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Bose 700 vs JBL Live Noise-Canceling Headphones (2021): Should You Save or Splurge?

JBL is probably not the brand that typically comes to mind when talking about wireless noise-canceling headphones as this space is typically dominated by bigger brands like Bose and Sony. We take a look at the features and sound quality of the more affordable JBL Live 650BTNC to determine whether they can be a good alternative to the pricier Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.

Bose 700 vs JBL Live 650BTNC Headphones Comparison Chart

ModelBose Noise Canceling Headphones 700JBL Live 650BTNC
 Bose Headphones 700jbl live 650 headphones
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Dimensions2″ x 6.5″ x 8″8.07″ x 3.15″ x 8.78″
FoldableNoYes
Active Noise CancellationYesYes
ANC Levels11N/A
RuntimeUp to 20 hoursUp to 30 hours (ANC off)
Up to 20 hours with Bluetooth and ANC
Recharge Time3 hours2 hours
Quick Charging15 minutes for up to 3.5 hours15 minutes for up to 2 hours
Wireless ChargingNoNo
Bluetooth5.04.2
Audio CodecsSBC, AACSBC
Touch ControlsYesYes (for smart assistant access)
Voice ControlsYesYes
WaterproofNoNo
Color OptionsBlack, Luxe Silver, SoapstoneBlack, White, Blue

Design

The JBL headphones are foldable, but the Bose 700 feel more comfortable

Bose vs JBL headphones
The Bose 700 in Soapstone (left) and the JBL Live headphones in white

These wireless noise-canceling headphones have similar aesthetics, with minor differences in color, band material, and earcup size. However, the Bose noise-canceling headphones feel more plush and comfortable.

Both their bands feel sturdy, with the JBL Live’s feeling stiffer to use at first. The Bose 700’s band has more padding and has rubberized coating while the JBL Live 650BTNC headphones have a fabric-coated band. Both the Bose and JBL headphones have earcups that can be rotated flat, but the JBL Live are foldable unlike the Bose 700.

The JBL’s earcups are made of memory foam and are deep enough to fit comfortably if you have small to average ears. They might squish your ears if they’re on the bigger side because the JBL’s earcups are slimmer than the Bose 700’s. Meanwhile, the Bose 700’s earcups are made from soft synthetic leather and are a bit wider than the JBL so they have better coverage.

Read more Bose headphones reviews and comparison charts here.

Noise Cancellation

The Bose 700 can block off noise better than the JBL Live headphones

Bose Headphones 700
The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 (in photo) boast top-notch noise-cancellation

For their price point, the JBL headphones provide decent active noise cancellation. They do a good job of blocking off the external sound, but offer nowhere near as impressive noise-canceling capabilities as the Bose 700.

With 11 ANC levels, the Bose wireless headphones let you adjust the settings depending on how much sound you want to block off. You can use the highest setting to completely muffle the sound around you or adjust to the lowest where you can hear your surroundings as if, as Bose claims, “you weren’t wearing noise-canceling headphones at all.” Meanwhile, the ANC levels of the JBL Live 650BTNC cannot be adjusted. Also, turning on the ANC when you’re in a quiet environment can produce some distracting noise.

The Bose 700s are also equipped with an adaptive mic system that’s hard to beat. They have a total of eight microphones that work together to drastically improve phone calls even when in a crowded place. As for the JBL headphones, they still do the job, and pick up your voice clearly, but just not with the same quality as the Bose noise-canceling headphones.

Sound Quality

The JBL’s sound quality is almost comparable to the Bose headphones’.

While the JBL Live headphones may be lacking in their ANC features, they deliver an audio quality that doesn’t disappoint, especially at their price. They have deep bass and great bottom-end, and the EQ can be adjusted to your preference using the JBL app.

The Bose Headphones 700 boast premium audio quality that Bose is known for. These wireless headphones have active EQ and top-notch bass response, although you might notice that they let mid frequencies through. However, if you like adjusting your EQ, the Bose app doesn’t let you do that just yet. We’ll see if this feature will be available once they roll out software updates.

You can read more Bose headphones reviews and comparison charts here.

Set up and Controls

Both are optimized for smart assistants and have physical and touch controls

Bose
Activate your smart assistant through one of the buttons on the Bose 700’s earcup

Pairing both the Bose and JBL headphones with your device is easy and straightforward. They are also compatible with smart assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. Since they are both noise-canceling, your smart assistant can still clearly hear your voice commands even in a busy, congested area.

The JBL Live 650BTNC’s smart assistant can be activated through tapping the earcup. The rest of the controls can be done either through the buttons located on the earcups or the JBL app. We are not big fans of this as the buttons are sometimes hard to press.

As for the Bose 700, these wireless headphones have touch controls for making calls, playing tracks, or adjusting volume. On the left earcup is a button you can press to adjust ANC levels (only 0, 5, and 10) or activate your preferred smart assistant. If you want to use specific ANC levels such as 8 or 3, you will have to use the Bose Music app.

A major downside to the Bose headphones is the set-up requires the Bose Music app. The problem is its app still has a lot of bugs and often gets disconnected. Bose promises updates on its software though, which will hopefully rid of the app’s issues.

Deal Finder
JBL LIVE 650 BT Noise Canceling Headphones

Enjoy up to 30 hours of listening with the JBL Live 650BTNC noise-canceling headphones. While not on par with premium noise-canceling headphones, the JBL's ANC and audio quality are great for its price. They also feature customizable EQ settings to suit your preferred sound profile.

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Additional Features

Both Bose and JBL noise-canceling headphones allow a multi-point connection, but the JBL Live have a longer battery life

The JBL headphones can play music for up to 30 hours

If you typically use two devices simultaneously, the multi-point function of the Bose and JBL headphones will come in handy. If, say, you’re watching a video on your tablet and you receive a phone call, you can switch to your mobile device and answer the call using your noise-canceling headphones.

The JBL Live 650BTNCs have a longer runtime than the Bose 700. You can listen to passive music for up to 30 hours and up to 20 hours with ANC using your JBL headphones. Charging your JBL for two hours will give you a full charge as compared to the Bose 700, which needs 3 hours to enjoy its 20 hours of playtime.

Verdict

The JBL Live provides a budget-friendly noise-canceling headphone alternative without sacrificing sound quality

Deal Finder
JBL LIVE 650 BT Noise Canceling Headphones

Enjoy up to 30 hours of listening with the JBL Live 650BTNC noise-canceling headphones. While not on par with premium noise-canceling headphones, the JBL's ANC and audio quality are great for its price. They also feature customizable EQ settings to suit your preferred sound profile.

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For those who want to save, the JBL Live 650BTNC headphones deliver great sound quality and decent active noise cancellation for its price. Sure, its ANC is not as impressive as the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700‘s, but you still get your money’s worth. For half the price of the Bose 700 (at the time of writing), the JBL Live headphones provide a great cost-effective alternative to the premium Bose Noise Canceling Headphones.

You can read more Bose headphones reviews and comparison charts here.

FAQs

📌 Which headphones are better, the Bose NC 700 or the JBL Live 650BTNC?

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are overall better than the JBL. They offer better audio quality and noise-cancelation that justify their price. With that said, the JBL Live are more affordable alternatives.

📌 Are the JBL Live 650 headphones good?

While not on par with the Bose NC 700, the JBL Live 650BTNC offer great value for their price.

📌 Are the Bose NC 700 waterproof?

No, the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are not waterproof, so using them for strenuous workouts is not recommended.

📌 Are the JBL Live 650BTNC waterproof?

Just like the Bose NC 700, the JBL 650 are not waterproof.

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Rhodaline Escala-Phelps

Managing Editor and Team Leader at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about people, product comparisons, culture, and current events.