Following our trip to Liverpool last week for the press even and launch of the new JBL Synchros S700 headphones, we have had chance to check them out for a few days and see how they sound with music other than live acoustic sets.
In case you missed our previous posts the S700 headphones are the result of over a years worth of scientific research by JBL into what makes a headphone sound good, previously no other company has approached the subject in a scientific manor and there has been no consensus on what is the best sound for headphones. The result of this research was that people actually preferred a neutral sound rather than with excessive bass.
As part of the research, JBL also wanted to come up with a way to make headphones sound more like you are listening to music as it was designed to be listened to, and that is via stereo in a reference level room taking into account the natural resonance of the surroundings. With headphones the sound is play directly into your ears so it is not being bounced across multiple surfaces giving an immersive effect or a sense of direction. Therefore with the Synchros S700 music can (optionally) be played through a DSP which alters the sound to mimic being listened to in a natural stereo environment. This technology means that the headphones have to be powered and they are use a lithium ion battery which is charged via the headphone cables.
Our initial impression of the headphones was that they are exceptionally well built, they are very sturdy, quite heavy and made up of a cast aluminium with leather ear cushions, we found them really comfortable though extended use they did make our ears a little hot. They come with 2 sets of cables, one for Android and one for iPhone, as well as a nice carry case. Overall these have a very premium feel to them.
During the press even we got to listen to them during a live performance from Jonas and the Massive Attraction. When switching between passive and SoundStage we found the SoundStage to be quite impressive with it actually making the performance sound more like a live performance. During the following days we have had chance to listen to them with a wide range of music from Rock, Electronica, Hip Hop etc, and unfortunately we found the LiveStage to be slightly less impressive, we found that bass seemed to be reduced and it felt slightly unbalanced. In passive mode the headphones do seem to be surprisingly bass heavy considering JBL says they are supposed to be more natural sounding, and it is possible this is why we were less impressed with soundstage the second time round as we are just used to everything being so bass heavy nowadays.
With the headphones in active or passive we found them very capable, they handled everything we through at them without any distortion, even with the heaviest bass tracks we could find the headphones played them comfortably and everything sounded quite powerful, in passive mode bass was really deep in places which we think will appeal to a lot of younger people (contrary to JBLs findings).
Overall, even though we were not 100% sure if we preferred LiveStage or passive these are excellent headphones with a ultra premium feel that you are not going to be disappointed with. You can currently get the Synchros S700 headphones from the JBL store for £299 which is expensive, but if you are looking for some premium headphones that are going to last you several years we don't think you will be disappointed with these. JBL also offer a 30 day return policy so you are free to try them out yourself and decide how much you like them.
They are available now from here