This JBL Live Pro 2 review is aimed at anyone who wants an effective pair of noise-cancelling headphones that look cool and sound great, but that don’t cost hundreds.
JBL is one of the most well-known audio brands in the world, they make some of the best Bluetooth speakers, some of the best noise-cancelling headphones and some of the best cheap headphones. What makes their products so convincing is that they combine style with party sound and more often than not, affordability.
Sitting towards the top of JBL’s range of true wireless earbuds, the JBL Live Pro 2 are admittedly on the pricier end of affordable. But given the sheer number of features, ranging from Adaptive ANC to FindMyEarbuds and even wireless charging, I’d say they’re worth it.
In this JBL Live Pro 2 review, you can find out everything you need to know about these earbuds from how well they fit to how good they sound.
JBL Live Pro 2 review: price and what’s new
You can buy the JBL Live Pro 2 right now starting from $150 in the US, £130 in the UK and AU$250 in Australia. Take a look at the widgets on this page to see where you can buy them in your region.
Following on from the JBL Live Pro+, the JBL Live Pro 2 have had a few upgrades. Firstly, the battery life has been boosted from 6 hours at a time with ANC switched on, to 8 hours. The charging case will also last longer before it needs a charge, with 30 hours of music built-in, an improvement on the 21 hours before.
Three more microphones have been added to each earbud as well so you can expect elevated call quality, and the water resistance rating has been upgraded from IPX4 to IPX5.
JBL Live Pro 2 review: design and fit
JBL has pulled it out of the bag with the design of these earbuds. Small and stylish, a mirrored stem hangs down from your ear with a tiny printed JBL logo on it, and they slot into a matching rounded square charging case. I’m impressed, despite being made from plastic, they have an air of quality about them.
Another plus point is that you can buy them in a few sleek colourways, including blue, black, rose and silver, so there’s plenty to choose from.
In the box, the JBL Live Pro 2 come with three sizes of silicone eartips which should help you to find the perfect fit. Some true wireless earbuds come with more size options but I still found these to be remarkably comfortable and secure, even when I used them for more active workouts like runs. They’re also IPX5 water resistant so they’ll survive wet splashes, whether that’s from the rain or sweat.
One slight concern to mention about the silicone ear tips is that they kept folding themselves inside out as I removed the earbud from my ear which did make me worry that it could fall off at some point.
To help you decide which size is best for you, ‘Check My Best Fit’ in the JBL Headphones app runs a seal test for you and lets you know whether you’ve found the right wearing position or not. If not then it prompts you to readjust or switch ear tips, then you just can run it again until you get a better result.
Touch controls let you change the music without needing to reach for your phone: tap once on the left to pause/play the music, twice to skip to the next track and three times to start the song again. Tapping once on the right will switch between the ANC and Ambient Aware modes, and twice will switch on the Talk Thru mode. You can also use them to answer your calls and summon your phone’s voice assistant, to control the volume you'll have to adjust the gesture settings through the app.
You get about 10 hours of music at a time from the JBL Live Pro 2 buds, which drops to 8 hours when you switch on the noise cancelling. Add to that the 30 hours provided by the charging case and you’ll rarely have to worry about plugging them in using the USB-C cable.
The case has three diagonal LED lights to let you know its battery level, and you can check on the earbuds' battery through the JBL Headphones smartphone app.
When you do plug in the case, it’ll take about 2 hours to recharge, but you can also pop it on a compatible wireless charger if you have one.
JBL Live Pro 2 review: performance and features
As I’ve come to expect from JBL, these earphones deliver seriously energetic sound without compromising on clarity. 11mm drivers power them and they do a superb job of it.
There is a heavy focus on the bass, which means that if you listen to anything upbeat, you’re in for a treat. What’s really good though, is that the bass doesn’t overwhelm the sound. You still hear the mids push through with force while the treble sounds natural, I still enjoyed listening to these when I wanted to play more relaxed tunes as well.
To better tailor the sound to your tastes, there’s a very detailed manual equaliser in the JBL Headphones smartphone app or you can choose from a set of five presets including Jazz, Club, Vocal, Bass and Studio.
Another feature in the app that adjusts the audio according to what you’re listening to is the Smart Audio & Video mode. It gives you the best audio quality possible when you’re listening to music, and improves lip syncing when you’re watching videos. I kept this feature turned on pretty much all the time.
Something that is really great to see at this price is Adaptive ANC with leakage compensation. It automatically adjusts itself according to your surroundings so you can keep your focus entirely on the music and not what’s going on around you. I thought it worked quite well, blocking out the sound of traffic and a decent amount of train noise.
The Ambient Aware mode lets in some sound from the outside world and balances it better with the music so you can hear things like announcements on the train, for example. Through the app, you can adjust how much noise gets through which is really useful. Similarly, Talk Thru mode will come in handy when you want to have a conversation with someone because you won't need to take the earbuds out. As far as I can tell, it just dips the volume of the audio.
Multi-point connectivity is one of my favourite features that has emerged in true wireless earbuds recently because it means you can be connected to a few different devices at once. That makes switching between them completely hassle-free. For instance, if you were to be watching a video on your laptop, and you receive a call on your phone, you don’t need to disconnect the earbuds and then fiddle around to reconnect them, you can just answer the call and the sound will change over.
Speaking of calls - the call quality was fine, if a little quiet at times, but that won't be too much of a problem for most, as long as you don’t spend all day every day on the phone.
Another handy feature to mention is the automatic pause which stops the music when you take one earbud out. Because of that, you won’t miss any of your favourite songs and you’re also more likely to notice if one were to fall out. Also worth mentioning is the Find My Buds feature. If you were to forget where you left the earbuds then you can locate each one individually by playing a high-pitched beep.
JBL Live Pro 2 review: verdict
The JBL Live Pro 2 true wireless earbuds are well worth their price tag, and they’re also a worthy upgrade from the previous generation.
Thanks to effective ANC and powerful punchy sound, these are a really fun listen and the battery lasts plenty of time, too.
What’s really great about these is that you get loads of up-to-date features including a detailed equaliser to tailor the sound, wireless charging, water resistance and the automatic pause to stop the music when you take one out. Whether you need them for your commute or for your workouts, the JBL Live Pro 2 are a great choice.
JBL Live Pro 2 review: also consider
Another affordable pair of noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds worth considering are the Panasonic RZ-S500W. They do an excellent job of cutting out distracting sounds from your surroundings and you can even adjust how much noise you want to let in, something that not many headphones offer.
Not so interested in ANC? The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus are all about sound quality, they don’t waste time over extra features, it’s just a case of putting them in and pressing play. The best part is that there are often some really great deals on them, which means you could be looking at paying a lot less for them than you might have done even this time last year.
At T3 we don't just test out headphones, we try out everything from smartphones to paddle boards. If you're interested you can find out more about how we test.