Rubber neckbands may not offer the most glamorous look. But they serve a purpose for active folks who want to stabilize the fit and minimize the weight of the earphones. And if you’re looking for something relatively affordable, you can’t beat the quality of JBL. The company has just released its updated Bluetooth “neckband earphones,” which offer some new features. What can you expect in terms of sound and functionality? Let’s take a closer look in this JBL Live 220BT Review.
JBL Live 220BT Review
Even though the earpieces themselves are pretty light, the neckband reduces even more of their weight, making the Live 220BT perfect for those who find that earbuds hard to keep in their ears. And unless you’re a heavy sweater (they’re not water resistant), I would recommend these buds for sports activities as well. I also found them comfortable to wear for long stretches of time, while the sound isolation was pretty effective as well. (The shells are shaped at a slight angle to help reduce outside sound and offer a more ergonomic fit). The Live 220BT also comes with different sized eartips to optimize the fit.
Controls and Functionality
In terms of functionality, the newly released Live 220BT offers a few additions to their original design. From the neckband, you’ve got the usual controls that allows you to play/pause, skip tracks, control volume and answer/activate calls. But you’ll also get some added features, such as access to Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, as well as two ambient modes which allow in the surrounding sound. Handy if you have a tendency to jaywalk.
Call clarity is surprisingly excellent. Not only did I hear the caller loud and clear, but there was no ambient sound interfering with the call from my end. And I was testing them in the middle of Manhattan.
You’ll get a total of 10 hours of battery life from the Live 220BT. And 15 minutes of charging will yield 1 hour of playtime. The Live 220BT employs a micro-USB connection for charging (charging cable included).
Durability and Portability
JBL usually produces solidly built products. And even under 100 bucks, the Live 220BT is no exception. The earbuds have aluminum housing, while the cable is insulated with a flexible material cover. And the buttons on the neckband are integrated into the mold of the rubber, making them harder to break or loosen over time.
Coming from someone who suffers from neckband phobia, I have to say, rubber neckband is not only lightweight but it’s also very malleable, making it easy to scrunch in a bundle and throw in your bag or pocket.
JBL has also added a couple of neat features, such as magnetic shells. So, you no longer have to search your bra for a rogue earbud.
These earbuds also offer “multi-point connection”, which allows you to connect to two devices and easily switch between them. So, if you’re watching a movie on your iPad, and then you get a call from your mom, you can quickly and seamlessly switch the Bluetooth connection to your phone.
Forward leaning with tons of grip and punch, the Live 220BT’s fat bass will knock you on your ass. It also has some crazy subbiness to it. So, these buds are fantastic for pop and hip-hop. If you’re a rock fan, you’ll probably also appreciate the richness and warmth provided by the low-end. And though acoustic instruments in this range felt bass heavy at times, they still had a relatively natural tone.
The mids are a little scooped out, and vocals sit forward. So, rather than a full-bodied, all-encompassing sound, you’ll get a more dynamic profile where the low and high frequencies are accentuated. Again, this signature works well for pop. But rock and pop fans might want a little more meat in their hooks. In terms of clarity, these earbuds do a good job for the price point. Although it may not be a thoroughly detailed sound, the separation is great, making for a clean sounding track when listening to everything from folk to funk.
I enjoyed listening to strings in this range. Transparent and natural, there’s detail and nuance here that you don’t always hear on a JBL headphone. And listening to pop, percussion was crispy, lending tons of snap and energy to the track. Those with ears that are sensitive to high frequencies, might find the highs a little bright, and therefore, fatiguing after long listening sessions. In this case, I’d suggest tweaking the equalizer a little to mitigate the lows. But if you like your highs to sparkle, you’ll appreciate this sound profile.
The Live 220BT presents a spacious soundstage for the price. And imaging is decent as well; you can sense gradations in height and width, which provide somewhat of a multidimensional listening experience.
While rock fans might prefer a more full-bodied feel, the dynamic sound signature is ideal for pop and hip-hop fans. In addition, Bob Dylan fans may also appreciate the clean profile offered by the Live Series. And considering that the Live 200BT comes with an accompanying equalizer app, you’ll also get some creative control over you sound. Add to this a durable, comfortable design with fantastic call clarity, and you’ve got a solid deal.
You can find these earbuds for the best price here: