From the moment I saw the JBL Synchros S400BT headphones ($229.95) I knew I wanted them. Once I had them on my head I wasn’t disappointed: these headphones are all-around excellent.
In a world where wires are everywhere, any device that helps cut down on clutter is welcome. Plus, rumor has it that Apple will be nixing the traditional headphone jack on upcoming iPhone and iPad devices in favor of running everything through the Lightning port, so going wireless is a great way to future proof your purchase.
Let’s talk sound quality. I wasn’t able to find anything to nitpick about in the high, mid or bass ranges. Audio was consistently crisp and rich and the ear cushions did a stellar job of blocking out background noise even though this model isn’t designed for active noise cancellation. Overall, the sound is quite nice.
The most unique feature of these cans is their controls. A touchscreen on the left side of the headphones lets users swipe and tap to control their music and answer calls.
The most unique feature of these cans is their controls. A touchscreen on the left side of the headphones lets users swipe and tap to control their music and answer calls. For instance, skipping a song is done by swiping forward while starting a song over or listening to a previous song takes a swipe back. Swiping up or down will adjust the volume and tapping will play or pause a track.
In practice these controls took a bit of getting used to, but I quickly adapted. I’d say they work relatively well, but you’ve got to be careful when handling the headphones not to accidentally touch the control surface with the palm of your hand, for instance, which will pause your music when you’re not expecting it. It’s all a matter of being aware of how these cans work. Once you’ve mastered it, things flow well.
The wireless capabilities of the headphones work great when you’re in the same room as the device that you’re synched up to via Bluetooth. In testing, I did find that the model’s range suffered a bit room to room. For instance, if I left my iPhone in my upstairs office and went downstairs to the kitchen, the Synchros S400BT began to stutter a bit in terms of audio that was making it through. But this is hardly a deal breaker for me as I’ll mostly be using these headphones in the same vicinity as my iPhone (my primary pairing device).
One thing I love about this model is that it can handle calls when paired with your phone. In testing, I could easily hear what the person on the other end was saying. Due to the large ear cushions, I couldn’t really hear what was going on around me, however, which takes some getting used to. If someone tried to get my attention by talking to me, I’d have no idea.
In terms of how well the person on the other end of the line could hear me, it varied. I found that you need to be in a quiet environment to limit background noise (like a TV) getting picked up by the mic. Once I was in a more isolated environment, the people on the other end said they could hear me crystal clear.
The Synchros S400BT is incredibly comfortable compared to many headphones I’ve worn. They don’t tire your ears out at all—even after wearing them for extended periods of time. As of right now, I’d probably call them the most comfortable on-ear headphones I’ve reviewed.
The frame is sturdy and well made and folds up for easy storage inside of the included case. The headband has 14 levels of adjustment to ensure a good fit on any head. On the tightest setting, it’s possible that people with smaller than average head sizes might find the device slightly loose, but if you’re sitting while listening rather than dancing around, I don’t think you’ll have any issues.
There are a few nice details that round out the experience. The earpiece with the touch controls lights up when you tap or swipe on it which definitely adds some wow factor.
I’d recommend the Synchros S400BT to anyone looking for excellent audio quality, some unique flair in terms of features, comfort and a wireless setup.