You'll come away from this JBL Tune 660NC review wondering how these on-ear headphones are so cheap. For a budget pair, they do seriously hold their own against some of the best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy.
Granted, they may not be as feature-packed, and the design doesn't feel as premium as headphones that cost three times as much. However the active noise-cancelling and all-important sound quality are incredibly capable, the JBL Tune 660NC could almost have fooled me. I'm not saying you'll want to use these in a professional capacity but for casual music listening, they're fantastic.
So let’s get down to it: in this JBL Tune 660NC review, I’ll cover everything you need to know about this pair of on-ear noise-cancelling headphones from price, design and battery life to their overall performance.
JBL Tune 660NC review: price and availability
New for 2021, the JBL Tune 660NC are an affordable pair of on-ear headphones. You can buy them directly from the JBL site for $99.95 in the US, £89.99 in the UK (likely to be around AU$120). Take a look at the widgets on this page for more recent pricing.
JBL Tune 660NC review: what’s new and features
The JBL Tune 660NC has a few crucial improvements on the JBL Tune 600BTNC: it’s now a lighter so more comfortable pair with USB-C charging and they’ve made the jump from Bluetooth 4 to Bluetooth 5, ensuring a more stable, reliable connection. JBL has also increased the battery life from 12 hours with ANC switched on to a massive 44 hours, which in itself makes this pair of on-ear headphones a far more convincing buy.
Other features include Active Noise Cancelling, hands-free calls, smartphone voice assistant support and a foldable, portable design. If you have an Android phone, you’ll also be able to make use of Fast Pair enabled by Google.
JBL Tune 660NC review: design and battery life
The Tune 660NC headphones have quintessentially JBL styling and solid build quality to match - the smooth matte-black plastic casing covers the whole of the headphones without looking cheap, although it is slightly prone to scratches. The shiny black JBL logo is integrated into the outside of the small earcups. I liked that they weren’t too big as that meant they didn’t stick out too far from my head, making me look like a helicopter pilot like so many other pairs do.
Controls are placed in a line on the edge of the right earcup: the volume controls and the multifunctional button are towards the back, followed by a 3.5mm audio input to keep listening when the battery has died, then there’s a noise-cancelling switch and finally the power button. I did find the volume controls were too far back, I had to feel around for them quite a bit before successfully turning the music up or down. In between the power and ANC buttons are two small LED lights that indicate Bluetooth pairing mode and noise-cancelling are switched on. The earcups and headband have black cushioning for comfort.
Adjusting the size of the band to fit my head was simple, it’s just a case of pulling out the extendable arm. It was a bit jolty to use although that did mean once you have picked your size it stays put. Putting the JBL Tune 660NC headphones on was a little counterintuitive as the headband was placed more towards the front of the earcups, which meant I kept using them the wrong way round. Once on properly though, they were very comfortable. At just 166g they felt light and didn’t cause any discomfort at all even after a long period of use. I wouldn’t recommend using them for any kind of exercise as they did slide around on my head at times. They’re also quite warm so won’t feel great if you get a bit sweaty in them.
The JBL Tune 660NC's battery lasts 44 hours with ANC switched on, turned off you’ll get a massive 55 hours of music before you need to plug them in. Charging them up again will only take two hours. In the box, there’s a USB Type-C charging cable, a 3.5mm audio cable and the quick start guide.
JBL Tune 660NC review: performance
If there’s one thing JBL does well at time and time again, it’s delivering on sound quality. And that’s not just from their headphones, it’s from all of their audio products. This pair of headphones use JBL Pure Bass tuning, claiming to punch out deep and powerful bass.
In use, that’s exactly what they did. Bass-heavy tracks like I Adore You by Goldie had serious definition in the low-end, coming across weighty, clear and punchy. Perhaps even a little too much so at times. In certain cases, the bass did take over slightly, meaning vocals could get a little lost. Despite that, songs like Heroes by Bowie sounded very expressive - I felt like I could each instrument apart from one another, while Heart of Glass by Blondie felt energetic and crisp. For a pair of affordable headphones, the audio quality could have fooled me as being from a much more pricey pair. They won’t provide studio-quality surround sound, yet they will give you impressive performance all the same.
The Active Noise Cancelling was even more impressive, even though these don’t encase your whole ear. I could barely hear the taps on my keyboard and missed being spoken to pretty much every time someone tried. Testing it out with some aeroplane noise from YouTube, although you could of course hear it, it was very dulled out especially with the volume turned up high. These won’t beat the likes of Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Bowers & Wilkins PX7, some of the priciest pairs of noise-cancelling headphones you can buy but I must admit, they did hold their own.
For connectivity, you have the choice of using Bluetooth or the 3.5mm audio. I imagine you would only use the latter if you run out of battery and want to keep listening. The Bluetooth connection was stable, even at a bit of a distance from my smartphone.
JBL Tune 660NC review: verdict
Strong, rich audio with a heavy focus on the low-end is what you get from these headphones. Whether that’s right for you or not will depend on how you like your music, if you’re hungry for bass then look no further. If you want to hear every lyric word for word then maybe look elsewhere.
Their punchy sound performance paired with a simple, smart design, excellent noise cancelling capabilities and hours upon hours of battery life make these some of the best budget headphones you can buy. All in all, I think you’ll be hard pushed to find a better pair of noise-cancelling headphones for this low of a price.
JBL Tune 660NC review: also consider
Another cheap pair of noise-cancelling headphones worth considering is the AKG N60NC, they’re slightly more expensive than these but the audio quality is really excellent for what you pay.
If you aren’t so concerned about cost, then consider the Beats Studio3 Wireless. They are less than £170/$150 at the time of writing and have adaptive noise cancelling which monitors your listening environment so that it can best block out ambient noise. Definitely worth adding to your shortlist!
Or, for something a little more discreet, take a look at the best true wireless headphones you can buy.
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