JBL Tour Pro 2 Review: TWS With Smart Case
The new JBL Tour Pro 2 takes the user experience to the next level. Typically, when a new successor to headphones is introduced, there are only minor improvements to speak of – a slightly better battery, perhaps slightly better sound, and sometimes – but not always – a smaller size of the earbuds.
However, JBL has done something completely new with the Tour Pro 2. In addition to longer battery life (up to 10 hours in the earbuds) and a smaller footprint, JBL has a real innovation – a 320 x 180 mm smart touch screen on the case itself. But I’ll get back to that.
Noise cancellation now has an option to adjust the level, and if you choose Adaptive ANC, the earbuds will automatically select the level for you. They can also compensate for sound leakage due to poor ear seal. This feature works well, especially indoors on trains or planes, while wind noise remains a challenge like most other earbuds.
The SilentNow feature allows you to use noise cancellation for as long as you want without playing music.
There are two different types of ambient sound modes: Ambient Aware takes in as much of the environment as possible, with a wide frequency range. TalkThru, on the other hand, smooths out more mid-range and less bass to highlight voices in conversations. This feature works well in most situations, and personally, I use it most when I want to hear the surrounding environment.
The buds also supports all common voice assistants (Google, Amazon and iOS), and in the app, you can choose whether to press the left or right earbud to activate the assistant.
Straight out of the box, the Tour Pro 2 offers an immersive listening experience, especially when it comes to the bass which is both strong and physical as I would expect from JBL. However, if you prefer a more linear sound, the bass might be slightly exaggerated, although it is still more balanced and tuned than the bass-heavy earbuds in JBL’s Live series.
The midrange is a bit subdued, which means that the bass can mask the singers’ vocals. While this works well with pop music, it needs some adjustment with acoustic tracks. The earbuds come with preset EQ modes, but I didn’t find any of them particularly appealing.
Thankfully, the EQ has great settings that allow for customization. I boosted the middle of the midrange slightly, using a mild filter curve that covers a fairly wide frequency range. Then, I lowered it a bit at 5 kHz to prevent any harshness. This setting works well with many JBL earbuds, including the Tour Pro 2, and there is plenty of room for fine-tuning.
With this EQ setting, vocals are more open, and the different tonal structures of an acoustic guitar are easier to distinguish.
The smart case
The charging case of the JBL Tour Pro 2 comes with a 3.2 x 1.8 cm LCD screen, which acts as a mediator between the touch controls on the headphones and the mobile app. The LCD screen provides some additional functionalities compared to the touch controls on the headphones, but less than what is offered in the app.
For instance, you can use the LCD screen to select an equalizer preset or turn off the equalizer, but you cannot fine-tune the settings for the presets. Similarly, you can turn the noise-cancelling feature on or off via the LCD screen, but you need to use the app for more advanced settings. (You can also turn the noise-cancelling feature on or off via the touch controls on the headphones).
Besides these features, there are many other functions that you can access through the LCD screen, such as controlling playback, adjusting the volume, skipping tracks, turning on “Spatial Sound” (which provides a more immersive audio experience), setting a timer, activating “Silent now” mode (which mutes the audio and turns on noise-cancelling for a set period), checking notifications, locating the headphones, and using the LCD screen as a flashlight.
The question is whether these features are useful or just a novelty. In my opinion, they are practical and useful. While the touch controls on the headphones are decent, it can be fiddly to use them and make mistakes. With the JBL Tour Pro 2, I found myself using the LCD screen on the charging case to control the headphones within minutes, abandoning the touch controls entirely.
The only thing I really miss with the smart case is the ability to see which song and artist is currently playing on Spotify. A feature that has been available in old FM radios since the 90s…
The JBL Tour Pro 2 headphones are among the most highly anticipated on the market today, but with a price tag of 2799 kr, they are not the cheapest option. However, how does their value for money compare to their performance and features?
Based on my test of the headphones, I can confidently say that they deliver high-quality sound and a range of advanced features, such as True Adaptive Noise Cancelling, JBL Pro Sound, and JBL Spatial Sound. They also have a long battery life of up to 40 hours and are compatible with both Google Fast Pair and Microsoft Swift Pair. Not least, they also offer an innovative Smart Case that allows you to manage your playback, calls, and settings without needing to use your phone.
Considering all these features and performance, the price of the JBL Tour Pro 2 is reasonable. Yes, as mentioned, they are not the cheapest option on the market, but considering their high sound quality and many advanced features, they are definitely worth the price and an excellent choice for anyone seeking high-performance headphones.