JBL excels at making budget friendly earbuds and headphones that are well built and look generally good. Famous for their punchy bass and lively sound signature, they also tend to sound good. The JBL Vibe Buds sell at $50 and prove to deliver a solid bang for the buck. What features does this model offer and how does it sound?
What’s in the Box?
Look and Feel
I was impressed by how sleek and elegant the Vibe Buds appear, especially given the price point. They don’t look like the cheap stuff you see on Amazon. The earbuds are exceedingly comfortable and provide a good seal with decent sound isolation. Interestingly, the charging case comes without a top. But the earbuds seem securely locked in place, so I wasn’t worried about losing them. All in all, a simple and functional design.
The earbuds feature touch buttons that allow to play, pause, skip, and go back to the previous track. They can also control volume, answer calls and activate the voice command feature. All of the advanced controls can be modified using the JBL Headphones App.
Design and Functionality
The Vibe Buds offer an impressive 32 hours of battery life, with 8 hours of play and an extra 24 hours in the charging case. This beats both competing and more expensive buds, such as the Sony WF-C500.
I had no problems here. The call was clear from both ends and I didn’t experience any dropouts. At times, the Vibe Buds picked up a little too much ambient noise, but generally, conversations felt quiet enough.
The Vibe Buds have an IPX4 rating, which means they can withstand a good amount of sweat and rain.
Although the Vibe Buds don’t have ANC, they do offer Smart Ambient technology. And since the natural sound isolation is so effective, it was handy to have a mode that invited in sound from the surrounding environment.
Perhaps the most impressive extra feature is the fully adjustable equalizer on the accompanying app. This capability is rare for a pair of wireless earbuds in this price range, propelling the Vibe Buds to the level of higher priced models from competing brands in this respect.
Although there’s not too much depth to the stage, the Vibe Buds do offer some height, making some instruments perceivable above the ears. The sense of width also feels reasonably expansive, with good accuracy in placement. So, while the soundstage may not feel thoroughly multidimensional, there’s enough spacing between instruments to convey a colorful soundscape overall.
The Vibe Buds present a tight, dry, and punchy low-end, while the sub-bass frequencies offer a solid rumble that enhances the depth of modern tracks. Unlike many other competing wireless buds, JBL avoids exaggerating the mid-bass frequencies, resulting in a clean and contained sound. String instruments are textured and nuanced. And overall, the Vibe Buds offer ample clarity in this range.
The JBL Vibe Buds have a slight emphasis in the upper-mids, which gives vocals and snares more prominence. This emphasis is not overpowering, but it adds a sense of energy to the sound. Again, the profile is natural and clean here, with great separation throughout this range, even in the low-mids, where the sound can be muddy on similarly priced wireless buds.
While there is a slight sparkle in the treble, there is also some roll-off that prevents harshness or piercing. So, it’s easy listening up here. The transparency in this range is also impressive, with breathy and buoyant vocals, and fluid, detailed strings. So, while not particularly extended, the high-end provides a nice balance between smoothness and clarity.
With a punchy bass, lively mids and a clean profile overall, the Vibe Buds sound great for $50. Add to that, great looks, 32 hours of battery life and an equalizer, and there’s little to complain about. In fact, these earbuds may be one of the better deals on the market.