As wireless earbuds become as much of a constant companion as our cellphones, watches and wallets, over-ear headphones are becoming almost luxury audio devices. In-ear Bluetooth audio units like AirPods are practical and convenient. They put your music in your head anywhere and anytime — with minimum ergonomic issues due to their wireless designs.
Though lacking the portability and subtly of earbuds, over-ear headphones have one major advantage: they can still easily overpower their tiny cousins, packing sound quality that invites the listener to sit back and escape from the stresses of life. So even though the world is awash in premium noise-cancelling earbuds, a lot of us still prefer the comfort, style and sound of over-ear headphones.
While many people know JBL as the company behind the super-popular Bluetooth speakers, the company makes a lot of fantastic audio products. Case in point: the JBL CLUB 950 Wireless Headphones.
The CLUB 950 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones provide the immersive listening experience you can only get from premium headphones. You put on an audio-centric creation like this when you’re settled in and focused on your music. For JBL’s part, they enhance that locked-in experience by building Adaptive Noise Cancellation into the 950s.
For the uninitiated, Adaptive Noise Cancellation blocks or reduces ambient sounds around you with digital technology. Onboard internal and external microphones measure the surrounding fuss and interference. Then, inbuilt A.I. and related hardware generate sound waves at a frequency that cancels out the incoming distractions while not messing with your tunes.
What We Liked about the JBL Club 950NC Over-Ear Headphones
The Adaptive Noise Cancellation feature on the JBL CLUB 950s is optional. If you’re in an environment where your music enjoyment is not challenged by loud activity, you can save a little battery life and cruise through your playlists without activating the onboard artificial intelligence. Then, if business picks up around you, all you need to do is activate the Smart Ambient Button on the 950s to bring those noise-cancelling smarts online. JBL also offers an impressive battery life. Without engaging the ANC, users can enjoy an incredible 55 hours of battery life.
Plus, it’s easy to find these headphones on sale. Currently, they’re available at a 32% discount on Amazon.
Best Feature: Alexa Voice Control
In addition to playing your favorite music and putting smart audio science to use with ANC, the JBL CLUB 950 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones are also a fully functioning Alexa portal. Just as any Amazon Echo or Dot, a simple call of “Alexa” opens up a suite of cloud-based, voice-activated features and services that cooperate with your music playback. Since most earbuds and headphones are lacking in buttons that can control your tunes, voise assistant technology is a nice added touch.
What We Didn’t Like about the JBL Club 950NC Headphones
JBL — like many other headphone manufacturers — hasn’t yet cracked the physical and ergonomic challenges of over-ear headphones. The 950s feel a little heavy and hot on the ears. Those are flesh and blood challenges all over-ear device designers face, and ear-cup lovers need to accept they also exist with the Club 950s.
The Verdict: A good option for the wise shopper.
If you shop carefully, the JBL CLUB 950 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones can be a great buy. They sound great, offer impressive battery life and offer useful additional features such as noise cancellation and bass boost.
Here’s the tricky bit: You need to find a good deal that knocks a chunk off their MSRP of $250. It is possible to find better-sounding headphones for that price — including the entry-level units from the more luxury-centric audio manufacturers. Still, if you find a sale that knocks $50 to $75 off of that standard price tag, you end up with a pair of very serviceable, wireless, noise-cancelling headphones on a bargain.