Last Updated On: 3-27-19
JBL certainly doesn’t need an introduction – they’re one of the largest and most well known electronics companies in the world, and a prolific producer of audio products, some of which have rightfully earned top spots on best-of lists over the years.
The T450BT is one of their current budget offerings – an inexpensive wireless compact on-ear headphone that’s Bluetooth compatible and controllable with basic on-board buttons. On-ear headphones can combine the closed immersion that traditional over-ear headphones bring with the convenient light weight compactness that earbuds bring.
Packaging was pretty basic – the headphones weren’t wrapped in plastic, just housed in a contoured piece of plastic that’s flush with a slim box to keep everything in place. A basic micro usb cable is included in that visible little slot you can see on the packing piece, then some literature, and that’s it. No carrying case/bag is included.
With budget headphones I don’t really care about an unboxing experience, I just want the packaging to seem/feel sufficient enough to protect the product while shipping, and this seemed fine enough.
Headphone is a pretty basic looking circle that fits on-ear all around. The faux leather is the cheap wrinkly kind that isn’t comfortable and prone to peeling and flaking. The pads are pretty soft and cheap feeling too. The headphones can pivot on a standard c-bracket, which then rotates horizontally, so it should be easy to get optimal positioning on any person’s head.
The micro usb slot is curiously placed up top and slides underneath the c bracket, so when they’re plugged in the headphone gets awkwardly stuck facing inward and can’t fit on your head. It’s inexplicable and annoying since you basically can’t use them while they’re plugged in and charging – why didn’t they just put it on the bottom? I guess maybe the input is protected from debris or something, but, a simple rubber cap could accomplish the same thing.
On the bottom you have volume buttons, and on/off call button, and the power button – pretty basic stuff there.
The most noticeable feature omission, though, is that there is indeed no 3.5mm input, so you can only use these via Bluetooth and when they thus have charge. Inexplicable again – I don’t know why they didn’t just include the seemingly most basic and fundamental headphone feature that every other Bluetooth compatible headphone still seems to have.
The headband is adjustable on each side via a basic plastic band with indicator notches. It’s kind of flimsy feeling but seems sturdy enough.
The clamp on these things is really tight, and you can tell from there being no padding on the bottom of the headband that these are intended to fit and stay put via clamp force, which is something I didn’t like at all, especially with the cheap faux leather and pads. I actually started to get a tension headache after wearing these for about 20 minutes. Maybe some people like vice-grip tight headphones but I definitely don’t, and these didn’t feel pleasant to wear at all.
Overall the T450BT is very light and compact, seemingly optimized for use on the go, but feels cheap and flimsy and pretty bare minimum from a padding/comfort standpoint.
Spec/Performance Discussion, Listening Impressions, Other Related Observations
Given that these are only usable via Bluetooth, I had to plug them in and wait for them to charge, which takes about two hours from empty per the product’s spec sheet. When I turned them on I was immediately greeted with what appears to be a perpetual background static/hiss/ring noise that was significantly loud. Not good. If it was only something that was there when nothing was playing I could maybe live with it, but that wasn’t the case – I continued to hear the noise when the music started, and it was loud enough to render certain quieter songs pretty much unlistenable.
That with the bad fit was pretty much a deal breaker for me, but I continued on in good faith, hoping to maybe hear exceptional sound quality that was somewhat of a consolation. If anybody could deliver that, it would be JBL.
But the sound just wasn’t that good. Overall it felt thin and sibilant, the latter of which is all the more compounded on by the ugly background noise. The boxy sensation was there too. All in all these sounded like an average pair of cheap headphones.
The bass response was surprisingly good, but the mid-trebles were significantly recessed. The quoted response range is 20 – 20k Hz which is about average for this price range, but the curve itself definitely didn’t sound even.
Volume wise these did fine – obviously since they’re wireless and self powered the impedance becomes irrelevant towards the device you pair to them.
The warranty on the T450BT is one year which is pretty bare minimum but fairly standard for budget headphones.
I honestly don’t have my usual long list of listening impressions here because by that point I was basically hoping for a hail mary of unexpectedly amazing sound to make up for the design flaws that were pretty much already a deal breaker for me. That clearly wasn’t the case after a few songs, and these headphones are not comfortable at all, and that ugly background noise was becoming intolerable, and frankly I’d heard and had enough.
Overall Take, As Compared To The Competition
The T450BT is seemingly very popular, probably due to its brand, but just seems to fall short in every way. There’s no 3.5mm jack, they’re cheap and flimsy, the clamp force is way too tight, and the headphone pads and faux leather are cheap and uncomfortable already. They have a perpetual background hiss/static/ringing sound that audibly persists when the music is on that literally cannot be avoided since you can only use these via Bluetooth. And if those things don’t manage to be dealbreakers already, the overall sound quality just isn’t that great.
Some of the audio gear JBL makes is regarded as being the absolute best, but these headphones frankly are not. I give them a hard pass – there are similarly priced and cheaper competitors that seem better in just about every way.