JBL Reference 610 Wireless iPod Headphones Review

JBL Reference 610 Wireless iPod Headphones

 image credit: JBL

Works With

  • Any device with a standard headphone jack (for non-Bluetooth use)
  • iPods with Dock Connector
  • 7th gen. iPod nano

The Good

  • Great wireless features
  • High-quality sound
  • Terrific accessories kit

The Bad

  • Doesn't work well with all cases
  • Slight sound distortions in some cases via Bluetooth

The Price

US$249.95 

It only makes sense that, in our increasingly wireless world, many iPod users will soon be using wireless headphones. To that end, more and more wireless headphones are hitting the market, and JBL's new Reference 610 Bluetooth wireless headphones—though I have a few quibbles with them—these are a great entry in this market.

The Reference 610s surround your ears, unlike the earbuds that are so common to iPod users. And though they can be used with an included headphone cord that plugs into the iPod, they're designed for wireless use via a Bluetooth adapter. A small dongle plugs into the Dock Connector at the bottom of the iPod to broadcast its signal to the headphones. And as long as your headphones are charged, that's where the real fun starts.

Simple Pairing and Wireless Controls

A simple pairing Bluetooth process connects the headphones and iPod and you're off and running—up to 10 feet or perhaps a bit more. Being able to listen to an iPod across the room without cables is pretty neat. And, because the Bluetooth dongle doesn't drain the iPod's battery too fast, you'll be listening for hours.

Even cooler is that the Reference 610s have iPod controls built into them that let you run your iPod wirelessly. You can raise and lower volume, of course, but you can also skip songs, pause, or even browse through menus (though this is harder to do well when you can't see the screen) right from the headphones themselves.

Sound Quality and Occasional Problems

When you're not mashing buttons for the novelty of wireless control, you'll likely be enjoying the high-quality sound produced by the Reference 610s. The overall sound quality is rich and detailed, with high notes coming through clearly and bass sounding deep and heavy. Sound quality, though, is also where one of my only quibbles with the headphones comes in. In particularly dynamic sections of songs, there is sometimes a tiny rattle or sketchiness to the sound over Bluetooth. This doesn’t happen when using the headphone cable. Still, this doesn’t appear in every song and is a fairly minor artifact.

My only other concern is in regard to cases. Because the Bluetooth dongle attaches to the dock connector, it can cause a problem fitting in some iPod cases. With most cases, the dongle will connect and broadcast, but it rarely fits completely and often feels not entirely secure. This is worth thinking about if you expect to be broadcasting your tunes from a bag or purse.

The accessories that come with the Reference 610s are impressive. Along with the headphone cable (especially useful if your headphones run out of juice), it includes a hard case and a suite of international power adapters, making sure that your headphones can rock no matter where you are in the world.

The Bottom Line

While the over-the-ear look may not be the fashion statement that some people are looking to make, the JBL Reference 610 wireless iPod headphones offer great sound, no wires, and thoughtful accessories. If you’re in the market for wireless headphones, these should be on your list.