JBL Live+ Pro Earbud REVIEW
PAT PILCHER puts JBL’s latest in-ear noise cancelling buds through their paces and finds that they tick all the available boxes.
There’s a tonne of Bluetooth ear-gear on the market, but not all of it is created equally. While there are a few notable gems, there’s a lot of rubbish too. This crossed my mind when I got to try out JBL’s Live+ Pro buds. JBL is a solid audio brand, but earbuds can be a real crapshoot, so I was keen to see if JBL’s buds made the grade.
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From a comfort perspective, the Live+ Pro’s ticked all the right boxes. They sit in your ears on a relatively shallow basis. They’re not poking into your brain, and they don’t feel like they’ll fall out of your ears either. They come with several ear-tips, so getting a good fit shouldn’t be an issue.
The bundled tips provided good passive noise isolation. That said, louder sounds were audible – at least until I started playing some music. Firing up the active noise cancellation (ANC) and some tunes saw external low-frequency noise vanish. Loud high-frequency noise did creep into the mix but was only noticeable in the silence between audio tracks.
As well as ANC, there’s Talk Thru and Ambient Aware ambient modes, which is great for situational awareness and quick conversations without ripping the buds out of your ears. If you have to pull the buds out of your ears, wear detection means the music pauses and will pick up where it left off once the buds are re-inserted.
Taking the Live+ Pro’s for a walk around Wellington’s CBD provided a good real-world scenario for testing their ANC chops and allowed me to put their connectivity to the test as well. Like most large central business districts, Wellington’s CBD is awash with RF, making for a challenging environment for maintaining a stable Bluetooth connection. In use, I found their Bluetooth 5.0 connection to be robust, with no dropouts whatsoever. Even better still, watching a video with the Live+ Pro’s revealed no discernible lag or latency in their audio.
I also can’t fault their calling capabilities. Audio quality in busy street environments saw ambient pedestrian and vehicle noise considerably reduced. The test subjects I called had no idea I was calling them from a busy street corner.
The sound delivered by the Live+ Pro’s has a nicely balanced midrange, with plenty of treble and oodles of bass. Using the JBL Headphones app EQ, I was able to correct their bass-heavy sound. The resulting audio felt controlled yet agile. Their plentiful midrange also made for pleasant listening to classical music. My inner bogan insisted that I try some Led Zep, and again I wasn’t disappointed. Robert Plant’s vocals and the instruments were all very listenable. Moving onto some Jean-Michelle Jarre and adding some extra treble made for a more expansive sound. All told, regardless of genre, the soundstage created by the Live+ Pro buds was open, feeling wide yet warm, with plenty of detail on offer.
Sound aside, I was able to connect the buds to both my PC and my phone. The only limitation I noticed was with their codec support, which is limited to SBC and AAC. Here’s hoping LDAC support comes in future models or with a future software update.
With typical use and ANC enabled, I got a respectable six hours and 45 seconds of use. That equates to a full day. Add an additional 21 hours of juice via their charging case, and they’re ideal travel companions. If that wasn’t enough, JBL made sure their charging chops were top notch by including support for fast wired charging and Qi-compatible wireless charging.
While they feature a stemmed design similar to Apple’s Air Pods, the Live+ Pro buds are slim and compact. Because of this, they’re a good choice for wearing under a motorcycle or bicycle helmet. Their charging case also deserves special mention. Not only is it a good pocketable size, but it comes with nifty charge indicator LEDs. These illuminate when you flip the lid open, giving you an at-a-glance view of its battery status.
The Live+ Pro cans are feature-packed. Add into this a “find my earbuds” feature, plus Google Assistant or Alexa, and there’s a lot to like. If you want wireless earbuds with all the trimmings, JBL’s Live+ Pro buds are a solid choice.