JBL is a big brand for audio, and for the most part, the company makes some killer products. In recent months, the brand has also been working with Google quite a lot to integrate Assistant into some of its products. Lately, I’ve been trying out a couple of headphones with Google Assistant built-in, so let’s take a closer look.

JBL Everest 110GA

Giving the Pixel Buds a run for their money

The first product I’ve been testing out lately, and my favorite of the two, is a pair of wireless neckbuds called the Everest 110GA. These wireless earbuds don’t have much special at a glance, but I think they’re pretty excellent.

JBL’s Everest 110GA, first and foremost, are headphones designed for being active, and I think they’re pretty good for that use case. The light weight of the earbuds and inline remote aren’t intrusive and once you get the right fit on the earbuds, they actually stay in your ear quite well. Of course, if the fit isn’t just right, they’ll fall out pretty easily, as I ran into a lot before swapping out the tips.

As for audio quality, these headphones deliver what you’d expect from JBL. They have clear sound and punchy bass, but I wouldn’t say they’re anything crazy. My best comparison would be to say that they sound a lot like Apple’s AirPods, but they have better noise isolation and stronger lows.

Pushing the standard stuff aside, though, the highlight of these headphones is how they integrate with an Android phone, and specifically Google Assistant. Right away, these use Google’s special pairing method which skips the annoying Bluetooth menus for a simple “Tap to Connect” button. That also means you can update firmware and see battery percentages directly from the Google app instead of installing another app on your phone.

Better yet, you can access Assistant easily on these headphones. Like Google’s Pixel Buds, Assistant is baked in. It triggers instantly when you press the button on the remote and works very well. As usual, I also appreciate the notification ability and being able to call up my latest notifications and events with a quick tap.

For $79 or $99, depending on if you catch a sale, I can absolutely recommend these. They’re simply fantastic.

JBL Everest 710GA

Hard to recommend despite its bright spots

For a different form factor, JBL also offers this same functionality with the Everest 710GA which are a pair of on-ear headphones. To be frank, I’ll say right off the bat that I’m not much of a fan of these headphones. Even with their sale price of $199, I think they’re overpriced for their sound and build quality, but they have a few redeeming qualities.

The Assistant integration is the big highlight of the Everest 710GA. JBL has opted to use touch panels on the sides of these headphones to trigger the Assistant, among other functions, and it works really well. It feels natural to access and works pretty reliably too. I also love that these headphones can use the “Tap to Connect” pairing method with Android devices. The included carrying case is also pretty sweet.

However, a lot of that is overshadowed. The build quality here feels incredibly cheap. The plastic is unforgiving both in its looks and its feel in hand, and they are unsettlingly light as well. I’d be able to forgive that if the sound quality was pretty good, but sadly it’s just alright.

The sound quality here is best described as muddled, with highs that just don’t sound right. The first few times I used these headphones, I thought something was wrong with my connection because the sound was so off. JBL generally doesn’t disappoint when it comes to sound quality, but these seem to be an exception. If you catch these at a killer sale, they might be worthwhile, but I can’t recommend them for anything near their retail pricing.

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Ben Schoon

Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

Find him on Twitter @NexusBen. Send tips to schoon@9to5g.com or encrypted to benschoon@protonmail.com.