+ warm, rich sound
+ powerful bass and high SPL
+ very versatile in all operating modes
+ good acoustic isolation without noise-cancelling
- could play more dynamic and lively in Bluetooth/NC mode
- could be lighter and more handy
Sound: Tonal Balance / Transparency7.5
Sound: Bass / Dynamics8.5
Ease-of-use / Connectivity9
Retro design with a 1970s studio look combined with state-of-the-art noise-cancelling and Bluetooth – the JBL Club One is a surprisingly different over-ear headphone with amazing versatility. That said it might even continue to reproduce music in passive wired mode in case its battery dies.
This means that you can use it with or without a cable and with noise-cancelling activated or deactivated, without any loss of or difference in sound quality. In standard Bluetooth mode, the manufacturer promises 45 hours of battery life, which should be record-breaking.
Technology and features
As an extra attention to historic detail a retro spiral cable is included, which adds a certain amount DJ look. The drivers, 40 mm in diameter each leave no doubt that the Club One could stand a DJ field test, and they are driven by a correspondingly powerful amplifier. In passive mode with external amplification, the tonal balance is promised not to change at all. As a matter of compatibility in real-life application, a low impedance of 42 ohms should elicit enough dynamics even from less potent sources such as laptops or smartphones.
In addition to activating or deactivating noise cancellation mode, there are two other modus operandi in which the microphones at least partially pass through sound from outside: a pass-through-mode optimised for announcements on planes or trains that specifically emphasizes voices. The other mode offers a trade-off between noise-cancelling low frequencies and letting ambient noise of mid or high frequencies pass unaltered, making it ideal for everyday listening in case a full isolation is not an option.
With noise-cancelling being activated, the JBL still manages up to 25 hours of continuous operation on one battery charge.
App control and more
Per channel the JBL offers two built-in microphones. They are not only used as sensors for the noise-cancelling circuit but also provide the usual phone call functionality. Furthermore, with compatible smart devices, the voice assistants Apple Siri and Google Assistant can be used and activated through the JBL´s touch sensors.
A finely crafted app for the JBL Club ONE is available for both Android and iOS devices. Here, for example, equalizer presets can be activated and individually refined.
Does the JBL Club ONE sounds like a club?
Music sounds tonally balanced to slightly warm through the JBL Club ONE, and fortunately there is no emphasis on any frequency range. Its bass is powerful but not bloated, transparency and resolution being a bit on the relaxed and silky side. That’s no mistake, though, because with different genres of music, the JBL always sounds on the smooth side, giving the listener a dose of feel-good ambience.
Listeners with a wide range of musical tastes will especially appreciate this, as even historic albums somewhat lacking bass from the 1970s and 1980s never get annoying, and the JBL even accommodates genuine vintage recordings with a certain warmth and prevents any harsh notes. Adjusting the tonal balance is possible via the app´s equalizer, but do not really change the basic character.
The manufacturer’s promise to keep the tonal balance the same in all operating modes can only be described as fully true. Even in passive operation on the cable, the bass sounded rich, voluminous and contoured. Perhaps even a touch more nuanced and contoured than with noise-cancelling or Bluetooth activated.
Alternatives and competitors
There is a wide range of noise-cancelling over-ears in the JBL Club ONE’s price range. The long battery life and versatile operation features speak in favor of the JBL, and it also offers a more-than-sufficient capability of SPL. If you want more fine dynamics and fun-factor, you could go for Sony’s WH-1000 XM4 instead; there are also other headphones with more effective noise-cancelling, such as the Bose Quiet Comfort 45.
Specs JBL Club One
- Price: approx. 190 $
- Type: Over-Ear
- Transducer: Dynamic
- Weight: 392 g
- Special features: Passive mode possible, noise-cancelling, app control, 2 microphones
- More at: www.jbl.com