CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

JBL E55BT review: This mid-priced Bluetooth headphone delivers solid sound

JBL's new top-end model in its "value" E-Series Bluetooth headphone line doesn't quite wow, but does deliver solid sound and a comfortable fit.

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, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC 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, £100 and AU$230. It comes in multiple color options.



The Good

The JBL E55BT is an attractively designed over-ear Bluetooth headphone that's relatively comfortable, sounds decent and works reliably. It folds up and flat and has decent battery life.

The Bad

A bit of treble push, no carrying case included.

The Bottom Line

JBL's new top-end model in its "value" E-Series Bluetooth headphone line delivers solid sound and a comfortable fit for the price.

While the E55BT didn't blow me away with its sound or build quality, it's a likable headphone that sounds decent, is attractively designed, fits comfortably and has good battery life: 20 hours at moderate volume levels. It also worked nearly flawlessly, with minimal Bluetooth hiccups and easily paired and repaired with the iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge I used in my testing.

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 calls) and also comes with a detachable fabric cable with a one-button remote for wired listening. No carrying case is included.

Enlarge Image

The controls are on the right ear cup.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Equipped with 50 mm drivers, the E55BT delivers plenty of bass but manages to avoid sounding boomy or muddy. It's good bass, not great bass. The midrange, where you'll find vocals, is fairly natural and not overly aggressive (forward sounding). There's some treble push, which makes the headphone sound fairly detailed but also a little bright.

It all adds up to a fairly dynamic sound, but falls short of that richer, more refined sound you'll find with many higher-end Bluetooth headphones. B&O Play's Beoplay H4, for example, has tighter bass with more visceral punch, and the H4 sounds clearer and better balanced.

The JBL E55BT also doesn't have extra features such as the 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 although it's still predominantly plastic.) And while this headphone works reasonably well as a headset, don't expect the same business-class performance you'd get from more expensive dual-microphone headphones such as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 and the Bose QuietComfort 35.

There aren't a ton 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. Sony's popular "Extra Bass" MDR-XB950BT headphone is comparably priced, but it has a little too much extra bass for my tastes.

I do like both the sound and styling of this headphone better 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.

Enlarge Image

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

Sarah Tew/CNET


Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Sound 7Value 7