REVIEW: JBL Cracks It With A New Work, Play, $249 Video Call Bud
When it comes to headphones and in particular buds, the Harman owned JBL brand is a powerhouse in the audio industry and their new Live Pro Plus is a cross between a deep, in ear bud and an Apple Air Pod that can be used for outside sports or walking or when on video calls.
With built in wireless charging adaptive noise cancelling and smart ambient capabilities built in, these $249 buds are designed for people working from home doing video calls to those who are out and about shopping or exercising and there is the added benefit of being sweat proof.
IPX4 water resistance the exterior is coated in the same protection used on the AirPods Pro.
They deliver up to 28 hours of battery life and look neat and smart.
Personally, I struggle after a while when wearing buds for any period of time, but these not only fitted comfortably they did not feel heavy and JBL’s 3-mic array delivered excellent speech recognition, picking up every word when I activated the voice recognition. They were also clear when doing a video call and when taking a call with ambient noise around me.
When you go to connect your new JBL buds, you log into the JBL app which immediately helps you to set up the buds correctly via a very clever active GIF demonstration.
You are then given the choice of activating either Google Assistant or Alexa, I chose Alexa this time and after prompting me which bud, I wanted to connect Alexa to I was able easily set up the buds to work via voice activation.
This is a less expensive AirPods Pro alternative and when I tested the two together the JBL sounded no different and was more comfortable in my ear.
The JBL Live Pro Plus has a lot going for them with the audio output as good as most affordable premium buds that I have listened to of late.
Bundled with the purchase price is a charging case, five ear tip sizes, a USB-C charging cable, and a quick-start guide.
As for looks the case is small and identical to the new Samsung Galaxy bud’s case.
Finished in a matte surface, JBL has downscaled the stem size compared to their previous products, and this is a big plus especially if you hate droopy buds similar to the Apple offering.
They also appear to be durable enough to survive being dropped on a hard pavement or concrete floor.
One thing that I picked up on was the immediate accuracy and responsiveness of the touch sensors one tap and they delivered whether it a single tap and hold or a triple tap, and to make life easier JBL has programmed a full suite of controls that users can assign to each bud in the JBL Headphones app.
When it comes to controls, four settings are available: playback, volume, voice assistant, and Ambient Sound Control, all of which can be activated through tap & hold or single-, double-, and triple-tap gestures.
Another plus is that inside the box, unlike a lot of other manufacturers are printed instruction books including overall quick set up guides and guides to set up Google Assistant or Alexa.
distraction-free in most environments.
There are three ANC modes, each one serving a specific purpose. Every day is the default and blocks out “the noise of daily life,” Travel minimises noise on trains and airlines when you actually can fly.
There is also an active feature that optimizes both ANC and sound for the best results and I suspect this will be the most commonly used.
Noise cancelling worked well, and I found them useful when walking in noisy environments like North Sydney.
JBL are well known for their audio performance and the Live Pro Plus is no different especially if you like lots of bass which the Company is well known for. While Sony put Bass on their packaging JBL builds in an excellent bass offering across both their bids and over ear headphones.
The default EQ on these buds is superior to what most competitors in the same price class offer. Music is clear as I found out pumping up the sound on a Led Zeppelin track and then some Motown.
You get crisp mids and highs, on certain tracks and thumping bass on other others.
Other notable features include toggle controls for the digital assistant and on-ear detection, a sleep mode, a Find My Buds function, and battery level indicators for each bud and the charging case.
JBL Live Pro Plus: Verdict
This is a serious value for money deal. The buds are well engineered, and the build quality is up there with a lot of premium models. My testing passed the wife test, she has small ears and by attaching the small buds that come in the box she was able to easily fit these in her ears.
To me this is a real allrounder offering, for business, video calls and for listening to music especially if you are working out in a gym.
Packed into these buds is a lot of functionality and on a couple of occasions I lost connectivity, I don’t know whether this was down to my phone or the buds and their companion app. Anyway, I was able to reconnect in seconds.