz-20KHz).
When it matters: When the environment's noise is treble-heavy. Although uncommon, areas with sharp sounds fall under this category.
Good value: <-30dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
-31.0 dB
Self-Noise
What it is: The amount of noise created by the active electronics of the headphones (if applicable), measured from 300Hz-20KHz. Applies mostly to wireless and noise-cancelling headphones.
When it matters: If too loud, it could become distracting when listening to quiet material like podcasts and audiobooks.
Good value: <16dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
20.96 dB

The JBL Live 500BT have sub-par isolation. These headphones don't have active noise cancelling and isolate only using their fit around your ears. In the bass range, occupied by the rumble of airplane and bus engines, they achieve no isolation, which means they won’t be the best option for your daily commute. In the mid-range, important for blocking speech, they achieve 12dB of reduction which is decent. In the treble range, occupied by sharp S and T sounds, they isolate by 31dB, which good, especially against A/C system noise. For noise cancelling headphones similar to these, take a look at the JBL Live 650BTNC.

7.6 Leakage
What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:
Leakage Audio
What it is: The simulated sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal. This recording is created using an EQ and is not an actual recording.
When it matters: When you don't want people to hear what you are listening to.
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
What it is: The amount of sound leakage heard 1 foot away from the user, while the user is listening to a 100dB SPL signal.
When it matters: When you don't want people hear what you are listening to.
Good value: <35dB
Noticeable difference: 1dB
:
36.54 dB

The leakage performance is good. The significant portion of leakage sits between 400Hz and 5kHz, which is a relatively broad range. This results in a leakage that sounds fuller and more comprehensible than the leakage of in-ears and earbuds, but not as much as open-back headphones. However, the overall level of leakage is not too loud. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 37dB SPL and peaks at 53dB SPL, which is around the noise floor of most offices.

6.0

Microphone

What it is: The microphone section shows the quality of speech capture and transmission by the mic, as well as how well the microphone under test handles noisy environments.
When it matters: For your speech to be transmitted to and understood properly by the listener, the microphone needs to have a good recording quality. If the environment the microphone is being used in is noisy, a microphone with a good noise handling performance would be needed as well.
Score components:
Integrated
What it is: The microphone integrated in the ear cup or ear bud of a wireless headphone.
When it matters: For calls, gaming and voice over IP software or for any other use of the microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
In-line
What it is: The microphone inside the in-line remote of audio cables for wired and wireless headsets.
When it matters: In-line microphone are usually better than integrated mics. If you need better recording quality and noise handling for calls, gaming and voice over IP software then use the audio cable of your wired or wireless headphone if it has an inline microphone.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
Boom
What it is: A typically better microphone, that's also adjustable and extends so that the mic is closer to your mouth.
When it matters: Much better recording quality and noise handling than in-line or integrated mics. Primarily used for gaming and voice over IP software.
Good value: Yes
:
No
Detachable Boom
What it is: A boom mic that is detachable from the headset.
When it matters: If you want to use your headphone outdoors without the bulk and hassle of the Boom mic.
:
N/A

The JBL Live 500BT have a mediocre integrated microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound thin, noticeably muffled, and lacking in detail. It will also struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in moderately loud environments, such as a busy street. However, they also come with an in-line microphone, which we expect to perform slightly better than the integrated one.

6.1 Recording Quality
What it is: Microphone recording quality shows how natural, neutral, extended and intelligible speech would be with the device under test, in a quiet environment.
When it matters: A microphone with a good recording quality ensures that the person listening to you would hear a full, clear, and easily understandable speech. Therefore, it is important whenever a good quality of speech transmission and intelligibility is needed.
Score components:
Recorded Speech
What it is: Actual audio recording of the headphone's microphone, recorded while placed on the dummy head, with speech being played back through the dummy head's mouth simulator.
When it matters: When a clean, full, and intelligible speech transmission is required.
:
LFE
What it is: Low-frequency extension shows how deep the bass response of the microphone is, and therefore, how deep and full your voice would sound to the listener. It is the lowest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response.
When it matters: LFE is not a big factor in speech intelligibility and even speech recorded with a mic that has an LFE of 500Hz could still be easily understood. Therefore, it is mostly important if you are concerned with how deep and full your voice would be heard.
Good value: <150Hz
Noticeable difference: 30Hz
:
391.7 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
What it is: Frequency Response Standard Deviation shows how accurately and balanced sound is captured by the microphone at each frequency. FR Std. Dev. is calculated between LFE and HFE, and the rest of the spectrum is ignored.
When it matters: A good frequency response is desired when a natural and neutral speech quality is desired. As opposed to HFE which is more a metric for speech intelligibility, frequency response could be considered as a metric for a natural and neutral sound.
Good value: >3.5dB
Noticeable difference: 0.5dB
:
2.66 dB
HFE
What it is: High-frequency extension is the highest frequency at which the frequency response reaches -3dB of the target response. It shows how extended the treble response of the microphone is.
When it matters: HFE is one the most important factors in speech intelligibility. The higher the HFE, the brighter, more open, and more extended the speech quality will be which makes it a lot easier to understand by the listener.
Good value: >8KHz
Noticeable difference: 1KHz
:
3417.19 Hz
Weighted THD
What it is: The unwanted frequencies (harmonics) produced alongside the intended frequencies, which cause deformation of an output signal compared to its input.
When it matters: When clean and pure sound reproduction is desired, though its effect is not as noticable as frequency response.
Good value: <1.5
Noticeable difference: 1.0
:
5.821
Gain
What it is: Shows how much louder the microphone can go above our reference loudness level. The gain value is reported relative to our reference level, which is 94dB at a distance of 5cm from the mouth.
When it matters: A microphone with a high gain is important when the input signal (speech) is very quiet. For example when whispering, or talking on the phone in a library.
Good value: >18dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
39.81 dB

The recording quality of the integrated microphone is sub-par. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 392Hz, which means transmitted/recorded speech with this mic will sound noticeably thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.4kHz indicates speech that lacks detail and is noticeably muffled. This will have a negative effect on the intelligibility of speech, but it should still be understandable in quiet environments.

6.0 Noise Handling
What it is: How well the microphone is able to separate speech from background noise, so that the transmission would include more voice and less noise.
When it matters: When a clean and intelligible speech transmission is desired in a noisy situation like talking on the phone on a busy street or on the bus.
Score components:
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
What it is: Speech to Noise Ratio is the difference in level between speech and background noise as heard by the listener
When it matters: If the microphone is going to be used in a noisy environment, it is important for it to be able to separate the speech from background noise, so the voice would be easily audible and understandable.
Good value: >24dB
Noticeable difference: 3dB
:
11.66 dB

The integrated mic is mediocre at noise-handling. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 12dB, indicating the mic is best suited for quiet environments and will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in moderate and loud situations.

8.4

Active Features

What it is: Headphones with active components that require a battery. This includes noise cancelling and wireless headphones that actively reduce noise or transmit audio via a wireless connection.
When it matters: How suitable the power and wireless specifications of an active headphone will be, depending on your listening habits. The range and/or discharge time of the active headphone you select will be important if you're often on the move or have long uninterrupted listening sessions.
Score components:

The JBL Live 500BT have an amazing battery life with over 30 hours of continuous playback and a very short charge time with just under 2 hours. This will last you for very long trips and you’ll rarely need to charge them, which is convenient. Also, they have a great parametric EQ that allows you to add as many points as you want to fully customize their sound profile to your liking. Unfortunately, the app lacks a few features, but it's still a good customization tool.

8.5 Battery
What it is: The power source of your headphones. All headphones with active features have a battery that will deplete over time.
When it matters: To continue using the active features of your headphones. Some models lose features or switch off completely when the battery is drained, which limits what you can do with them until the next charge.
Battery Type
What it is: The type of battery that the headphones use. Usually AAA or embedded, Li-ion rechargeable batteries.
When it matters: When your headphones run out of power. Rechargeable batteries usually charge via the headphones Micro-USB port whereas AAA batteries have to be replaced or charged with an external device.
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
What it is: The amount of time it takes for a headphones' battery to be completely drained. Battery life will vary depending on the active features used and volume level.
When it matters: For active headphones that connect wirelessly, have noise cancellation or other audio-enhancing features, that cease to work once the battery is dead.
Good value: >10hrs
Noticeable difference: 0.5hrs
:
36.9 hrs
Charge Time
What it is: The amount of time your active headphones have to be connected to a power source to charge from 0 to a 100%. However, charging time will vary depending on your power source.
When it matters: To be able to use the active features of your headphones. Especially, wireless ones that completely switch off and need to be recharged when the battery is dead.
Good value: 2h or less
Noticeable difference: 0.25h
:
1.8 hrs
Power Saving Feature
What it is: A feature that turns off the headphones, after a set time, when they're not in use.
When it matters: To prolong battery life when the headphones are not being used, or if you forget to manually turn off your headphones.
:
Auto-Off Timer
Audio while charging
What it is: Some active headphones remain usable while charging. They continue to stream audio and do not disable other active features.
When it matters: This makes sure that your headphones's battery are not being drained when you're relatively close to a power source. However, this means wireless headphones will need a wired connection to the power source during the charging process.
:
No
Passive Playback
What it is: Active headphones that still work when all their active features are turned off or out of power.
When it matters: If you run out of power and do not have spare AA/AAA batteries or access to a power source to recharge your headphones.
:
Yes

The JBL Live 500BT have great battery life. We measured about 37 hours of continuous playback on a single charge, which is slightly over the advertised 33 hours. This should be more than enough for a few work days and won’t need daily charging, which is great. They also took less than two hours to charge fully, which is good. The headphones can also automatically turn off after 10 minutes to save power, but you can also disable this feature inside their app. Unfortunately, as soon as you plug in their charging cable, they turn off, meaning you can’t use the while charging. However, you can use them passively even if the battery is dead, which is convenient.

7.5 App Support
What it is: The additional app provided to enhance your listening experience. They typically deliver a set of practical features that give you more control over the sound, noise cancelling and effects that the headphones produce.
When it matters: An app with a lot of features allows you to customize your listening experience to suit your taste and preferences. For example, additions like an equalizer can give you more bass or treble and room effects can simulate a bigger Soundstage in closed back headphones.
Score components: Subjectively assigned
App Name : JBL Headphones
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : No
Windows : No
Equalizer
What it is: Parametric, graphic or preset sound profiles that slightly alter the frequency response.
When it matters: If you want to tailor, your listening experience. Depending on what you're listening to you may want more or less bass for some tracks or more mid-range for vocals-heavy audio.
:
Parametric + Presets
ANC control
What it is: Control over the Active noise canceling technology. This could be either a simple on/off button, and adjustable slider or even adaptive self-regulating noise cancellation.
When it matters: If you're in an environment where you need to monitor your surroundings or completely isolate yourself from ambient noise.
:
N/A
Mic Control : No
Room effects
What it is: Room effects that enhance the audio quality to make it more immersive.
When it matters: If you want to further tweak your listening experience. Adding room effects, can simulate a more spacious Soundstage or deliver a surround sound-like feel.
:
No
Playback control
What it is: An in-app player that gives you access to play/stop, track skipping or volume controls directly with the app.
When it matters: It's a shortcut that allows you to control your audio without leaving the application.
:
No
Button Mapping : No
Surround Sound : No

The Live 500BT are compatible with the JBL Headphones app. The available features resemble what you can find with the Live 650BTNC, minus the ANC control. However, you get two buttons to cycle between talk-through and ambient modes. The full parametric EQ is also great, allowing you to add as many points as you want and fully customize their sound profile. Unfortunately, it lacks a few features like playback control or some room effects, but overall this app is still a good tool to help enhance your listening experience.

6.5

Connectivity

What it is: The inputs and outputs of wired and wireless headphones, as well as their latency performance and range.
When it matters: When you want to know whether your headphones will be compatible with your various audio sources, like your smartphone, tablet, gaming consoles, PC, smart TV, amplifiers, etc.
Score components:

The JBL Live 500BT are fairly straightforward Bluetooth headphones. They have amazing wireless range, but their latency is pretty average for Bluetooth headphones, so some may still notice a delay when watching video content. On the upside, you can use them passively with their audio cable, which supports audio and microphone on appropriate devices. When used wirelessly, they can connect to two devices simultaneously, which is convenient if you want to switch between a phone and a PC.

6.8 Bluetooth
What it is: Bluetooth support for wireless headphones.
When it matters: When you want to connect your headphones wirelessly to a Bluetooth source, like your smartphone, tablet, PC or smart TV.
Score components:
Bluetooth Version
What it is: The version of Bluetooth that the headphones support.
When it matters: Newer versions of Bluetooth, when paired with devices that support the same version, may have improved latency and wireless range performance.
:
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
What it is: A Bluetooth profile that allows some headphones to be simultaneously connected to multiple Bluetooth sources, and have full call and media support on both/all devices they are connected to.
When it matters: To quickly switch between your Bluetooth sources. For example, switching from your phone to your home or work PC and still have call and media support on both devices.
Good value: 2 devices.
:
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
What it is: Near Field Communication technology that allows you to quickly, pair your headphones with your Bluetooth and NFC-enabled device.
When it matters: This makes pairing with an NFC-enabled device a lot easier than the typical and often tedious hold-to-pair procedure that most wireless headphones have.
Good value: Yes
:
No

The JBL Live 500BT are Bluetooth compatible and can also be connected to two devices simultaneously. This means you can easily switch between a work computer and your phone seamlessly, which is convenient. Unfortunately, they don’t support NFC for a quicker and easier pairing procedure, although we didn’t experience any difficulty pairing them to our devices.

9.1 Wired
What it is: The type and compatibility of audio cables for wired and wireless headphones.
When it matters: When you want to use your headphones wired with a device that has a regular audio jack (line-out), like a smartphone, PC, or gaming console controller.
OS Compatibility
What it is: Testing the headphones' cable to see which operating system it works with.
When it matters: Some wired headphones don't support all operating systems so this allows you to check if the headphones will work with your device.
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
What it is: When your headphones can play analog media using a standard 1/8" TRS audio jack. Includes using a 1/4" or 1/16" TRS with a 1/8" TRS adapter.
When it matters: For listening to music with devices that have a standard 1/8" TRS audio jack, like an MP3 player, tablet, smartphone or PC.
Good value: Yes
:
Yes
USB Audio
What it is: When your headphones can play digital media using a standard USB connector.
When it matters: For listening to music on a PC. A digital USB adapter can offer some advantages over a regular audio jack, like a DAC or added software support.
Good value: Yes
:
No
PS4 Compatible
What it is: PS4 compatibility with a regular 1/8" TRS or TRRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PS4 controller.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Xbox One compatibility with a regular 1/8" TRS or TRRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your Xbox One controller.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio + Microphone
PC Compatible
What it is: PC compatibility with a regular 1/8" TRS or TRRS audio cable.
When it matters: When you want to use a wired headphone with your PC.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
Audio + Microphone

The JBL Live 500BT can be used with their included 1/8” TRRS cable to support both audio and the in-line microphone on platforms that have the appropriate jack, like a console controller, a PC or a phone. Some might need a Y-adapter to use both the headphones and microphone ports on a desktop. Also, they don’t support audio over their USB charging cable.

0 Base/Dock
What it is: The base station, dock, or dongle transmitter of wireless headphones that receive data/audio via a specific frequency range or wired headphones that have a proprietary amp.
When it matters: When you need to know which inputs and outputs the headphones support, so you can set them up with your home theatre system for gaming or watching movies.
Type
What it is: The type of base/dock the headphones use, whether a USB dongle, charging case or docking station. Wired or wireless.
When it matters: Larger docking stations tend to have more controls and sometimes even customization options while smaller USB dongles are more portable. Charging cases allow you to keep your earbuds charged on-the-go.
:
N/A
Optical Input
What it is: Optical input for audio.
When it matters: Optical can carry a bit more data at faster speeds than typical wired connection which allows for more high quality, lossless audio.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line In
What it is: The regular wired input via a 1/8" TRS audio jack.
When it matters: For any device that has a line out for audio transmission.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
Line Out
What it is: A regular 1/8TRS audio jack output.
When it matters: If you need to share the audio source with other devices. A line out lets you connect other headphones or speakers to the dock/base station.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
USB Input
What it is: A digital USB input instead of a typical 1/8 TRS line-in.
When it matters: A USB connection can provide both an audio input and power to the Dock or Base station.
:
N/A
RCA Input
What it is: Audio input using via an RCA connectors.
When it matters: Provides better stereo audio to the dock/base that's then transmitted to the headphones.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the PlayStation 4.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with the Xbox One.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
:
N/A
PC Compatible
What it is: Dock/Base station compatibility with your Personal Computer.
When it matters: To be able to use all the features of the dock/base station with out losing audio or microphone capability.
Good value: Audio + Microphone
:
N/A
Power Supply
What it is: The connector type of the power source for the base/dock.
When it matters: The accessibility of the power source. For example, a power supply with USB/USB-C connects to multiple devices, PC , PS4, Xbox One or even with your regular phone charger whereas an AC adapter is less common.
Good value: USB/USB-C
:
N/A
Dock Charging
What it is: Charging the headphones via the dock/base station instead of a charging cable.
When it matters: It makes charging your headphones easier and gives you a sport to store your headphones when they are not in use.
Good value: Yes
:
N/A

The JBL Live 500BT don’t have a dock.

9.8 Wireless Range
What it is: Headphones that offer a cable-free listening experience over a wireless network, typically via Bluetooth or radio frequency.
When it matters: When you don't want to be limited by the length of an audio cable. This means having the freedom to move around in your home or office with much greater range than an audio cable could provide, especially if the audio source is heavy or difficult to carry. Note that wireless range also depends on your audio source's signal strength, which may vary between devices.
Score components:
Obstructed Range
What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when the Bluetooth source was placed in another room. We test our obstructed range with a Moto E4 Plus. Results may vary depending on your phone model or Bluetooth source.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you while listening to your audio in an indoor environment. Although, the obstructed wireless range will slightly depend on your home or office layout. Note that wireless range also depends on your Bluetooth source's signal strength which may vary from device to device or depending on your phone model.
Good value: >35ft
Noticeable difference: 5ft
:
60 ft
Line of Sight Range
What it is: The range that the wireless headphones can reach before dropping any audio when in direct line of sight of the Bluetooth device.
When it matters: If you can't or prefer not to carry your Bluetooth source on you while listening to your audio in a large and open environment.
Good value: 170ft or more
Noticeable difference: 10ft
:
302 ft

The wireless range of the JBL Live 500BT is excellent. They almost maxed out our testing facility in our line of sight range test and had a very good 60ft of range when the source was obstructed by walls. This means you should be able to walk to the next room over without hearing too many audio cuts. However, wireless range is dependent on your device’s signal strength and many other factors, so your results may differ depending on your source.

2.5 Latency
What it is: How long it takes for audio to play through your headphones once the audio signal has been sent from a source.
When it matters: When gaming or watching movies. High latency means you will hear the audio much later than the images you see on screen. Note that latency also depends on the device and applications you use.
Score components:
Default Latency
What it is: The base RF latency or the default sub-band coding (SBC) of most Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: When watching videos wirelessly, high latency can cause sync issues between the images you see and the audio you hear.
Good value: 50 ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
190 ms
aptX Latency
What it is: An audio coding algorithm (codec) that improves bit rate efficiency. It reduces latency and improves sound quality over Bluetooth.
When it matters: For better sound quality if you often stream music over Bluetooth. It also slightly improves latency when watching videos with wireless headphones.
Good value: 50 ms or less
Noticeable difference: 15 ms
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
What it is: Low latency variation of aptX that significantly reduces sync issues between video and sound when using Bluetooth headphones.
When it matters: Latency is a lot more noticeable when watching videos or gaming than when just listening to music.
Good value: 50 ms or less
Noticeable difference: 5 ms
:
N/A

With 190ms of latency, the Live 500BT perform like just about most Bluetooth headphones. Some may still notice a delay when watching video content. On the upside, some devices and apps seem to offer some sort of compensation so you may not notice it as much. You can also use them on a wired connection with their included audio cable to completely get rid of the latency.

In the box

  • JBL Live 500BT headphones
  • 1/8” TRRS audio cable with in-line remote and mic
  • USB to micro-USB charging cable
  • Manuals

Compared to other Headphones

The JBL Live 500BT are decent over-ear headphones that perform fairly well in most of our tests but don’t necessarily excel in anything in particular. For their intended use and value, they are a decent and versatile option. However, they do lack an ANC feature for commuting, which is available on other similar models. See our recommendations for the best headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones under $200, and the best headphones under $200.

JBL E55BT Wireless

The JBL Live 500BT are sort of a newer version of the JBL E55BT Wireless, and perform better. They feel better-built and the folding joints are now made of metal, which don't feel like they might break. They also have noticeably better battery life, with about twice the life of the E55BT. They are also compatible with the JBL Headphones app, which gives you access to a great parametric EQ, while the E55BT don’t have any customization options. The wireless range was also improved on the Live 500BT.

Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT Wireless

The JBL Live 500BT have a very small edge over the Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT Wireless. They feel slightly better-built and less plasticky, and their sound quality is slightly better as it doesn’t lack as much detail in the treble range as the HD 4.40. You also get about 10 extra hours of battery life with the Live 500BT. Their audio cable also features an in-line microphone, which the Sennheisers are lacking. However, the HD 4.40 support NFC pairing and have lower latency, which is better suited for watching video content without any delay. 

JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless

The JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless is a slightly higher-end model that is very similar to the JBL Live 500BT, but it has an ANC feature, which makes them more suitable for public transit. Design-wise, the 650 BTNC are also a bit more comfortable thanks to their padding. They’ll both sound very similar, and both have access to the same great parametric EQ. On the other hand, since the Live 500BT don’t have an ANC, they require less power and have noticeably better battery life than the 650BTNC.

JBL E65BTNC Wireless

Even if the JBL E65BTNC Wireless are from an older lineup, they are still better performing headphones than the JBL Live 500BT. They have a decent ANC feature that is suitable for commuting. While the headphones look fairly the same and also have similar sound profiles, the better isolation performance of the E65BTNC make them a better choice. However, if you don’t use your headphones while commuting, the longer battery life of the Live 500 might be worth it for some, especially since you can also have access to the JBL Headphones app and a great parametric EQ, which the E65BT are lacking.

Conclusion

6.8 Mixed Usage
What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
Score components:
Acceptable for mixed usage. The JBL Live 500BT have a decent sound profile which is versatile for a wide variety of music genres. They are also decently comfortable but are a bit tight for some. They don’t have an ANC feature like higher-end similar models, which means they might not be the ideal choice for commuting. However, they can be a pretty decent option when playing music; since they don’t leak too much, you’ll be able to mask more ambient noise, which can be useful in an office setting. Even though they are stable headphones, they weren’t designed for sports and you will experience more sweat than usual when wearing these. Additionally, like most Bluetooth headphones, their latency will be too high for watching TV and gaming, but you can use them wired to nullify these issues.
7.3 Critical Listening
What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
Decent for critical listening. The JBL Live 500BT have a powerful bass that sounds a bit thumpy, which some fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and dubstep may prefer. Their reproduction of vocals and lead instruments in the mid-range is nearly flawless, but some may find they sound a bit thin. Their treble is a bit uneven and most of the range is over our target, which means some may find them overly sharp. However, they have a full parametric EQ available inside their app that allows you to add as many points as you want to customize their sound profile to your liking, which is great.
6.8 Commute/Travel
What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Acceptable for commuting. These headphones don’t have an ANC feature, which means they don’t do that great against the low-end noises like the rumbling of a plane or bus engine. On the upside, they don’t leak too much so you can listen to your music at fairly high volumes, which masks a bit more ambient noise. They also have a remarkable battery life with over 30 hours of continuous playback, which will last you long enough for the longest trips, although they might get a bit uncomfortable after a while since they are very tight headphones.
7.0 Sports/Fitness
What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
Decent for sports. These headphones are tight and have a secure fit for over-ears, especially since they are fairly lightweight too. However, they won’t be the most portable option even if they fold and swivel. They don’t come with a case, so they won’t be protected if you want to put them in your gym bag. Also, they won’t be very breathable, and you will feel a noticeable temperature difference when working out with these.
7.0 Office
What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
Decent for the office. While they don’t isolate low-end noises for commuting, they do a pretty good job at blocking work environment noises such as ambient chatter and A/C noise. You’ll also be able to play your music at high volumes without distracting surrounding colleagues. Their battery life will last you a few work days without having to charge them and they’ll be comfortable to wear for a while, but you might need to take some breaks here and there due to their tightness.
Sub-par for watching TV. While they are decently comfortable and have good enough wireless range for you to watch from the comfort of your couch, their Bluetooth latency might be slightly too high for watching video content without noticing a small delay between the image and the sound. You can use them wired to get rid of these issues, but you’ll need an audio cable extension.
5.6 Gaming
Sub-par for gaming. These headphones’ Bluetooth latency will be too high for gaming and their integrated microphone won’t have the best recording quality for online multiplayer games. You can improve their performance by using them wired, which gets rid of the latency, and use their in-line mic, which we expect to perform slightly better. However, it won’t rival the voice recording quality of a gaming headset’s boom microphone.

LOG IN

JOIN RTINGS.com

Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:
Become an insider

Unlimited access to full product reviews, test measurements and scores

unlimited measurements access

Product prices across the site on reviews, tables and tools

product prices showing

Additional votes for our
next reviews

unlimited measurements access

Early Access
to our reviews and test measurements

unlimited measurements access

Create Discussion