JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Updated Mar 18, 2021 at 03:50 pm
JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless Picture
7.1
Mixed Usage
7.2
Neutral Sound
7.2
Commute/Travel
7.2
Sports/Fitness
7.2
Office
5.7
Wireless Gaming
7.4
Wired Gaming
6.5
Phone Calls
These headphones were replaced by the JBL Live 660NC Wireless
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling Yes
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are well-built, comfortable over-ears. Out-of-the-box, they have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds a little extra thump and punch to your audio, and the parametric EQ and presets in their companion app makes it easy to customize their sound to your liking. While they have an ANC feature, it struggles to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines, which is disappointing. That said, it performs better against higher-frequency ambient noise, like chatter from people around you.

Our Verdict

7.1 Mixed Usage

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are decent for mixed usage. Out-of-the-box, they have a pretty neutral, though slightly bass-heavy sound profile that's suitable for lots of different audio content. You can easily customize their sound using the parametric EQ and presets in their companion app, too. However, their ANC feature offers just decent noise isolation, and you may be distracted by bass-heavy background noises during your commute.

Pros
  • Well-built, comfortable design.
  • Parametric EQ and presets.
Cons
  • Mediocre microphone recording quality.
  • ANC feature struggles to block out bass-heavy ambient noise.
7.2 Neutral Sound

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are satisfactory for neutral sound. Out-of-the-box, they have a fairly neutral, though slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds extra thump and punch to your audio. If you prefer a different sound, there's a parametric EQ and presets available in the JBL Headphones app, which is handy. Unfortunately, their passive soundstage is perceived as unnatural, and audio seems like it's coming from inside your head.

Pros
  • Parametric EQ and presets.
Cons
  • Poor passive soundstage performance.
7.2 Commute/Travel

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are decent for commute and travel. These comfortable headphones have a long continuous battery life that's suitable for international flights. They don't leak a lot of noise, either, so you can crank up the volume without really bothering other passengers. However, they aren't very portable, and their ANC feature can struggle to block out the sounds of bus and plane engines.

Pros
  • Well-built, comfortable design.
Cons
  • ANC feature struggles to block out bass-heavy ambient noise.
7.2 Sports/Fitness

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are satisfactory for sports and fitness. These well-built headphones have a comfortable fit, but they aren't very portable. They're stable enough for casual listening sessions, but they may fall off your ears during more intense workouts. Also, their over-ear design can make you sweat a bit more than usual while wearing them.

Pros
  • Well-built, comfortable design.
Cons
  • Not very breathable.
7.2 Office

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are decent for office use. These headphones have a long continuous battery life, so they're suitable for long shifts at the office. Their ANC feature also does a good job blocking out the sounds of coworkers chatting nearby or the hum of AC units. While they have a comfortable fit, unfortunately, they aren't very breathable, so you may sweat a bit more than usual while wearing them.

Pros
  • Well-built, comfortable design.
Cons
  • Not very breathable.
5.7 Wireless Gaming

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are compatible with Bluetooth-enabled PCs, but their latency is likely too high to be suitable for gaming. They aren't wirelessly compatible with Xbox One or PS4 consoles.

7.4 Wired Gaming

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are satisfactory for wired gaming. You can plug them into your Xbox One or PS4 controller for full audio and microphone compatibility, and they have low latency over a wired connection. They're comfortable, too, and their slightly bass-heavy sound profile helps you feel the rumbles in action-packed games. However, their microphone has mediocre recording quality, so your voice can sound thin and muffled to teammates on the other end of the line.

Pros
  • Low latency over wired connection.
Cons
  • Mediocre microphone recording quality.
6.5 Phone Calls

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are fair for phone calls. Their integrated microphone has a mediocre recording quality, so while your voice is understandable to whoever's on the other end of the line, it also sounds thin and muffled. The mic also struggles to separate your voice from background noises, so these headphones are better-suited to taking calls in quiet settings.

Pros
  • Well-built, comfortable design.
Cons
  • Mediocre microphone recording quality.
  • 7.1 Mixed Usage
  • 7.2 Neutral Sound
  • 7.2 Commute/Travel
  • 7.2 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.2 Office
  • 5.7 Wireless Gaming
  • 7.4 Wired Gaming
  • 6.5 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Mar 18, 2021: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.
  2. Updated Feb 05, 2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  3. Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  4. Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  5. Updated Jul 03, 2019: We've updated the App Support score to better reflect how useful the full parametric EQ is.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The JBL Live 650 BTNC have a simple, sleek over-ear design. The cups are large and have thick padding, while the headband has a mesh coating. They have metallic accents on the cups and hinges which gives them a more premium look. They come in all-black, all-navy, or all-white color schemes.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.57 lbs
Clamping Force
0.8 lbs

The JBL 650 BTNC are comfortable. The padding on the cups is quite soft and their overall design feels fairly lightweight. You can wear them for long listening sessions without feeling a lot of fatigue. However, the cups are quite shallow, so they might not be ideal for people with larger ears.

7.3
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
No
Additional Controls Bluetooth Sync

The control scheme is fairly simple and quite responsive. The physical buttons are easy to locate and to use. You get common functionalities like call/music management, volume control, and ANC control. They also have a dedicated button for Bluetooth sync, which is easy to use and makes pairing quite simple. Additionally, you can enable your device’s voice assistant by tapping once on the JBL logo on the left ear cup. However, this can be accidentally triggered when manipulating the headphones, which can be annoying.

6.4
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 5.9 °C

These over-ears aren't the most breathable and trap a fair amount of heat inside the ear cups. The seal around the ears can block airflow and you may notice a temperature difference when wearing them for workouts. Over-ears usually make you sweat more when working out.

5.8
Design
Portability
L 6"
W 7"
H 3"
Volume 126 in³
Transmitter Required No

The JBL Live 650 BTNC aren't the most portable, but they fold into a more compact format. Their cups also swivel to lay flat, which is easier to carry around your neck or to slide in a bag. They come with a soft pouch that doesn’t add too much bulk to their design.

5.5
Design
Case
Type Pouch
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

The JBL 650 BTNC come with a soft pouch that can only protect them against light scratches. It doesn't protect against physical damage due to falls and the material doesn’t seem to be water-resistant. On the upside, it's easy to carry around and doesn’t add much bulk to the headphones.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The JBL Live 650 BTNC have a similar build to the JBL E65BTNC Wireless. They have a slightly more polished look but don’t feel more durable. The cups are dense enough and should survive a few accidental falls without too much damage though. The headband is solid thanks to a reinforcing metal sheet, yet it's still fairly flexible. However, we suspect the hinges to be the weak point, and they could break with time.

7.5
Design
Stability

The JBL 650 BTNC are quite stable. You shouldn’t have any problems during casual listening sessions, but they may wobble around a bit when running. On the upside, their wireless design means you won’t have any cables in your way that could yank the headphones off your head if it were to get stuck or hooked on something.

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

  • JBL Live 650 BTNC headphones
  • 1/8" TRRS audio cable
  • Micro-USB charging cable
  • Carrying pouch
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
3.33 dB
Treble Amount
-1.45 dB

The JBL 650 BTNC have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds a little extra thump and punch to your audio, making them suitable for listening to bass-heavy music like EDM. That said, their mid and treble ranges are quite balanced and neutral, so vocals and lead instruments are still clearly and accurately reproduced. There's even a parametric EQ and presets available in the JBL Headphones app so you can customize their sound more to your liking.

7.5
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.49 dB

The JBL 650 BTNC have good frequency response consistency. Bass and treble delivery may vary slightly across different listeners, depending on the fit, seal, and positioning on your head. However, it shouldn't be too noticeable.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
7.4
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.61 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
5.74 dB
Mid-Bass
4.05 dB
High-Bass
1.87 dB

The JBL Live 650 BTNC have satisfactory bass accuracy. The entire range is overemphasized, so there's extra thump and punch in your mixes, which is ideal for fans of bass-heavy music. That said, it shouldn't be too overwhelming for fans of a more neutral sound.

8.6
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.83 dB
Low-Mid
0.11 dB
Mid-Mid
-0.15 dB
High-Mid
2.87 dB

The mid accuracy is excellent. The range is quite flat and neutral, so vocals and lead instruments are clearly and accurately reproduced. The slightly overemphasized high-mids can make them a bit honky or harsh, however.

7.8
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.9 dB
Low-Treble
0.35 dB
Mid-Treble
0.54 dB
High-Treble
-7.35 dB

The JBL Live 650 BTNC have very good treble accuracy. The range is pretty balanced, so vocals and lead instruments are detailed, bright, and brilliant. However, they may also sound a bit harsh or piercing at times.

7.6
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.58 dB
Dips
1.02 dB

The JBL Live 650 BTNC have good peaks and dips performance. There's a slight dip across the low to mid-mids that can nudge vocals and lead instruments towards the back of the mix, and the peak in the high-mids can make those same instruments honky or harsh. The uneven low-treble can make vocals and lead instruments alternately veiled or harsh, while the peak in the mid-treble produces piercing sibilants.

8.7
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.25
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.24
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.07
Weighted Phase Mismatch
4.69

The imaging performance is amazing. The weighted group delay falls below the audibility threshold, resulting in a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit are very well-matched, which is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (instruments, voice, footsteps), in the stereo image. However, these results are only valid for our test unit, and yours may perform differently.

4.4
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
3.61 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
6.17 dB
PRTF Distance
4.74 dB
Openness
2.9
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.8

The JBL Live 650BTNC have a poor soundstage performance. The soundstage is perceived as large, but it can also seem a bit unnatural. Audio seems like it's coming from inside your head, rather than from speakers placed all around you.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
7.1
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.311
WHD @ 100
0.398

The JBL Live 650 BTNC have a decent WHD performance. While there are a few peaks at high volumes, most frequencies fall within good limits, resulting in a mostly clear and pure audio reproduction.

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

These are the settings we used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when using these settings.

Isolation
7.1
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-18.66 dB
Bass
-8.67 dB
Mid
-18.29 dB
Treble
-29.94 dB

The JBL Live 650 BTNC have decent noise isolation. Even with their ANC feature turned on, they struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines. Fortunately, they perform better against higher-frequency ambient noises, like people talking around you or the hum of a nearby AC unit.

7.5
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
36.51 dB

The JBL Live 650 BTNC have a good leakage performance. They don't leak a lot of noise, and escaping audio sounds quite thin, so it shouldn't be too noticeable in a typical office setting if you listen to your audio at loud volumes.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
Yes
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
6.1
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
369.71 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3.09 dB
HFE
3,000.72 Hz
Weighted THD
3.184
Gain
32.17 dB

The JBL Live 650 BTNC's microphone has a mediocre recording quality. Your voice is thin and muffled, but it should still be understandable to whoever's on the other end of the line.

6.0
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
12.37 dB

The integrated mic is mediocre at noise-handling. It struggles to separate your voice from background noises, even if you're calling from a moderately noisy environment. It's better-suited to making calls from quiet settings.

Active Features
7.5
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
22.1 hrs
Additional Charges
0.0
Total Battery Life
22.1 hrs
Charge Time
1.8 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Yes
Charging Port micro-USB

The JBL Live 650 BTNC have a good battery performance. With their ANC enabled, we measured about 22 hours of continuous playback, which should be more than enough for a normal workday of casual listening. That said, battery life can vary depending on usage, so your real-world experience may vary. They only take just under two hours to charge fully, which is good. Unfortunately, unlike the JBL Live 660NC Wireless, they don’t have any power-saving features, so be sure to turn them off when you’re not using them. On the upside, you can use them passively with their analog audio cable, even if the battery is dead, which is convenient.

7.5
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

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are compatible with the JBL Headphones app. It's a good app that gives you access to a full parametric EQ. You can add as many points as you want and fully customize their sound profile. Unlike the Sennheiser HD 450BT Wireless, you can also turn the ANC on and off from the app. Unfortunately, it lacks a few features like a playback control or some room effects, but overall this app is still a good tool to help enhance your listening experience.

Connectivity
8.3
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
335 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
180 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
216 ms
Android Latency
266 ms

The JBL Live 650 BTNC headphones are Bluetooth-compatible and can also be connected to two devices simultaneously, which is very convenient, especially at work where you can switch your audio source from your computer and phone easily. However, their latency with PCs as well as iOS and Android devices is likely too high to be suitable for gaming. That said, some apps compensate for latency differently, so your real-world experience may vary.

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" TRRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

The JBL Live 650 BTNC come with a standard 1/8” TRRS audio cable that has an in-line microphone as well. This means that they support audio and microphone on pretty much every platform that has the appropriate jack, like gaming console controllers and PCs.

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

You can plug these headphones into your PC or PS4 controller for full audio and microphone compatibility. They're also compatible with Bluetooth-enabled PCs, but their latency is likely too high to be suitable for gaming.

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

You can plug these headphones into your Xbox One controller for full audio and microphone compatibility.

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 650 BTNC are available in 'Black', 'White', and 'Blue'. We tested the 'Black' variant, but we expect the other color variants to perform similarly.

If you come across another version, please let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

Comparison picture

The JBL 650 BTNC are wireless over-ears with a decently versatile overall performance. They have a slightly bass-heavy sound, but they're very customizable thanks to the parametric EQ and presets in their companion app. Unfortunately, their ANC feature doesn't offer a very impressive overall performance.

See also our recommendations for the best headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones, and the best wireless Bluetooth headphones.

JBL Live 660NC Wireless

The JBL Live 660NC Wireless are slightly better over-ear headphones than the JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless. The Live 660NC have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer, their ANC does a slightly better job of cutting down bass-range noise like bus or plane engine rumbles, and they have a better battery performance. However, the Live 650 BTNC are more comfortable and come with a 1/8" TRRS cable, so you can use the mic and receive audio when using the headphones wired.

JBL Live 500BT Wireless

The JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are a slightly high-end pair of headphones that are very similar to the JBL Live 500BT Wireless, but they have 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 have similar sound profiles, 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.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are better over-ear wireless headphones for most uses than the JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless. The Sony are more comfortable, have better controls, and look and feel more premium and durable. Their default sound profile is slightly better-balanced, and they have one of the best ANC features we've ever tested, which does a remarkable job at blocking out all background noise. Their battery also lasts longer, and they have a better companion app. On the other hand, the JBL feel more stable on the head, and still have a well-balanced sound profile and a great app that includes a parametric EQ, giving you more control over your music than with the graphic EQ in Sony's app.

JBL E65BTNC Wireless

The JBL Live 650BTNC and the JBL E65BTNC Wireless are very similar headphones. They have a similar build and overall look, but the 650BTNC are slightly better. The E65 feel slightly more tight on the head and their ANC is slightly better for commuting. However, the Live are compatible with the JBL Headphones app, which offers an amazing parametric EQ. They have more battery life than the E65, which is convenient. On the other hand, the E65BTNC are better for watching video content thanks to their low default Bluetooth latency.

Sennheiser HD 450BT Wireless

The JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are better overall performing over-ear headphones than the Sennheiser HD 450BT Wireless. The JBL are more comfortable, have more intuitive controls, and feel better built. They have a more neutral and balanced sound too, and their ANC feature is a bit better than that of the Sennheiser. They also have a slightly more comprehensive companion app, their integrated mic performs better, and they come with an in-line mic. However, the Sennheiser have a slightly better battery performance and they leak less sound.

JBL Tune 660NC Wireless

The JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are better headphones than the JBL Tune 660NC Wireless. The Live 650 BTNC are more comfortable, stable, and work with a companion app that gives you access to a parametric EQ so you can customize how they sound. Their ANC feature has a much better performance and blocks out a good amount of mid-range noise like ambient conversations. On the other hand, the Tune 660NC have longer continuous battery life, and their microphone has a better recording quality.

JBL CLUB 950NC Wireless

The JBL CLUB 950NC Wireless are slightly better over-ear headphones than the JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless. The 950NC have a better-balanced and more accurate sound profile out-of-the-box, though they don't have nearly as much low-bass. Their battery also lasts a little bit longer, and they now charge via USB-C, which is more convenient for most people than the micro-USB found on the 650. On the other hand, the 650 have a better integrated microphone, slightly better noise isolation, and much better stereo imaging.

JBL Live 400BT Wireless

The JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are the over-ear noise cancelling variants of the JBL Live 400BT Wireless. Being over-ears, the 650 are a bit more comfortable for longer listening sessions; they also isolate a lot better in noise conditions, thanks to their ANC feature, making them a better option for commuting and to use at the office. However, the Live 400BT have much longer battery life and are a lot more breathable and compact for sports and everyday casual use. The 400BT also have a slightly better-balanced sound out-of-the-box, but both headsets can be EQ'd quite heavily thanks to their parametric EQ.

Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC

The JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are slightly better headphones than the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC. The JBL are more comfortable, have better controls, a slightly better-balanced sound profile, and a dedicated companion app with access to a fully parametric EQ. On the other hand, the Sennheiser have slightly lower latency.

Sony WH-CH700N Wireless

The Sony WH-CH700N Wireless and the JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are both decent mid-range noise cancelling headphones, but the JBL provide a slightly more premium listening experience. They both sound quite well-balanced, but the JBL have better noise cancelling, support multi-device pairing, and feel better-built. The Sony have a longer battery life, but they also take over six hours to charge, which is disappointing.

Skullcandy Venue Wireless

The JBL Live 650BTNC are slightly better mixed usage headphones than the Skullcandy Venue Wireless. They are more comfortable and feel better-built. They also have a better sound quality and have a great EQ that lets you customize the sound profile to your liking. Both ANC features are fairly disappointing, but the JBLs leak less so you’ll be able to listen at higher volumes.

JBL Everest 710 Wireless

The JBL Live 650BTNC will be more versatile than the JBL Everest 710 Wireless thanks to their ANC feature. However, the Everest model will be more comfortable for most and sound more neutral. They also have a unique music sharing feature that lets you sync any other Bluetooth headphones to listen to the same content. They also have amazing battery life, but aren’t compatible with the JBL Headphones app, meaning the Live 650BTNC will be more customizable with a great parametric EQ.

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