Oct 13, 2013
In the previously-held Cosplay Mania 2013, we visited our friends and first-time event exhibitors, AKG/JBL Philippines. They had a pretty open-air setup, with most of their flagship models on display. Headphones, such as the AKG K619 and JBL J88, were readily available for audition, while other products were showcased in a glass cabinet, such as the AKG K701 and the rest of the Quincy Jones lineup. Probably the best highlight of this visit to the booth was getting our Cheetos-encrusted fingers on JBL’s upcoming line of headphones, the Synchros series, particularly the over-ear S300 headphones.
Thanks to our dear friends at the JBL booth, we had the rare chance to demo the JBL Synchros S300 mere weeks, nay MONTHS, before its official release here in the Philippines. And boy was it a solid audition experience!
For this preview, the following equipment was used:
1. HTC Desire HD (headphone out) -> JBL S300
2. iPod Video 5th Generation -> Fiio L11 LOD -> Audio GD C2C Desktop Headphone Amplifier -> JBL S300
The JBL Synchros S300 is a pair of over-ear headphones, made to focus on portability, dropping the internal amplifier from its older brother, the S700. Its build is made from lightweight steel, really tough plastic, and leather accents. The cups are covered in breathable leather, padded with memory foam. The build quality is definitely solid, with no creaks or loose joints creeping up upon inspection. The cable can be detached from the cups, and is terminated by a 2.5mm jack in one end, and a 4-pin, Apple compatible 3.5mm jack with microphone capabilities at the other end. The cups swiveled smoothly, allowing for a sufficient seal. These can also be swiveled inwards for a smaller footprint and portability. Comfort isn’t a problem with the S300 too. The memory foam and breathable leather allows for prolonged periods of usage without any strain. The clamp of the headphones are just right for the head, and the adjustable headband can accommodate different head sizes just as well. The materials used also keep the S300 light and wearable on the head.
Please take note of the following: the unit was auditioned straight out of the box; therefore burn-in issues may or may not change the impressions. And, your mileage may vary
From the brief demo we had with the S300, it had a slight V-shaped sound signature and would do well with the majority of the music that the target market would be playing. The S300 had a punchy bass too. However, it was a bit loose and did not really extend to the lowest octaves. Don’t get us wrong here, the bass coming out of the cans were still well-appreciated. It’s just that the lower octaves were barely discernible for someone very particular about the bass. The mids were thankfully very much present, and not recessed or overpowered by the bass. The highs were sparkling, and made cymbal crashes sizzle and a bit more pronounced. The S300′s soundstage was good enough for a closed-back design compared to the cans’ pricier counterparts in the market to day.
Switching to the C2C Amplifier setup, the bass was more controlled, and the soundstage was a bit more expansive compared to the HTC Desire HD as a direct source.
JBL has done a laudable effort of making the S300 suit this generation’s needs. We certainly feel that the S300 need not be amped anymore, though the choice is still yours. Amping it does provide a tad more volume and a bit of control, especially on it soundstage and bass. But for those not particular with portable or desktop amplifier setups, the S300 will work just as well directly out of a mobile phone or portable media player’s headphone out with no problems.
We’ve got no word on how much the S300 and the rest of the Synchros series will retail for here in the Philippines. But the going price in the US is around US$200. We can probably expect the same price once it hits our shores soon.
For more updates on JBL’s Synchros series and their other products, please visit their Facebook pages!