JBL seems to be in a frenzy to push consumer headphones and earphones. The time is right to exploit this space since people are increasingly using highly capable smartphones and other portable devices to listen to music. In fact, we’ve spotted quite a few JBL Tempo on-the-ear headphones in the wild.
The company is betting huge on a new range of wireless and wired headphones and earphones (in-ears). The JBL Synchros E40BT on-the-ear model is one of them. If the massive success of Beats headphones, now owned by Apple, is anything to go by, we think JBL is on the right track with celebrities endorsing its products. Regardless of the company’s marketing activities, we want to concentrate on how these Bluetooth headphones actually sound.
Design and specifications
The winner of a prestigious Red Dot award for product design in 2014, our candy-red JBL Synchros E40BT headphones look attractive and make quite the fashion statement. They are available in black, white, blue and purple as well. We like the Synchros E40BT’s modern aesthetic more than that of current models by other brands.
The on-the-ear design of the Synchros E40BT involves earcups that swivel 90 degrees. The unit can fold into a compact shape for easy storage and transport. However, our review unit’s box did not contain a carry case or pouch of any sort, which was a disappointment.
The entire body is made of high-grade plastic except for the circular metal strips on the rear of the individual earcups. The leatherette pads on these earcups are adequately soft and manage to passively isolate noise to a certain extent. There is also a soft leatherette padding on the headband, which felt durable even when we tried twisting it aggressively. There is one big problem though; the headphones clamp down on the wearer’s ears tightly, causing noticeable discomfort.
All the controls and ports are on the left earcup. There is a jack for the 3.5mm/USB aux cable extension and a button for Bluetooth connectivity. The circular metal strip on the left earcup has four buttons – two for adjusting the volume, a multi-purpose button for play/pause/change track and tons of other functions, and a ShareMe button which lets you sharing audio from the primary headset to another compatible JBL Bluetooth headset.
The Synchros E40BT operates in the frequency range of 20Hz to 22KHz, has a maximum impedance of 32 ohms and supports Bluetooth 3.0 and above. The impedance of 32ohms means that it can be powered most portable devices.
We’ve encountered plenty of audio devices that look good but are underwhelming in the audio department. Fortunately, the Synchros E40BT has a good sound signature, although the subdued (almost non-existent) bass will put some people off.
We absolutely loved the channel separation on these headphones. In Nino Ferrer’s Looking For You, the whirr of the engine that travels from the left to the right channel and vice versa during the intro sounds fantastic. In fact, despite clamping really tightly these headphones don’t sound too dark. The open sound is really pleasant to the ears.
Sound staging is decent too. EDM fans can look elsewhere since the sub-bass is missing punch and even the mid-bass is fiddly. The mids and the trebles are sufficiently tight. As a result, watching movies laden with dialogue is a good experience, as voices sound crystal clear.
The great news is that the battery lasts for a long, long time. The company rates it at 16 hours and in our week with the headphones, the battery didn’t die at all. Sound quality isn’t really different if you use the Synchros E40BT as a wired headset using the included detachable 3.5mm aux cable. You can enjoy the wireless experience without worrying that sound quality is degraded.
JBL seems to be on the right track with the Synchros E40BT. It is priced at Rs. 6,990, which seems to be a good price for a product with a head-turning design and good sound quality. Interestingly, the 56BT, which we’ve reviewed, has recently received a price cut and is now officially available for Rs. 7,990. This model doesn’t look nearly as stylish as the Synchros E40BT but is a good option nonetheless.
Of course there are better wired headphones in the same price range but you won’t have the convenience that you get by default with the Synchros E40BT. We only wish that JBL had made it just a little more comfortable.