JBL is known for offering good sound for cheap. And in terms of build quality, few other brands can compete at the same prices. So, what about this affordable little model, the Tune 500? At just under 30 bucks, what can we expect in terms of sound quality and design? I’m guessing it’s nothing earth-shattering. But let’s explore these cans a little further in this JBL Tune 500 Wired On-Ear Headphones Review.
JBL Tune 500 Wired On-Ear Headphones Review
You can expect a no frills design with this on-ear model. The earpads are made from a thin leather-like material, and you’ll get some cushioning on the headband as well. But the Tune 500 sits quite firm against the ears, and those with big noggins may start to feel some pressure after long periods of wear. That being said, the snug fit means that the sound isolation is very effective. And in this respect, it probably beats some of the cheaper noise-cancelling headphones out there.
As mentioned above, the JBL Tune 500 sports somewhat of a spartan design. But it works. The plastic build is very light, and the flat, tangle-resistant cable has a simple mic and 1-button remote. The button allows you to play/pause, skip tracks, answer calls and activate your voice assistant.
The terminations look reasonably well-insulated. And the right-angled plug is useful for kids with pockets or clumsy fingers.
The small, foldable design of these on-ear cans also makes them very portable. And given the price, you shouldn’t feel too bad about throwing them in your backpack without a case.
Even those who listen at dangerously loud levels should get enough volume from the Tune 500. Careful kids! And the frequency range is a standard 20-20,000 Hz. But let’s see how that translates into sound below.
You’ll hear a very forward leaning bass that takes center stage in the sound signature. The bass gives ample oomph to pop tracks, while hip-hop fans will enjoy the heart-pounding subbiness that the Tune 500 produces as well. So, those who appreciate a massive sound will dig these headphones. At the same time, you can’t expect to much in terms of clean detail in this range. In fact, you’ll hear a little cloudiness on certain tracks. And I would say that the Tune 500 is less than ideal for genres involving acoustic instruments, like classical or jazz. But hey, for a $30 headphone, I can’t complain.
I love the balance in this range because the low-mids are given plenty of love; rock and pop-rock tracks sound warm and fleshy, while vocals avoid harshness by sitting nicely within the mix. So, this is a very easy-listening headphone. However, those expecting clean separation and transparency may want to keep looking. Guitar strums were muddy at times, and classical string instruments lacked texture and nuance. Indeed, this is a headphone designed for modern genres.
Again, listening to violins in the high frequencies, there was more smoothness than detail. But at the same time, this roundness was pleasing to the ear. Unfortunately, this slightly blunted character doesn’t give much crispness or sparkle to percussion instruments. And pop fans might be hungry for a little more snap in this range, as these cans fall on the darker side of the spectrum. But the good new is that folks with extra sensitivity to high frequencies will find the sound signature forgiving on the ears.
You’ll get a decently spacious soundstage from Tune 500 for the price. Just don’t expect too much dimension. Instrument placement felt less than precise, and gradations in width and depth were sometimes difficult to discern. But again, $30, people. I feel ridiculous for even making judgements about soundstage on these poor ladies.
If you’re on a budget, and you’re a sucker for some powerful bass, the JBL Tune 500 is a great option for the price. It may not be the most versatile choice in terms of genre, but if you mainly listen to modern styles of music, you should be satisfied. Given the bare bones design, I wouldn’t expect these cans to outlive your hamster. But it certainly gets the job done.
You can find these headphones for the best price here: