JBL Tune 215TWS
JBL fit a lot of sound into their rather simple AirPod inspired JBL Tune 215TWS earbuds. Enjoyable basic earbuds that won’t break budgets or intertragical notches.
JBL Tune 215TWS bring Apple’s AirPod inspired style, but at fraction of the cost. Less expensive does results in trade-offs, such as Apple unique features, an IP rating, and active noise cancelation (ANC), but these earbuds offer great sounds and a good user experience.
What we like
I was skeptical about the ear dangles associated with Apple AirPods. But since I regularly receive great true wireless earbuds for review, I have not invested in a pair of Apple’s earbuds. JBL’s $69.95 Tune 215TWS proved a pleasent surprise as they fit lightly, felt balanced, and offered all expected features at a price that will fit most pocket books.
Power and charging
Like most true wireless headsets, the JBL Tune 215TWSs run about 5 hours on a single change, with the included charging case adding another 20 hours of top off. The cases charges via USB-C. Indicator lights on the earbuds indicate low battery and charging status. Front-facing lights on the case announce its charge state. The case and earbuds will charge to full in about 2-hours.
The charging case is larger than that of some competitors, but it isn’t too large for a pocket. Magnetic latching secures the earbuds to the charging port. Unlike some earbuds, the finish makes it easy to extract the 215TWSs from the case.
JBL promised bass on the package, and they deliver it. But the highs and mid-ranges still come through clearly. If you know the JBL sound profile, then you know what to expect from these earbuds.
JBL specs state 20-20,000Hz for frequency response from the 6mm drivers. Unlike some other JBL headphones, the TWSs don’t get support from the JBL Connect app, which is OK. App customization often lead to more confusion and complexity than it does to a better listening experience. I would rather see headphones tuned to take queues from the mobile OS.
I recently downloaded the Steely Dan Remastered A Decade of Steely Dan from Apple Music and found the experience very pleasurable. I felt surrounded. Much better than the sound coming out of my old BMW as I drove the freeways of LA with this album cranked up 20-years ago. The tracks were clean, and instruments easy to separate, and the stage open enough to invite me in.
The 215 TWSs don’t include ANC, which I would not expect at this point in time, for this price point. In my home office, without multiple video conferencing going on around me, the passive isolation blocked enough sound to put me in a good musical headspace. The sound profile remains consistent at high and low volumes.
And BTW, phone calls work well for listening and talking.
I felt a bit silly before reading the manual as I tried to touch and stroke the earbud to make them perform. When nothing happened, I went back and read the manual.
The JBL Tune 215TWSs eschew gesture sensors for actual buttons. The right button answers calls and pauses music, the left skips to the next song. A double-tap on the right envokes the primary voice assistant. A 2-second hold mutes or unmutes. A 5-second hold brings up Bluetooth connection mode, and a triple tap sends the pair of earbuds in search of each other should stereo get lost.
Although that may sound complicated, my experience once paired involves powering the earbuds on by lifting them from the case and answering the phone with a tap—or just putting them in my ears and hitting play.
Unlike many wireless earbuds, the JBL Tune 215TWS feature dual connect, which means either earbud acts as master. It doesn’t matter which you stick in your ear to pickup a call. Either will work, and continue to work should the other be removed.
Bluetooth 5 support brings with it improved sound and more distance from the host device.
And I like the springy sound the meet the ear as the headphones connect to a device.
3 sizes of silicon ear tips and a USB-C cable round out the package.
What can be improved
Budget headphones should not be judged against their more expensive counterparts. While the JBL Tune 215TWS don’t include ANC or a bevy of gesture sensors—those features drive up the cost, and therefore the price. Affordable earbuds bring with them affordable features.
That said, I would like to see JBL offer an IP rating. Any device as exposed as earbuds needs to be able to deal with the exposure, especially for those of us in places like Seattle that run pretty damp most of the year.
JBL Tune 215TWS: The Bottom Line
The JBL Tune 215TWS will travel with me often. I trade-off my headphones to put review units through longer studies—and I update reviews when I experience new pleasures, or encounter previously undocumented problems. What I like most about the JBL Tune 215TWS is that I can just put them in my ears and go. Anyone seeking a good true wireless earbud experience on a budget should put the 215TWSs on their short list.
JBL provided the product for review. Images courtesy of JBL.
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