JBL's Live Pro+ TWS earbuds are the latest addition to the multitude of wireless in-ear headphones options for audio consumers in Aotearoa.
Costing around $300, they're not cheap, so must justify that price when compared to competitors on the market.
So are JBL's latest earbuds good value for money?
I've been using the JBL Live Pro+ TWS earbuds for a few weeks and here are my thoughts.
I've been waiting for a set of earbuds to really impress me for a while now - often much is promised and less is delivered. JBL's Live Pro+ TWS have not let me down.
The moment the box was opened and I was presented with the small, lightweight charging case and a selection of different sized silicone ear tips, I couldn't wait to blast some heavy metal through them and really test them out.
But I want to make sure I have them set up properly first, and that doesn't take too long thanks to the JBL Headphones app, which works on iOS or Android.
Not only does it give me plenty of flexibility to define what happens when I tap or hold on the earbuds, it has a 'Check my best fit' option which proved really useful.
It was able to identify that my left earbud wasn't in the optimal position. So with a little trial and error readjusting, I was able to fit it perfectly. It resulted in a more comfortable and better overall experience.
I'm a clumsy person at the best of times and worry I'm going to lose an expensive earbud while trying to stay healthy - but those different sized silicone tips ensured I had an optimal fit that stood up to plenty of walking around Auckland streets and smashing out a couple of runs on the treadmill.
The IPX4 water resistance came in handy on one of those walks too when I was caught in an unexpected early morning downpour on Maungawhau. The rain was no barrier to continued podcast performance.
One of the most important features of earbuds for me is noise cancelling and the Live Pro+ TWS earbuds are really strong here.
As soon as it was activated the incessant background drone of the air conditioning in the office was gone. Both the 'Active' and 'Everyday' noise cancelling modes proved perfect for wandering around town - I like to ensure I cut out as much external noise as possible.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to try out 'Travel' mode in a train or plane, but if the performance of the other modes are replicated then I'm comfortable it would help make the audio as clear as possible.
I used the ambient sound control a couple of times when traffic was particularly bad to ensure there were no nasty car-shaped surprises coming from behind and this worked as expected - who likes having to take out their carefully fitted earbuds when they don't have to, right?
Throw in excellent battery life that I never came close to depleting - up to seven hours of continual use with an additional 21 hours of full charge in the case - and a microphone that provides clear and crisp audio and you have a pretty decent set of wireless earbuds.
But - and it's a big but - if the overall audio performance can't match the rest of those impressive features then it's going to be a big problem. You might even say that nothing else matters. So how do they stack up to a bit of Metallica?
I love the sound I get from these earphones. It's a truly immersive experience, with full-sounding music, great bass and excellent clarity. Vastly superior to other earbuds I've tried out.
And that was on the default setting. For audiophiles out there, there's the option to select one of the pre-defined EQ settings to boost bass or vocals too.
But if you have some time and enjoy playing around, the ability to create your own unique EQ settings is fantastic. It's intuitive too - I can play with the graph and hear the results in real time, allowing me to perfect the sound and then save them for later use too.
I really couldn't have been happier with the overall quality and depth of the music I was presented with.
There's really not much to dislike about this set of JBL earbuds, but there are a couple of minor annoyances.
I'm a bit of a fiddler and frequently touch my earbuds to ensure they're still fitted as well as possible. With these, unfortunately, it meant I paused the music WAY more than I intended to.
Yes, the touch control is that sensitive. It got to the point where I was considering turning it off when I went on a long walk so I could fiddle to my heart's content without interrupting Iron Maiden.
And therein lies the second issue - after a couple of hours I found my right ear was becoming a little sore.
It wasn't really painful, more uncomfortable - and I appreciate not everyone has earbuds in for over two hours at a time at the levels of audio I do. Nor does everyone have the same ear canal shape.
But if you have sensitive ears just be wary - I haven't had this issue with other products I've reviewed and if you want to use earbuds in bed or a long-haul flight, these might not be the best choice.
The JBL Live Pro+ TWS earbuds have climbed into my silver medal position behind the AirPod Pros thanks to their excellent overall performance.
There's really not much downside to these sleek, black beauties and I have enjoyed wearing and using them in a variety of situations.
If black isn't your colour then they are also available in white in New Zealand - while the pink and beige options seen online don't seem to be available locally yet.
And while comfort is undoubtedly important, unless you have these in for an extended period of time you're unlikely to have issues with that.
More important, of course, is the sound quality - something other earbuds seem to have overlooked. And I struggled to find fault there.
If you're in the market for a very good set of wireless earbuds without breaking the bank then I have no hesitation in recommending these.
Newshub was supplied a set of JBL Live Pro+ TWS for this review.