JBLs brand new J55i On-Ear Headphones aren’t too far off from being Over-Ear headphones. These ultra stylish headphones are “high performance” and feature rotating ear cups, a removable cable with inline ControlTalk and microphone, and a brand name that has years of experience in the audio industry.
The JBL J55is are pretty awesome looking headphones. They sport brushed metal earcups with a clean design and ultra-cushioned soft leather earcups. They’re a bit larger than most On-Ear headphones, which adds to their appeal. They’ll easily cover the largest of ears and the sound isolation is superb. The headband is adjustable and the earcups swivel 180 degrees up into the band. They’re more portable than most headphones, but since the headband doesn’t fold, you’re left with an awkward banana shape for (un)safe traveling. Luckily it includes a nice padded neoprene carrying pouch.
The design looks super premium, but it doesn’t feel as high end. The J55is have a mostly plastic build, with a few nice brushed stainless steel design queues. They’re not flimsy, and they pass our shake test, but they still feel somewhat fragile and plasticky. The plastic is relatively thick and pretty lightweight.
The cable on the the J55i headphones is great, but with one unfortunate feature. The cable is flat, durable, and tangle-resistant. There’s an inline ControlTalk with microphone and volume buttons on the J55i, but not on the J55. We love that the cable is removable, but unfortunately it’s a proprietary plug that locks into the headphones. If you ever have to swap the cable, it has to come from JBL. The ControlTalk is intended for Apple iOS products, but it will work with mixed feedback on Android, Blackberry, and other devices. The ControlTalk is also one of the better ones we’ve used; the volume buttons are easy to distinguish from the universal button. The microphone works really well too.
These headphones include JBL’s “high-performance” drivers intended to deliver “incredible detail and low-end response”. We’d say that’s pretty spot on. The J55s are definitely tuned more towards the low-ends. Audio is extra bassy, but they pull it off a lot nicer than Beats by Dre, which sacrifices the overall audio experience with unnecessary bass. There’s great detail in the mid-range audio. Friends were blown away with these JBL headphones. My only critique is that the highs are a bit recessed. The audio got better with some break in.
All-in-all the JBL J55i headphones are great headphones for the ripe price of $99.95. They’re awesome looking headphones and are really comfortable, though the audio quality is better than the build quality. If you veer on the careful side, they could last you a few years. The JBL J55i On-Ear headphones are currently available from Amazon in black, white (pictured), or white/orange. For $79.95, you can get the JBL J55s which are seemingly the same headphones but without the ControlTalk+microphone cable.
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The Good: Fun design, Premium appearance, Great ControlTalk buttons with mic, Removable cable, Collapsable, Great audio quality, comfortable, Superb sound isolation, Included padded carrying case
The Bad: Applies pressure after an hour or two of wear, Plasticky and not-so-durable, Proprietary cable, Awkward shape when collapsed