JBL Tour Pro 2 with buds inside the case

JBL Tour Pro 2 Review: The best smartcase earbuds out there?

The JBL Tour Pro 2 are earbuds that offer much more than just an interactive smart case. But it comes with a couple of caveats

JBL Tour Pro 2 with buds inside the case
JBL Tour Pro 2 Review
Bottom Line
Don't let JBL's Tour Pro 2 interactive display steal the thunder of an otherwise amazing pair of everyday wireless earbuds. That is because these ANC headphones score respectfully in nearly every category.
Pros
The case screen is highly usable and can come in handy
The six microphones are excellent for voice quality
It has lots of features and has an easy-to-use app
Wireless charging
Auto play/pause
Sounds good, especially with the custom equalizer
Long 40-hour battery
IPX5 water resistant
Cons
Trouble getting a good seal with ear tips
Touch controls are too sensitive
Spatial Audio is subpar
4.5

JBL is the first to kick off an inevitable trend in true wireless headphones: the Smart Case! The JBL Tour Pro 2 are the first headphones to feature a fully capable touch screen on their case.

While the buds offer plenty to brag about, the case is the star of the show with a 1.45″ that lets you do pretty much everything you’d typically in the brand’s headphone app.

The screen is a blend of novelty and practicality. Since there’s almost no drawback to having the screen, the JBL Tour Pro 2 is a compelling pair of buds with their “legendary” JBL sound quality, spatial audio, ANC, 6-microphone “perfect call” setup, and 40-hour battery (32h with ANC).

JBL Tour Pro 2: Smart case and bud design

JBL Tour Pro 2 with its smart case and earbuds
JBL Tour Pro 2 is on the chunkier side but still easily pocketable. The buds are AirPods style but with short, broad stems. They look nice and are on-brand

The most impressive quality of the JBL Tour Pro 2 smart case is that it’s not bulkier or heavier than your average true wireless headphone case. It’s on the chunkier side but still easily pocketable. At 73 grams, it still weighs slightly less than Sony’s flagship WF-1000XM3 case.

JBL Tour Pro 2 smart case with other headphone cases
The JBL Tour Pro 2 smart case’s screen is 1.45″. While the resolution isn’t “retina,” it’s sharp enough to render and read small text

The screen is 1.45″, and while the resolution isn’t “retina,” it’s sharp enough to render and read small text. The screen is large enough to feature a few easily pressable buttons at a time. The touch screen is also about as responsive as your phone’s, which is a relief: you’re mostly just swiping through screens and tapping buttons.

The buds are AirPods style but with short, broad stems. They look nice and are on-brand, but don’t stand out the same way the case does. The ear tips are silicon and oval; they come in three sizes. The buds are very comfortable since they weigh only 12 grams but don’t stay in so well while exercising. You could probably fix this just by swapping out for after-market foam ear tips.

The outside of each bud is a one-touch button. Accidental presses are very common when inserting or adjusting the buds. Since the fit isn’t perfect, we changed the default tap on one bud from ambient sound control to volume up since it gets disruptive when adjusting the buds.

Each bud supports a single tap, double tap, and tap-and-hold. There’s no triple tap. You don’t have the luxury to customize every tap; you must choose between one of three profiles for each bud: ambient sound, volume, or playback/assistant.

JBL Tour Pro 2: Battery and charging

JBL Tour Pro 2 plugged to charging cable
Depending on ANC use, the JBL Tour Pro 2’s charging case and buds have enough juice to last about 32-40 hours

Depending on ANC use, the charging case and buds have enough juice to go 32-40 hours without recharging. The buds will last an impressive 8-10 hours on a single charge. These are very respectable numbers and on the high end. It feels like we haven’t charged in weeks, even with regular usage.

A 15-minute quick charge will get you 4-hour hours of playback. The charging case supports wireless charging and USB-C, and JBL included a short USB-A to USB-C cable.

JBL Tour Pro 2: Active Noise Cancellation

The ANC is quite good, especially if it creates a good seal with the ear tips. The noise cancellation is better than average, but not quite the level of the best-in-class models like Sony’s. The cancellation is very clean and natural sounding and can eliminate most background noise.

At a low volume, we can’t hear the treadmill while walking on it. It can also cut out a lot of commuter noise, but not all. An adaptive ANC feature adjusts the strength based on ambient noise. The JBL app will even personalize ANC for your ear canal through a quick sound test. Finding ear tips that create a tight seal is critical for getting the best ANC.

JBL Tour Pro 2: Smart case features and usability

JBL Tour Pro 2 with smart case display and buds
You can change JBL Tour Pro 2’s smart case settings in-app, including settings like ambient sound, equalizer presets, and spatial sound

The smart case has almost all the expected controls and some extras. There are still a few features we’d love to see added. Of course, you can use the screen to change volume, tracks, and play/pause (but so can your phone’s lock screen).

You can change settings you’d expect in-app, like ambient sound (ANC/ambient aware/talk-through), equalizer presets, and spatial sound. Then, you can control some headphone preferences and case preferences, like voice-aware, auto play/pause, case wallpaper, and case brightness.

And finally, you can use your case to find your buds, set a timer, or turn the screen into a flashlight. All these screens feature the battery life of the case and each bud. It also features the current time and some notification icons. The case will even display push notifications sent to your phone.

With all the case does, there are a few big opportunities for improvement. Firstly, the case doesn’t have a ‘currently playing’ screen or a way to choose what app to play music from. There’s also no way to activate the voice assistant. And finally, you can’t put your headphones into pairing mode, which we would have appreciated greatly; remembering how to enter pairing mode is always a challenge.

The case features are all highly usable, even if some of the features are a few swipes away. At the time of writing, you can’t reorder the features, but you can eliminate some screens from the app. It’s not often that the case is handier than the phone, yet we still find ourselves using it.

Accessing features like Spatial Audio or audio presets can be faster with the case. It’s also nice to see each bud’s battery and the case’s too. One undocumented perk of the case is that the headphones pair once you open the case so that music plays the second you insert them into your ear.

JBL has one of the best apps for features and usability: they’ve displayed every feature on the main screen in a long, scrollable, highly visual page. The app explains what everything does, and there’s no complicated deep nested menu system. There’s even a handful of smart features like a fit checker and an audio profile personalizer.

JBL Tour Pro 2: Sound quality

JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds with the silicon ear tips
The sound quality of the JBL Tour Pro 2 is quite good — it’s detailed and clear and features JBL’s “Legendary Pro Audio Sound”

The sound quality is quite good — it’s detailed and clear. It is powered by 10mm drivers and features JBL’s “Legendary Pro Audio Sound.”

The default tuning and profiles (all of them) feel a bit flat for our taste. They lack oomph, especially in the mids, but this is fixable with the custom EQ, and now we’re almost as happy with the liveliness of the audio as other headphones in this price range. The bass will sound lighter if you don’t have a tight seal in your ear — we struggled with this.

JBL Tour Pro 2 smart case display
We don’t love the JBL Tour Pro 2’s spatial audio— it makes music sound airy and doesn’t give us the immersive 3D experience we expect

Spatial Sound is usually a hit or miss and depends on the implementation and the content. We don’t love JBL’s spatial audio— it makes music sound airy and doesn’t give us the immersive 3D experience we expect. It’s possible it sounds better with certain music, videos, or games. It’s a personal preference, and it’s easy to toggle on and off to try it out.

The microphone quality on the Tour Pro 2 is excellent — one of the best we’ve reviewed for true wireless headphones; voices come through crisp, clear, and natural.

There’s also impressive background noise cancellation: they feature JBL’s “6 mic crystal call algorithm”, which doesn’t mean much to us considering we’ve reviewed six other microphone headphones with fancy algorithms that sound crummy, muffled, or robotic.

JBL nailed it with this microphone — it’s perfect for voice calls and video meetings.

JBL Tour Pro 2 review: Final thoughts

JBL Tour Pro 2 with the smart case, ear tips, charging cable and box
JBL’s Tour Pro 2 redefines earbuds as an innovative audio experience, offering top-tier microphones, high-quality audio, ANC, and abundant features through both the headphones and the app

JBL’s groundbreaking Tour Pro 2 aren’t just earbuds; they’re an innovative audio experience. The headphones and app alone are already competitive with high-quality audio, top-tier microphones, ANC, and abundant features.

While seemingly gimmicky, the case’s interactive display can be surprisingly practical. Plus, it looks cool! It is just the beginning for case screens — even Apple submitted a patent earlier this year for an AirPod screen.

Our only hangup with the Tour Pro 2 is that we couldn’t find a perfect fit with the three silicon-included ear tips — we may need to invest in memory foam tips.

The JBL Tour Pro 2 is priced at $249.99; they’re not cheap but reasonable for high-end ANC headphones. They are currently available from Amazon in Black or Champagne.

JBL Tour Pro 2
$249.95

The JBL Tour Pro 2 isn't just about the cool and practical interactive display; the earbuds and app feature high-quality audio, top-tier microphones, and ANC, making them an amazing pair of everyday headphones.

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01/16/2024 01:23 am GMT
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