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JBL Membership One Take a look at: heavyweight headphones that give a punch

“Built for those who love club sound, they’re a bit expensive for what you get.”

Powerful, precise sound

Outstanding build quality

Easy to use controls

Very good call quality

Excellent battery life without ANC

Heavy

Lack of low-end depth and warmth

Earcups may not be sealed to all users

Only one ANC mode is available at a time

The premier over-the-ear active noise canceling (ANC) headphones already have an impressive number of competitors, including the $ 400 Bose Noise Canceling 700 headphones, the $ 350 Sony WH-1000XM3, and the $ 400 -Bowers & Wilkins PX7 and the Sennheiser’s $ 400 Momentum 3 Wireless.

But there’s still room for one and JBL hopes that the new Club One worth $ 350 will earn a place at the table. Do you succeed? Check out our full review.

Design and materials

Swivel JBL Club One ANC headphonesSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

Take the JBL Club One and you immediately know that JBL is not playing around. Everything about these headphones says premium. There is high-quality information everywhere, from the heavy metal sliders, hinges and ear cup cones to the deeply padded (and magnetically attached) ear pads to the full leather headband.

Regardless of how heavy they are, they are remarkably well balanced once you put them upside down.

This build quality has its price: The Club Ones weigh a whopping 13.3 ounces. To put that in perspective: The PX7 weighs 10.7 ounces and the WH-1000XM3 weighs just under 8.9 ounces.

Amazingly, despite their heaviness, once you put them upside down they are remarkably well balanced. The combination of headband padding and clamping pressure helps Club Ones feel lighter than their numbers suggest.

However, the comfortable, tight fit may not be for everyone. With ear cups with smaller openings than some competitors, those with large ears may feel somewhat claustrophobic. I noticed that the auricle cones also had difficulty keeping the pads flush with the sides of my head and often left a small gap near the floor.

Overall, the design of Club One is reminiscent of a top-class luxury coupé with subtle matt surfaces and only a hint of chrome trim that surrounds the outer surface of the ear cups. I’m not quite sure what to make of the exposed braided audio cables. Depending on your point of view, they add a touch of retro coolness or interrupt the otherwise clean and simple design.

The Club One headphones come with their own hard case carrying case, a USB-C charging cable, an airplane travel adapter, a 6.3 mm plug adapter and two types of analog cables, one of which has an inline remote control and a microphone disposes.

Control and ease of use

JBL Club One ANC headphone controlSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

As the name suggests, Club One headphones are inspired by DJs, according to JBL. That certainly happens in the JBL headphones companion app (more on that later), but not so much in the way the club ones are physically structured. The rotating swivel joints under the hinge of the headband and the pivot points of the ear cup don’t let an ear cup turn around for comfortable use in a one-handed DJ style.

This limitation also means that the auricles don’t lie flat when you lie around your neck. It’s not a deal-breaker, but if you’ve ever worn full-size headphones while sitting on the plane for hours, you’ll appreciate this added flexibility.

Most of the controls on the Club One are very familiar: Play / pause and volume are integrated into an easy-to-find and use three-way control on the right ear cup, while the buttons for power supply, Bluetooth and ANC are equally accessible on the left. The oversized “Action” button, which takes up the entire outer surface of the left can, is a surprise. It is used to summon the Google Assistant or Alexa of your choice, though strangely not Siri.

I like the massive physical button, but it would be nice if I could switch the function from the voice assistant to the ANC mode, as this is a function that I have used more often.

Another surprise is the double set of inputs for the set of analog cables that come with the Club Ones. Unlike virtually all wireless headphones we’ve seen, Club Ones give you a choice of which ear cup the cable will go to when you want to be wired, and the connectors use a twist-lock design for added security – another one Rarity in the wireless world.

Sound quality

JBL Club One ANC headphonesSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

The club ones sound great, but not what I expected. For me, “DJ-inspired” suggests a bass-forward signature that reflects the throbbing beat of the club floor, but the EQ is actually much milder. Instead of a deep boom, the club ones are turning towards the energetic mids and highs – the elements that puncture an EDM track through the build just before the beat drops.

The result is a sound that creates crystal clear and precise upper registers – almost painful – that really complement the EDM genre.

They convey neither warmth nor expansion nor some of the other headphones in this category

I think that shouldn’t come as a surprise. In the JBL Headphones app you will find a special area for EQ adjustments that were developed by world-famous DJs such as Armin van Buren, Sunnery James and Tigerlily – as if Club One’s claim to DJ culture was not clear enough.

JBL Club One ANC headphone appTapping these DJ presets will give you a variety of sound switches. You can also just switch to the custom EQ section and program your own with a very versatile graphic slider.

If the sound of Club One has a disadvantage, they don’t convey the warmth or expansion of a sound stage, as well as some other headphones in that category.

Sony’s excellent WH-1000XM3 can’t keep up with Club Ones in terms of pure energy, but it does better swing low-end basses through your whole body. If the Sonys are the Boom Boom Pow of the Black Eyed Peas, then the JBLs are David Guettas Titanium.

In an ideal world, all headphones would be equally comfortable to play all kinds of music, but the club ones have clearly set their sights on the genres you are most likely to hear … in the club.

Some people are very picky about Bluetooth audio codecs. If that sounds like you, you should know that the Club One only supports SBC and AAC Bluetooth connections despite the high-end price – not aptX, aptX HD or LDAC. If you want a higher quality level, you must either use the digital T0-to-analog converter (DAC) of your phone or your own DAC and one of the supplied analog cables. JBL claims that when used with these cables, Club One’s frequency response jumps to high-definition audio.

I used the Tidal HiFi Masters catalog and put the Club Ones to the test. There is no doubt: they sounded even better with this source, but their extremely powerful EQ remained something I thought genres like jazz, classical and blues didn’t do.

Noise cancellation

JBL Club One ANC headphone hingeSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

It takes a hell of a lot of effort to beat Sony and Bose at the ANC game, and even though the Club Ones do their best – they eliminate a lot of external sounds – it’s not their killer function.

Part of the problem is the design of the headphones themselves. Without a perfect seal around the ear cups, noise cancellation can never be as effective as when things are tightly closed. JBL claims that True Adaptive Noise Canceling responds to the environment and changes in real time to adjust by compensating for sound leaks caused by factors such as hair, glasses and head movements. In practice, however, it could not rule out any booming noises such as bathroom fans, dehumidifiers and hair dryers, as well as the Sony WH-1000XM3.

However, it is not a big gap. I would say the club ones are about 85% as effective as the Sonys, but there is something to keep in mind if ANC is a big item on your headphone wish list.

I was also confused about Club One’s ANC-related features. The ANC button has two modes: Ambient Aware, which allows you to switch between full ANC and the possibility of outside noise, and TalkThru, which allows you to switch between full ANC and a volume at a reduced volume to conduct a call. For some reason, you can only use Ambient Aware or TalkThru, not both. You use the headphone app to decide which one to control with the ANC button. However, you decide which one is really difficult – both are useful at different times.

The Club Ones also lack any kind of adjustment to the ANC intensity, in contrast to the Sonys with their app-adjustable ANC and Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 with their fantastic ANC function with rotary knob.

There’s a clever “Silent Now” feature that allows you to activate ANC without turning on the club ones completely and wasting battery for Bluetooth or amplification. This is something more ANC headphones should offer.

Battery life

JBL takes 45 hours of playback time for the club ones without using ANC, which is very good. However, when the ANC is switched on, this number is only 23 hours. They’re certainly better than some noise-canceling headphones like the Momentum 3 Wireless, which only offer 17 hours, but after 30 hours, they’re not as brave as the Sony WH-1000XM3.

In less than two hours, they have a quicker turnaround time between uses than the Sonys.

Call quality

JBL Club One ANC headphonesSimon Cohen / Digital Trends

Overall, JBL has a winner for calls in noisy environments.

In my experience, wireless headphones and real wireless earbuds can either suppress unwanted noise during a call or provide very clear call quality. If you ever find one that can do both, keep it! The Club Ones fall into the first category and do an excellent job of suppressing the sounds that compete with your voice. I was standing right next to a loud dehumidifier and my caller said she wasn’t aware of it at all. Of course, less consistent sounds like traffic or construction are not canceled as effectively, but still it’s pretty impressive.

The downside is that my voice apparently did the wobbly thing that I associated with powerful noise canceling microphones.

Overall, JBL has a winner for calls in noisy environments.

Our opinion

At $ 350, JBL rated Club One headphones in a highly competitive area. And while their build quality and materials are sure to match the competition and call quality is very good, their average and sometimes uncomfortable ANC performance and EDM-oriented acoustics make it difficult to give them an unconditional recommendation for everyone.

Is there a better alternative?

For the same price (and sometimes just $ 280), the Sony WH-1000XM3 offers lower weight, better ANC performance, and longer battery life when the ANC is on. We believe that their sound signature will appeal to a wider audience. There’s a reason why they’re still our number one.

How long will they last?

A standard one-year guarantee applies to the JBL Club One headphones. However, the build quality of these headphones is excellent and I suspect they will last for many years as long as you don’t abuse them. The magnetic ear pads can be easily replaced when worn, as long as JBL continues to sell replacements.

Should you buy them

Yes – if your sound quality preferences match Club One’s strengths, that is, performance and precision focusing on the higher registers for an energetic audio experience and you don’t mind the extra bulk, these headphones deliver the goods.

Editor’s recommendations




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