JBL is better known for its loudspeakers than its headphones, but in our experience – whether you blow it up or shrink it down – those who know great audio tend to get it right. Let’s hope that maxim applies to JBL’s upcoming J Series line of phones, which is headlined by the over-the-ear J88i and the in-ear J33i. The line consists of eight different models, but all are variants on those two design bases. Simple and devoid of frills, JBL resides on the opposite end of the spectrum from brands like the simalarly-named JLab, which debuted some style-centric cans just yesterday.
- J88i – Available in black/silver and white/silver/copper, the J88is are the premium over-the-ear offering in this group, and achieve that mantle via their beyond-our-hearing 8Hz – 24kHz frequency response, and monster-sized 50 mm drivesr (these look like they were engineered to deliver some very serious bass). The phones are also utilize a DJ pivot mechanism which lets you rotate the leather ear cups 180 degrees, and an in-line mic. If you’re a sound-hound, skip sifting through the rest of the line, these are the pair you’re looking for.
Price: $150. Availability: December (expected)
- J33i – The in-ear alpha males of this line, the J33i earbuds don’t have quite the power of their on-ear cohorts, but their specs are nothing to sneeze at either. Unless of course you’re allergic to the deep-bass capabilities of 9.2mm drivers. In that case – Gesunheit! These also use a nifty little mechanism that JBL calls an angled strain relief buckle — braces built to relieve the wire-wearing stress caused by contorting the earbuds.
Price: $80. Availability: December (expected)
Along with these two models JBL’s J Series line includes six other pairs of ‘phones. Three lower-cost, less full-featured variants that mimic the J88i’s design (J88, J55i, J55), and three that mimic the J33i’s (J33, J22i, J22). The J55 models are on-ear, but otherwise fashioned after the J88i and those models suffixed with an i feature microphones, while the others do not. The entire line-up is expected to be available in December.