When JBL first announced the Tour Pro 2 earphones ($250, £220, AU$350) back in January, they garnered a lot of attention as they feature something we’ve never seen in a headset before: an embedded full-color touchscreen. inside. Case that gives you access to the basic functions of the headset and allows you to control playback and adjust the volume. It’s pretty cool, but is this touchscreen useful or is it just a gimmick?
After several days of testing the Tour Pro 2’s buds, I’d say the answer is a little bit of both. But before I get into that dichotomy, I’ll start with how the buds sound, work, and fit, which is what most people want to know when shopping for earbuds.
The JBL sound signature tends to emphasize bass. It’s not to the point of overwhelming, but at its default settings the Tour Pro 2’s bass ricochets off you along with a fairly wide soundstage. They boast decent clarity, but these aren’t the most detailed sounding headphones and don’t quite measure up to some of the best sounding buds like the Sony WF-1000XM4 in terms of sound quality. You can fine tune the sound profile in the JBL Headphones app or switch between some EQ presets on the case. (Okay, back to that touchscreen.)
For some reason I chose the Jazz preset because it felt right for a variety of music genres I listened to, such as electronica, rock tracks, hip-hop, and even some of today’s pop hits. The “Bass” setting blurred everything a bit, and the “Vocal” setting is fine for podcasts but not music. The “Studio” setting, which was intended to be the most neutral, caused everything to sound a little flat. You can also create your own custom EQ settings or, better yet, run Personi-Fi through the app, which creates a custom sound profile based on the listening test. (My Personi-Fi sound profile reduced the bass a bit and boosted the highs a bit while leaving the mids intact.)
Overall I like the sound. They don’t sound as clean or balanced as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3, but they have new, improved 10mm drivers and offer slightly more powerful, dynamic sound compared to JBL’s Live Pro 2 earphones; if they drop to $100 on a flash sale.
As always, how good these buds sound depends on how tightly you close one of the included ear tips. How quality these headphones look and feel is debatable – I suspect some people expected a little more from the $250 headphones. But they fit well in my ears (I used the largest tips) and I found the buds to be sturdy – I could walk in them without fear of falling out (they are IPX5 splash proof). I don’t think these are as comfortable as the AirPods Pro 2, but they should fit most ears just fine. However, they may not be arguing for everyone’s ears.
A JBL rep told me that codecs are looking at AAC (for iPhones and Android devices), but a future firmware upgrade will add Bluetooth LE audio. Bluetooth LE Audio supports features like Auracast (broadcast audio) and LC3 audio codec that supports higher resolution music streaming if you have a music streaming service that supports high definition streaming.
Good adaptive noise-canceling and voice-calling performance
No, these don’t block out noise as well as Bose’s QuietComfort 2 earbuds, but if you get a tight seal, they do a good job of dampening sound. I wore them on the streets of New York and on the subway and found they were effective at reducing ambient noise in the low and upper mid frequencies (I could still hear voices) and blocking out most of the noise, which did mine quite a bit. Loud HVAC unit in my posted kitchen.
The buds feature multi-point Bluetooth, which means you can pair them with two devices at the same time; B. a computer and a smartphone. I used it with an iPhone 14 Pro for phone calls, and callers said I sounded pretty clear on test calls from the noisy streets of New York (a real torture test). Callers said they heard some wind and background noise, but while they didn’t quite match the AirPods Pro 2 in terms of audio clarity, they were definitely above average for calls. It’s also worth noting that you can choose how much of your voice you can hear during a call by tweaking the VoiceAware settings in the app or on the case’s touchscreen.
Smart features, lots of them
Like most active noise-cancelling buds, the Tour Pro 2 has a transparency mode that lets you hear the outside world (sounds a little natural, though not as natural as with the AirPods Pro 2’s transparency mode). These headphones also feature the Personal Sound Amplification mode, which turns the headphones into what are known as hearing aids, allowing you to amplify the world around you a bit.
The truth is, these are nice features with lots of little extras, including wireless charging, ear detection sensors, and a “spatial audio” mode with no head tracking, but with movie, music, and game settings (no head tracking, unfortunately). Spatial sound is not that interesting). The Find My Buds feature is slightly different than Apple’s. You can play a high-pitched tone from either earphone to help you find your buds; This is useful when dropping something evil where you can’t see it. IT. If you’re wondering, you can use both buds independently.
And then there’s this “smart” case with this touchscreen. (Heavier and a little bulkier than a typical headphone case, but not by much.) Like I said, it’s a little gimmicky, but a little useful, as it acts as a remote control for your buds.
Sure, you can access all the features you’ll find on the case’s touchscreen in the JBL Headphones app on your iPhone or Android smartphone (and the buds themselves have limited touch controls), but you’ll need to grab your headphones. phone from your pocket, go to the app and find what you’re looking for. Instead, I left my phone in my pocket and kept the case in my hand, using it to fast-forward tracks and play around with the EQ and ANC settings. You can even add your own screensaver to the safe’s unlock screen (tap the screen to wake it, then swipe to unlock), receive on-screen notifications, answer and end calls (pretty refined). and turn the LCD into a very small flashlight.
The case’s touchscreen isn’t quite as responsive as your iPhone or Android device’s, but it doesn’t feel sluggish, although you can swipe the screen twice to get the next setting. I’ve seen other cases with embedded LCD that shows how much battery life the case and buds have (which shows it), and Poly’s new Voyager Free 60+ UC earphones ($329) have a mostly monochrome Touchscreen. access some settings and adjust the volume. But the touchscreen on the Tour Pro 2’s body is the most advanced I’ve ever seen in a charging case. However, like the $400 Bowers & Wilkins PI7 S2 case, the multi-case transforms into a Bluetooth transceiver that plugs into the headphone jack of an in-flight entertainment system, allowing you to wirelessly stream the sound your buds send. The Tour Pro 2 body lacks this feature (I wouldn’t expect that at this price point).
JBL Tour Pro 2 final thoughts
Overall the JBL Tour Pro 2 are very good headphones with solid specs, strong battery life (up to 8 hours with noise canceling at medium volume) and that special feature – the eye-catching touchscreen. in “smart” cases. While they sound pretty good with the right EQ setting, you can find slightly better sounding headphones for the money, which is probably the biggest gripe versus the Tour Pro 2s.
The touchscreen is cool and fun, but it might not be cool enough or useful enough to distract many iPhone users from the AirPods Pro 2, which typically retail for $50 or $200 less than these earbuds. This likely means we should see them at a discount in the not-too-distant future, as JBL doesn’t. When that happens – and if they are upgraded with the LE Audio and LC3 audio codec – I’ll revisit their review.