JBL is one of those companies that immediately elicits certain expectations with their audio products which is with good reason. More recently the company has been bringing to market a number of Bluetooth-enabled speakers which offer a seriously good level of performance while maintaining a relatively speaking, affordable price. A sentiment JBL also looks to offer with their headphone products as well. One of the most recent releases from JBL in the headphones department is the JBL Everest Elite 700. This is their leading headphones option in the Everest range and is currently priced by JBL at $299.95.
In terms of the drivers, the JBL Everest Elite 700 come equipped with 40 mm drivers and the driver sensitivity comes in at 99 dB. The frequency response on offer is 10 - 22k Hz while the SPL is listed as 114 dB. As these are both Bluetooth and noise cancelling headphones it should not be a surprise the JBL Everest Elite 700 comes with a battery inside. One which is rated as 850 mAh and one where the expected battery life depends on a few factors. According to the paperwork, when using the JBL Everest Elite 700 for music playback with both ANC and Bluetooth on, the battery is rated to offer up to 15 hours before needing to be charged again. With ANC on but Bluetooth off (or with Bluetooth on and ANC off), the expected battery life increasing to 19 hours before needing to be recharged.
In terms of features, the JBL Everest 700 Elite are packed full of extras including Bluetooth 4.0 for establishing a remote connection, JBL Pro Audio sound, NETGen Active Noise Cancellation (ANC), TruNote Auto Sound Calibration, Auto Off functionality and a built-in microphone for taking and making hands-free calls. Last but not least the JBL Everest Elite 700 weigh in at 305 grams.
In the box
The box itself is a rather decent unboxing experience. As is the case with JBL in general, the box comes with various pulls which not only indicate how to open the box but also do make the process of opening the box much easier. Upon initial opening you are immediately greeted with the Everest Elite 700 headphones which come rested on top of an internal box. One nice touch is that the headphones insert does indicate quite clearly how to use the headphones (i.e. play, pause, NC and so on) which believe it or not was a smart move by JBL as the actual on-headphones controls are not as easy to decipher as you might expect. While most tech-savvy users will be fine figuring out what each button does, it was good to see an immediate and visual guide for users to quickly refer to as and when needed.
Beneath this tray you will find a microUSB charging cable, a gold plated 3.5 mm jack cable (which comes with one straight jack and one right-angled jack), as well as the normal level of paperwork including a quick start guide, the warranty and a pamphlet on how to download the corresponding Android app. However, tucked away within the actual recessed headphone tray, you will also find a JBL branded carry case.
The case itself is always a cause for concern with the high-end options as you do expect a very good case at these price points. Not to mention, you will want to make sure that you can transport high-priced items within a safe and protected case. Here, while the case provided does feel premium, it is a soft pouch case. So while it will more than happily store your headphones and make it easy to transport them when not wearing them, it could be argued it is not the most protective of cases. For those who prefer a more solid case with premium headphones, this is not one of them.
Design, Hardware & Comfort
In terms of the general headphone market, the design of the JBL Everest Elite 700 does come across as one of simplicity. These are not the stand-out type of headphones you will find from certain other manufacturers and as a result are not highly identifiable for what they are. Especially Considering these are top of the JBL Everest Bluetooth headphone line. They do come with a rather large JBL logo emblazoned across the neckband and on the cups, but generally speaking, their look and presentation is somewhat basic - for want of a better word.
Aesthetics aside, there is nothing basic about these headphones, including their design. It is very clear, very quickly, that these are headphones with a very obvious mandate for comfort and durability. The neckband is one which is designed to account for manipulation and as a result, is quite bendy. The two clear benefits of this is that over time they will adapt to become more naturally fitting to the wearer's head (and therefore more comfortable) and also that they can withstand a good deal of physical abuse. Over time, these headphone are unlikely to be too prone to snapping or becoming damaged. In spite of their more flexible neckband design, they also seem to be more than adequate at protecting the cabling inside, as with fairly vigorous manipulating the sound at no point becomes affected, disjointed, crackled or otherwise. This does seem to be an extremely well built and long-lasting design aspect of the headphones.
Much is the case for the rest of the headphones in general. The build on offer here is extremely good and these do feel like a very stable and reliable pair of headphones. The hinges in use are wide, firm and seem to be built to endure common adjusting without too many issues. So while the hinges do feel a little stiff, they do not seem overly stiff and instead result in a firm and solid feeling when making adjustments.
In terms of the comfort, there is very little to complain about with the JBL Everest Elite 700 headphones. A number of headphones are quite tight-fitting and sometimes they can end up being too tight-fitting which is not only uncomfortable but inevitably limits any prolonged use of the headphones. This is not the case with the JBL Everest Elite 700 headphones. These are extremely comfortable headphones and do sit on the head quite nicely. The padding on the ear cups is certainly sufficient enough to ensure that the pressure against the ears is never too much and even after extended levels of being worn, they do not become that uncomfortable. Not to mention the ear cup padding is actually slightly contoured which means they do sit rather uniquely against the ear.
As you might expect, these headphones are also adjustable and so you can adjust the size fairly widely to ensure the fit is right. Like the rest of the design in general, the adjust band is once again a firm and easy to use aspect. During initial testing, adjusting the headphones does not seem likely to have any adverse wear and tear effects and the adjust plate shows small markers which is a nice touch - as it does mean you can eyeball the right measurement for your head and then quickly adjust as needed on further occasions without having to try them on each time.
As these are Bluetooth-enabled headphones, they do come with a number of on-headphone buttons. The left ear cup is where you will find the volume up and down buttons, while the right ear cup houses the main power/pairing button as well as a programmable button which can be set to control certain additional elements. Interestingly, the buttons are not very well designed in terms of advising the user which button does what (i.e. their icons are not the most obvious), so they do take a little time to get used to. Once the adjustment period is over though, the buttons are extremely well placed and do offer a good degree of separation from each other. So while wearing the headphones it is very easy to feel the buttons and select the right one without too much confusion. Along with the main power and programmable button, the right ear cup is also where you will find the microUSB charge port, as well as the 3.5 mm mini jack port.
Overall, it is clear that JBL has looked to ensure the Everest Elite 700 are designed with a number of the finer points in mind. While it would be expected that a pair of headphones in this price range would focus on the smaller points, it is surprising how often these aspects can be missed. This is not the case with the Everest Elite 700. These are headphones which after a short period of testing do seem to be very well built, while also maximizing the level of comfort on offer. So before you even begin to start listening to the audio output, these are headphones which on build and design alone, do elicit premium.
Sound Quality & Performance
All headphones are very much directed at a specific demographic. This is in short what constitutes their selling point. Those that are aimed at price-conscious markets are affordable headphones, those that are aimed at the audiophiles are premium headphones - ones which are less concerned about the price tag attached. While the JBL Everest Elite 700 fall into the latter category, their pricing does kind of put them on the verge of the affordable sector as well. So is there a compromise in sound by being more competitively priced than other options? Not really as the sound quality of these headphones in general is excellent.
For those that are more concerned with the bass reproduction, the bass is there, correct and present. In fact, there does definitely seem to be some additional bass technology involved here as at every level the bass is more defined than it should be. So we are talking about these being slightly bass-heavy, but in a good way and not a way that unnaturally impedes on the mids and tops. In fact, the mids and tops are almost as pronounced. So while the sound is generally well-balanced it does offer that slightly more bassy tone. To be clear, there are far more bassier headphones out there, so if that is 100% your main focus you will find better. But for an all round sound with a nice bass edge, these are a great option.
Likewise, there are no issues with the volume of the JBL Everest Elite 700 headphones. As you would expect at this price point, these are headphones that are not only loud, but do not generally become affected by an increase in volume. The audio output remains solid as volume increases and the bass is well-handled during these instances. At full volume, the JBL Everest Elite 700 offer an extremely good listening experience. Like the bass, they are not the absolute loudest headphones you can find, but they do certainly offer one of the best all round and balanced levels of playback and more importantly, a consistent level of playback at all volume levels.
These are also headphones which come packing a number of additional features like noise cancellation and ambient awareness. In terms of the first, noise cancellation, this is becoming a pretty standard feature on high-end headphones so therefore, the feature is no longer enough on its own. How good the noise cancellation is now far more prevalent. In that respect, the noise cancellation on the JBL Everest Elite 700 is pretty good indeed. The noise cancellation works pretty much in line with any of the top shelf offering and does effectively mitigate against outside noise. Of course, as is the case with most noise cancellation features, it does not completely omit all outside sounds, but you do need to somewhat noticeably try to listen to what is going on around you to hear anything. Without being able to 100-percent cancel out all noise, this is pretty much as close as you can get.
Which takes us on to the ambient awareness. The idea behind this particular feature is that you can effectively control the amount of outside sound you can hear. Different to reducing the outside noise like noise cancellation, the ambient awareness looks to let some noise through. So if you want to more acutely be aware of your surroundings than you can set the Ambient level to high. Likewise, to low or of course, off. Generally speaking, this feature certainly does work. It seems it is based off using the microphone to help filter the outside sound through to the headset and so you can hear what is going on around you more directly but not in a way that sounds too intrusive to the listening experience. There is also a clear definition between the settings as well, so just by clicking from off to low or low to high you will instantly notice the outside sound becoming much clearer. That said, at either setting (low or high) the outside noise is still quite low. So while the assumption might be that you become very aware of outside sound, that is not the case. It is a subtle difference between each of the parameters and one which you will notice, but not greatly be aware of and that is one of its strengths, as this means that the actual content that you are listening to is not too adversely affected, while still maintaining the ability to hear some of the outside sound. Put simply, if you are using these at work, setting the ambient level to its highest setting will easily allow you to listen to your music at a good level, while also ensuring that if someone walks up and starts talking to you, you will hear them.
Sticking with the performance of the noise cancellation and ambient awareness, there is a ‘magic button’ located on the left hand-side of the headset. This is one which you can set to either noise cancel or be ambient aware and one which does work very well. Hitting the button will turn on (either) feature (assuming it is off). Although if the button is set to ambient awareness, the initial switching on will set the ambient feature to the ‘low’ position. Hitting it again will bump it up to ‘high’. While a third press will turn it off completely. So there is a fairly good degree of control in this respect and you can cycle through the settings without having to worry about digging out your phone and opening the app. Although, for some, it is likely that they would have preferred the switch to be more of an on and off switch, without having the additional cycling through needed.
Overall, it is difficult to criticize the JBL Everest Elite 700 in terms of their performance. The sound quality on offer is excellent and with the slight bass accentuation, these do provide a really firm, solid and balanced output. Likewise, these headphones do come loaded with a number of additional features which are easy to use and do actually add value. If you don't need them, you can ignore them. But for those who see the value, they are there.
Similar to the JBL Connect app for their Bluetooth speakers, JBL also has a Headphones app, My JBL Headphones, which can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store. Although, it should be noted that this app only works with a select number of headphones, including the Everest Elite 700. In terms of the actual app, it is a fairly basic but useful app. Connecting to the app is extremely easy. If you have already paired the headphones with your smartphone via Bluetooth then once the app is open (and providing the Bluetooth pairing is active) the app is immediately able to sense the headphones and connect. So there is no awkward or time-consuming connection process here. It is simple, quick and easy to use.
Once the app is connected, the main screen shows you quick reference points for your headphones. These mainly consist of how much battery is still left, as well as whether noise cancellation and ambient awareness are active. The noise cancellation can be simply toggled on or off from the app, while in contrast the ambient awareness aspect is able to be a little more fine tuned from the app. The user is essentially able to set the level of awareness between high, medium, low and off. Once selected, the headphones respond fairly quickly adapting to the level of awareness set.
Moving on, the app also includes the ability to make use of TruNote functionality, which is designed to give you a more personal audio calibration. The understanding of this feature is that TruNote looks to best adapt the sound to produce a better and more environment-related output. However, it truth this was one of the less impressive features on offer here, as very little difference (if any) was noted when TruNote was activated. It is likely doing something, but in testing the impact of whatever it is doing was minimally recognized.
While the settings also include the ability to update the headphones remotely and toggle on or off the Auto Off feature and Voice prompts. Buried in the settings, there is also the ability for the magic button to be programmed to respond to either the noise cancellation or the ambient awareness.
Overall, the app is quite a useful tool for those who pick up the Everest Elite 700 headphones. It is not the most customizable or functional app and in app terms, is rather simple. However, in testing that proved to be of the benefits of the app as it is just a nice addition for those who want to quickly fine tune an element or check the remaining battery level. So while simple, it also makes the process of maintaining how your headphones work, simple as well.
Battery Life & Connectivity
Battery life is definitely the big concern when it comes to choosing a pair of headphones. While most headphones (including the JBL Everest Elite 700) offer a wired level of use, Bluetooth-enabling is their main selling point. Therefore, having a pair of headphones which offer a decent enough battery life is key. In terms of the Everest Elite 700, there are zero concerns here. The battery on these headphones is more than able to last a considerable amount of time and during testing proved quite problematic in trying to purpose-drain the battery. As a result, you can take it as granted that these will easily offer more than a day's level of use without needing to be charged. In fact, easily consider these to be two-day headphones and that's if you do use them for prolonged periods of time. If you are more of a casual user then these will easily last a week when used casually.
Speaking of which, one aspect that is worth commenting on is the standby battery life. Due to these headphones making use of an automatic shut off function, battery life is extremely well optimized. You can use these headphones, throw them down and walk away and within a few minutes (less than five) the automatic shut off kicks in. The benefit of this is that the headphones almost never expend energy when not in use. This significantly prolongs the level of their standby life in between charges and means you do not ever have to worry about them burning through battery when you have forgotten to disconnect them. As long as the audio is no longer playing, they switch off. When you then consider that the battery included is not only powering the actual Bluetooth functionality but also the additional elements like noise cancellation and ambient awareness, it is clear that JBL has produced a very battery optimized set of headphones. Generally speaking, unless you use these headphones heavily, these are headphones that need very infrequent charging and when it comes to charging and in spite of the long levels of usage on offer, full charge time takes about 2.5 hours.
Moving on to the Bluetooth sides of things and generally speaking these are an extremely reliable set of headphones. There is virtually no drop off or outs when in close proximity to the target streaming device and even when venturing away, the JBL Everest Elite 700 headphones are adequately able to maintain a reliable and solid connection. As an estimated measurement, the headphones were able to maintain a solid connection up to about 15 meters away from a streaming device, before they would begin to drop out and finally off. It is also worth pointing out there were no issues noted within a ten meter distance when walls are involved. The Everest Elite 700 are able to adequately penetrate walls, which is not always the case with Bluetooth headphones.
The JBL Everest Elite 700 are not the newest headphones on the block, as they have been on the market for a few months now. However, they are certainly at the top end of the game and do offer quite a lot for the money. These do come with a ton of additional features (and look set to be even more functional with JBL having now open-sourced the SDK relative to the headphones) and they are features which you can either choose to use or not. So if you just want a solid pair of headphones which offer a good frequency definition, these will do the job. Likewise, if you prefer the ability to control the additional environmental elements to a much greater level, these offer that too.
Should you buy the JBL Everest Elite 700?
The biggest hurdle is the price as while cheap compared to other options (in the same sector), they are not cheap in general. If $200+ is a relatively normal price for you when it comes to buying headphones, then these are certainly worth every cent. Likewise, if you are looking to invest in your first high-end pair of headphones, then you will certainly be in for a treat with the JBL Everest Elite 700. While expensive, they are not compared to other level-relevant offerings and do offer very good value for money.