I plugged her into a pair of JBL’s new Live 400 headphones only because they happened to be in the man cave at the time, patiently awaiting return to their rightful home. I had judged these to be competent headphones and pretty good value for $149.95. Being JBLs they have a ton of bass and do a good job with rock music. The top end gets a bit strained and sharp, but only a bit. They have good range, nice definition and are full bodied. But they sit on the ears, rather than around them, and the clamp pressure is a bit tight for me, maxing out my listening time to just an hour.
My 21-year-old friend, however, loved them. She could pick some of the shortcomings in the high end but against her earbuds they produced the sort of music you’d hear at the Pearly Gates. What won her, however, were all the features on board.
There’s the normal phone stuff and basic Bluetooth gives her a cordless connection to it. For slightly better sound quality she can connect with the supplied cord, but cordless is great for the bus. Most attractive, she has immediate connection to Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa at the tap of an earpad. There are sound settings; Ambient Aware reduces the music and lets outside noise intrude — good for keeping an ear out for the bus — and Talk Through lets you hear someone talking without having to disturb your podcast. Press the same button a third time to restore the music. And the battery lasts for up to 24 hours, with a two-hour recharge.
With Live 400s she can remain a slave to her phone and her 21st century lifestyle while hearing sound that’s of appreciably better quality. And there was a benefit for me too. She put me onto Gian Slater, a Canberra singer with a penchant for intimate jazz. She has a lot of good stuff on Spotify.
By the way, JBL also does the Live 650, a way more comfy over-ear, noise cancelling spin-off of the Live 400, for an additional hundred bucks.