The nice people at JBL gave me a set of their new JBL Syncros S700 Headphones when I went to the launch up in Liverpool last month. I’ve been throwing a myriad of music at them over the past few weeks, and I ponder if for £299 they really are worth such a large amount of money.
Something that sets the JBL Syncros S700 Headphones apart from competitors in this price range is the fact they have ‘LiveStage™ DSP’ which apparently ‘gives listeners a more lifelike audio experience’. JBL have spent a lot of money researching the ‘science of sound’ and have even commissioned scientific papers of their findings, the bottom line is, everyone likes good, clean, balanced sound. This is where the Livestage DSP is meant to shine, it processes the sound to mimic it coming out of two well balanced, stereo speakers in an optimal room layout, to give you the effect of perfect sound.
Does it work?
Well.. Hmm Kinda. Ultimately, it’s your music, being processed to the how the Livestage DSP *thinks* it should sound, I’m not always entirely sure with EVERYTHING I’ve listened to it sounds ‘better’. I’d say it possibly more balanced, the bass certainly lacks the punch it has when the the DSP is off, everything feels a bit more level. When we were in Liverpool we listened to Jonas and the Massive Attraction perform their acoustic set at The Cavern Club through the Syncros S700 Headphones and admittedly, with the Livestage ON it sounded better than with it OFF. Personally, I have found myself switching it on or off through the songs to see which sounds better to me, I do have it switched off mostly, although the more acoustic music does seem to have a bit more warmth with it switched on. So it’s a mixed bag, I’m not sure I’d by these JUST for the Livestage.
Physically, the headphones are absolutely beautiful, really, really well engineered, with their die-cast aluminum frame, with woven cordura accents, steel headband and soft leather ear cushions. They are study, and solid, and some of the nicest headphones I’ve handled. You can turn the Livestage on or off by pressing the JBL logo on the left headphone, a white LED will glow when it’s switched on.
You get a storage case with them that holds the two headphone cables that are supplied, one is specifically for Apple devices, the other for ‘everything else’. I must admit the weak link in the package are the headphone cables, the remote controls are cheap and nasty, they really do let the side down, shame really.
I’m also testing the AKG K545 Headphones too, these are around £70 LESS than the S700’s. Side by side, you can really hear the difference in quality between the AKG K545 and the JBL Syncros S700, the AKG’s certainly don’t sound BAD – not by any stretch of the imagination. The S700’s are just that much better, the sound is richer and warmer, with a bit more kick on the lower end.
Ultimately, despite a few flaws, the JBL Syncros S700 Headphones are wonderful, I know I’ll get many years use from them, and I’ll get wonderfully balanced sound reproduction through them.
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