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JBL E55BT: New 'value' over-ear Bluetooth headphone delivers on performance, comfort

While JBL's new top-end model in its affordable E-Series Bluetooth headphone doesn't have a lot of wow factor, it delivers solid sound, looks decent and fits comfortably.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
2 min read

Not everyone wants to spend $300 on a premium Bluetooth headphone, which is where products like JBL's E55BT come in. An over-ear headphone and top-end model in JBL's "value" E-Series line of wireless headphones, the E55BT is the successor to the E50BT and retails for $150 (internationally it costs £100 in the UK and AU$230). It comes in multiple color options.

While the E55BT didn't blow me away with its sound or build quality, it's a likable headphone that sounds quite decent, is attractively designed, fits comfortably and has good battery life at 20 hours at moderate volume levels.

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Like the on-ear E45BT, the E55BT has integrated music control buttons on the right ear cup (along with a built-in microphone for making cell-phone calls) and also comes with a detachable fabric cable with a 1-button remote for wired listen. No carrying case is included.

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The controls are on the right ear cup.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Equipped with 50mm drivers, the E55BT delivers a good helping of bass but manages to avoid sounding boomy or muddy. There's a decent amount of detail for a Bluetooth headphone, but this model doesn't quite offer the richness and or more refined sound of some higher-end Bluetooth headphones. Nor does it have extra features such as active noise cancellation found in JBL's step-up Everest Elite 700 wireless noise-canceling headphone. (The E55BT shares some of the design traits of the Everest line, which has a swankier fit and finish though it's still predominantly plastic).

There aren't a whole lot of competing models in this $150 price range. You have models such as the Audio-Technica ATH-S700BT and Sennheiser HD 4.40, which feature similar build quality. We're still waiting on a review sample of the Sennheiser, also brand new to the market, but we should get that soon.

I do like both the sound and styling of this headphone better than than the E50BT. Hopefully, like that model, the E55BT should drift down in price. While it's not a bad deal at $150, I'd like to see it in the $100-$125 range to call it a really good value.

I'll post a full review once I more thoroughly compare it to some competing models.

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The E55BT's dual-hinge allows it to fold flat and also fold up. No carrying case is included.

Sarah Tew/CNET