Truly great-sounding headphones are a little hard to come by here at our HQ. For some weird reason, only the low-end and mid-ranged cans make its way to us which explains why we were quite delighted to know that JBL Philippines is lending us their new Synchros S700.
Before we delve deeper into this premium headphone, we cooked up a short unboxing and first impression video of the Synchros S700 to get your feet wet for the review.
JBL LiveStage DSP
One of the features that differentiate the S700 from other headphones is the in-built Digital Signal Processing unit called the JBL LiveStage. This fancy sound technology allows the S700 to produce clearer sound and wider soundstage.
By itself, the Synchros S700 is already capable of producing a pretty respectable sound output, but turning on the LiveStage clearly brings the quality up a notch.
Unlike other headphones which have the same feature, the S700 doesn’t use an external battery. Instead, JBL’s in-house DSP gets power from the S700’s built-in battery which, according to the company, will give users 28-hours’ worth of juice on a single charge.
There are advantages of having a non-removable battery pack over using external batteries. But personally, I don’t mind swapping new set of batteries from time to time because I don’t have to worry about the longevity of the headphone’s pre-installed battery.
Surprisingly, JBL didn’t include a Noise Cancellation feature on the S700’s arsenal. Not that it made the headphone any less great, but it wouldn’t been nice if it had one since it already has a built-in battery to supply power for that kind of feature.
But despite not having ANC, the S700 did a decent job of blocking out external noise because of its circumaural design. There’s also not a whole lot of sound leaking out of the headphone even at high volumes.
It’s been a while since a headphone for review gave my trusty ATH-M50 a good run for its money and for the record, the Synchros S700 did put up a really good fight when it comes down to producing superb sound quality.
In some areas, particularly in the bass section, the S700 even bested the legendary ATH-M50 when I did a side-by-side comparison of their sound signature. Even with the JBL LiveStage turned off, the S700 delivered some pretty powerful bass lines that are both full and well-defined.
But despite of the forceful bass delivered by its large 50mm drivers, the S700 did a decent job of maintaining the clarity of the mids and the warmness of the highs. Furthermore, even with the volumes at its peak, the highs remained crisp with only a hint of sibilance.
Another thing we noticed about the S700 is how easy it was for us to pick out every instrument in any given song. That’s how detailed and well balanced the sound output that we observed from the S700.
(24 hours of burn-in was done prior to the actual test)
Device: 5th Generation iPod Classic 60GB
File format: Combination of .mp3 and ALAC (.m4a)
Track bitrate: 256Kbps and above
• Song for the Suspect – Franco (Best)
• Easy Skanking – Bob Marley and The Wailers (Good)
• Mottaka – Cheese/Queso (Best)
• If I Could Teach The World (Good)
• Addicted – Amy Winehouse (Best)
• Alapaap – Eraserheads (Best)
• Sweet Leaf – Black Sabbath (Good)
• Day ‘N Nite – Kid Cudi (Best)
• Young, Wild and Free – Snoop Dogg/Whiz Khalifa (Good)
• Mmm Sarap – Kamikazee (Best)
Although the S700 is mainly intended to be used with the LiveStage turned on, I prefer using it without the JBL’s proprietary DSP. While it’s true that the LiveStage brings out richer sound output and wider soundstage, but it’s sometimes come at the cost of noticeable distortion even at 50% volume.
Of all the headphones I’ve reviewed in my short tenure here at YugaTech, I have to say that the JBL Synchros S700 is one of the best; if not the best closed-back headphones I’ve had the privilege of listening to. I was so impressed with the quality coming out of its 50mm drivers, not to mention it’s got a nice metal build and a sick design to go along with its outstanding sound output.
Of course, the S700 is not a perfect set of cans. It still has a few shortcomings like the short and rather flimsy cables, non-foldable ear cups and somewhat limited headband extension. However, these minor missteps are easily overshadowed by the S700’s great attributes, making it a serious contender in the USD300+ price point.
The JBL Synchros S700 is available locally at JBL Acoustical Space (Cyberzone, SM Megamall), JBL Sound Gallery (Bonifacio High Street) and JBL Digital Dreams (SM North Edsa) and is currently being retailed for Php18,600.
What we liked about it:
* Sturdy build
* Kick-ass design
* Built-in DSP (JBL LiveStage)
* Rich Bass, balanced sound output
* Cable with In-Line Microphone and Volume rocker
What we didn’t like about it:
* Audio is a bit too short and slender
* Limited headband extension
* DSP tends to add slight distortion
* Rather constricted soundstage without the DSP