There’s an unwritten rule that you can charge more for headphones that are full-size, even if all it really involves is making the pads a bit bigger. The JBL E55BTs reject that idea. Sure, they’re plastic apart from the fabric padding of the headband, and that padding is thinner than a slice of Weight Watcher’s bread. But while they don’t feel that luxurious when you first put them on, you can wear them for hours at a time without any fatigue. That’s the real benefit of full-size headphones.
They’re not ridiculously huge, they do fold up, and if you were already bored of black headphones five years ago, the JBL E55BTs also come in red, blue and white. Primed for the high street, you might see them next to pairs that look similar but cost 2-3 times the price, while a 20-hour battery life blows the stamina of little wireless in-ears away.
Start listening and you’ll hear why the JBL E55BTs are cheaper than most, though. On first audition, they seem to get a lot right, with decent treble detail and bass that’s not anaemic or so energetic it slobbers over the rest of the sound like an excitable puppy.
However, the JBL E55BTs have a vacant, hollow-sounding mid-range that makes parts of the mix seem oddly disconnected from each other. You can hear all the elements, as the treble picks up the slack for the detail absent in the mids, but there’s still something missing.