Headphones stopped being just audio accessories a long time ago. It became just as important to have a pair of headphones that looked good over the head, as the sounded good to the audiophile. And now, headphones make up a big chunk of the style statement you try to make. Colours that suit your mood, size of ear-cushions that define your choice of genre, designs that spell out your opinion to the world; you’ve got them all. I’m pretty sure that someone’s going to ask me if I’m having a “bad headphones day” if I step out with the wrong sort of cans over my head.

For a week, the new JBL J88 headphones have found their space over my ears and head, and so far nobody in my office has walked up to me and asked if I was having the afore mentioned kind of fashion disaster. So I guess it’s not just me who thinks that the J88 headphones look quite good with the big, bold design. The headband and the driver holders are made primarily of plastic, with brushed stainless steel accents. The unit we got was white in colour, with really comfortable leather ear cups, and cushioning under the head band. Clearly, this has been made for quite long hours of listening.

The big ear muffs, however, do little to keep sound outside, or inside too. With music on at low to mid volume range, I could hear my colleagues talk around me faintly. Also, they could also tell easily that I was listening to Nickelback. So noise isolation is definitely not one of J88’s strong points.

But the 50mm drivers manage to produce high fidelity audio, with really good clarity. The bass output is just above average - they do lack the thumping bass we usually find on Bose or Sennheisers, but the clarity makes up for it. The kind of sound equalising these cans have been tuned to, make them best suited for watching movies for long hours. I say this because out of all the tests that I ran on these headphones, I got the most satisfying outputs while watching movies on a Dolby Digital supporting device. I also watched the same movie, Fight Club, on a device that wasn’t Dolby enabled, and the result was still good.

The J88 headphones come with a lot of ‘convenience’ features, like a elastomer detachable cable, with gold plated pins. The end of cable that plugs into the headphones even locks in through a simple twist mechanism, which reduces the chances of loose connections by some margin. The ear cups can rotate 180 degrees in their holders, so you can have one ear free and one ear occupied. Also, JBL provides these headphones with a cushioned carrying case, which, in my opinion, is just very convenient.

Rs 5,490

Love – Very comfortable, clear sound

Hate – Average bass, no noise isolation

sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 18, 2012)
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