Since Apple’s AirPods launched in 2016, most OEMs are pushing for compact design wireless earphones — even for affordable ones. JBL is also following this concept, and their latest affordable Bluetooth earphones — the E25BT, have taken inspiration, albeit from Google’s Pixelbuds earphones. Priced at Rs 3,400, these pair of neckband-style earphones make for an interesting proposition for an audiophile.
The JBL E25BT is a neckband-style pair of earphones, which means it’s not entirely wireless — both the earbuds are interconnected by a wire, which doubles as the neckband. You still have to spend some considerable time tucking them in the carry pouch or pocket. However, the neckband, being braided nylon, is almost tangle-free. There’s an in-line remote control module with three buttons, a microphone and a micro USB charging port, towards the right earbud; whereas the battery module is housed exactly in the centre of the earbuds (in-line with the connecting wire).
The battery module doubles as a weight system while wearing it, thus helping keep the earphones in place. The earbuds are made of plastic, but are small enough to make them fit within the ear canal.
Features, Audio Quality:
The E25BT uses 8mm drivers in each ear with a wide frequency response of 20Hz to 20KHz, and an impedance of 16 ohms. The earphones rely on Bluetooth v4.1 for connectivity.
JBL’s audio accessories are known for exceptional audio quality with a focus on what casual users prefer — Bass — and the E25BT is no exception here. The earphones produce a decent amount of bass, which is surprising for an earphone with such small drivers. You won’t witness thuds, thumps or boom at this price point, but the performance is good enough to mildly satisfy most hardcore audiophiles.
The mids and highs are adequate, although we expected the highs to be more defined. Nonetheless, a bass-heavy audio track that concentrates mids and highs makes using the E25BT a joy to use. There’s no active noise cancellation here, but the in-ear design manages to keep most ambient noises at bay — wind or distant chatter are well shielded. Even when in noisy outdoors, they do a fairly decent job of keeping unwanted disturbances isolated. In short, the noise cancellation is managed by blocking the external sound by cleverly using the snug rubber ear tips.
The earphones are capable of decent audio quality for phone calls; however, the microphone's sensitivity is a bit too weak. Hence, doing calls whilst outdoors isn't a pleasant experience on the E25BT and you have to make sure that the microphone is closer to your mouth.
JBL has incorporated a handy feature for those with multiple audio devices — the ability to connect up to two devices (phones) at once and switch between the two on-demand. All one needs to do is press the play/pause button and the volume button simultaneously for 3 seconds and the earphones switch between the audio sources.
At 16.5g, the JBL E25BT earphones are almost non-existent, even when wearing for longer sessions, like at the gym or during jogging. When using while daily commuting, the battery weight tends to be a disturbance, and hence the provision for a clip that helps attach the unit on the rear of the collar. A crocodile clip latches the battery module to the rear of the collar and helps protect it from falling off apart. This also reduces the weight stress on the users ears.
However, what irks us is the control module — it's position takes considerable time to get used to. Pressing any button on the controller resulted in dislodging the earbud while we were wearing the E25BT without the crocodile clip, and even sometimes when wearing them.
The controller's buttons aren't well designed either, taking the user's sense of touch to figure out the controls — we often ended up pausing the track while increasing the volume and vice versa. JBL should implement a better design for the controls with more prominent protrusions on the play/pause button to avoid these mishaps.
JBL hasn’t mentioned the internal battery's capacity, but we managed to extract an impressive stamina of approximately seven hours, which is pretty close to the company's claimed figure of eight hours. With moderate volume levels and usage sessions, the E25BT can last you four to five days on a single charge. This completely depends on the user's usage, which can vary between usage time, type of audio genre, volume levels and distance between the source.
A tiny LED on the battery module blinks away to notify the user of battery levels. When low on power, the blinks are prominent and you can also hear timely beeps from the speakers. Keeping in mind the universal port compatibility, JBL’s choice of a micro USB port for charging on the controller will certainly appeal to a wider audience. It usually took us around 40 minutes to top it up from the first low battery notification.
If you are looking for a near-wireless pair of earphones with a good performance, the JBL E25BT is a recommendable option under the Rs 4,000 bracket. It will definitely satisfy you with its traditionally known balanced audio quality. It is comfortable to wear for extended sessions, and the near-eight-hour battery life makes it a perfect companion for long trips.
With inputs from Francis D'Sa, Editor...