JBL LIVE 500BT over-ear headphones test: Alexa in a bubble

As Christophe said in Les Marionnettes, "At home, every moment, it's a day of celebration, thanks to the little clown who makes us laugh, even Alexa that poor girl ... ". And to pay him a well-deserved tribute, we decided to listen to some of his songs via a connected headset. You have surely read with avidity our previous tests (Bose QC35II, Umi. W8, Jabra Elite Active 75t…). This time, we went back to over-the-ear headphones, that is to say that they will encompass your little ears. The sound is more immersive because your esgourdes are like in a bubble. It is also more comfortable to wear. And it was the JBL brand that caught our eye.

Our brand JBL (acronym for James Bullough Lansing, its founder in 1946) is now owned by the Harman brand. JBL is known for the quality of its sound and its products which are used in recording studios, cinemas, at concerts, festivals ... The brand has also enabled the development of the THX audio standard.

We chose to test the reference JBL LIVE 500BT which has the distinction of having Alexa integrated. Really integrated. As with almost all brands, this helmet is made in China, but conforms to CE, EAC… Let’s look in detail at what this product has in store for us.

JBL LIVE 500BT: over-ear headphones

Colors and technology

The packaging of our JBL 500BT is really very qualitative. The box as such is inserted in a glossy cardboard case presenting a visual of the helmet on the front face, highlighting its bluetooth connection, having Alexa integrated… On the back, you will find a list of its main assets: voice assistants, technology perception of the environment, calls hands free, connection multi-source, textile hoop comfortable and audio cable detachable.

The main packaging opens from the top (with a foam in contact with the helmet) and we find well wedged in molded plastic the JBL LIVE 500BT neighborhoods, are the audio cable and his USB cable charging orange. We chose the color blue, but be aware that this helmet is also available in black, white and red. The charging cord (standard USB) is 1,05m and the audio cable is 1,25m. This cable is also in woven aspect for the best effect. It's a dual 3,5mm jack with in addition a small remote control to pause, take a call ... The other advantage of this audio cable is that if your headset is not powered on or flat, you can still use it thanks to it (but no adjustment nor anything else in this case).

The shape of the helmet is, for once, fairly standard. It's hard to reinvent a shape that has already proven its worth, unlike the in-ear which seeks to be ever closer to your pinna. The headband can be lengthened by 3,5 cm by pulling the headphones. These can turn 90 ° backwards and inwards. The dark blue color of the helmet cover textile is very beautiful and its texture is pleasant to the touch. The interior lining is a little different, less textured but well padded so as not to hurt the head with prolonged wear.

“The dark blue color of the helmet upholstery fabric is very nice and its texture is pleasant to the touch. " The Alexians

Cheap Hi-Fi headphones: JBL LIVE 500BTThe earphone cushions are made of imitation leather (more precisely polyurethane) and padded. To see the resistance over time, but they seem qualitative. Inside, an L and R allow you not to turn your head upside down. The plastic of the hulls is also quite thick, shiny and matt with engraved JBL logo. There is really nothing to say, it's still plastic, but a good plastic, with good finishes (no joining or deburring problem…).

“The ear cushions are made of faux leather and they look good. " The Alexians

The cushions of the JBL Live 500BT are of good qualityWhile other manufacturers play on minimalism, JBL is not. It is even the reverse because the helmet is crammed with buttons in all directions. Six to be exact. We will see later if the use is easy. Activation ofAlexa will be done by tapping the left earphone. The size of the headphones is 9 cm high for 7,5 cm wide and a total thickness of 5 cm. Count 231 grams for the group.

Technical specifications

What does JBL sell us with the LIVE 500BT? Well here is a non-exhaustive list:

  • JBL Signature sound : 50 mm speakers and “Signature” sound found in most concert halls around the world,
  • Technologies Environment Aware : this key allows you to increase the ambient noise to hear what is happening around you (car, children, etc.),
  • Technologies TalkThru : By pressing the button again Ambient, this lowers the sound level and allows you to talk to someone while keeping the headphones on. Personally, the difference between Environment Aware et TalkThru is minimal and amounts to more or less the same ...
  • Multi-source connection : This allows switching from one Bluetooth device to another. It hasn't really been tested yet.
  • Bluetooth 4.2… Hey yes, no 5.0… So be careful if you stray too far from the audio source, the range is shorter and worse. But in the end, no particular difference when listening in good conditions.
  • Speaker sensitivity to 1kHz / 1mW (dB) - 108dB [email protected]/ Pa. It's pretty good.
  • 3.7V, 700mAh battery

That's not all. It also has a announced autonomy of 30 hours for 2 hours of charge (and 2 hours for 15 min of charge). During our various test sessions, this was confirmed. And as announced earlier, if you run out of battery, you can connect it wired and continue to use it.
There is a version JBL LIVE 400BT which exists but which has less powerful HP (40 mm), a lower autonomy and it is an on-ear and not a circum.

You will notice that there is no active noise reduction on this helmet. Indeed, its circumaural shape means that the external noise is strongly attenuated, even if always present. But when listening, it is almost inaudible, hence the two systems Ambient Aware and TalkThru which are activated by pressing once or twice on the dedicated button that we will see together.

You can see in the photos that there is six buttons on the helmet. In use, this is not easy because they are very close and you have to grope to find your way around. It's a shame, this is one of the weak points of the LIVE 500BT.

"There are six buttons on the helmet" The Alexians

And of course, the JBL LIVE 500BT works with Alexa with a simple tap on the left earcup. We will see together what we can do with it.

JBL LIVE 500BT: the "My JBL Headphones" application, to review

Each helmet manufacturer has their own home application. This is needed to configure the device on your phone. But, on the other hand, once done, it is quite possible to use the JBL Live 500 BT without launching the application, unlike some competitors like Jabra.

Even the operation with Alexa is possible without it. It is very good. On the other hand, the owner's turn is quickly done because the application is very poor. Delivered 50% charged, you can directly start installing your precious after downloading the application.

"It is quite possible to use the JBL Live 500 BT without launching the application […]" The Alexians

You can see the presentation of the application on our video. First, have your headset recognized by your phone. It's as simple as all Bluetooth connections: turn on your phone's Bluetooth, put it in search (and visible) mode, turn on the headset and let the phone pair.

The application will allow you to connect your LIVE 500BT. Once launched, activate your GPS and Iaiss the application search helmet. Then, then select the voice assistant that you want to use. Sure, Alexa is our choice, it goes without saying. If you already have the app Amazon Alexa on your smartphone, the recognition is done by itself and you will see a message appear saying that a Bluetooth device is connected to Alexa.

“There are only three presets, which is really few, too few. "The Alexians

Let's look My JBL headphones closer. Rest assured, it will be quick ... By pressing the logo on your helmet, you get to the main page. From there, by going to the cog at the top right you have the parameters:

  • Automatic shutdown: choose the length of time after which your headphones will switch off if not in use
  • Voice assistant: here, you have the choice of the wizard that will launch during activation (Google or Alexa)
  • Product Help: guides, FAQs ...
  • Firmware: update.
  • That's all…

On the main page of the JBL LIVE 500BT, you can still activate the TalkThru and Environment Aware. You will also have the option to play with the equalizer. There are only three presets, which is really few, too few. But luckily you can create your own sound and save it.

If we have to speak of a real weak point, it is without possible dispute this application which is way too light : too few settings, few soundscapes, no background noise (practical in transport) ... It's a shame, because the sound is great.

“JBL's 'Signature' sound is really there: a 'heavy' sound that is at the same time clear, deep and precise. " The Alexians

Yes, let's talk a bit about sound, that's the main purpose of headphones right? First of all, no comfort problem with the circum. You don't have a headset that crushes your ears or a headset that hurts you after a while. In addition, with your ears in the headphones, theimmersion is total when you listen to music. So of course it doesn't have active noise reduction, but when listening it is not annoying at all.

The sound "Signature" from JBL is really there: a "heavy" sound that is at the same time clear, deep and precise. Difficult to describe but it's a real pleasure to listen and listen again. We can see additional details of a track each time we listen to it. There is no saturation even when pushed to the limit. Spatialization is excellent Also, some songs make your head spin trying to find the origin of the sound. It is a real pleasure at all times.

“In call mode, the sound is also very good. "The Alexians

In call mode, the sound is also very good. The microphones pick up your voice very well, which is quite audible to your interlocutor. A phone call is made via one of the buttons on the right earpiece. But beware, it is not always easy to find the right one… Because as we had just caressed it by the words earlier, this helmet has a little too many buttons. Or, at the very least, misplaced. So indeed, we are not at all tactile because we can quickly do anything as soon as we touch the helmet (or even a piece of clothing), but not too much. Six buttons on one earbud is too much. Especially since they are quite small and close to each other. So be careful if you have big fingers. You have to take the blow, but when your phone is within easy reach, it is it that you will preferentially use.

Or if not, you will do most of the actions via Alexa.

JBL LIVE 500BT: operation with Alexa

The wizard is chosen from the initial configuration but can also be changed by going to the settings. Once you have chosen Alexa (you need the app Amazon Alexa), your headset is recognized by the application as a Bluetooth device but it does not appear in the list of devices Alexa.

To activate Alexa, it's relatively simple:

  • Double press the pause button of the right hull
  • Apply the flat of your hand to the left shell and you will hear the characteristic sound of your favorite voice assistant.

Responsiveness is immediate and there is no need to launch the My JBL Headphones app. This is a big plus. And what is even more remarkable is that the integration ofAlexa is total. By that mean that you will not have no limitation unlike the integration offered by other brands like Jabra. So not only can you perform routines, control your connected devices but music streaming skills like Amazon Music Unlimited are also fully usable!

Put your smartphone in your pocket, turn on your headphones, pat the left shell and say " I want to listen " The puppets " by Christophe ". There you go, it starts straight away. You can change the title by voice, pause, ... In short, this JBL is quite identical to an Echo, but to your ear.

The other advantage of the fact thatAlexa is fully integrated, is that it can be quite tedious to set up as a basic assistant on devices with overlays like MIUI, for example. And there, no problem compared to semi-integrations which only activate the main assistant of your smartphone.

What to say in conclusion? First of all, we were disappointed with the starving My JBL Headphones application which really lacks settings and added value. The other weak point is the positioning and the number of buttons which make their use tedious and will quickly make you want to go through the phone. But these negative points are swept away by a wearing comfort of the JBL LIVE 500BT and JBL Signature sound well known. Being over-the-ear allows you to immersive sound, cut off from the world, hence the two modes of opening up to the outside world TalkThru et Environment Aware (limited interest in having two). The sound experience is very very good and it is really the most of this helmet especially for 100 €. The full integration ofAlexa is also a huge asset for this helmet that we can only recommend.

 

JBL LIVE 500BT - Hi-Fi compatible headphones Amazon Alexa

NS. 99 €
9

Use Case

9.0/10

Design

9.0/10

Functionalities

9.0/10

Application

8.0/10

Price quality

10.0/10

Most

  • Installation simple
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Alexa fully integrated
  • Comfort and quality
  • More than 30 hours with a 2 hour charge

The lessers

  • Too many buttons in the wrong place
  • Starving application
  • No carrying case
Did i choose Alexa or did she choose me? Let's say that as a beta tester, it's a bit of both! And I do not regret having met our favorite assistant nor this adventure undertaken with Alexien Modo. Technophile, self-taught and loving popularization, I try to make our common passion easy to access!