JBL Live Pro+ TWS Earbuds Review: Excellent AirPod Hunters That Almost Seize Upon All Their Ambitions

JBL Live Pro+ TWS Earbuds Review: Excellent AirPod Hunters That Almost Seize Upon All Their Ambitions

JBL Live Pro+ TWS

Design
Features
Value

Summary

An excellent pair of earbuds, the JBL Live Pro+ TWS earbuds deliver outstanding sound, great ANC, solid call quality, and an excellent charging case. IPX4 makes them exercise-friendly. Although they fit well, it takes a bit of time to figure out how to place them in the ears. Lack of verbal confirmation on settings makes accidental button pushes a bit of a mystery. The free app, however, reveals all and offers a wide variety of customizations.

4.7

JBL Live Pro+ TWS earbuds review

Everybody is gunning for Apple’s AirPod Pros. And of course, that everybody includes Harman’s JBL. JBL offers a wide variety of headphones, many of which have been reviewed by Serious Insights. The Live Pro+ TWS earbuds were the best we have tested so far. They deliver amazing sound, a great charging case, but enough quirks to make some buyers think twice.

JBL Live Pro+ TWS exposed

What we like

The rectangular, 1.7-ounce low-slung case fits well in pockets. That’s the first thing you notice. And then there are the iPod-inspired ear danglers. Only they aren’t ear danglers, they are meant to seat at an angle. Get that right and you will find these earbuds comfortable, with good passive noise cancelation.

But the JBL Live Pro+ TWS earbuds are hunting AirPod Pros, so yes, they do have Active Noise Cancelation, and yes, it’s pretty good.

Battery life is good at about 7 hours straight, and over 20 more when charged in the case. Speed charge quickly charges the earbuds so even short periods of time in the case greatly extend the listening time. 10 minutes of charging returns about an hour of listening time. Qi-compatible charging keeps the case conveniently charged or use the included USB-C cable to top off the battery.

The case, one of my favorites, proves easy to open, allows for quick access to the earbuds, and shows charging status without guessing across 3 slash mark LEDs. The earbuds snap in securely via magnets but are easy to remove.

I am less impressed with the built-in Amazon or Hey Google feature. I installed Amazon on my Android phone with Alexa, and though Alexa seemed to answer, it remained mute once I asked a question. I switched to Google Assistant and the headphones now responded to my queries and commands, some of which reach into the basics of the phone, like turning on the flashlight or controlling volume. On iPhone, the button connects to Siri without an issue.

JBL Live Pro+ TWS with case

The JBL headphones App offers a variety of options including three levels of ANC,  ambient sound control, and audio tuned to a use case, such as watching a video or listening to music. It also provides an equalizer.  Settings give control over gestures, automatic power off, the play & pause feature (when removing an earbud from an ear,) which voice assistant to use, the fit analyzer, and a way to find misplaced earbuds. The app also updates firmware when necessary, and acts as a portal to product support literature.

I hung out with the Live Pro’s in a variety of circumstances, from listening to audiobooks in bed to enjoying Apple’s special audio on Apple Music through a Kyocera Android phone. I don’t know if it was the earbuds or the spatial audio, but I found the listening experience as immersive as is possible with such a diminutive pair of audio devices.

Be it Brenda Lee’s Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree or Kelly Clarkson’s Merry Christmas Baby, or Dean Martin’s Rendition of Let it Snow!, the sound was pretty glorious. Kelly sparkled on her admonition of a wandering lover’s Christmas punishment. And Taylor Swift transported me to the Christmas Tree Farm along with her 2019 Jingle Ball audience, I landed with Sarah McLachlan wishing for a River to skate away on. McLachlan’s long-held “fly…..” rang clear and true.

And if you spend more time on conference calls than you do listening to music, fret not, the JBL Live Pro+ integrates noise and wind reduction and beamforming technology with its six microphones (3 per earbud) to yield precise voice to those you are trying to cajole, collaborate with, or comfort.

I found JBL’s tuning met my listening needs. I played with the settings but didn’t find they overtly improved the default listening experience.  I was, however, reminded that Elvis was much better with a Blue Christmas than a white one. Not even the king was the king of every song.

Those looking for exercise-friendly earbuds will be glad to hear the Live Pro+ will resist sweat with an IPX4 rating.

JBL’s Live Pro+ TWS earbuds make a compelling argument for purchase: they deliver rich sound in a diminutive package that supports wireless charging through perhaps the best earbud case on the market.

Live Pro+ TWS earbuds can be purchased in white, black, beige, and pink. And I have to say, the design looks good in the ear.

But the design isn’t flawless. A lack of audio feedback and less than elegant mounting keeps the Live Pro+ TWSs from completely narrowing the gap with Apple’s flagship AirPods. The price difference ($179.99 list, and often steeply discounted) and the flexibility across platforms, however, may lean many buyers in JBL’s direction.

What could be improved

The first thing you need to figure out is how to properly wear the Live Pro+ TWS earbuds. You can’t just let them dangle, they require a forward twist. Once mastered, it makes perfect sense and they remain comfortable for long periods of time, but once mastered, it becomes second nature.

The experience would also improve with voice notification rather than sounds when changing modes, for instance, from ANC to pass through. I have several headphones that verbally let me know what a button push has done to my listening experience. With the JBL Live Pro+ TWS earbuds sounds report a change, but only opening the app provides insight into the result of the action.

JBL Live Pro+ TWS in case

Because the JBL Live Pro+ TWS earbuds employ touch controls, they react to unintentional touches, such as when adjusting fit, leaving the user ignorant of their state without bringing up the app to check the settings.

JBL Live Pro+ TWS: The Bottom Line

I really like the JBL Live Pro+ TWS earbuds. The lack of audio feedback and the need to twist to seat their fit diminishes the experience, but they are minor issues on earbuds that produce outstanding sound. If you like JBL’s products these earbuds are a no-brainer (despite their proximity to your brain). They are a good value at their price range, perhaps even punching a cut above.


JBL provided the Live Pro+ TWS earbuds for review. Images courtesy of JBL.

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Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.

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