JBL's New Headphones Use Pro DSP to Sound Like a Live Performance

JBL's new line of Synchros headphones use proprietary digital signal processing (DSP) that supposedly leverages the company's experience with professional gear to make the speakers hanging off your head sound like the musicians are on stage in front of you.

On paper, JBL's over-ear S700 headphones are an intriguing concept. Usually, battery-powered "LiveStage" DSP installed directly into headphones would set off alarms as an idea that's not going to work. Or at the very least, it's a technology that's not necessary if you've got a well-designed pair of headphones. You see, a binaural recording that's properly mixed should create the effect of a 3D space when it's played back through an accurate set of cans (or speakers, etc). In consumer products, this type of DSP is typically used by crummy-sounding products like tiny bluetooth speakers that need to compensate for their own deficiencies by altering a recording.

But coming from JBL, we're inclined to at least hear the cans out. Besides JBL's more familiar consumer kit, the company has a storied professional audio line that outfits everything from professional concert venues to Dolby's spec screening rooms in New York and San Francisco. In other words, the company's professional chops are real. Whether or not this DSP is a bunch of hot air is another question entirely.

The S700s cost $350 sport 50mm drivers, and come with iPhone or Android remote. They're available now. A lighter S500 model will arrive in November for $300. [JBL]