JBL Live Pro+ TWS

Lightweight True Wireless in-ears with three ANC profiles

JBL’s Live Pro+ TWS cable-free in-ears are tuned for bass and designed to provide flexible ambient noise control in daily life and when travelling. These headphones feature customisable noise cancellation as well as ambient and TalkThru modes. App connectivity also supports customised system and sound adjustments, as well as integration with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

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With a weight of five grams per side, the compact design of these headphones is pleasantly light; they embed well in the ear and are hardly noticeable even during longer periods of use. This is helped by the fact that a total of five pairs of silicone ear tips are supplied, three standard variants in sizes S, M and L and two flatter ear tips in sizes M and L, which allow the fit to be customised. During sporting activities, however, care should be taken to avoid strong vibrations, as these in-ears are not equipped with additional stabilising gel caps or wings. However, there is sufficient support for a short sprint. Outdoors, the system is also protected from weather-related moisture, as the earpieces have an IPX4 water-resistant finish.

In terms of power, these in-ears offer a remarkable runtime of eight hours at a medium volume level without noise cancellation. In contrast with ANC mode activated, these headphones need to be recharged after six and a half hours, and this can be done a total of three times in the handy charging case so that the total runtime with noise-cancelling is about 26 hours and without noise-cancelling up to 32 hours. In addition, there is a quick-charge function for spontaneous use, which provides battery capacity for 75 minutes in basic mode or 60 minutes in ANC mode after a ten-minute power supply. Another practical feature is that the transport case can be charged either via the USB-C port or inductively via Qi, and here the battery reserve is restored after just under two hours via the supplied USB-C to USB-A charging cable, while according to the manufacturer, wireless charging takes around three hours. One criticism is that these headphones do not have a charge indicator, so it is not clear when they are fully charged; in our tests, this took about 75 minutes. On the charging case, charging progress is indicated by three LEDs.

Operation

The Live Pro+, which support Bluetooth standard 5.0 and fast pairing with corresponding Android devices, can be paired directly when the case is opened, although these in-ears can also be used individually in single mode. However, it is not possible to switch the earpieces on and off manually via the touch-sensitive surfaces, as the case is always required, which is definitely a shortcoming. Especially since these in-ears are automatically charged every time they are switched off, which shortens the battery life. A good feature is the assignment of touch control in the app; this can be adapted to your requirements, although assignment of controls is not free but within predefined settings. In the standard configuration, a single tap on the left headphone surface switches between basic sound, ANC and ambient mode, while the TalkThru function is switched on and off with a double-tap. Playback can be controlled from the right side, with double-tapping to skip forward and triple tapping to skip back. Accepting and ending phone calls is also possible on both sides with double taps while holding activates your device’s voice assistant. Volume control is not provided but can be selected via the app instead of title navigation. It is also possible to set whether playback should be paused automatically when the in-ears are taken off, as the earpieces have a so-called ear recognition system that reacts just as reliably as the touch control.

There is little to complain about in terms of speech intelligibility when using the phone, as both sides of the call are reproduced extremely clearly, and your own voice is also quite well separated from wind noise when outdoors. Only when there is a lot of street noise does the intelligibility decrease somewhat, as traffic noise is attenuated but perceived as diffuse noise by the person on the other end of the call.

JBL Headphones App

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In addition to the assignment of the touch control, there is a whole range of further personalisation options available via the free app for iOS and Android devices. These include three Bluetooth settings, which according to the manufacturer, are intended to optimise either the stability of the wireless connection (Normal), the sound (Audio) or the synchronisation of picture and sound (Video). In this context, we noticed that the Live Pro+ had a high range of 13 metres in audio mode, which proved to be stable even with several rooms. There are also three profiles to choose from for noise cancellation, with the everyday mode serving as the default setting and being supplemented with a travel mode and active mode for outdoor use.

The integration of voice services is also done via the app, and this worked flawlessly in the case of Google Assistant and can provide useful support. Once voice control has been set up, communication with the Assistant can be carried out at any time by holding the selected headphone side, allowing you to request information, as well as making it possible for messages to be read out and answered. However, the use of Alexa or Google Assistant limits the range of touch control functions, as the voice services occupy a headphone surface. An equaliser is also available for sound adjustment; it only offers a few predefined pre-set options but can save several custom settings allowing for flexible adjustment. Firmware updates can be made via the app and the integrated search function beeps to help locate the in-ears when required and a fit test helps you to choose the right ear tips.

Sound

The Live Pro+’s tuning aims for a high fun factor with a powerful bass response and impressive low end, they provide a rich soundstage that is appealingly clear, rather than restricted or cramped. It’s impressive how well the low-frequency reproduction works across a wide range of genres, sounding full and a bit “boomy”, but not too prominent or forceful. At the same time, the substructure excels with hip-hop etc. when the low bass is pushed, as the reproduction is decidedly full but does not waver but remains defined. Compared to the bass foundation, the midrange and treble reproduction seem more restrained and vocals and lead instruments seem integrated into the overall structure rather than centrally focussed, without details such as picking sounds being masked. However, a certain effervescence in the treble range is missing, and it seems almost timid in the upper regions. Sibilants are reproduced without harshness, instead they sound soft and unobtrusive, and this can be considered an advantage, but the smooth, harmonic reproduction occasionally lacks a little élan.

In terms of audio codecs, the Live Pro+ support Bluetooth standard SBC as well as the higher-quality AAC format, but there are no codecs from the aptX family.

ANC, Ambient Aware and TalkThru modes

The three noise-cancellation profiles and the ambient mode provide a boost in the bass range, and this sometimes extends into the mid-frequency range. The sound seems more direct and assertive, particularly in the activity mode and the playback volume also increases. Even though the basic sound feels brighter and more expansive in a direct comparison, the sound remains clear and does not seem dull. While the ANC profiles have a slight background noise that has no effect on the playback, the noise in the ambient mode is more pronounced and quite perceptible during quieter passages. However, apart from this shortcoming, outside noises are amplified perfectly, making voices easily understandable. In ambient mode, it was possible to respond to other people at a medium volume level, while in TalkThru mode, which also has a noticeable background noise, the playback volume was greatly reduced so that conversation was possible without any problems. The noise-cancelling was somewhat less effective overall, as high-frequency components were only slightly reduced in all three profiles so that attenuation occurred primarily in the low to medium frequency range. Also, the ANC modes handling does not appear to be fully developed yet, as it was only apparent in the app which profile was being used, but this could perhaps be remedied with a spoken announcement.

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Maike Paeßens
3 months ago by Maike Paeßens
  • Rating: 4.13
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

JBL’s Live Pro+ score points with a successful fun-oriented set-up, long-lasting batteries and versatile personalisation options in the app, which means that these weatherproof True Wireless in-ears cover a wide range of uses. In terms of ambient noise control, the TalkThru function and the ambient mode impressed us with good intelligibility of voices despite perceptible background noise, while with the three ANC profiles, weaknesses in the upper-frequency range have to be accepted.

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingIn-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principledynamic
  • Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
  • Impedance16 ohms
  • Sound pressure level (SPL)@ 1 kHz/1 mW: 102 dB
  • Weight without cable5 g each, Case: 50 g

What's in the box

  • Standard ear tips in three sizes (S/M/L)
  • flatter ear tips in two sizes (M/L)
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Charging case

Special features

  • available in black, white, beige and pink
  • BT codecs: SBC, AAC
  • BT version: 5.0

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