JBL produces so many products with such frequent updates that it’s hard to keep up. With so many JBL earbuds on the market, consumers may find it challenging to figure out which model offers the right features and sound for their needs. So, we’ve decided to compare two of JBL’s newest and best selling earbud models, the Live Pro 2 and the brand’s significantly more expensive flagship, the Tour Pro 2. Are the differences in sound and features worth the price gap, or does the Live Pro 2 deliver a better bang for your buck?
Look and Feel
While both models are sleek looking, the Tour Pro 2 has a slightly more substantial and luxurious design. In short, it looks more expensive. The microphone stems are also shorter on the Tour Pro 2, giving them a more compact look than Live pro 2. While the Tour Pro 2 is slightly heavier than the Live Pro 2, I found both models to be equally comfortable with effective natural sound isolation.
The charging cases do differ in size, however, with the Live Pro 2 offering a lighter, and more compact design.
Design and Functionality
Both, the Tour Pro 2 and the Live Pro 2 have the same 40 hour battery life, with 10 hours of continuous play and an extra 30 hours if charge in the charging case. So, no difference here.
Both JBL models have ANC, but the noise-cancelling on the Tour Pro 2 feels a bit more effective. While the Live Pro 2 reduces low frequency sound, the Tour Pro 2 practically eliminates it.
Bluetooth and Supported Codecs
The Tour Pro 2 has a newer Bluetooth version (5.3) than the Live Pro 2 (5.2). In theory, this should mean that the Tour Pro 2 may have fewer dropouts and a more reliable connection overall. But I didn’t notice any difference between the two when wearing the earbuds in midtown Manhattan. That is, neither model had any interruptions or interferences.
Finally, neither the Tour Pro 2 or the Live Pro 2 support any hi-res codecs. Both are limited to AAC and SBC codecs, which are lower than hi-res quality.
Both models offer the same controls by tapping on the right and left earpieces. Both will allow you to play/pause, skip through tracks, answer and end calls, and access your phone’s voice assistant.
Both, the Tour Pro 2 and the Live Pro 2 support multipoint connection, which is handy if you’re switching back and forth between your phone and tablet, for example.
In terms of design, a major difference between these two models is that the Tour Pro 2 has a touch screen on the font of the charging case. And this gives you extra flexibility and control without having to open the app on your phone. In contrast, the Live Pro 2 requires you to open the app to access the same functions.
Some of the extra features that the Tour Pro 2 offers via the touch screen is the ability to navigate through tracks. You’ll also find a few fun extras, such as a sleep timer and flashlight. The other major difference is the Tour Pro 2’s Spacial Sound feature, which isn’t available on the more budget friendly Live Pro 2. It allows you to switch between video mode, music mode and gaming mode. Finally, the Tour Pro 2, in theory, should show notifications sent to your phone, just as your Apple Watch would do. But in reality, I didn’t find this feature to be of much use, since the content of the messages are not displayed. And in general, I found that the touch screen wasn’t as responsive as I hoped, making the whole design seem somewhat awkward and redundant. That being said, if you love to have easy access to controls when on the go, the Tour Pro 2 may prove to be useful.
It should also be noted that the Tour Pro 2 has a wireless charging capability, while the Live Pro 2 requires you to charge the case the old fashioned way.
For this review, I had the ANC feature on for both models, which may have an effect on the sound signature, especially in the bass frequencies.
The bass on the Tour Pro 2 feels thicker, deeper and sometimes less detailed than it does on the Live Pro 2, which delivers a touch more grip and tightness. But although the low-end on the Live Pro 2 is cleaner, both models deliver a generous amount of bass impact. That being said, if you’re a sucker for lower-bass and sub-bass frequencies, you’ll get a more extended, and more visceral lower-bass and sub-bass response from the Tour Pro 2. In fact, for some the Tour Pro’s huge low-end may be overkill. But bass heads will certainly gravitate towards the Tour Pro 2 for this reason.
The tuning slightly differs in the midrange as well. While the high-mids have a touch of extra presence on the Live Pro 2, the Tour Pro 2 is more even balanced. As a result, you’ll hear a more dynamic flavor on the Live Pro 2, with vocals and snares sitting a bit forward in the mix. In contrast, the Tour Pro 2 is more subdued in the upper-midrange, giving the balance a more lush and full-bodied profile. In short, the Tour Pro 2 just feels meatier, while the Live Pro 2 is a bit leaner and more lively.
As we reach into the highest frequencies, the Tour Pro 2 feels a touch more extended, while the Live Pro 2 has a bit more roll-off. As a result, the Live Pro 2 may be more forgiving on the ears during long listening sessions. But the difference is almost nominal.
Finally, the soundstage profile is more expansive and majestic on the Tour Pro 2 than it is on the Live Pro 2. This again may be due to the added depth of the bass on the Tour Pro 2. But if you appreciate an almost stadium-like sound, you’ll likely gravitate toward the pricier model.
To me, the JBL Tour Pro 2 is reminiscent of Sony’s flagship, the WF-1000XM4 (or XM5), with it’s fat and deep bass, big soundstage and plethora of added features. But while the ANC is more impressive on the Tour Pro 2, the resolution isn’t significantly better than it is on the Live Pro 2. So, if you love tons of added features and controls, the Tour Pro 2 will deliver that luxury. But if you just want great sound quality, and you don’t care about having all the bells and whistles, the Live Pro 2 is probably a better bang for your buck.