JBL Tour Pro+ review: Another excellent AirPods Pro alternative


Looking for a set of noise-canceling true wireless earbuds that don’t look like little golf tees sticking out of your ears? JBL’s $200 Tour Pro+ Your latest option. They’re smartly designed, compact, and they allow you to tap the earbuds without needing to talk to Alexa or Google Assistant—a trick that even Apple’s AirPods can’t manage.

But do the rest of the Tour Pro+ features measure up to, and should you add them to your shortlist? let’s find out.

What’s in the Box?

JBL Tour Pro+

JBL’s soundbar team has definitely read the sustainable packaging memo – the new JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam is the perfect example of how completely recyclable a box and its contents can be. But apparently, the earbuds team missed that email. The Tour Pro+ comes in a heavily coated box with magnet closure and hard-to-recycle foam and plastic.

Inside, you’ll find the earbuds, their charging case, a USB-C charging cord, five sizes of eartips, two sizes of wing tips, and several printed quick start guides.

design

JBL Tour Pro+

JBL’s Tour lineup, which includes Tour Pro+ earbuds and Tour One ANC headphones, features a sophisticated design. The satin-finish plastic, subtle logo, and just a few high-polish accents give the Tour Pro+ a very high-end vibe.

The earbuds use touch-sensitive surfaces, so there’s little to obstruct their clean lines. Size-wise, they’re similar to Jabra’s Elite 75t, which stick out of your ear, making them easy to put on and take off. The IPX5 rating provides great protection from sweat and water (just don’t immerse them).

Their charging case, which can be charged wirelessly or via the included USB-C cable, isn’t quite as compact as the AirPods Pro, but it’s still highly pocketable. The lid opens and closes easily and the hinge keeps the lid open until you are ready to close it – something that cannot be claimed in many cases. The case can stand vertically if you’re careful, but it’s actually meant to lie flat on its back, highlighting the charging status LED on the bottom next to the USB-C port to charge it wirelessly. gives.

The Tour Pro+ slides in and out of their charging sockets easily thanks to their slightly angled position, but keep them in mind when re-docking: They can sometimes fail to align perfectly with their charging contacts. Huh. Each socket has its own LED indicator so it’s easy to tell if something isn’t right.

Comfort, Control and Connection

JBL Tour Pro+

I found that the default medium cone-style silicone ear tips were perfect for me. Once settled in my ear, the Tour Pro+ was very comfortable and secure. Jogging or going on the sidewalk or jogging on the treadmill should not move them at all.

The Tour Pro+ has a smaller set of wing tips installed, although the term seems inappropriate. They are actually more like mini-fins. But whatever you call them, they didn’t do much for me in terms of added stability. I think they’re only designed to fit under the antihelix – the fold of cartilage in the outer ear – but I find my antihelix is ​​way too big (weirdest Bragg ever). If they actively get in the way or they’re uncomfortable, you can swap them out with flat silicone bands.

Bass response is excellent without overpowering, and there’s plenty of detail through the midrange.

Inside the JBL Headphones app, which you’ll definitely want to download to get the best out of the Tour Pro+, there’s a fit test to help you find out if you’re using the best ear tips for your ears. are. It’s doable: A poor fit will compromise both active noise cancellation (ANC) and sound quality.

Although I still prefer the physical buttons, the Tour Pro+ has very responsive touch controls, which provide audible feedback tones as you tap them. I wish all touch controls had done this – there’s nothing worse than not knowing if your tap was recognized.

Unfortunately, JBL has somewhat brushed off these great touch controls by implementing a very limited set of customizations. Instead of letting users assign one function per gesture per earbud, each earbud should be assigned a function “group”. The playback control group lets you play/pause and skip forward/back the track. The Volume Control group lets you turn the volume up or down. The voice assistant lets you trigger your chosen assistant with gestures (more on this later), and ambient sound control lets you switch from ANC mode and toggle talkthrough on and off.

The Ambient Sound Control group might be the most confusing of them all. With a single tap, you can switch between ANC, ambient sound, and off (no ANC or ambient). But with a double tap, you can toggle TalkThru on and off. Since talkthrough and ambient modes are almost indistinguishable, I think JBL should have simplified it, requiring you only one tap to switch between ANC and ambient.

You can have any two of these groups active simultaneously, which means it is necessary to make a choice. If you want playback control (and who doesn’t?) that means you need to decide which of the other four matters the most. Want to control ANC and volume? You can, but only if you release the playback controls. These are not choices we should be forced to make.

The built-in Wear sensor automatically pauses music when you take the earbud out and plays when you put it back. This feature works really well, pausing and playing quickly in response to changes, but strangely, it only works on the left earbud. You can also disable it in the Headphones app.

It’s great to call Tour Pro+. My voice was clear like a bell.

You can choose to use only one earbud at a time, but make sure you assign the necessary controls to the earbud you’re using. Don’t worry about call answer/end – these functions work on both sides, regardless of which control group you choose.

Bluetooth connection quality is excellent. Indoors, I was able to place three stories between my iPhone 11 and the Tour Pro+ without dropping the signal, and that would likely translate into pretty good outdoor performance, too.

sound quality

JBL Tour Pro+ Headphone App

With the ear tips installed out-of-the-box, and the right size, the Tour Pro+ has a very balanced sound signature. Bass response is excellent without overpowering, and there’s plenty of detail through the midrange. The highs are a bit muted, but still very pleasant.

But the JBL Headphones app actually allows you to dramatically change the Tour Pro+’s behavior, with several presets and a custom option. My favorite is the Club One EQ, which greatly boosts bass and treble and gives the midrange a small bump. It really wakes up these earbuds, boosting energy and seemingly expanding an already pretty generous soundstage. Vocals got the biggest boost, with even better clarity.

The Tour Pro+ isn’t going to loosen your teeth with your bass — if that’s what you want, try the JBL Reflect Mini NC — but the low-end is warm, resonant, and enough to give you bass-forward enjoyment. is more than enough. track like billie eilish bad man or Hans Zimmer’s Time.

They’re better balanced than the Jabra’s similarly priced Elite Active 75t and even compare favorably to Sennheiser’s CX400 BT for overall sound quality.

battery life

JBL claims six hours of playback per charge for the Tour Pro+ earbuds and I found almost exactly the same when playing music at 50% volume. If you turn off ANC, you should get eight hours, but I didn’t test it. It easily beats Apple’s AirPods Pro (4.5 hours with ANC).

The charging case holds three full recharges, giving you a total of 24 or 32 hours before you need to find a wireless (or wired) charging spot.

Whether in Ambient Aware or talkthrough mode, it was easy to listen to conversations and stay aware of traffic.

Speaking of wireless charging, I found the charging case to be very apt regarding its location on my charging mat. If it wasn’t dead-center, it wouldn’t charge and even then, my charging mat sometimes lost its connection. This isn’t something I’ve encountered very often, so it’s possible it was just my particular review unit.

Noise cancellation and transparency

JBL Tour Pro+

The ANC on the Tour Pro+ is heavily calibrated in favor of low-frequency sounds. It works best to counteract engine and tire noise from traffic, or the vibrations of machinery that may be working their way through walls.

I found that high frequencies, like the sound of a bathroom fan, were not blocked effectively, and there was no way to adjust the intensity of the ANC feature so that it could amplify the amount of noise.

JBL has packed a lot of features into the JBL Headphones app that I would say is a must.

This is what I would call a general-purpose ANC. It takes the edge, but doesn’t really go for the muted effect of that cone. If that’s what you want, both the Jabra Elite Active 75t and Sony WF-SP800N proved more capable of blocking out a full range of frequencies.

I like the fact that JBL includes that “Silent Now” mode: hold two touch surfaces for five seconds and keep the Tour Pro+ ANC paired, but turn off Bluetooth so you can get some extra peace without killing yourself. and find peace. battery.

Transparency (or Ambient Mode) works really well. Whether in Ambient Aware or talkthrough mode, it was easy to listen to conversations and stay aware of traffic.

voice assistant access

One of the best features of the Tour Pro+ is not only their ability to work with both Alexa and Google Assistant (there are several earbud models that already do this), but also giving you wake-word access to them. so that you don’t have to constantly reach for one earbud.

Just say, “Hey Google,” or “Alexa,” and your chosen assistant is ready, waiting for you to speak a command.

You’ll have to choose who you want as your active assistant in the Headphones app, but switching from one to the other only takes a few seconds.

I found that the two assistants responded spontaneously in different ways…

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