JBL is a big name in the whole audio field. It’s reach extends from PA systems and studio suites to home systems big and small and automotive. So big in fact, you could easily miss its importance thanks to its ubiquity; the brand is featured in Toyota premium in car systems (other names in the Harman stable, such as Infinity and Mark Levinson are used as premium line-fit systems in a range of cars including Kia and Lexus), but more recently JBL has begun to appear in Ferraris!
The company isn’t perhaps the go-to name for headphones – the JBL brand has been closer associated with docks and iThing speaker systems since the iPod and iPhone became synonymous with audio on the move – with sister Harman brand AKG taking most of the credit for high-end headphone audio. With its new five-strong Synchros line, however, JBL is trying to bring its reputation for scientific research to the in-head world.
During the company’s combined Synchros launch and start of the brand’s Journey of Sound, Harman’s Director of Acoustic Research – Dr Sean Olive – gave a fascinating presentation about just how little research has gone into headphone sound, how we listen through headphones, how much of the whole headphone experience is driven by marketing today (like we didn’t know, but it’s good to put some stats behind the hype-breaking) and how JBL is attempting to create a target response of a headphone to approximate that of an accurate loudspeaker in a well-designed listening room.