JBL Tune 600 BTNC wireless noise-cancelling headphone. Read our JBL Tune 600 BTNC Review.
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COMBINING BLUETOOTH AND active noise cancelling in a headphone is a highly desirable option for that discrete ‘shut out the world’ ability that those on the move demand. Meanwhile the elimination of the headphone socket on key smartphones has also served to ensure that the price point for such flexible designs has dropped, but even taking this into account, this JBL looks like very strong value.
For £90 you get an on-ear model that is built around a pair of 32mm drivers, which feature JBL’s Pure Bass Sound. The enclosures are closed- back and noise leakage is impressively low. Or if you prefer, you can simply connect the JBL up as a wired headphone via the supplied cable with its 3.5 mm jack plug.
Ditch the wires
If you want to go wireless, however, the Tune600BTNC is equipped with Bluetooth v4.1, although in this implementation there’s no aptX support. At this sort of price point this is not the end of the world, but it does mean that the JBL won’t appeal to those wanting to listen to hi-res tracks from their audio player.
The implementation of noise cancelling is also simple and rather than varying the levels of isolation, you get a single button to either turn it on or off. It’s simple to use, of course, and is further helped by the controls being logically laid out and usefully responsive.
The JBL also feels well assembled and properly thought out. The enclosures have enough axial movement to sit on the ear at the right angle and the level of pressure exerted by the headband versus the level of padding on the enclosure is well judged for a headphone that will be worn on the move. There are some minor niggles to consider, though. Frustratingly, you can’t listen and charge the battery at the same time as the USB charging socket is inaccessible while the headphone is in use. I also find that the pressure that the earpads exert on my ears can be a little uncomfortable during those longer listening sessions.
Hooking up the JBL to the Shanling M0 digital audio player, via the wired connection reveals a competent and well-considered headphone. Peter Gabriel’s This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds) is delivered with a convincing sense of space and drive. In fact, the bass is one of the most immediately impressive aspects of the performance. I am innately wary of manufacture catchphrases like Pure Bass Sound, but in this instance the result seems to be a clean and well-sorted low end that integrates decently with the upper frequencies. Gabriel’s vocals are clear and well handled, sitting at the front of the mix without being separated from it.
Switch to Bluetooth and the overall presentation stays very similar. The JBL manages to avoid any unwanted background noise or interference and there is a pleasing sense of dynamics to the way that it handles the potent electronica of The Chemical Brother’s Dig Your Own Hole. There is plenty of bass extension on show and this is coupled with a decent sense of timing and drive. There is a slight lack of space to the presentation and the midrange can feel slightly congested. Listening to something simpler like Jon Allen’s Deep River sees the headphone do a little better at resolving this midrange information, but it never sounds truly open.
Shut them out
Noise cancelling is effective, although compared with something like Bowers & Wilkins PX wireless noise-cancelling headphone at more than three times the price, the levels of noise reduction aren’t as effective – but there are no significant changes to the way that voices and instruments are handled and the JBL is impressively consistent whether you activate noise cancelling or not. In an environment like an office or public space, there is enough of a noise ‘cut’ to ensure that your listening experience is enhanced.
This has to be seen as a bargain. It delivers respectable performance levels when used as a conventional headphone and the well-implemented Bluetooth and noise-cancelling technology ensure that the Tune600BTNC is highly practical for life on the road.