That's what we found with the JBL Live 650BTNC last year – and now, ready to take their place are the JBL Tune 750BTNC, a superior successor to the 650BTNC's as a high-spec and well-priced set of over-ear headphones.
We used them in a variety of different scenarios from workouts to the daily commute, and found that the experience is quite remarkable for the price. A comfy fit and some great sound quality makes them a bargain in their field, especially when you factor in them being noise-cancelling headphones.
If you're looking for the best cheap headphones, these are worth considering.
Price and availability
The JBL Tune 750BTNC come with a recommended retail price of $130 /£120 / AU$200, although discounts are already available.
At the time of writing, the 750BTNCs are selling for $99 on the US JBL website (opens in new tab), so there's a good chance you won't have to pay full price for these already budget-friendly noise-cancelling headphones.
Four different colors are available including black, blue, coral, and white. They all look pretty stylish; with the white model it looks as though JBL's taken a few hints from the Apple headphones school of design.
As we mentioned, the JBL Tune 750BTNC wouldn't look out of place alongside Apple-owned Beats headphones. Pick them up and their plastic exterior feels solid and safe; while some plastic headphones can feel cheap and flimsy, the JBL Tune 750BTNC are comfortably sturdy in your hands. The plastic is smooth and they feel more expensive than their price would suggest.
The only place where the JBL Tune 750BTNC feel a little flimsy is when the hinges became exposed as we manipulated the ear cups or folded the headphones up for storage.
The hinges do look a little cheap although they're reasonably stable-looking. It's worth noting that these headphones don't come with a carrying case of any kind, so you're almost certainly going to want to buy some kind of bag to store them in safely when you're out and about.
The headphones feel reasonably balanced when it comes to weight distribution. They're not super light, but when on your head, you won't feel like they're dragging you down by any means. Comfortable fabric ear cups further ensure that you won't feel restricted during long listening sessions.
Somewhat annoyingly, there's no proper IP-based waterproofing here, nor any other confirmation that the JBL Tune 750BTNC are resistant to light rain or splashes. We'd assume it's nothing to be worried about if the occasional raindrop makes its way to them, but clearly, these are designed for indoor use. The daily commute or gym session, yes. An outdoor run in pouring rain – probably best to leave the 750BTNCs at home.
All the controls and inputs you need are on the right earcup. That includes the microUSB charging port at the top of the earcup (hidden away until you fold it in) and a 3.5mm input to plug in the included audio cable, which means you can use these in wired mode when the battery is low.
As you may have noticed, the JBL Tune 750BTNC don't have USB-C support but they do charge reasonably quickly despite this. More on that later.
Underneath the right earcup are the physical controls. There's the power button that doubles as the Bluetooth pairing button, a button for disabling active noise cancellation, volume buttons, and a button to summon Google Assistant or Siri.
Buttons might not feel as modern and cool as touch-sensitive housings, but they do the job just fine with a satisfying click when you press them in. When you're on the move, you won't accidentally activate anything and you won't have to adjust to any fancy gestures that some manufacturers favor.
Features and battery life
The JBL Tune 750BTNC only support Bluetooth 4.2 rather than the latest Bluetooth 5 standard. That might not sound like a huge issue, but it means that besides offering shorter pairing distances than Bluetooth 5-supporting headphones, the 750BTNCs aren't as clever with battery power as them either.
That means the JBL Tune 750BTNC offer a battery life of about 15 hours, with that number increasing to 22 hours if you switch off noise cancelation (which is switched on by default).
That's fine, but nothing remarkable in a world of wireless headphones that can offer upwards of 30 hours with noise-cancelling turned on. Throw in the fact there's only microUSB support rather than USB-C and require a two-hour recharge time.
Still, these are the kind of sacrifices you make for the 750BTNC's cheap price.
Saying that, the active noise cancelation provided by the JBL Tune 750BTNCs is rather good. It blocks out plenty of external noise around you, and it's immediately a standout feature of these well-priced cans.
You can't adjust it via an app or on-board controls – again a concession that's predictable given the price tag – but it's a small issue when much of the time, you'll just want to silence all environmental sound.
The JBL Tune 750BTNC also offers something called 'Multi-Port Connection', which is a fancy way of saying you can connect to two devices at the same time – meaning you can switch between devices whenever is convenient for you. There's also hands-free call support with a perfectly functional microphone, and that all-important voice assistant button that lets you summon Google Assistant and Siri.
But, there's no app support which means no chance of tweaking an equalizer or anything like that. It's a strange omission given JBL itself has to point out that these headphones aren't supported by the My JBL Headphone app – perhaps support will come in the future, but for now, you'll have to do without.
The JBL Tune 750BTNC are punchy and quite thrilling to listen to. Stick on something that needs to be played loud like The Cardigans’ My Favourite Game and you feel caught up in the moment, with just the right level of thump to the bass without it clouding the other details in the song.
That’s not to the detriment of sound quality either, with the mids of tracks like Billie Eilish’s No Time To Die still sounding smooth and clean throughout. Feeling the urge for a classic, we switched it up to Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You, and found that every high note sounded positively delightful with no sign of harshness.
The active noise cancelation means you can feel suitably ensconced within the sanctuary of these cans, ensuring you don’t miss a precious moment of your favorite songs. They sound suitably pleasant and with a warm presentation.
Granted, the JBL Tune 750BTNC miss out on one key detail that much pricier headphones love to boast about. There’s no support for aptX Low Latency, which prevents lag between video and audio.
Instead, they use a standard SBC codec which may bug audiophiles and those who want to use these headphones for gaming and watching videos, but it's to be expected at this price. Similarly, with no app support, you won’t be able to fiddle with the equalizer to your heart’s content. Still, as a ‘one size fits all’ example, the JBL Tune 750BTNC still sound mostly great for those not fussed about tweaking the settings.
The JBL Tune 750BTNC offer the same standard of sound quality and noise cancelation of rivals that cost a lot more than this. It's only when it comes to the finer details like battery life, app support, and the lack of adaptive noise cancellation that this lower price becomes apparent.
Despite those shortcomings, the JBL Tune 750BTNC are an easy recommendation to make. They sound good, they feel good, and they cancel out sound sufficiently, even if it's not adaptive like our pricier favorites, the Sony WH-1000XM3.
When it's even possible to compare a pair of $130 / £120 / AU$200 with headphones over double the price, you know you're onto a winner.
The JBL Tune 750BTNCs are those winning headphones – good quality at a better price than most of the competition.
- Looking for more? Check out the best headphones of 2020