JBL Tour Pro 2 review: pretty much as good as wireless earbuds get

The JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds are futuristic – but that doesn't stop them being some of the best wireless earbuds right now

T3 Platinum Award
The JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds on a pink and grey background
(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)
T3 Verdict

It would be easy to disregard the JBL Tour Pro 2 as a gimmick. It would also be foolish, and short-sighted. The screen on the case is genuinely useful, and the sound quality is as good or better than 95% of the competition. A top pick for your ANC earbud needs.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Great battery life

  • +

    Powerful EQ

  • +

    Strong sound

  • +

    Decent ANC

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Spatial sound is hit-and-miss

  • -

    Bulky case

  • -

    Screen is sometimes slow

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If you're looking for a pair of the best wireless earbuds, it's fair to say competition is fierce. There are a whole host of options out there, from high-end luxury devices, to more affordable units that still boast strong specs.

Even if you narrow it down to a pair of the best noise cancelling headphones, the waters are muddied. That causes brands to try new things in a bid to stand out.

That's evident of the earbuds I'm testing here. The JBL Tour Pro 2 packs a touch screen on the front of the charging case. That allows users to make adjustments on the case itself, without having to grab your phone and go into the app.

But, the question is, is it any good? Let's take a closer look.

JBL Tour Pro 2 review: Price and Availability

The JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds retail for £249.99 in the UK. They currently aren't available on the US JBL website.

You can purchase the JBL Tour Pro 2 from the JBL website. It's also available at other retailers like Currys, Very and AO.com.

The JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds on a pink background

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

JBL Tour Pro 2 review: What's new?

If we compare these buds to the JBL Tour Pro+ TWS which came before it, it's clear this is pretty much all new. The driver is now a whopping 10mm, up from 6.8mm on the previous generation.

The case is slightly heavier than the older one, but – crucially – the buds are lighter. They're 0.42g per bud, shaving off 0.08g compared to the previous generation. The battery life is also given a fairly substantial upgrade. JBL rate the total change time for case and buds at 40 hours, up from 24. The maximum time for with and without ANC also gets boosted, up to 8 and 10 hours, respectively.

Of course, the biggest change here is the screen on the front. It's fully touchscreen and – though no official dimensions are listed – measures just shy of an inch and half across. Users can use it to control playback, EQ and more. It can even display notifications you receive.

The JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds on a pink background, next to the Apple Airpods for comparison

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

JBL Tour Pro 2 review: Design

In order to accommodate the touch screen, the Tour Pro 2 doesn't have the bullet-style case. Instead, it's more squared, with a taller, bulkier profile. It's definitely not the most pocket-friendly pair of earbuds I've ever reviewed.

That being said, it's not unattractive. The case sides are rounded, while the bottom is just about flat enough to stand upright. My review unit comes in a dark grey finish. It's nicely matted, with gentle flecks that give it a metallic appearance. The band of gloss around the catch breaks things up nicely, too.

The buds themselves are nicely designed, too. Sure, they aren't going to take home any prizes, but they're sleek and inoffensive. The stems feature a concave glossy material, with the matte JBL logo set on top. The bud portion features some concentric ridging where it meets the stem. It's a neat little nod, reminiscent of the ribbing on a speaker cone.

The JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds on a pink background

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

JBL Tour Pro 2 review: Performance

Let's start with the performance of the touch screen. It's a lot better than I'd expected. Everything is laid out in a really intuitive way, with large buttons to make selections easy. It is sometime a little janky. There's sometimes a bit of lag when swiping or pressing buttons, which does make it feel less useful. When it works right, though, it's a breeze.

I guess the real question is, would I opt to use that instead of the app on my phone? Personally, I definitely would. Don't get me wrong, the JBL app is one of the better ones I've used. It's effortlessly simple, and clean to look at. But I'd still prefer not to take my phone out at all if I can.

One last thing on the screen. It does give notifications, but don't get your hopes up. You'll get the first ten or so words of the notification and that's about it. You'd probably see more on a smartwatch.

Okay, now let's talk sound. In short, these earbuds sound gorgeous. As stock, you'll find a nicely balanced profile, which lets through a brilliant amount of detail. Sound is nicely spaced, making it easy for more complex audio to sound clear and defined.

If you only run the stock profile, though, you're getting about 30% of what these can do. Dive into the app and you'll find a host of powerful sound-sculpting tools. Chief among them is the Graphic EQ. The stock profiles suit a range of scenarios, and do a fairly good job. You can also add in your own curves for precise, personalised tuning.

It also features spatial sound. This, I found to be a bit hit and miss. It works really nicely on live albums, where the separation between audience noise and artist is welcome. On other tracks though, it just seemed to add an odd EQ setting. Sometimes it works, but most of the time I preferred it switched off.

They're also noise cancelling. It's hard to quantify how good the ANC is, but this is as good as any I've tested yet. Outside noise is capped and you're left to enjoy your own personal bubble of musical goodness. The ambient setting works nicely too, allowing external sounds in without overshadowing the music. Plus, the extra TalkThru setting dips the level of your music so you can have a conversation without having to remove your earbuds.

Battery life is also every bit as good as they say. I was averaging 10 hours from the buds and about 40 with the case, just as the spec sheet suggests. In regular use – around 40 minutes of commuting, plus a few hours at work and the gym – these were easily lasting 10 days before they needed topping up. And when they need a charge, they're pretty snappy. I found it was a shade quicker than the 2 hours rated by JBL – a fine showing, indeed!

The JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds on a pink background

(Image credit: Future / Sam Cross)

JBL Tour Pro 2 review: Verdict

It would be easy to look at this device and think it was just a gimmick. That's not a fair assessment, though. The screen is innovative and it really is useful.

But beyond all of that, these are just a really great pair of earbuds. You're getting great sound quality, powerful sculpting possibilities, and great ANC and ambient sound profiles.

There are only a handful of earbuds that offer better sound than these, and even then it's close. Unless you're a real audiophile on the hunt for studio-quality sound, you're unlikely to spot the difference. 

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.