We judge all headphones and earbuds on a scale of 10, analyzing the categories we think are most important: sound, comfort, design, battery performance, and, if applicable, special features. Here’s how the JBL Live Pro+ wireless earbuds stack up.
JBL unveiled the Live Pro+ true wireless earbuds alongside a slew of other cool audio products during CES 2021, which is casually known to be the most influential tech event in the world. The noise-canceling earbuds grabbed my attention by presenting an interesting alternative to the ubiquitous Apple AirPods Pro with a minimalist design and a rich set of features at a much lower $180 price point.
After a few weeks of using them on a daily basis, I found the JBL Live Pro+ earbuds to be among the finest in their price range. Here’s everything you need to know about their design, features, and performance.
JBL LIVE PRO+ AT A GLANCE
- Lightweight and exceptionally comfortable
- Customizable sound and touch controls
- Up to 7 hours of battery life
- Water-resistant with an IPX4 rating
The JBL Live Pro+ earbuds deliver a powerful and entertaining sonic experience that’s typical for the audio maker’s products. Each bud rocks an 11-millimeter audio driver, tuned to deliver a sound with slightly embellished bass out of the box. The latter, while noticeably present, doesn’t have a significant impact on the treble and the midrange.
Like many earbuds on the market, you can customize the sound to your exact liking via the earbuds’ companion app. There are several equalizer presets to pick from, as well as the option to create a multitude of your own. I particularly enjoyed the last bit because it allowed me to have quick-to-access sound settings for detail-rich classical concertos, bass-heavy downtempo tracks, and for podcasts.
I found the noise-cancellation of the JBL Live Pro+ to be plenty reliable for a sub-$200 offering. The earbuds tuned out the constant weekday traffic din from underneath my living room well, allowing me to focus on work or unwind after a busy day.
You can adjust the above feature’s intensity by choosing between everyday, travel, and active modes in the JBL app. It has a pair of settings — one for focusing on external noise and a voice mode for having short conversations without removing the earbuds. An ambient mode to help you become aware of your surroundings is also available.
Remember this golden rule when it comes to noise cancellation: The more you spend on the earbuds, the closer you’ll get to complete silence. Having said that, pricier products like the AirPods Pro, the Bose QuietComfort, and the Sony WF-1000XM4 will perform on a noticeably higher level than the JBL Live Pro+.
With a trio of microphones per bud, the JBL Live Pro+ were very reliable during calls and virtual meetings during my testing. Participants heard me clearly during telephone, FaceTime, and Zoom calls. But be mindful that much like with noise cancellation, upping your new earbuds’ budget will get you even better quality.
The Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds maintained a strong connection with an iPhone 12 and a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra while I tested them. You can prioritize their connectivity to focus on audio quality or enhanced reliability via the app, and a video mode is also available.
Supreme comfort is one of the main reasons why you should opt for the JBL Live Pro+ earbuds. Thanks to their low weight (and a stem design that distributes it evenly) and an ergonomic shape, they didn’t cause even any fatigue while I wore them, even after hours of continuous use.
You’ll receive five sets of ear tips with the JBL Live Pro+ earbuds. I tip my hat to the audio maker for adding an app feature to help you check the quality of their fit.
Even though they’re packed with tech, the earphones weigh only 5 grams each. That’s less than the 5.4-gram AirPods Pro, as well as slightly below the 5.2-gram 1More Comfobuds Pro and the 5.1-gram Beats Studio Buds — a trio of insanely comfy options.
The touch controls of the earbuds are solid and, thankfully, are easily customizable via the JBL companion app. I liked being able to manage the audio playback and the noise cancellation with taps on the right and the left bud, respectively, as well as having the option to add volume controls. Long-pressing each bud will summon your preferred virtual assistant.
At a quick glance, the white JBL Live Pro+ wireless earbuds look a bit like the AirPods Pro. It has a more understated appearance and less striking resemblance to its Apple rival. I tested the black version with gray touch panels with a contrasting JBL logo (also in black).
The earbuds’ IPX4 rating for water resistance is on par with many of their rivals’ and is suitable for light exercising. However, if you plan to use your buds primarily for workouts, consider the much tougher, slightly bulkier Jaybird Vista 2 instead.
BATTERY PERFORMANCE: 8/10
You can expect up to 6 hours of battery life from the JBL Live Pro+ earbuds with noise cancellation switched on — well ahead of the AirPods Pro’s 4.5-hour maximum battery life. Disabling the feature will get you an extra hour’s worth of tunes. Given how minuscule the earbuds are, this is an unquestionably stellar achievement.
The impressively compact case of the Live Pro+ holds a trio of additional full charges. The accessory has a fast USB-C connector and compatibility with wireless charging — a duo of premium earbuds’ must-haves.
The JBL Live Pro+ earbuds are indeed a legit AirPods Pro alternative with comparable comfort, customizable sound, and a more agreeable price tag. Thanks to Google Fast Pair tech and hands-free access to the tech giant’s virtual assistant, the buds are a particularly great option for Android users.
Compared to those of pricier products, the earbuds’ noise cancellation and call quality — while solid — leave a bit to be desired. That said, their sound and clever features make them one of the best picks under $200.