JBL Club One Review: This over-ear headphones might be the One for you

As its name implies, the Club One is the flagship model of the JBL’s all-new Club series that is created in collaboration with renowned music DJ Armin van Buuren.

The JBL Club One is a pair of over-ear headphones that is equipped with High-Res Audio certified 40mm graphene drivers. And it comes with the audio brand’s True Adaptive Noise Cancellation technology and SlientNow capabilities.

JBL Club One. (Photo: JBL)

SPECS
PRICE: S$539, available in Lazada and Shopee
DRIVERS: 40mm graphene
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5mm jack
WEIGHT: 379g

The True Adaptive Noise Cancellation technology is said to monitor ambient sound conditions and automatically adjust the level of noise cancellation to counter it. This technology is said to also account for sound leakage caused by movement of glasses, hair or head. And according to the maker, if you need some peace and quiet, pressing a button will activate the SilentNow for complete audio isolation.

Furthermore, the Club One supports Bluetooth Multi-point. In other words, it can be connected to two devices via Bluetooth at the same time.

DESIGN
Out of the box, apart from the headphones itself, you get a carry case, a USB-C charging cable, a 1m 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable with an in-line remote control with microphone and a coiled 1.5m 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable. Plus, a 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter and a flight audio adapter (when can we fly again?) are included.

What you get out of the box. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

In terms of looks, the Club One sports a rather chunky design. It reminds me of the headphones that Formula 1 mechanics wore during races. This is especially so when you see braided cables running from the headband into the top of each ear cup.

But the Club One does not a boom microphone and comes in all black devoid of decals. Only a subtle black JBL logo adorn the exterior of each ear cup. It might seem boring to some but I like the stealthy all-black looks.

The JBL logo on the left ear cup is actually a big button to activate the voice assistant of your choice. At the bottom of this left ear cup, you will find a 3.5mm audio jack, a power button, a Bluetooth pairing button and the SlientNow button.

The physical buttons on the bottom of the ear cups are easily accessible. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

On the base of the right ear cup, you get the volume control and playback buttons, a USB-C port as well as a 3.5mm audio jack.

PERFORMANCE
Despite weighing a little heavy at 379g, the Club One is surprisingly comfortable. The headphones do not feel like “clamping” your head, while the cushioned ear cups are able to wrap my ears completely. In addition, my ears do not get warm even after wearing it for a long night of listening.

FOR
+ Good build and comfortable
+ Great sound output
+ Offers varied customisation
+ Can be used either wired or wirelessly
+ Supports Hi-Res Audio

AGAINST
– A tad expensive
– Noise cancellation performance can be better

Pairing the Club One with my iMac and iPhone 12 Pro Max is a breeze. You will want to connect the headphones to the JBL Headphones app (available on Android and iOS) to update firmware as well as customise the equaliser settings.

In addition, you can go through the app’s Personi-Fi hearing test, in which you follow the in-app instructions to personalise the headphones to your hearing. In essence, you get a personalised equaliser setting (EQ) based on your hearing characteristics.

Personi-Fi is found in the JBL Headphones app to personalise your headphones. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Of course, you can choose to activate or deactivate your personalised EQ or opt for preset EQ. You can also customise a EQ to your liking.

But the app has a Stage+ feature whereby you can select your favourite DJ’s EQ so you can hear what they like. I personally actually prefer DJ Martin Garrix’s EQ over my personalised EQ.

Regardless, as you might expect from a pair of JBL headphones, the Club One pumps out bass that is powerful, punchy and yet distinct from other frequencies even when the volume is cranked to the maximum.

Mids are never drown out, and vocal always sound natural regardless of music genre. Highs are a tad grainy with a hint of sparkle that surprises just when you thought the headphones might be losing them.

The JBL Club One is really comfortable to wear. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The easy customisation of EQ means you will be able to tune the headphones to your liking. But overall, the audio quality this headphones produce is really top-notch and sits up there with the best in this genre.

On the downside, the SilentNow feature works with the noise cancellation being decent but can be better. When compared to the genre-leaders like Sony WH-1000XM4 or Apple AirPods Max, it is probably a notch down.

At times, I don’t feel any changes in terms of adaptive noise cancellation when I move from a noisy environment to a quieter one. Or maybe it is something wrong with my ageing hearing.

BATTERY LIFE
The Club One is rated at 45 hours of wireless playback with noise cancellation turned off and up to 23 hours when noise cancellation is turned on.

In my tests, these battery ratings sound about right. The battery level dropped to 60 per cent in 8 hours when listening to music at maximum volume streamed from my iPhone 12 Pro Max. However, it still lags behind the excellent 30-hour battery life of Sony WH-1000MX.

VERDICT
Considering the Sony WH-1000XM4 is priced at S$499, the JBL Club One is a tad expensive at S$539. As long as you are not too bothered with less-than-stellar noise cancellation, the amount of customisation and personalised hearing profile offered by its accompanying app as well as its great audio quality and solid build will more than make up for it.

RATINGS
FEATURES: 9/10
DESIGN: 9/10
PERFORMANCE: 8/10
BATTERY LIFE: 9/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 7/10
OVERALL: 8.5/10