If you have a spare $1500, and you want to experience exceptional headphones that were “inspired and designed by Quincy Jones”, then you could get the AKG N90Q. But if $1500 isn’t quite realistic for your situation, and you’re still interested in trying Jones’ signature sound, then you should take a look at the $200 JBL E55BT Quincy Edition Headphones.
The JBL E55BT Quincy Edition Headphones build upon the already popular JBL E55BT headphones, but they add Quincy Jones’ specific features such as his sound signature and his voice prompting you through the headphone’s features.
Included in the package are the headphones, a flat rubber microUSB charging cable, miscellaneous warranty information, a quick start guide, and a soft neoprene travel pouch. There is also a tangle-free fabric wrapped 3.5mm to 2.5mm audio cable to use when the headphones aren’t charged up.
Available in space gray or dusty rose, the JBL E55BT Quincy Edition headphones have a soft leather headband and plush ear cushions. The outer ear cups are coated in a soft-touch paint, and the signature Quincy Jones “Q” is on each cup in gold; there’s also a flash of JBL branded gold bands on each end of the headband. I really like the look of these; they are fashionable without being too flashy; they feel good as you handle them, and they are also incredibly light.
The cushions are about 1/2″ deep to the inside of the fabric covered ear cups; L and R make it easy to see which ear each cup goes on. The leather-wrapped headband has about 1/4″ padding.
The left side earcup has a microUSB slot; it will glow red as the headphones charge and stop glowing once they have fully charged. It takes about two hours to reach a full charge, and the battery will last for around 20 hours.
On the right earcup, you’ll find the power button (when you have the headphones on and you turn them on, Quincy Jones will announce “powering on”; when you turn them off, he will say “powering off”), a volume up button that will advance to the next song when pressed for three seconds, a multifunction play/pause button that will answer a call, hang up a call, or mute a call when held for three seconds, and a volume down button that will also reverse to the previous song when held for three seconds.
It takes a few tries to not mistakenly press the wrong button as you get familiar with their layout, but once you remember that the action starts at the top of the button array (rather than lower on the earcup), it’s easy to figure out which button is which.
But wait, there’s more! Under the volume down button, there is a non-standard headphone jack, and then a Bluetooth pairing button. When you push the button, Quincy Jones’ voice will say “Your JBL is ready to pair.” Once you’ve accepted the connection on your streaming device, he will say, “connected”. You can pair two devices (a computer and your phone, for instance), and easily switch between the two to take calls and then return to your music or movie; the Bluetooth range is the standard ~40 feet.
These headphones weigh 8.4 ounces (which is even lighter than the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 SE, which seemed featherweight at 10.2 ounces); they are incredibly comfortable for all day wearing, and since the headband will expand from approximately 11.5″ from earcup to earcup to ~14″, they’ll fit just about any head properly.
As I usually will do, I tested the JBL E55BT Quincy Edition headphones with a wide variety of music. Royal Blood’s “I Only Lie When I Love You” is a rocking song that could easily bottom out, sounding blurry and muddy, but with these headphones, it’s crisp and multi-dimensional. Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing” can easily sound tinny and too treble-heavy with Perry Ferrel’s singing reduced to a screech; not so much with these headphones. Kean’s “Atlantic” is a melodic ride, and you can easily hear all of the different instruments blending with Tom Chaplin’s voice without any overpowering. Pearl Jam’s “No Way” has the perfect blend of highs and lows, and the always difficult “Burn the Witch” by Radiohead (it can get really muddy and confusing when Thom Yorke’s voice blends with the background symphonic strings on a lesser pair of headphones) sounds just as it should. These headphones are not super bass-heavy; the emphasis seems to be more on the vocals rather than a pounding bass line.
TL;DR: these headphones are great if you want to enjoy clear vocals and strong yet non-overpowering bass.
I should mention that I asked my step-daughter and her boyfriend to try the E55BT Quincy Edition headphones and tell me what they thought; after listening to a couple of Rage Against the Machine’s songs on these and another much more expensive pair of headphones, they told me that they preferred these. Impressive!
The JBL E55BT Quincy Edition Headphones are fashionable, functional, and they sound very good. The addition of Quincy Jones’ voice letting you know what’s going on is a nice touch.
The JBL E55BT Quincy Edition Headphones retail for $199.95; they are available in space gray or dusty rose directly from JBL (expected to ship on June 29th).
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Incredibly light and comfortable enough to wear all day; Headphones are stylish without being too flashy; Fold flat for travel and storage; Up to 20 hours playback; Connect up to two devices for easy switching back and forth between sources; Great for vocal heavy music
What Needs Improvement: If you prefer a more bass-heavy tuning, then these may not be the headphones for you