Skip to main content

Review: The JBL Live Pro+ TWS give you the bass, just not all the basics

If your ears like good bass and care little for the mics, the JBL Live Pro+ TWS fit the bill.

Let's get one thing out of the way from the start: The JBL Live Pro+ TWS look like AirPod clones, but aren't cheap AirPod clones, and that matters because they do have their own sound. A sound certainly filled with more bass than Apple's earbuds often manage, and the ancillary features suggest JBL's earbuds belong in the conversation with other pairs in the same price range.

It's obvious what the play is here, and that's to be an alternative that looks and sounds better. Except times have changed, and the wireless earbud category has never seen this much competition before. Does JBL's pair here stand out as a leader, or as another pair to join the club of decent performers looking to carve out their own place in the market?

JBL Live Pro+ TWS

Bottom line: JBL prioritizes the kind of sound it figures most ears would probably like, and while that mostly works out well, there are nagging caveats that come with everything else. They are fixable, though, so it will depend on if future firmware updates set things right.

The Good

  • Excellent audio quality
  • Comfortable fit
  • Decent ANC performance
  • More direct voice assistant access
  • Okay battery life
  • Good app support

The Bad

  • Finicky touch controls
  • Inconsistent call quality
  • Random audio cutouts

$176 at Amazon

JBL Live Pro+ TWS: Price and availability

JBL launched the Live Pro+ TWS in April 2021, making them available for $180. The price has barely moved since then, save for a few bucks shaved off here or there. They won't be hard to find now that they're available, and you will be able to choose from black or white color variants.

JBL Live Pro+ TWS: What's good

These aren't the kind of earbuds that come with a lot of fanfare. They're not coming to market with a brand new feature no one has ever seen, nor with a design that looks or feels all that original. It's hard to even find a particular type of user or use case that the Live Pro+ TWS would even specialize in. That's the foundation setting up what is ultimately an unremarkable pair.

And that's okay because it's less an indictment against JBL and more a reflection of what the proverbial sandbox looks like today. The Live Pro+ TWS were built with leisure lifestyles in mind. How do I know that? The lack of any serious "proofing" of any kind. Well, that's not entirely true. The IPX4 rating isn't something to scoff at, though it does ensure that these earbuds aren't going to fall under a ruggedized category in any way. You could get away with some workouts, but overly sweaty runs in the hot sun? Best to wear something different. And keep them away from too much water.

JBL uses a set of ear tips that come in five different sizes, and among them are similar sizes that are either shallow or deeper. More manufacturers should consider making tips like this because getting a good seal for certain ears may not require wearing the deepest pair. Sometimes, shallower tips produce better results. There's good variety here to find at least one pair that can do it.

The charging case is a modest size, veering toward the smaller variety. Easy to pocket and looking good to boot, you can also charge it up on a Qi wireless charging pad. It offers three additional charges to the one the earbuds hold, so we're looking at 28 hours of total rated time. That's with active noise cancelation (ANC) off. Turn it on, and the number only drops to 24 hours total. That's up to six hours per charge with ANC on, which isn't bad, depending on how loud you go with the volume.

What's interesting about the audible shift is that it places more of an emphasis on the My JBL Headphones app and its included EQ.

It's clear JBL prioritized the audio sensory features in the Live Pro+ TWS to make the point that they are just as good as any other pair in their ballpark. ANC is better than I expected it to be, but I was surprised at how much the mode affected audio playback. It alters the equalizer considerably, muffling mids, moderating lows, and tweaking highs. The onboard ANC does a good job holding off low-frequency sounds, doing its best with the tougher high-frequency ones.

What's interesting about the audible shift is that it emphasizes the My JBL Headphones app and its included EQ. There are only three presets, but the basic EQ is also at your disposal, letting you create and save your own presets. I created one or two for precisely the moments where I had ANC or Ambient Aware on. The variance in presets offset any shift these modes caused. For instance, even with the included presets, Bass and Jazz sound very different depending on whether you have ANC on or not. The best way to get the most out of how these earbuds sound is to utilize what the app gives you.

Despite the audio lifeline from the app, there are some things JBL doesn't mention. The first, is the lack of codec support. There's no AAC or aptX at all, leaving the standard SBC as the only one around. Most times, I would take issue with that kind of omission, but these earbuds manage to get away with it.

The touch controls are hit or miss, which is hardly surprising to me. JBL joins a club chock full of other vendors who continue to struggle to figure out how to get it right. It's not that they're awful on these earbuds — they're not — it's just that they aren't all that reliable. Key to it all is remembering what's assigned to the left and right earbuds, which is how I ended up either not answering an incoming call or mistakenly turning on TalkThru when I was only trying to skip to the next song.

JBL Live Pro+ TWS: What's not good

Two pervasive issues popped up with a degree of regularity that troubled me for a pair of earbuds at this price. First were the audio drops and hiccups that I would randomly get while listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. I couldn't figure out what was causing them because there was no pattern to discern. It wasn't an issue of distance, nor of obstructions getting in the way. They would happen 15 feet away or a mere 30 centimeters away in a pocket or in hand.

There were times when they didn't happen at all, like on a walk outside, whereas just lounging in the backyard would somehow cause one. I'm not clear on what was doing it, as I experienced the same thing when pairing the earbuds with another phone.

I've rarely seen this kind of swing in call performance in a pair of earbuds.

Then there were phone calls. I found them to be a mixed bag, where those I spoke to couldn't hear me clearly, or I couldn't always make them out. In one instance, the connection went so awry that it sounded like a dying robot was on the other end of the call. What was baffling about all this was that some calls were really smooth, with no complaints on either end. I've rarely seen this kind of swing in call performance in a pair of earbuds.

JBL gives Google Assistant and Alexa plenty of runway, and you can pick among them in the app. Once selected, you have the voice assistant you'd prefer to use, not necessarily the one already running on the paired phone.

JBL Live Pro+ TWS: Competition

You will find more than one pair of earbuds in JBL's lineup. JBL headphones come in a variety of designs and options. The Live Pro+ TWS won't make the best wireless earbuds list, but they do hold their own, and could certainly benefit from a firmware update or two.

For something similar, and with a lot of upsides, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro already present themselves as serious competitors. On a tighter budget, you would find the Jaybird Vista a worthy alternative, especially when you dive into the excellent app and deep EQ features there.

JBL Live Pro+ TWS: Should you buy it?

You should buy this if ...

  • You want truly wireless earbuds
  • You want ANC and ambient modes
  • You want to be comfortable
  • You like having an app with EQ

You shouldn't buy this if...

  • You want dependable call quality
  • You get impatient with cutouts
  • You're not clamoring for more bass
  • You're willing to spend more

Remember when I said the JBL Live Pro+ TWS were unremarkable? It's because they don't do any one feature that much better than a competitor's pair of earbuds might. But that doesn't make them unworthy of your attention. You might like the sound signature, including how you can tweak it. The app's presence is huge, as is the usefulness of that EQ. With a comfortable build and decent battery life, JBL does check off some important boxes here.

Still, the issues I encountered aren't pervasive amongst other pairs in the same price range. The finicky touch controls are an exception because you're less likely to find a pair that does them all smoothly, but Bluetooth hiccups and inconsistent phone calls aren't signs of audio prowess. You may find success wearing a pair of these, but until JBL addresses these things, these earbuds won't stand out enough.

JBL Live Pro+ TWS

Bottom line: The JBL Live Pro+ TWS are good earbuds that play well almost all the time, and when they don't, it's probably for reasons that JBL should be able to fix. With solid audio performance and pretty steady battery life, they rise above the negatives, though not quite high enough to stand out from the rest of the crowd.

$176 at Amazon

Source: androidcentral

Popular posts from this blog

How to watch England vs New Zealand: Live stream 2nd Test series cricket on

With the first Test ending in a draw, the series is on a knife edge at Edgbaston, as Joe Root's side look to put off the field controversies to one side and claim a much needed win against the Kiwis. Don't miss a single ball of the 2nd Test with our England vs New Zealand live stream guide below. The series has been somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of offensive historic tweets posted by Ollie Robinson who made his debut in the opening Test but has since been suspended. With the controversy still brewing amid interventions from politicians and accusations leveled at other members of the team, Root has a battle on his hands to keep his side focused on the game ahead. One positive for Root coming into the game is that they'll be playing in front of a near capacity crowd at Egbaston, with the overwhelming majority of the expected 18,000 spectators set to be cheering on the home side. The tourists have been delivered a huge blow coming intot his final match, with s

6 things Apple stole from Android at WWDC— and one that Google should steal

Every year, Apple and Google trade ideas for their newest versions of iOS and Android, respectively. But this year, during Apple's WWDC 2021, it seems like Apple purloined more than a few ideas that Google's integrated into Android over the last few years. Millions of iOS users won't get their hands on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 until later this year, so until then, we don't know until then how the new features will fare in the real world. For now, here's a tongue-in-cheek look at six features Apple, um, borrowed from Android with its latest software releases. Jump to: iPad widgets and app drawer Live Text Apple Maps AR navigation iOS notifications New Siri capabilities Apple Photos Bonus: What Google needs to steal iPad widgets and app drawer iPad OS 15 introduced two big new updates for the iPad home screen today: widgets and the App Library. If you think this sounds awfully familiar, there's a good reason for that. 2020's iOS 14 introduced both

Best Roku Stick deals May 2021: $30 off Roku Ultra, Streambar and more

Transforming nearly any TV into a smart TV is affordable and easy with a Roku streaming stick. These tiny devices plug into your TV's HDMI port to unlock access to a world of streaming services, live TV channels, and other apps that will never leave you without entertainment. While prices are rather comparable to its main competition, the Amazon Fire TV Stick , Roku's devices have a few interesting features you won't find on a Fire stick. Roku Ultra - HD/4K/HDR/Dolby Vision with Dolby Atmos | $31 off at Amazon The Roku Ultra is the fastest, most powerful Roku streaming device so far, and it's even compatible with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos for a more cinematic experience. It has a better wireless range than other models as well. Today's deal saves you over $30 off its regular price. $69 at Amazon Once you've plugged in your new Roku streaming device, you can download the Roku app and use it as a remote or even plug headphones into your phone and listen to

EU calls out Google, Amazon, & Apple for 'unfair competition' in IoT market

The report blames the lack of interoperability in the consumer IoT sector on the prevalence of proprietary technology and lack of common standards. What you need to know The European Commission has published the preliminary results of its inquiry into the consumer Internet of Things (IoT) sector. The report has identified a few potential concerns, including prevalence of proprietary technology and accumulation of large amounts of data by "providers of smart device operating systems." The European Commission is expected to publish its final report in the first half of 2022. The European Commission today shared the initial findings of its consumer Internet of Things (IoT) sector inquiry. The inquiry was launched in July last year as part of its digital strategy. Along with confirming the rapid growth of the Internet of Things market, the report highlights a few potential concerns with regards to the "current functioning of consumer IoT markets, as well as to th