JBL makes some some of the best headphones you can buy right now. How do we know? Because our experts have personally tried and tested them, drawing on decades of audio know-how to identify the best-sounding, best-value models.
It's not always easy. Some pairs look the part but fit poorly; others promise 'high fidelity' sound but don't deliver. And we never recommend wireless headphones without checking that the stated battery life lives up to reality.
Ready to pick out the perfect pair of JBL headphones for your needs and budget? We've got you covered with our honest, impartial guide. Every entry on this list has excelled and won our approval, so you can trust our buying advice and shop with complete confidence.
You'll find more buying tips below, followed by What Hi-Fi?'s definitive list of the best JBL headphones.
How to choose the best JBL headphones for you
If you want a pair of headphones for home use (to plug into your hi-fi system, say) then a pair of wired over-ear headphones is probably best. More likely to listen on the go? In-ear earbuds or on-ear headphones might be a better bet.
Your next decision is between wired and wireless. Wireless headphones and earbuds offer cable-free convenience, and typically pair with any Bluetooth-enabled smartphone, tablet or laptop. On the downside, the technology generally attracts a higher price tag compared to wired counterparts of similar sonic quality.
JBL also makes noise-cancelling headphones, for those who want to block out the world, and sport headphones – such as the excellent Reflect Flow Pro – for gym-goers. The latter prioritise workout-friendly features and waterproofing.
Last but not least, it's worth knowing that JBL recently unveiled the Tour Pro 2 wireless earbuds which feature the first-ever 'smart charging case'. We've yet to review them, but they could be worth keeping in mind.
- Shop today's best headphones deals
The sporty JBL Reflect Flow Pro are an upgraded version of the standard Reflect Flow in-ears (further down this list). They offer the same precise sound, plus the addition of active noise-cancelling.
The design is a little bulbous – they're nowhere near as discreet as the flatter Jaybird Vista 2 – they're satisfyingly lightweight. We find that the firm fit keeps them in place when things get slippery due to sweat or rain.
JBL's noise-cancelling tech performed OK, but not brilliantly, in our tests. There's also an ‘ambient’ mode that lets you stay aware of your surroundings and comes in in particularly useful when running through busy cities.
Hitting play on GUNSHIP’s Woken Furies, the barrage of synths sparkle and sizzle with clarity and texture, underpinned by a strong bassline. Sound is wonderfully balanced – less rich than the Jaybird Vista 2 but more energetic than the original Bose Sport Earbuds.
The Reflect Flow Pro are durable not only in terms of build quality but also battery life. In our tests, the buds lasted the claimed 10 hours (plus another 20 hours from the charging case).
Sure, you can buy wireless earbuds not geared towards sport that, for a similar price, will deliver more detail (Sony's WF-1000XM4, for example). But unlike the Reflect Flow Pro, they aren't aren't nearly as rugged or fitness-friendly.
Read our full JBL Reflect Flow Pro review
Built quality is hit and miss but they fit nicely, with a good level of comfort, though we do find our ears warming up after using them for an hour or so. Given they’re an on-ear design, that’s hardly unexpected.
Walking through a crowded train station, JBL's noise-cancelling does a decent job of cutting out the hustle and bustle. They don’t eliminate as much background noise as a premium rivals such as Sony's WH-1000XM5 over-ears (£380 / $399 / AU$550), but we don't really expect them to.
Sound is expansive and confident. Bass performance really stands out – punchy and tight, but weighty and powerful too. We play Drake’s Legend and there’s a depth to low frequencies that many budget headphones can only dream of. The one snag is that it can be a little overbearing at times.
Not a fan of touch controls? These headphones stick to good old physical buttons for volume and playback. You can also use them are wired headphones, with Bluetooth off and noise-cancelling on.
Ultimately, while the JBL Tune600BTNC are not as hardwearing as we'd like, their dynamic sound and solid spec means we can happily recommend them to you.
Read the full review: JBL Tune 600BTNC
If you’re after pair of sporty in-ears without noise-cancelling, the JBL Reflect Flow are a smart buy.
The case itself is somewhat disappointing – it’s too big to take with you on a long run and the silver coating begins to rub off slightly after a few days – but the buds fit nicely. We go for a run in them and they don’t budge.
Bluetooth connection is is dependable throughout our testing period but the touch controls aren't quite as intuitive as we'd like. Battery life is good enough, standing at 10 hours, or 30 hours with the case.
We load up Junius Meyvant’s Signals on Spotify, from the album Floating Harmonies, and the track comes through crisply. There's plenty of detail, resonating with precise timing and providing a pleasing, musical backdrop to our workout.
It’s a solid performance for the money but when we test them against the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus (£120 / $140 / AU$185), it's clear that the Melomania buds reveal more detail. Then again, they're not intended for sport use.
The newer JBL Reflect Flow Pro (at the top of this list) add noise-cancelling and don't cost much more. But if you're on the lookout for cheap sports buds, the standard Reflect Flow buds are a good buy.
Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow
The market for true wireless earbuds around the £100 / $120 / AU$180 mark is full to bursting, but the JBL Live Pro+ manage to stand out from the crowd with their entertaining sound.
The AirPods-style design might not be to everyone's taste but we found these buds easy to position securely and comfortably. Touch controls are responsive and reliable throughout our testing period and the JBL control app lets us tinker with the EQ settings, degree of noise-cancellation and voice assistant (Alexa and Google Assistant).
JBL's oversized (11mm) full-range dynamic drivers – a nice touch at this price point – deliver the big dynamic variations in Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major. We play a CD-quality file of Grace Jones’ My Jamaican Guy and are similarly impressed by the rhythmic expression and impressive levels of detail. There's a proper intimacy to the midrange here.
Battery life of seven hours from the buds, with three further charges held in the case, means a competitive if not class-leading, total of 28 hours all in. The case wirelessly charges via any Qi-certified pad, and 10 minutes on the power returns an hour of playback.
The Panasonic RZ-S500W (£100 / $150 / AU$219) serve up even more detail and a a more spacious presentation. But if you're keen to buy from JBL, and don't fancy the sportier models above, the Live Pro+ are a good value option.
Read our full JBL LivePro+ review
If you're after a pair of bass-heavy, DJ-friendly headphones, JBL has you covered with the Club 950NC over-ears. They're much heavier than the What Hi-Fi? Award-winning Sony WH-1000XM5 (372g vs 250g), but they're a fun listen.
First impressions are good: we like the fact that the Club 950NC are foldable and portable. Both the headphones and the included case feel like they're built to last.
JBL’s noise-cancelling tech does a solid enough job of cutting out background noise but if you spend a little extra, you’ll get even better tech from the likes of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless.
The Bass Boost function can be turned on and off via a button on the right earcup. During our time with the headphones we leave the boost turned off. It definitely adds power and bass weight, but the trade-off is precision and clarity. The whole presentation sounds cloudier and muddier with it switched on.
We play Dua Lipa’s Don’t Start Now and the track’s upbeat, funky tempo suits the Club 950NC to a tee. The song’s short, stabby bassline, plucky percussion and expressive vocal are all given plenty of room to breathe.
We squeezed around 22 hours of battery life out of these headphones with Bluetooth and noise-cancelling activated, and 30 hours when plugged in using the supplied cable with noise-cancelling on.
The all-conquering Sony WH-1000XM5 (£380 / $399 / AU$550) are, by far, the better noise-cancellers. But if you can't get enough of chunky club basslines, the JBL Club 950NC will have you tapping to the beat.
Read the full review: JBL Club 950NC
How we test headphones
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, from TVs to speakers, headphones to hi-fi systems. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them? Allow us to explain.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years of experience in reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in Reading, London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process from start to finish, ensuring a high level of consistency. What's more, we keep class-leading headphones in our stockrooms so we can always compare new pairs to ones we know and love.
We are always honest, fair and impartial, and do our best to make sure we're hearing every product at their very best, so we'll try plenty of different genres of music and give them plenty of listening time (and time to run in), while the wired headphones that might warrant being used with a DAC are tested with a suitable one.
It's not just about sound quality, of course. If a pair has active noise cancellation – increasingly the case these days – we'll ensure part of our testing involves using them in different environments, whether it's a busy train station or a noisy aircraft cabin. When it comes to battery life, we don't just take the manufacturer's word for it – we test and then test again. Do the claims really stack up in a real world usage scenario?
The same goes for comfort. It's all very well slipping on a pair of headphones for an hour or so, but will you still be headache-free after a full day of wearing them? Build quality is extremely important to us too. If the construction or finish is not up to scratch, we'll be the first to tell you. That way, you can buy with always confidence based on our recommendation.
All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity. That's why our reviews are trusted by retailers and manufacturers as well as consumers. And there's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, ensuring that we continue to deliver honest, unbiased reviews for many more decades to come.
Our ultimate guide to the best over-ear headphones
On the move? Here are the best earbuds
Expert guide: How to choose the right pair of headphones