FutureFive New Zealand logo
Story image

Hands-on review: The JBL Club Pro+ TWS wireless earbuds

31 Mar 2021

The JBL Club Pro+ TWS wireless earbuds are, by JBL’s bold claim printed on the box, ‘designed for performance’. In the background of this slogan is an unmistakable image of a crowd at a concert.

One of the greatest things about live music is that it's being created right in front of you as part of a shared experience. If the mix is just right, you can feel the sounds through your bones. Wireless earbuds are on the opposite side of the spectrum, at least for most people. The music is broadcasting directly into your ears as part of a private experience all within your control.

JBL’s Club Pro+TWS wireless earbuds don’t really strike me as being professional audio equipment for use at concerts and live venues as first impressions seem to suggest, but they do take their design aesthetic from in-ear monitors used by musicians and production crew. 

The earbuds themselves are reasonably compact and comfortable. There’s a selection of earbud tips to cater for different ear sizes, and the official app offers a testing feature called ‘check my best fit’ that can help you figure out if you’re using the right tips for your ears.

If you happen to lose your earbuds, the app also enables you to ‘Find my buds’. They will chirp every couple of seconds, so you can follow your ears and track them down. Sadly though, this doesn’t seem to work if both of your buds are in the case (bummer if you lose them that way).

Touchpads are located on the side of each earbud. These follow the standard conventions of swiping and tapping to pause, play, skip tracks on one earbud, and noise-cancelling options on the other.  

Each touchpad’s actions can be programmed through the app, including the ability to connect with a digital assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, which brings me on to the official JBL Headphones app.

If you’ve happened to come across any of my previous headphone and earbud reviews, you’ll have seen that one of my most common gripes is the lack of native EQ settings in any official app. My advice is always to download a third-party app that can actually do the job properly.

Since I’m new to the JBL brand, I was hopeful that maybe its audio junkies care a little more about the entire point of tailoring good sound. After all, JBL says these earbuds are ‘designed for performance’. I’ll give JBL brownie points for giving it a whirl and putting in more effort than other brands because there was a workable EQ curve. 

JBL’s EQ settings are found in Stage+. There you will find just two default EQ settings (jazz and vocal). That means for every music genre (and possibly every song) you play, you will spend a fair amount of time tweaking the EQ curve, creating your own presets, and switching between them.

There is also one default ‘DJ Signature’ EQ setting, which is basically a custom EQ designed by a real-life DJ. Unfortunately, Tigerlily’s design didn’t fit with any of the music I was testing.

I like a good bit of bass. Official specs say the earbuds’ frequency response goes from 10 Hz to 20 kHz - it bottomed out at 20 Hz for me but overall that’s not too bad.

The adaptive noise cancelling (ANC) will block out almost every external noise, from the sounds of fingers tapping away on the keyboard to the sound of the TV and wood chipper. in the background.

Ambient Aware (balances and/or amplifies outdoor ambient sounds with music) and TalkThru (lets external noise through and amplifies your own voice and turns the music down). Since I can’t walk, bike, or run at the moment, I couldn't give Active mode a thorough test. Smart Audio Modes can adjust playback depending on the connection, audio quality, and video.

But, be warned. Any song that has a quieter moment (this is especially prevalent in orchestral music) will, inevitably, remind you of the outside world. The ANC is great when the music is pulsing, but not so great during more delicate moments. I’d imagine podcast enthusiasts or audiobook tracks may encounter the same issue.  

Three microphones support phone calls and your random commands to Alexa/Google Assistant - feel free to bark commands all day long from the comfort of your ears.

Another thing you’ll often see me go on about in my reviews is noise bleed, which is when others around you can hear what music you're blasting into your ears. In my case, these earbuds did well at keeping noise contained (especially with the right tips). With these earbuds at the highest volume, my partner was able to ‘barely’ hear the music from two metres away. When sat close, he described it as a minor ‘noise’. 

The official specs mention a 24-hour battery life (6 hours on a single charge with ANC and BT on, and another 18 if charged by the case). 10 minutes of charge can produce an hour of playback.

JBL says it takes two hours to charge the case to full, which is on par with my experience. The earbuds also support wireless charging, however, I’m without a wireless charger at the moment so this feature remains unexplored.

Currently retailing for $349, the JBL Club Pro+ TWS wireless earbuds hit the right notes in terms of design and reasonable ANC. Check them out if you're after a quality pair of earbuds.