JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Updated May 02, 2019 at 10:20 am
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
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling Yes
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are decent, mixed usage, Bluetooth over-ear headphones. They have a good and accurate sound, but will be better suited for bass-heavy genres. They are comfortable, well-built, and can be used for commuting thanks to their active noise cancelling (ANC) feature. They block out an okay amount of ambient noise and their battery life will last you 22 hours with ANC enabled. While they have lower latency than most Bluetooth headsets, they still won’t be ideal for watching video content wirelessly. However, you can use them passively, and they have one of the best wireless ranges we’ve measured so far.

Our Verdict

7.1 Mixed Usage

Decent for mixed usage. The JBL Live 650 BTNC have an accurate sound profile with an overemphasized bass which will be better suited for bass-heavy genres. Also, their isolation performance is okay, and they can be used for commuting as well. While they are decently stable, they might not be the best option for sports since they get quite warm and their bulky design isn’t ideal for this use case. On the upside, they’ll be good for the office since they have a long battery life and block work environment noises. They are also comfortable to wear for a while. However, like most Bluetooth headphones, they won’t be great for watching TV and gaming because of their latency.

Pros
  • Exceptional wireless range.
  • Good audio reproduction.
  • Comfortable and durable build.
Cons
  • Bulky design.
  • Sub-par microphone for calls.
7.2 Neutral Sound

Good for neutral listening. The JBL Live 650 BTNC have a deep and powerful bass, a very well-balanced mid-range, and a great treble. Their bass is overly thumpy, but fans of bass-heavy genres may prefer this. Also, their treble is a bit uneven and may lack a bit of detail on S and T sounds. Overall, these headphones will be better suited for bass-heavy music, but you can easily EQ them inside their app.

7.2 Commute/Travel

Decent for commuting and traveling. Their isolation performance is okay and they will block a bit of the low-end rumble of bus and plane engines. However, they aren’t the most portable headphones, but you can easily carry them around your neck since their cups rotate. On the upside, they have a good battery life that will be more than enough for your longest rides and flights.

7.2 Sports/Fitness

Acceptable for sports. These headphones are decently stable for sports, but might not be ideal for this use case due to their over-ear design. They are quite bulky and trap heat inside the ear cup, which should make you sweat more than usual while being active. Their bass-heavy sound profile can be good to keep you pumped during your workouts.

7.2 Office

Decent for the office. The JBL Live 650 BTNC are comfortable to wear for a while and their battery life will last you more than a normal workday without a problem. They also don’t leak too much so you shouldn’t disturb surrounding colleagues. They support multi-device pairing, which is useful if you often leave your work computer but still want to play music on your phone.

5.7 Wireless Gaming

Sub-par for gaming. The JBL Live 650 BTNC headphones won’t be suitable for this use case because of their latency and poor microphone for gaming. On the upside, if you don’t need a mic and are playing on mobile or plugging your headphones directly into your console controller, they have good sound and are comfortable to wear during gaming sessions.

7.4 Wired Gaming
6.5 Phone Calls
  • 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. Update 2/5/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  2. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  3. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  4. Update 7/3/2019: 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, style-wise, are kind of a mix of the JBL Everest 710 and the JBL E65BTNC. The cups are large and have thick padding, while the headband has a mesh coating. They have nice metallic accents on the cups and hinges which gives them a more premium look. They come in an all-black, all-navy, or all-white color schemes.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.57 lbs
Clamping Force
0.8 lbs

The Live 650 BTNC are comfortable headphones. They aren’t as comfortable as the JBL Everest 710, but clamp less than the JBL E65BTNC. The padding on the cups is quite soft and their overall design feels fairly lightweight. However, the cups are quite shallow, so they might not be ideal for people with larger ears. Overall, they’ll be fairly comfortable to wear for extended periods of time if you can find a good fit.

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 of these headphones is fairly simple and quite responsive. The physical buttons are easy to locate and to use. The middle button is indented, as opposed to the raised middle button on the E65BTNC, which was slightly easier to locate. 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 easier. 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 could be a deal breaker for some.

6.4
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 5.9 C

These over-ears are not the most breathable and trap a decent amount of heat inside the ear cups. The seal around the ears will block airflow and some will notice a difference in temperature when wearing them for workouts. Over-ears usually make you sweat more when working out.

5.8
Design
Portability
L 6.0 "
W 7.0 "
H 3.0 "
Volume 126 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are not the most portable headphones, but they do 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 Live 650 BTNC come with a soft pouch that will only protect the headphones against light scratches. It won’t protect against physical damage due to falls and the material doesn’t seem to be water resistant. On the upside, it is easy to carry around and doesn’t add much bulk to the headphones.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

The Live 650 BTNC are built practically the same way as the E65BTNC. 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. The headband is solid thanks to a reinforcing metal sheet, yet it is still fairly flexible. However, we suspect the hinges to be the weak point of these headphones, and they could break with time.

7.5
Design
Stability

Since they are a bit looser than the E65BTNC, they won’t be as stable. You shouldn’t have any problems during casual listening sessions, but they might wobble around a bit when running. 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.

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

  • JBL Live 650BTNC 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
7.5
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.49 dB

The frequency response consistency is good. The bass range is susceptible to some inconsistencies, but the ANC feature seems to be used to deliver more consistent bass across users. Our human test subjects with glasses or lots of hair seemed to break the seal and get a slight loss in low-bass, but only in the left ear, so this could also be due to positioning. There is also a slight variation in the treble range of about 8dB at 4kHz, which is 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 bass performance of the Live 650BTNC is very good. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent. Also, low-bass, which is responsible for the thump and rumble common to bass-heavy tracks, is overemphasized by about 5dB of our neutral target, making the bass a bit thumpy which some people may prefer. Mid-bass, responsible for the body of bass guitars and the punch of kick drums, is overemphasized by about 2dB. Overall, the bass of the Live 650BTNC is heavy, but without overdoing it, which fans of bass-heavy genres may like.

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-range is excellent. The response is flat and even across the whole range. Low-mid is very slightly underemphasized by less than 2dB, making the vocals and instruments slightly thin, but this shouldn’t be audible for most users. This results in a clear and well-balanced reproduction of vocals and lead instruments.

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 treble of the Live 650BTNC is also very good. The response is fairly uneven but well-balanced throughout the range. It is a bit underemphasized and veiled, which results in a lack of brightness and presence on vocals and lead instruments. There is also a small negative impact on sibilants (S and T sounds) as they lack a bit of detail.

7.6
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.58 db
Dips
1.02 db
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 great. The weighted group delay is at 0.25, which is very good. 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 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 poor soundstage. The PRTF graph shows a good amount of pinna activation; however, the interaction is not accurate, and there's no 10kHz notch present either. This and their closed-back design suggest a soundstage that is relatively large but unnatural and should be perceived to be located inside the listener's head, as opposed to in front.

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
Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
Unknown
Power
On
Connection
Unknown
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
Off
ANC
On
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated
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 Live 650 BTNC have a passable isolation performance. With ANC (active noise cancellation) enabled, they achieve about 9dB of isolation in the bass range, which is okay. This means they won’t do a great job at blocking out the rumble of airplane and bus engines. In the mid-range, important for blocking out ambient speech, they isolate by 18dB, which is good. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts and fan noises like A/C systems, they isolate by 30dB, which is also good.

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

The leakage performance is good. The significant portion of leakage sits between 1kHz and 7kHz, 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 54dB SPL, which is around the noise floor of most offices.

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
3000.72 Hz
Weighted THD
3.184
Gain
32.17 dB

The recording quality of the integrated microphone is sub-par. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 370Hz, which means transmitted/recorded speech with this mic will sound noticeably thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3kHz 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
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
12.37 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.

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

With their ANC enabled, we measured about 22 hours of continuous playback on the JBL Live 650BTNC. This should be more than enough for a normal workday of casual listening, with enough power for your morning and after-work commute as well. They only take just under 2 hours to charge fully, which is good. Unfortunately, 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

Update 07/03/2019: We adjusted the score of the app to better reflect the usefulness of the EQ.

These headphones are compatible with the JBL Headphones app. It's a pretty 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, 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 from your computer and phone easily. However, they don’t support NFC for quicker and easier pairing, but they do have a dedicated Bluetooth sync button.

With 180ms of latency, the Live 650 BTNC perform slightly better than most Bluetooth headphones. However, 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.

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

These headphones do not have a base or a dock.

Compared to other headphones

Comparison picture

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are decent mixed usage over-ear headphones that set themselves apart by their amazing wireless range, and a good app with an amazing parametric EQ. They are headphones that perform decently well in all our tests, without necessarily excelling at anything. They are quite similar to some other JBL headphones and their ANC is a bit disappointing when comparing to other high-end noise cancelling headphones. See our recommendation for the best noise cancelling headphones, and the best headphone brands.

JBL E65BTNC Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

JBL Live 500BT Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are slightly better headphones than the Sennheiser 4HD 4.50 BTNC. The JBL are more comfortable, have better controls, a slightly better-balanced sound profile, a better ANC feature, 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
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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 Live 400BT Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are the over-ear noise cancelling variants of the JBL Live 400BT. 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.

JBL CLUB 950NC Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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.

Skullcandy Venue Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The JBL Live 650BTNC are slightly better mixed usage headphones than the Skullcandy Venue. 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.

Sennheiser HD 450BT Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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 Everest 710 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

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 at 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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JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless Price

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