JLab Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds
Earbuds can cost hundreds of dollars. Very good ones can be had for less than $100. Less than $60 seems like a near-stocking stuffer territory (though the JLab’s well-regarded Go Air Pops fit that bill more closely at $20 with fewer features). That doesn’t mean that $60 earbuds don’t perform well. The JLab Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds make a $60 statement about what a lower-cost earbud can do given access to advanced electronics and a reduced need to pay into a big brand like Sony, Bose or Apple.
What we like
I expected more than the basics with the JLab Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds but was pleasantly surprised by even higher aspirations like touch controls, built-in EQ settings, dual master (you can use either earbud independently), IP55 sweat and water resistance, and over 36 hours of Bluetooth playtime (9 hours, with additional listening time after charging in the case). Charging the 60mAh lithium polymer earbud batteries in the case takes about one and a half hours, with the case taking a couple of hours to charge. The Air Pros also support multi-point, which permits them to attach to more than one Bluetooth device.
And in another surprise, the JLab Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds provide real-time notifications via voice prompts, not just beeps.
And at $59, they include a 2-year warranty and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
The JLab Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds arrive in sustainable cardboard packaging. JLab even refrained from plastic for alternative ear tip storage. The ear tips come in a simple internal box. Not only sustainable but economical. Two thin slivers of plastic cover the earbud’s charging contacts, but that’s it. To demonstrate attention to detail, the box also includes a cardboard retail hook. Even for most ecologically leaning companies, the retail hook proves hard to shake. Kudos to JLab for making the effort. The low price of these buds reflects not only economical component selection but smart packaging.
As for the sound, solid. I consider the audio perky, especially with the JLab Signature Sound EQ invoked. I really enjoy listening to streaming apps from my iPad. I find these buds tuned to my television expectations. I’m pretty sure audiophiles won’t find that endearing, but there are a lot more stream bingers than audiophiles these days and these buds seem tailor-made for that audience.
Don’t get me wrong, they do a fine job with music as well. Again, the Signature Sound EQ works best, though if you are exercising, the Bass Boost EQ might do you better. Keep the flat (balanced) EQ for audiobooks and listening to sports. Atop the EQ settings, the Air Pros also cover latency with Music and Movie modes. And in a node to ANC earbuds, the Air Pros offer Be Aware to let in outside sounds, though this is through its physical sound isolation and not in contrast to active noise cancellation.
I ran through my headphone testing playlist and found much better than expected performance. Rich tones and good frequency response. I did find that they leaned toward tinny. The opening of Michael Jackson’s Beat It, for instance, growled, but the vocals and snares distracted after a while.
EQ, like other features, sits with the earbuds, not with an app. They support play control, EQ choice, digital assistance, and call management. And JLab even includes on-ear detection for auto-pause and play. As with all earbuds, the JLab touches, and taps are unique. Look at the documentation for instructions.
The quirkiest feature of the JLab Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds comes from its pop-out USB charger. It certainly eliminates any worry of losing a charging cable, but it also requires a low-to-the-desk USB port for charging. The design assumes a laptop port or a cable with a female USB-A adapter. Without the right USB-A port, the earbud case will dangle. Those with a USB-C-only laptop will need a USB-C to A adapter.
The charging case’s magnetic closure also shows attention to detail not expected in earbuds in this price range.
I found the JLab Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds comfortable to wear. Their documentation suggests testing all the ear tips to find the best fit. That’s good advice. Given that the Air Pros don’t offer Active Noise Cancelation (ANC) the ear seal becomes an important part of the listening experience.
The package also includes Cush Fins™ that wrap around the earbuds to improve fit. I don’t use them, primarily because of previous experiences including slippage and falling off the earbuds regularly. The fins may offer improved fit and comfort for some.
If fit is an issue, consider buying the JLab $10 Cloud Foam Mnemonic Universal Earbuds Tips for a more secure fit. Personally, I would rather see them increase the price to $65 and include the Cloud Foam tips. There is plenty of margin in Cloud Foam considering the accompanying $59 earbuds require engineering and electronics—and the Cloud Foam tips don’t.
Bluetooth 5.1 rounds out the features, supporting improved signal and distance over earlier implementations (Bluetooth 5.0 and above should now be expected on all headsets).
What could be improved
There are some obviously missing features, but again, at $59, who really expects wireless charging or active noise cancellation (ANC). No one at this time. Perhaps down the road, but not yet.
I would suggest JLABS consider a USB-C adapter in the next iteration.
With only two microphones, call quality isn’t great, they will do in a pinch for video or audio conferencing. These are not earbuds for talking in noisy or windy locations.
JLab also chose not to include aptX support for higher audio quality. There is always a features line on aspirational budget tech that brings high-end features down the value chain. I would rather see aptX than Be Aware.
Another cost savings come from the lack of an app to control the earbuds, but I don’t miss it. I think most apps, even though they control features and download updates, apps also complicate the user experience for personal products like earbuds.
Hard to ask for much from budget earbuds that already offer features way above their price.
JLab Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds: The Bottom Line
AT $59 the JLab Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds’s combination of sophisticated features, immersive sound and solid design makes them one of the better earbuds in the moderate price range. If you stream from a phone or tablet these may make spending money on high-end buds a non-choice.
JLab provided the JLab Air Pro True Wireless Earbuds for review. Images courtesy of JLab.
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