JBL E55BT Quincy Edition – Review

JBL E55BT Quincy Edition
Company: JBL
Price: $199.95

Maybe it’s my age, or just what I’m used to. Either way, over the ear headphones are, and always have been, my preferred way to enjoy music in a very personal manner. The all-around feel of the headphones, the ability to better block out outside sounds, and the larger speakers all come together to produce a fuller, richer music experience. When the fine folks at JBL offered me a pair of JBL E55BT Quincy Edition headphones for review, how could I refuse?

There are six over-the-ear headphones within reach as I type this review, not including the headphones for this review that I am currently listening to. These JBL’s are in the mid-range in price with those on the shelf next to me. Of these seven headphones, four are wireless, and three have noise cancelation technology built-in. The JBL’s for this review fall into the BT Wireless noise cancelations category.

I have some heavy hitters on that shelf — some of my all-time favorite headphones of a wide variety. The AKG K-272 HD, the Shure SRH840, and Sony h.ear on Wireless NC MDR-100ABN. Tough competition for my attention.

The AKG’s and the Shure headphones are older and not wireless, so the best comparison, I think, is with the Sony h.ear. Both are Bluetooth with noise canceling technology built-in, so I will focus this review there. That’s not to say this is a head-to-head review, but it’s hard not to do so when you have both sets of headphones within arms reach.

These JBL headphones are very comfortable to wear. They fit snugly, but not too tight. They feel, while not quite weightless, very light on my head. No pinching of the temple or ears in extended use. In short, nice to wear.

The noise cancelation technology is first rate. Honestly, unless a pair of earbuds or headphones add some sort of weird electronic hum, noise cancelation technology either works or it doesn’t. This is JBL, so it works.

As I write, the closest competitor I have nearby is be the Sony headphones. But here is my problem: these JBL’s cost $200, while the Sony’s are $350. You could almost buy two of the JBL’s for the same price! But price does not equal quality (I’m looking at you, Bose) and since anyone thinking of spending this much money on headphones may consider either of these as a viable purchase, I’m going to compare them.

Too bad for Sony and their higher price tag. These JBL headphones, quite simply, are better in almost every regard, save one.

Audio quality is subjective to a point. While I may think one pair of headphones sounds better than another, you may disagree. But the accuracy of sound reproduction can be more scientific, and for this review I used… nothing. Who cares about scientific results for headphones? At the end of the day, it comes down to the listener, and in a review, how that reviewer arrives at his or her conclusions. In this case, I listened to a wide variety of music, in both iTunes and uncompressed formats. And in every song, the results were obvious.

Two albums have always been my go-to for audio quality, going back decades. These two albums are intimately familiar to me, and I have listened to both on such a wide variety of speakers and headphones that they allow me to pinpoint what’s good and bad while listening to the evaluation headphones. These two albums are Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell (1994) and Prince’s Around the World in a Day (1985). I love both albums, but sonically, I KNOW these two albums better than almost any other. (Purple Rain is my all time favorite album, but I don’t use it for review purposes: that one is just for pure pleasure)

Both these albums feature not just music, but also quiet sounds. Both have deep bass, delicate high notes, and a wide range of instruments played by true genius performers.

I give you that explanation to demonstrate how serious I am in my opinion that these JBL E55BT Quincy Edition headphones are truly splendid in every possible way. They produce a deep, rich sound in both wired and wireless mode. They are crafted by a company that obviously spends a lot of time working the small details, and it shows in both quality of the physical headphones, and in the way they reproduce music.

Do they produce better audio than the Sony headphones? Yes. These are more rich and smooth in sound quality, and while the bass is good, the high end will sound a bit scratchy at very loud volume.

Oh, and the Quincy Edition? That refers to Quincy Jones, whose voice can be heard when you power on the headphones. All audio voice prompts are recorded by Quincy Jones! Kinda cool, kinda… meh. A gimmick? Sure.

I do highly recommend these JBL E55BT Quincy Edition headphones. For the price, they are fantastic. They come with a nice pouch, audio cable, and USB charging cable. The only drawback is that they are rated at 20 hours per charge, but I have only achieved about 15 hours before they need to be charged. (This is the only place the Sony’s came out on top) They also tend to deplete the batteries when not in use very quickly. After a full charge, and then sitting on the shelf for five days, the battery goes dead again. Not great.

Still and all, great headphones for audio performance and physical comfort!

MyMac.com Review Rating: 8 out of 10

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