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JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
7.0
Mixed Usage
7.5
Critical Listening
7.0
Commute/Travel
7.1
Sports/Fitness
7.2
Office
6.1
TV
5.7
Gaming
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.

Test Results
Design 7.1
Sound 7.5
Isolation 6.7
Microphone 6.0
Active Features 7.3
Connectivity 6.6
Pros
  • Exceptional wireless range.
  • Good audio reproduction.
  • Comfortable and durable build.
Cons
  • Bulky design.
  • Sub-par microphone for calls.
  1. Update 7/3/2019: We've updated the App Support score to better reflect how useful the full parametric EQ is.

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7.1

Design

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are well-designed over-ear headphones. They are quite similar to the Everest 710 and E65BTNC. They are comfortable to wear for a while, but their cups might be a bit shallow for people with larger ears. They are well-built headphones and their control scheme is easy to use. However, like most over-ears, they aren't the most portable option and won’t be ideal for sports as they trap heat inside the cups and aren’t stable enough for running. On the upside, you can use them passively even if the battery is dead, which is convenient.

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 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.

7.4 Controls
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Good
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : Yes
Talk-Through
:
No
Additional Buttons : 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 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 Portability
L : 6.0 "
W : 7.0 "
H : 3.0 "
Volume : 126 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

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 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 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 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.

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

The JBL Live 650 BTNC headphones come with a nice braided 4.1ft 1/8” TRRS cable and a micro-USB charging cable.

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7.5

Sound

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are good sounding closed-back over-ear headphones. They 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. However, their treble is a bit uneven and may lack a bit of detail on S and T sounds. Overall, these headphones are thumpy and will be better suited for bass-heavy music. They have a very similar sound profile to that of the JBL E65BTNC.

8.1 Bass
Std. Err.
:
2.75 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
5.09 dB
Mid-Bass
:
2.27 dB
High-Bass
:
-0.76 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.

8.8 Mid
Std. Err.
:
1.59 dB
Low-Mid
:
-1.61 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-1.73 dB
High-Mid
:
1.09 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.

8.2 Treble
Std. Err.
:
3.29 dB
Low-Treble
:
-0.97 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-1.46 dB
High-Treble
:
-4.64 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.

7.5 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.

8.7 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.

4.8 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
3.61 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
6.17 dB
PRTF Distance
:
4.74 dB
Openness
:
3.7
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
2.8
Correlated Crosstalk
:
0.0 dB

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.

6.7 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
4.427
Weighted THD @ 100
:
13.677

The harmonic distortion of the Live 650 BTNC is okay. The THD in the bass range is within good limits but stays fairly elevated in the mid and treble ranges. High bumps shown in the graph suggests that these frequencies can sound harsh and impure, which can get fatiguing over time.

6.7

Isolation

The isolation performance of the JBL Live 650 BTNC is acceptable. Even if they are ANC headphones, they don’t do that great of a job at blocking lower frequency noises like engine rumbles, meaning they won’t be ideal for commuting. However, they isolate well against work environment noise such as ambient chatter and A/C noises, so they’ll be suitable for the office. Also, they don’t leak too much, so you might be able to block even more noise by raising your volume without disturbing people.

6.3 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-18.66 dB
Bass
:
-8.67 dB
Mid
:
-18.29 dB
Treble
:
-29.94 dB
Self-Noise
:
24.15 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.

7.6 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.

6.0

Microphone

Integrated
:
Yes
In-line
:
Yes
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
N/A

The JBL Live 650 BTNC 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.

5.9 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 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.

7.3

Active Features

The JBL Live 650 BTNC have a good 22-hour battery life with their ANC enabled and they are also compatible with an app that allows good sound customization. They should last you for the longest rides or trips without a problem and will be good to use at the office during a workday as well. The app allows you to add as many points as you want to their EQ and fully customize the sound profile to your liking, which is great. However, the app lacks a few other features that would have been nice to have.

7.3 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
:
22.1 hrs
Charge Time
:
1.8 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
No
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
Yes

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 App Support
App Name : JBL Headphones
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : No
Windows : No
Equalizer
:
Parametric + Presets
ANC control
:
Yes
Mic Control : No
Room effects
:
No
Playback control
:
No
Button Mapping : No
Surround Sound : 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 is a pretty decent app that offers control over your ANC, but also gives you access to a full parametric EQ. You can add as many points as you want and fully customize their sound profile. 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.

6.6

Connectivity

The JBL Live 650 BTNC are Bluetooth compatible headphones that can be simultaneously connected to two devices. This can be very useful if you often change between a work computer and your phone. Also, their wireless range is remarkable as it maxed out our testing facility. You can use them wired, even if the battery is dead, and their audio cable has an in-line microphone that is compatible with most devices like gaming consoles, which is nice. However, their wireless latency might be too high for video content and gaming, but it is slightly lower than most Bluetooth headphones.

6.8 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
:
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
:
No

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.

9.1 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone
PC Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone

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.

0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A

These headphones do not have a base or a dock.

9.9 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
67 ft
Line of Sight Range
:
335 ft

The JBL Live 650 BTNC have exceptional wireless range. They maxed out our testing facility in our line of sight range test and had an excellent 67ft of range when the source was obstructed by walls. However, wireless range is dependent on your device’s signal strength and many other factors, so your results may differ.

3.0 Latency
Default Latency
:
180 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

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.

In the box

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

Compared to other Headphones

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.

Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC are slightly better headphones thanks to their ANC feature, but they are slightly less comfortable and feel a bit cheaper than the JBL Live 650BTNC. They have a great app that offers a parametric EQ like the JBLs, and they block more ambient noise. However, they have a lackluster control scheme that is a bit hard to use.

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.

JBL Everest 710 Wireless
SEE PRICE
B&H

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.

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.

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.

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Conclusion

7.0 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.

7.5 Critical Listening

Good for critical 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.

7.0 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.

7.1 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.

6.1 TV

Mediocre for TV. While their sound is good and they are comfortable to wear for a while, they won’t be good for this use case. They do have lower latency than most Bluetooth headphones, but the delay might still be noticeable for some. You can use them passively with the included audio cable to get rid of the delay, but you might need an audio cable extension if you want to watch from your couch. They’ll be good for watching video content on your phone or tablet when wired.

5.7 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.

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