Last January, JBL introduced the Club series with headphones inspired by touring musicians. JBL markets the models as ideal for DJs, but of course the headphones are also suitable for those who want to enjoy music on the go or at home. In this review we look at the top model from the series: the JBL Club One.
JBL Club One
The JBL Club series consists of the Club One, Club 950NC and Club 700BT, all equipped with JBL Pro Sound, Personi-Fi and voice assistance. The top model of the series, JBL Club One, is an over-ear model, designed with 40mm graphene drivers and True Adaptive Noise Cancellation (ANC) + Silent Now listening options. The driver's construction uses graphene, a lightweight, highly conductive and rigid material for more precise tuning. With the True Adaptive Noise Cancellation technology, the ambient noise is checked 50,000 times per second and adapted to the noise level for the user's environment. According to the manufacturer, the technology also compensates for loss of sound caused by glasses, hair or head movement.
The Silent Now function allows you to activate True Adaptive ANC mode at the touch of a button without having to you are listening to music, if you are looking for peace. The headphones feature 45 hours of playtime, replaceable ear pads and a dual-aux audio input. In addition, the Club series is equipped with the Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa voice assistance and the new Personi-Fi. In the My JBL Headphones app you can adjust your own listening preferences with presets from famous DJs or an adjustable equalizer. The JBL Club One has a suggested retail price of 349 euros.
Design and comfort
JBL has given the Club One a tough and robust appearance, reminiscent of the headphones that DJs often see on. This is no coincidence, of course, because this model is inspired by “touring musicians”. The headband has stitched leather cushions and sturdy metal hinges that allow the ear cushions to be folded inwards in a chic way. JBL has opted for full and fairly large ear pads that fall completely over the ears, close your ears well from the outside world and have very soft foam so that you hardly feel them. The ear pads do not press on your skull or ears, and that can also be said of the headband. Nevertheless, the Club One with a weight of almost 380 grams is certainly not a light headphone, but the weight is well distributed so that even after listening to music for several hours, you do not experience any disturbing pressure on specific points.
On the inside of the ear cushions we see a transparent fabric, behind which you will find the orange colored drivers. A nice design feature. We see several buttons on the sides of the ear cushions. For example, you can use the right ear pad to control the volume, and use the same buttons to select a next or previous song by holding them down a bit longer. Furthermore, this ear pad has an aux input and the USB charging port. On the other side, JBL has placed the standby button, the bluetooth button and the Smart Ambient button. The latter button gives you the option to hear ambient noise or to have a conversation with the headphones on. If you press it longer, you activate or deactivate ANC. JBL has also placed an aux port on the left ear.
The headphones themselves are not everything, because we see more in the box. JBL supplies a compact and beautifully designed case in which you can transport the headphones folded. The case offers sufficient protection, but unfortunately there is no space for the cables, while JBL also supplies two cables and two adapters. You can choose from a standard unbalanced cable with microphone and control button, or an unbalanced twisted cable without microphone and control option. They do the same for the rest; it is purely a style thing. JBL also supplies a USB cable, an airplane adapter and a 6.3mm adapter. Sufficient choice, but unfortunately no storage space.
Overall, the JBL Club One is successful in terms of its design, although it is partly a matter of taste. The headphones are sleek and robust, neatly finished and equipped with high-quality (looking) materials.
Operation and the app
We have already discussed part of the physical operation above. All important functions can therefore be operated on the headphones themselves. For some of these functions and some extra options you can use the My JBL Headphones app. The My JBL Headphones app is a modern and clear app with which you can pair your headphones. You do not have to create an account (always a plus) and simply connect via Bluetooth for the first use. Once paired, you will be given the option to set some things to your liking.
For example, you can set the 'Smart Ambient button' yourself by choosing from two options: Ambient Aware with which you let ambient noise come through, or TalkThru with which you can create a conversation while wearing the headphones. Choose the option you prefer and then you can activate or deactivate that specific option on the headphones. In the app you can also enable or disable ANC, but more interesting is the possibility to adjust the music reproduction to your liking.
JBL has created five so-called “DJ Signatures” from which you can choose. Each DJ, including Armin van Buuren and Nicky Romero, has his own preset equalizer. It is of course a matter of taste, but for us there was not the right choice and so we started with the “Adjusted equalizer”. Here you can determine yourself what the focus should be on by means of an easily adjustable curve. If you want more treble, you pull the curve up at the treble. If the midtones are snowed under, you pull it up slightly. This is also a matter of taste, but it is positive that you have the freedom to adjust the music reproduction completely to your own liking.
Finally, you can enable or disable some options via the app. scale out, including turning off the headphones automatically when nothing is playing and using digital assistants like the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. The app looks neat and tidy, but every now and then the connection with the headphones is spontaneously lost and sometimes even two headphones appear in the app. Minor flaws that can still be worked on.
Messages and Silent Now
Before we look at the sound quality with and without ANC, there is still something to be said about switching functions on and off, in particular ANC and the Smart Ambient functions. JBL has chosen to make switching on and off with tunes clear, but in my opinion this is confusing. Especially in the beginning it is unclear what each tune now means and moreover you are not always consciously working on the tune. There are competitors who opt for a spoken text, such as “ANC switched off” and that is much clearer in my view. Of course this is not a deal breaker, but it does not benefit the ease of use.
Silent Now is a nice feature, especially if you are just fed up with all the chaos around you and want peace of mind. to enjoy. What this feature does is simply turn on the ANC without playing music. You hear slight noise, but on the other hand you have lost a large part of the ambient noise. Ideal, for example, for concentrated work.
A positive opinion on headphones stands or falls with the sound quality. How does the JBL Club One perform, especially when we consider the price range of between 300 and 400 euros? That is a price range in which we see many premium models, including Sennheiser, Bowers & Wilkins and Bose. To fall straight into the house: the JBL Club One is not inferior to these models. The headphones have their own character with a bit more focus on mid and low, but overall this model offers a balanced, warm and detailed picture. And of course you have the option to adjust the audio reproduction according to your own wishes using the equalizer.
Obviously, the Club One achieves the best performance when you use all functions, especially Active Noise Canceling ( ANC). Music in pure form, and preferably by means of a physical cable. JBL shows in the most optimal setting that the Club One does not have to be ashamed in the premium segment. The headphones deliver smooth and powerful bass, with plenty of nuance and good punch. Vocals are reproduced warm but in full detail and pushed slightly forward to create a little more depth. The highs are sparkling and never too sharp or too dull, but – and that's a matter of taste – they can be screwed up a bit with the equalizer. The Club One knows how to deal with all types of music and has a wide sound field with a nice placement of instruments and vocals. Still, this model seems to feel best at home with the somewhat louder, electronic music. Music that mainly comes to life in the middle and low. Do not get me wrong; Jazz or even some classical music is also very comfortable to listen to, but the Club One does not excel in this. And it has to be said that the Club One shuts you off from the outside world even without ANC, so in many cases we decided to let ANC out to enjoy the best quality.
We put the Active Noise Canceling, or actually True Adaptive Noise Cancellation, you will be completely cut off from the noisy outside world. For that you have to hand in something in terms of sound quality, because the dynamics seem to sink slightly and a very slight noise emerges that you usually do not consciously hear, unless it is very quiet music or a quiet moment between two songs. the ANC function works well and lets us enjoy music in silence on a (not too busy but noisy) train. We also imagine ourselves in a world of our own during a walk through the park. That was until we met the men of the congregation who were pruning the trees. The Club One was not completely prepared for that. That, of course, is an extreme sound change in the environment and one headphone copes better than the other. Unfortunately, there are no specific modes in which ANC can be enabled, so it is either with or without ANC.
In addition to full ANC, you also have the option to enable TalkThru or Ambient Aware. For example, if you are walking in a busy city, it is wise not to be completely closed off from the outside world and to turn on Ambient Aware. If you want to talk to someone quickly, turn on TalkThru so that the music moves to the background. It's not super audio quality – then you'd better take your headphones off – but despite a somewhat hollow effect with noise, you can comfortably talk to someone next to you.
JBL Club One should last about 45 hours without ANC and about 25 hours when ANC is turned on. Manufacturers seem to add hours to it every month, so the Club One lasts a lot longer than the models launched last year. Our estimate after several weeks of use is not far from the hours JBL promises and 25 hours will be more than enough for most users to get through for a few days. And if that doesn't work, fifteen minutes on the charger is enough to be able to listen to music for a few hours again.
The JBL Club One are robust and sturdy designed headphones that use made of premium materials and very comfortable to wear, even for a long time. The headphones come with all the necessary cables and accessories, and a nice case, but it is a pity that those cables and adapters cannot be placed in the case. The Club One are easy-to-use headphones, though we would have liked spoken audio prompts instead of confusing tunes when turning features on or off. In terms of music reproduction, the Club One has earned its place in the premium segment, with a well-balanced, dynamic, warm and detailed reproduction. However, this model is more focused on electronic and dynamic music. And an extra plus is the possibility to adjust that display to your own taste using an equalizer. Although True Adaptive Noise Cancellation is not the best implementation we've ever heard, these headphones shut you off from the outside world and allow you to enjoy the peace and quiet with or without music. With a battery life of up to 25 hours (with ANC), this model leaves very little to be desired and we can certainly recommend it.