We recently looked at JBL’s Club One, their answer to the higher profile noise-canceling headphones from the likes of Sony and Sennheiser. I felt like JBL held up their end, delivering a fun sound signature with a ton of features. The popular manufacturer has their hand in various audio products. Their no stranger to true wireless either with a crop like the Live 300 and Tune 120 being of note. The Live Pro+ is one of their latest releases in their growing library of true wireless earbuds, and they’re worth a look. There’s a wealth of true wireless systems in this $179 price range, does JBL hold their own against them?
What You Get
- JBL Live Pro+ TWS
- 5 sizes of ear tips
- Type-C USB charging cable
- Charging case
- Warranty / Warning (W / !)
- QSG / Safety Sheet (S / i)
Look and Feel
In the past, I’ve been vocal about true wireless earbuds with long stems. However, I think a lot of manufacturers have been getting them right recently, and the Love Pro+ joins that club. The short stem and oval-shaped housing is a style that I’ve warmed up to, and they make for a consistent design for the Live Pro+. The size of the shell functionally provides a firm fit within your ear, and the ear tips bring a solid level of support. The stems are short enough to not be distracting or obstructive for the level of comfortability.
Design and Functionality
JBL often provides sizable drivers for their headphones and earbuds. The Live Pro+ features an 11mm driver that powers the earbuds for a sufficient level of volume. Throughout all of their noise-canceling and ambient modes, the volume level remained mostly the same. Even with the size of the driver, I think the overall volume could be a bit louder. I left the Live Pro+ cracked up quite high to reach a comfortable level of volume, and didn’t find much room for adjustment. Other components include a set of microphones for improved voice clarity for phone calls, and ambient noise capturing.
Like JBL’s other products, the Live Pro+ utilizes a touch-sensitive surface and a host of features using their companion app. The playback and voice control functions require a press on the physical housing of the earbud. I would have liked to see some use out of the stem here for more interface options, but the actions are easy to get around anyway. You get a satisfying feedback response from each gesture you perform, and the correct action responds with little delay.
When talking about JBL’s Bluetooth products, you have to mention their companion smartphone app. The usage of the Live Pro+ expands greatly when using this app, as it features various modes of listening. Here you can cycle through three different noise-canceling options, everyday mode, travel mode, and active mode. Travel mode will be more effective on airlines and trains, while active mode focuses on outdoor activity. You also have Ambient aware and TalkThru modes you can cycle through for environmental awareness. An EQ option is also featured here with several presets.
The Live Pro+ supports Bluetooth 5.0 and features high-range and bandwidth. The pairing was instant and relatively easy.
You’ll get 6 hours with ANC on and 7 with it off. Charging only takes about 2 hours for a full charge. For the price point, this is a sufficient amount of playtime and should last you a few days before it needs to charge again.
JBL has never impressed me too much when it comes to the soundstage. They keep to a similar sound signature throughout most of their products, but some JBL models have a tighter sound than others. For the Live Pro+, the quality of width and spaciousness is going to be what you’d expect out of a true wireless by JBL. It’s strictly inoffensive, but could also be better. The width here actually isn’t all that bad as long as you’re not using ANC.
Withing the image, the sound elements have just enough room to make their impact, but still, constrict themselves with little to no separation. There’s some depth to be enjoyed, but it is at a very base level that never really sticks out well. The most positive characteristic about this soundstage is its tight organization. No matter how close the mix might be, the Live Pro+ always stacks the many layers in their proper positions. This makes for a less bloated sound field where you feel like you can enjoy the signature for what it is.
What can I say, I’m a total sucker for JBL’s rich and meaty bass response. The lows on the LIve Pro+ are always impactful and make the image sound bigger than it might be. It sometimes ventures into a boomy tonality, but I don’t believe it does enough to muddy the frequency response. The timbre mostly keeps things clean while the bass is hungry for the slam.
The midrange shows some recession in fundamental frequency bands. They’re not quite scooped out, but you can tell that there are certain notches in the spectrum. The low-mids don’t exactly do enough to lift the timbre either, making for a more hollow response. Vocals never feel like they properly stick out, and other instruments are missing solidity. Adjusting the EQ gave me a bit more liveliness here, but the tonality still proved to veer into the muddier areas.
Treble shows a bit more character than the mids, but still a rather relaxed response. However, EQ really comes in handy here, as the slightest boost reveals the highs as much crisper than they let on. It even added a bit more air to the timbre, and it made certain elements appear a lot more clear. If you manipulate it just right, the highs can actually sound quite pleasing.
There’s quite a lot to like about the Live Pro+, but most of its best qualities are outside of the sound signature itself. I think JBL makes a noble effort to compete with Sony’s feature-heavy products, and their noise-canceling technology is getting better. The price here matches the product well, and I think is worth it if you’re looking for a versatile pair of earbuds with a lot of different functions.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Features, Responsive, Bass impact, EQ
Cons: Mostly dull sound signature
The JBL Live Pro+ is available at Audio 46.
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