JBL Soundgear Frames audio glasses – Hey, let the sunshine in (AV review)

The JBL Soundgear Frames are audio sunglasses, and with apologies to the Age of Aquarius, you, too, can enjoy music while the sun shines in.

The concept of wearable Bluetooth audio sunglasses or ‘sun speakers’ is not new. Bose led the way with its Frames, but at $400-500 a pair with a serious Blues Brothers design, it is no wonder they were discontinued.

JBL Soundgear Frames has taken a different approach. A more youth-focused design with a choice of round or square frames and a far lower entry price of $169.95. From our review tests, these have improved battery life (8 hours), audio fidelity (always an issue with open-sound speakers) and better hands-free speaker use. No, they don’t have spy cameras like Facebook’s Ray-Bans, which should be banned.

Australian review – JBL Soundgear Frames as reviewed model JBLSNDGEARFMSSABR (square)

WebsiteJBL Wearables
Quick Start Guide
FromJBL Online and JB Hi-Fi shortly.
Warranty1-year ACL
Made inNot specified
CompanyJBL (Est. the mid-40s) is short for James B Lansing. (Yes, he was the Lansing in Altec Lansing.) It is now part of the Harman group of companies owned by Samsung.
MoreCyberShack JBL news and reviews

We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass(able) rating that is not as good as it should be and a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed. You can click on most images for an enlargement.

We are also tightening up on grading. From now on, Pass, for example, means meeting expectations for the price bracket. A Pass Mark is now 70+/100, with extra points added for class-leading and excellence.

First Impression – trendy – you will either love or hate them

They come in durable, flexible, hypoallergenic, lightweight, translucent Thermoplastic (TR90) in amber, pearl, or onyx and are (L x W x H)

  • Square: 160.21 mm x 152.54 mm x 50.83 mm x about 50g.
  • Round: 160.87mm x 150.54mm x 53.68mm x about 50g

In case you don’t know, these are designed for larger faces – If you have a smaller or narrower face, try them on first.

Basic specs

  • Left and right down-firing (towards the ear) 25 x 9mm 100Hz-18kHz drivers
  • Beamforming 2-mic array on one temple
  • IP54 – rain resistant
  • BT 5.2 and fast pair for Android and Windows. SBC and AAC codecs are 16-bit/44100Hz. It is not multipoint—you must unpair to go to another device.
  • 2 x 55mAh Lithium battery (each arm has a USB-C charge port requiring a USB-A to doubleheader USB-C cable). 2-hour charge (5V/1A/5W or any PD charger) for approx. 8 hours of play. Ten minutes gives two hours of play.
  • Lenses are polycarbonate UV blocking, or prescription lenses can be fitted (Stainless steel SUS316 hinges with Allen key release)
  • Power on/off – open/close arms
  • Volume up/down – tap the JBL logo on the left or right arm.
  • LED light on each arm denotes BT and battery state
  • Faux leather carry case

The App – JBL Headphones for Android and iOS

The app automatically updates the firmware. It features:

  • EQ with Jazz, vocal, bass, club, studio, extreme bass or custom. It shows what the EQ looks like in each setting.
  • Gestures (Left): Volume up/down and hold for voice assistant. During calls, a double tap answers/hangs a call, and holding rejects or mutes
  • Gestures (Right): Play/Pause, next/previous tracks
  • Smart mode in-app for audio or movies (also improved lip sync)
  • Left and Right sound balance (you would be surprised how many people have mismatched ear volumes)
  • Voice prompt languages
  • Power saving – manual or after idle.

Interestingly, it asks you to agree to privacy and terms of use, but there is no place to set up an account or sign in, making the policies pretty benign.

How do they sound?

They can reach 76 dB at your ear which is very good. They are not overly ‘loud’ like headphones because the audio is open sound, and you can hear your surroundings.

They have a wide sound stage—a few centimetres outside your head. That is even wider with Dolby Atmos content, which provides a sense of 3D surround and height. There is good left/right separation and directionality.

We can now test the native sound signature of most buds. These are good for their intended purpose.

Deep Bass 20-40HzNil
Middle Bass 40-100HzNil. It misses the most critical bass, where you get all the musically important bass.
High Bass 100-200HzSlow build to 200Hz
Low Mid 200-400HzContinuing slow build
Mid 400-1kHzFlattening
High Mid 1-2kHzFlat – Where the action is. It covers the human voice (1-4khz) – a critical area for clear dialogue.
Low Treble 2-4kHzFlat – ditto
Mid Treble 4-6kHzFlat – this defines sound character as dull, crisp, dynamic, etc.
High Treble 6-10kHzBig dip to avoid harshness
Dog Whistle 10-20kHzChoppy to 18kHz.
VolumeLoud enough but not overly loud.
Sound Signature typeMid: (bass recessed, mid boosted, treble recessed) – for clear voice. The EQ can recess but not boost frequencies.
Soundstage stereoThe open back means it is wider than your ears. It has excellent left/right separation.
Soundstage Dolby AtmosIf your host device decodes Dolby Atmos, you get an authentic 3D Height, surround spatial sound, and a far wider sound stage.
Sound leakageYes
Hands-freeCallers commented that my voice was clear and natural. However, without substantial noise or wind reduction, you need to use these in a quieter place.
CommentIt is what it is. I enjoyed using them on a morning walk, but remember what they are designed for.
ReadHow to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide).  

CyberShack’s view – JBL Soundgear Frames audio glasses are affordable wearables

I think it is important to remember the words fit for purpose’’. These are for music on the go – not ANC or audiophile headphones.

Music quality is naturally mid-centric, but there is a hint of bass and treble to make music on the run quite pleasant. Due to the mid-focus, hands-free use is great, and as long as you are not in a windy or noisy place, you will be very satisfied.

JBL knows the market well – it does not do fails’’. At $169.95, it is well-priced, has great tech, and appeals to the trendy set.


For 2024 ratings, we use 70 100 as a pass mark. Older reviews used 80 100, leaving little headroom to reward excellence or class-leading features.

  • Features: 80 – decent volume, mid-centric sound signature, 8-hours use.
  • Value: 85 – While you can buy cheap generics, none has the build quality or JBL pedigree.
  • Performance: 80 – Provided you take it in the context of a wearable device
  • Ease of Use: 75 – While you don’t need the app to use it as a Bluetooth sound device, you will need it for fine-tuning.
  • Design: 80 – It is polarising but highly functional. All the electronics are in the two arms, leaving the glasses alone to use prescription lenses if required. A third, more conservative and smaller design would be welcome for the petite user.

JBL Soundgear Frames audio sunglasses








Ease of use





  • Sound meets or exceeds what is expected of audio glasses
  • Hands-free meets or exceeds what is expected
  • 8 hours of use is achievable, and two hours of charge time is acceptable
  • Well-made with a JBL pedigree


  • Big frame for a big face
  • USB-A-USB-C Y-cable is not a standard off-the-shelf one – don’t lose it