Fall has descended on New York, as the smell of Pumpkin Spice fills the air, and honeys don festive outfits of Uggs and yoga pants. But today I’m holed up in the MajorHiFi Review Office, staring at the enticing JBL Tune 600BTNC. Retailing for a solid $99, this on-ear headphone features wireless connectivity, active noise cancellation, and an ultra-portable design. But is it worth the clams?
JBL Tune 600BTNC Review
The JBL Tune 600BTNC comes in your standard cardboard retail packaging. Inside the box, a plastic insert holds the headphones, a micro-USB charging cable, and a 4 ft (1.2 m) aux cable.
In terms of design, the 600BTNC utilizes a slim mostly-plastic design. Lightweight in the extreme, the headphones also sport an on-ear design. Due to that lack of weight and an absence of clamp, the fit remains comfortable – even for my huge Dumbo ears.
Pairing to via Bluetooth is quick and painless, and the active noise cancellation feels surprisingly comfortable. Total battery charging time is a low two hours, but that two hour charging period grants you some impressive battery life:
- 12 hours with Bluetooth and ANC turned on
- 22 hours with just Bluetooth on
- 30 hours! with just ANC on (using the supplied 3.5 mm aux cable)
Aiding portable use, the JBL Tune 600BTNC also uses hinges on the headband, so the earcups can be folded up to decrease space in your bag or purse. Tight.
Frequency Range: 20-20,000 Hz
Nominal Impedance: 32 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 95 dB
The specs for this JBL reveal a standard frequency range and a low nominal impedance – just what I would expect from an on-ear wireless headphone. Sound Pressure might actually seem a little on the low side…until you turn these things on and get some tunes bumping. Here the active noise cancellation increases the sense of clarity, and as a result, this headphone can seem VERY loud.
The low end offers a natural but energetic sound. While neither terrible or fantastic, detail is present. A strong bass response rounds out the lows, with good impact and surprisingly competent control. With that robust “thump” in the low end, and no real bleed to mess things up in the lows, this part of the frequency range remains fairly impressive.
Here the sound appears relatively clean and accurate. Despite the bad rap JBL gets from audiophiles and headphone fanatics, the sound still shines with vocals and instrumentation. Indeed, there might be the thinnest whisper of compression on some instrumentation, but this hiccup is pretty much par-for-the-course when it comes to $99 headphones.
Slightly smooth in the highs, the Tune 600BTNC still delivers the goods. Instrumentation might sound a tiny bit subdued, but vocals remain on point. For pop and classical, this is a particularly refreshing sound, but one that also jives with rock, hip hop, and electronica.
There’s some overall depth to the sound, but this never truly becomes a real sense of soundstage. That being said, the 600BTNC does add an extra dimension of space to most of the tracks I throw at it. Definitely be prepared to hear a little more room in the music, but don’t go expecting open-back sound or anything.
Comfort is noteworthy. All that plastic keeps things light. In fact, these might be the lightest headphones I have ever used…or at least close. We’re definitely talking Koss Porta-Pro territory here, folks.
Taking the lightweight build into account, along with the impressive portability and extended battery life when wired with ANC turned on, this is the perfect headphone for travel. Whether you’re hopping across the pond to kick it with some EU homies, or catching a morning commute to the daily headphone review grind, this headphone obliterates outside noise for better music enjoyment.
If you need the very best sound quality in an on-ear headphone (and don’t need ANC), skip this JBL headphone and get the Beyerdynamic Aventho Wireless (at $449). That thing is like crack cocaine for your ears.
For those who want a more premium experience, the Sennheiser HD1 On-Ear Wireless headphones ($299) deliver a fancier alternative.
However, for those looking for impressive sound in an inexpensive package, nothing beats the JBL Tune 600BTNC. Sure, it’s not the perfect headphone; there’s some compression in the mids and the highs seem a little relaxed. But for the price, nothing else comes close to delivering this quality of sound with these quality features in a strong, durable, feather-light build.
For a scant $99,this robust, emotive sound can be yours. The fact that it remains comfortable and lightweight, with easy-to-use Bluetooth connectivity and noise-annihilating ANC just sweetens the deal. But knowing there’s nothing sweeter out there to deliver this kind of listening experience, what’s the holdup? Snag this turkey before it flies of the shelves on Black Friday.
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