JBL is a company that needs no introduction. Recently, they’ve released their response to the Airpod craze: The Tune230NC. At $100, the Tunes fall into a heavily contested price bracket. Today I’m going to see if JBL has made a standout in an already saturated market.
What’s in the Box
- JBL Tune230NC Noise Canceling Wireless Earbuds
- Charging Case
- USB-C to USB-A Charging Cable
- Ear tips
- Quick Start Guide/Manual
Look and Feel
The Tunes come with most of the standard design features of airpods-adjacent wireless earbuds. While they aren’t reinventing the wheel aesthetically, JBL does do a fantastic job at fine tuning subtle design aspects in order to make the Tunes a really solid and intuitive product. They feel nice and secure, I never felt like they were going to fall out while using them. I never felt any discomfort while using them. The design itself is sleek, however feels slightly cheap due to the plastic housing.
The Tune boasts JBL’s specially designed 6mm bass driver for clear bass response. In addition, it has a water/sweat resistant housing, 4 mics in order to ensure high call quality, and up to 48 Hours of battery life. They also feature active noise cancellation and ambient environment monitoring options and a tie-in app that allows the user to customize their own EQ Settings and tap-commands on each individual earbud. I really appreciated how intuitive and simple the app was to use, and it only took me about 20 minutes to learn all of the commands and set it up to my preferences.
The JBL Tune230NC has a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz and impedance of 16 Ohms.
The soundstage on the Tunes runs fairly standard for a pair of wireless earbuds. The separation is nice and noticeable without being too jarring. It seems to slightly widen when I turn on noise cancellation mode, a natural effect of getting more isolated sound. I can tell that these were designed to fit as broad a range of lifestyles and had portability/public use in mind, so you don’t want a soundstage with so much wraparound that it causes disorientation.
For these next sections, I’m using flat EQ unless otherwise specified.
The lows on the Tunes pack a serious punch when they need to. I can feel deep subs with insane richness and detail, and kick transients feel great. That being said, the lows can be slightly overpowering at inappropriate times. This can be resolved with EQ, but not every EQ fits every mix, which can be inconvenient to switch. For the times when the lows work though, they work exceptionally well and provide encompassing subs that I can feel in my teeth.
The mids follow a standard U-Curve as is common with wireless earbuds of this kind. Some instruments like snares would feel thin for me, however this would only happen in some rare instances. The Low mids feel great and give a lot of darkness and tangibility to the sound.
The highs sounded pleasant and provided just the right level of detail to the sound. While definitely not studio accurate, that isn’t the point of these. Even when I boosted the highs, I rarely heard harshness or any painful resonances. While not the airiest highs, I feel that part of the driver is dedicated to providing/preventing ambient noise depending on the noise cancellation settings.
The JBL Tune230NC is a great pair of wireless earbuds. It offers everything that similar wireless earbuds offer, and does it all with an elegance and smoothness that JBL has become known for. I can tell they had mobility in mind when they made these, and while some parts of the default sound character don’t align with my own preferences, JBL gives a myriad of customization options to fit anybody’s needs. I would highly recommend these to anybody looking for a solid pair of wireless earbuds.