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Hands-on review: JBL Free WFH wireless headphones
Mon, 5th Sep 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Working from home is the new normal for many of us, but for some it means that a host of distractions can threaten to interfere with your busy schedule. Whether it’s a whiny husband, a clingy dog or a sick offspring, you will be happy to get some enforced peace and quiet, courtesy of JBL’s Free WFH Wireless headphones. Even better, those annoying background distractions will be happily muted while you hold that vital remote Zoom meeting or listen to your favourite heavy metal greatest hits tunes as you diligently ply your trade.

Features and specs:

I did my usual thing and put the user guide aside. Several days later, it occurred to me that maybe I did need that dongle after all. Suddenly I had sound, without the need to download software or plug into an app. The JBL Free WFH Wireless headphones really are plug and play. 

Lossless & low-lag 2.4G wireless:

JBL don’t go into a long detailed description of lossless, but the bottom line is that you get the high-quality sound you expect. In this case, you are assured of “a stable connection for daily calls and video conferencing without the distraction of wires,” say JBL.

My only issue came about because I am using a USB hub for the wireless dongle as well as an external 27” monitor. I may need to tweak my setup to avoid the occasional feedback loop, but the sound quality of my calls was brilliant. JBL Signature Sound comes via 40mm drivers, meaning that “your calls and music will be incredibly clear, whether you’re listening to David Bowie or Dave from accounting.” 

The detachable microphone is a handy plug-in with a handy mute button and more importantly, noise-cancelling technology. 

Battery life:

The workaholic in you will rejoice that you can work for up to 22 hours before needing to recharge. A five-minute speed-charge will get you one hour of playback time. A shower and a quick catnap and you’ll be ready to face your next work day.

Networking:

JBL run off a long list of chat apps, including Skype, Zoom, Cisco WebEx, GoToMeeting, and Microsoft Teams. 

Weighing in at 220g, you will forget you’re wearing them. Aimed at the WFH market, and priced at $159.95, you will be pleasantly surprised at the level of comfort they provide. 

The build quality is not luxurious, but the foam padding is in the right places, the head, and the ears. The plasticky feel is soon forgotten about as you field call after call without any discomfort. On a hot day it might be another story, as plastic isn’t really known for its breathable nature. However, on this bright spring afternoon, I slogged away with never a hint of sweaty earlobes. 

One of the only issues I’ve had is the occasional beep interrupting Neil Young’s crooning “The king is gone but he’s not forgotten.” Once again, I suspect this is caused by having to use an external USB hub for the dongle. I am sure that there will be a work-around, but it did not interfere with call quality when I was working.

I have nothing but praise though for the noise-cancelling prowess, which I tested by getting Alexa to play some music while I listened to Crazy Horse through the WFH Wireless Headphones. JBL may well be onto a winner with these very work-friendly headphones.