Style and substance aren’t two concepts most would picture working harmoniously together, especially when it comes to Bluetooth headsets. And yet, despite its place in the wide world of Harman accessories, JBL has done well for themselves without many of the indulgences and cache.
With that in mind, the Synchros E50BT are the result of trying to please everybody while making a unique pair of Bluetooth headphones – the results are satisfactory, but you know some of that beauty is skin-deep, all in the name of instant satisfaction.
That’s definitely a theme you’ll experience with the E50BT over again, but in terms of looks these over-ear headphones get the aesthetics exactly right. In fact, these may actually look better than JBL’s S400BT step-up with a tasteful combination of aluminum metallic hinges and quasi-machined bits. The premium leatherette headband, cups, and textured plastic surrounds balances out the minimalist look further. The model I received came in black and silver accents that are nicely subdued, but if you want something much more striking or matches your wardrobe these also come in white, red, indigo, or violet (of all colors). All told, these are some elegant looking headphones.
These are wireless so free-roaming functionality is mandatory. All of the buttons are located on the left earpiece and has a separate power/pairing button on the rear frame, while the playback and volume controls are conveniently integrated into the left earcup. However, JBL couldn’t help themselves and stuck to an inline jack that can either recharge the E50BT through an included AUX-to-USB cable or use them tethered with an AUX cable. No matter what you listen to, you can expect the E50BT to last 16 to 18 hours before you have to juice them up again for 3 hours.
Beyond that, there really isn’t a whole lot to the E50BT which is mostly good. The general feel of these cans is lightweight with much of the build isolated to the earcups, there’s no mention of any advanced memory foam being utilized but it remains plush and supportive nonetheless. The headband by contrast is firm to the touch but is there to keep things ergonomic, and to prevent the headphones from wobbling loosely; if anything you probably won’t notice the band on top of your head most of the time. The range is excellent too, and worked up to 20 ft (between walls) if you happen to be away from your paired device
What I’m not a fan of though are the earcup panel controls, or more specifically the Multi-function Button (MFB), which is supposed to provide single or double-tap shortcuts when listening to music or taking multiple calls from either iOS or Android. It strives for convenience but the problem is one button is supposed to do all this stuff, and I don’t necessarily enjoy learning a host of new functions just for one accessory. One feature I didn’t get a chance to try is the “ShareMe” function which can stream your music to other compatible JBL headphones, all with just a press of the button on the earcup as well.
As everyday headphones the E50BT will easily get the job done thanks to its 50mm driver, and with onboard amplification that’s probably more than anyone will ever need. One thing you’ll immediately notice is the sound comes in balanced, while the separation between vocals and treble is straightforward. The bass response (PureBass) is distinct but definitely performs better at louder levels despite some harshness. It’s clean and drowns out the outside world without audio leaking or heavy distortion, although a noticeable amount of richness is replaced with booming midranges; a suitable alternative if your tastes leans towards modern pop or hip-hop.
Typical of many Harman speakers and headphones is that you get a very discreet microphone for phone calls. I hesitate on calling this a proper headset because reception can get a bit muffled during conversations, most likely because the actual mic is the size a pinhole. So I can forgive it for trying to be unobtrusive in a pinch.
For $149 the Synchros E50BT Bluetooth Headphones are great if you’re after solid looks and wireless connectivity first. The performance is direct, though not an absolute stunner if you were hoping for outstanding depth to match the generous range of volume. Regardless, you can quickly learn to live with and appreciate how everything comes together, compromises or not.