When it comes to earbuds, JBL’s usual modus operandi is to offer a product that gives the best-of-the-best a run for their money (at a cheaper price point). The Live Pro 2 TWS (Pro 2’s) earbuds continue this trend, but this time JBL has gone one-step further.
With previous entries into the earbud market, there was a discrepancy between the cheaper JBL earbuds and their more expensive counterparts. A specific feature may have been missing, or particular capabilities weren’t quite as good as the top-of-the-range products. The Pro 2’s bridge that gap; there’s a lot on offer here.
The Pro 2’s produce very good audio, the ANC is on par with more expensive earbuds, they have a decent battery life, and the JBL Headphones’ companion app is user-friendly and practical. They also have advanced features like auto play/pause, VoiceAware for phone calls and voice assistant capabilities.
While I wouldn’t put them at the top of my best earbuds list – the touch controls aren’t great, and the soundstage isn’t quite as wide as other earbuds – for $300, it’s hard to look past JBL’s Live Pro 2 earbuds. They’re a well-rounded and affordable pair of earbuds.
- Great price
- Good ANC
- Decent 8-hour battery
- Advanced features usually reserved for more expensive earbuds
- Frustrating touch controls
- Don’t produce as good audio as others
JBL’s Live Pro 2 TWS earbuds cost $300. This is the same starting price as their predecessors, the Live Pro+
It’s a good price. And is on par with other earbuds like the $300 NuraTrue Wireless Earbuds and the $265 Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro and significantly cheaper than top-of-the-range earbuds like the $479 Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) or the $400 Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.
The Pro 2’s have a familiar design. They look very similar to their predecessors boasting the same stem and bud style synonymous with many earbuds, mainly Apple’s AirPods. They’re very comfortable, functional and user-friendly.
These are bulky earbuds. The stem is thick and long, and the bulb is more prominent than others. Neither of these were an issue, but they’re less subtle than other competitors.
The earbuds come with three different size silicone tips, small, medium and large. This is standard in the industry, and it’s enough to find a comfortable fit for most ears. I particularly appreciated the “Check My Best Fit” test in the JBL Headphones app. This plays a short sound and tests whether the earbuds are sitting correctly. It allowed me to quickly figure out which size tip was right for me.
The Pro 2’s come in four colours, Metallic, Black, Pink and Blue. All of them look good, and we were given the Black version for our review device.
The Pro 2’s boast an IPX5 resistance rating. This means they’re sweat resistant but not waterproof. They’ll survive a sweaty workout or run, but I wouldn’t advise washing them in the sink. It’s a way off the Jabra Elite 7 Pro’s and their IP57 resistance rating, which allows them to survive dust and sand, but it’s better than Apple’s AirPods with their IPX4 rating.
The touch controls aren’t great. They’re a little delayed, and the customisation options are poor. Instead of customising each input individually, you set each earbud to one of three groups of inputs. These are Ambient Sound Control, Volume Control and Playback & Voice Assistant Control.
Most of the time, I want to be able to turn the volume up and down with my earbuds whilst being able to play, pause and skip tracks. To accommodate this, I set the left earbud to the Volume Control preset and the right earbud to the Playback & Voice Assistant preset. The problem was this configuration meant I could no longer change between noise-cancelling modes. To do that with touch controls, I had to have one earbud configured to the Ambient Sound Control preset. It felt like I had to sacrifice something no matter how I had them set up. I would have much rather replaced the touch-and-hold voice assistant function with ANC on/off, but frustratingly you can’t do that.
Physically inputting touch commands is relatively standard. Tap once for pause, twice for skip track, and three times for the previous track. Similarly, you can tap once to switch between noise cancelling and ambient awareness, twice for TalkThru mode on/ off and hold to initiate your chosen voice assistant. Volume controls were an issue. There’s no slide function to turn the volume up or down. Instead, you have to tap once for volume up or twice for volume down. I had to tap the earbud many times to get the volume where I wanted it to be. Not ideal.
The case is a standard earbud case. At 48g, it’s light and easy to fit in your pocket. I found the lid was a bit flimsy, and its plastic feels relatively cheap compared to others like the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, but it does the job.
For $300 earbuds, the Pro 2’s boasted better audio capabilities than I expected. While they don’t quite produce the same size soundstage and clarity of the best-of-the-best, the Sony WF-1000XM4, at this price, they’re impressive.
They don’t sound tinny or distorted at high volumes. They’re well-balanced and can produce a decent level of bass.
Listening to bass-heavy tracks like Blow Yr Head by Asher Roth or My Bass Hits Harder by Power Supply sounded good. The bass came through punchy and present without distorting other sounds in the mix.
The earbuds also lent themselves well to other genres. Vocals came through clearly in tracks like Gone by Phil Cook and About Today by The National. The only area where they weren’t as good as other earbuds is in the soundstage. The audio didn’t sound as complete as other earbuds. But that wasn’t a significant issue.
You can EQ the audio to your liking within the excellent JBL Headphones app to get the sound exactly as you want. It’s an effective 10-band equaliser allowing you to alter certain frequencies precisely. There are some presets to choose from as well, Jazz, Vocal, Bass, Club and Studio. Bass really showed off the earbuds’ capabilities, while others didn’t make much difference. Of course, you can make your own preset as well.
The ANC is more than capable. Easily able to cancel out surrounding sounds like the fan in my office or the air conditioning unit in my room. As an extreme test, I clapped my hands repeatedly, roughly one metre in front of me, and I could barely hear it. It’s impressive and will easily cancel chatter or outside noise on a bus or train.
You can customise the ANC within the app. You can turn adaptive ANC on, which automatically adjusts the ANC based on surrounding noise levels. You can also turn on/off leakage compensation which adjusts the ANC based on sound leakage and accommodates your ear canal. This all works well. The ANC effectively adjusts based on your ears and environment.
The earbuds also support JBL’s Ambient Aware, allowing you to hear outside noise using the built-in microphones. They pick it up and play it through the earbuds. It works exactly as it should. It’s fine.
There’s also TalkThru which turns the audio volume way down and plays outside sounds via the mics again. This allows you to talk to someone without being interrupted. Again this works as you’d expect.
For a $300 pair of earbuds, I was impressed by the number of features on offer here.
VoiceAware controls how much of your voice you can hear during calls. For some people, talking on the phone with ANC can be uncomfortable because you can’t hear your voice. VoiceAware changes that. You can adjust how much of your voice you can hear in the JBL Headphones app, removing that uncomfortable feeling. It works well.
In the app, you can also change between Audio and Video modes. Audio mode provides the best quality when listening to podcasts or music, while video mode assists with video performance, helping to ensure audio is in time with spoken words and aiding in removing any lip-sync issues. This worked fine. There weren’t many instances where I felt I needed to change between them; however it was nice to know it was there.
They support autoplay/pause, in which the audio will stop playing if you take both earbuds out. This worked very well. Also, you can listen to music through one earbud if need be.
There’s voice assistant support here as well; however the earbuds are only compatible with Alexa and Siri.
With adaptive ANC on, the Pro 2’s last around 8 hours of playback. With standard ANC on, it drops to around 6 hours. As usual, this depends on usage, though, like all earbuds, higher volumes use more battery.
This is respectable, boasting roughly the same battery life as the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen), but it’s not quite as good as the 8-hour capacity of Sony’s WF-1000XM4 earbuds.
The case holds an extra three charges adding up to a total of around 40 hours of battery, and it takes about two hours to charge the case fully via the USB-C port.
The case is also Qi compatible, and there’s an LED light on the front to show how many charges it has left, which is a nice touch.
JBL gets a lot right with the Live Pro 2 TWS earbuds. The standout here is the price. These are significantly cheaper than other premium earbuds on the market, and they give the best of the best a run for their money.
Boasting very good audio capabilities, a comfortable fit, a stylish design, decent battery life and more than capable ANC, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference between these $300 earbuds and more expensive $400-$450 ones.
They’re also packed full of advanced features usually reserved for more expensive devices like TalkThru, VoiceAware, auto play/pause and voice assistant compatibility.
Not everything is great here, though. The touch controls struggle compared to more premium competitors – they’re slightly delayed, the customisation options are poor, and volume controls are incredibly tedious. Also, they don’t produce a soundstage as wide as other earbuds.
But there’s a lot to like here. For $300, JBL’s Live Pro 2 earbuds deliver a well-rounded package synonymous with more expensive earbuds. They’re excellent value.