The JBL Tour Pro+ TWS BT/ANC earphones are part of its new premium Tour range, proving you don’t have to charge the earth to provide great sound and features.
These are TWS – true wireless stereo – meaning that each bud (left and right stereo) communicates with the Bluetooth Host at full speed instead of piggybacking off one bud. That means lower latency (<200ms) and better bandwidth.
Now at A$329.95 RRP (seen for $279), these compete with
- Apple Airpods (RRP $399 runout $329 – dorky storky)
- Sony WF-LS900N LinkBuds S $269
- JBL Reflect Pro+ $269
- Jabra Elite 85T (run out) $299
- Bose Quiet Comfort (RRP $399 runout $299)
- Sennheiser CX Plus $249
Ergo, it is not an apple for apple comparison with premium range Sony WF-1000XM4 ($389 runout $349), Sennheiser Momentum 3 ($399) or AirPods Pro ($399 runout $329).
JBL Tour Pro+ TWS Australian review
|Website||Product Page and Quick Start Guide|
|From||JBL online and major CE retailers|
|Country of Manufacture||China|
|Company||JBL (Est. the mid-40s) is short for James B Lansing (Yes, he was the Lansing in Altec Lansing.) Now it’s part of the Harman group of companies owned by Samsung.|
|More||CyberShack JBL news and reviews|
We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed.
First impression – premium but largish – Pass+
These are big buds – 7.5g each when many are around 5g. So, it begs the question, what more is inside to justify the weight? Well, there is a 6.8mm Dynamic driver (superb 10Hz-20kHz), a 55mAh battery, and a lot of electronics to manage the Adaptive Noise-cancelling, Ambient Aware, noise-cancelling mics/calls, and on-device profile storage.
The IPX4 rating means reasonably perspiration and sweat resistant.
Setup – you really need the App – Pass+
Because these buds rely on a mix of passive and active noise-cancelling, you need the App to test the fit. There are five tips and two stabilizers to get the best fit.
The App has the usual Adaptive Noise-cancelling, ambient mode and TalkThru, and an EQ. It has three pre-sets and one custom.
Comfort/fit – Pass+
Once you master how to insert them correctly with a twist to get the stabilizer into the right place, they are as comfortable as any other in-ear canal bud. They did not get hot. Simply put, if they fall out, you have not put them in correctly.
However, they stick out a fair way – they are not discrete.
How do they sound? Exceed
Regrettably, we cannot measure the frequency response of in-ear canal buds, so we revert to test tracks How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide).
Bass starts at around 80Hz; Then the frequency response is pretty flat to 10kHz when it declines to 20kHz. Out of the box, these are a neutral signature, with a decent touch of bass for warm and sweet music. Mid-to-High treble is slightly recessed.
The App works well with this neutral signature and can recess bass, mid or treble accordingly. We backed off the bass a little in the EQ.
The sound stage is inside your head – it is wide enough, and there is good left/right separation.
The volume reaches 80dB (maximum allowable on a smartphone) with no perceptible distortion.
ANC – quite good Pass+
Adaptive and passive ANC really starts at around 70Hz, so it won’t remove the Jumbo jet on take-off. It builds quite strongly to about 1kHz, where passive isolation kicks in and looks after voice and annoying higher-pitched sounds.
As these are in-ear-canal, there is almost no sound leakage to others around you.
Battery – Pass
Battery life on any bud depends on volume, the Bluetooth signal strength, amount of adaptive ANC etc.
JBL claim 6/8 hours ANC on/off, but our tests were closer to 5/7 hours. Recharge time is around an hour, and the case takes 2/4 hours on USB-C 5V/1A and Qi Wireless. The case holds about three recharges.
Mics and hands-free – three per bud – Pass+
Calls were clear thanks to three mics on each bud – beamforming voice, external noise, and internal noise feedback. Like most buds, wind noise is an issue, and we suggest you make calls inside.
These are not gaming buds as latency is too high. There are no issues with lip-sync videos.
CyberShack’s view – JBL Tour Pro+ TWS BT/ANC earphones are good for the money
You need to spend perhaps $100 more to get much more, and these are pretty good. I am growing to like Adaptive Noise Cancellation (perhaps it is the lack of international air travel) because I feel that music is less compromised.
My only gripe is that I would like more codecs – SBC, AAC, aptX (and variants) and even hi-res LDAC. That is where the Sennheiser CX+ shines.
But these have great neutral sound, adaptive noise canceling, wireless charging, multi-point pairing, and are very well made.
JBL Tour Pro+ TWS BT/ANC earphones
$349.95 (see for $279)
- Adaptive noise cancellation when you need it
- Decent industry average battery life
- Qi Charge case
- Good, responsive touch controls
- Deep and punchy bass – but you can back that off a little
- It can be tricky to get the right fit – persevere
- ‘Adaptive’ is not full ANC