JBL Club Pro+ Review: An impressive entry into a crowded market

I’d say JBL have been on a roll lately, but it’s been like that for years. Consistently, the brand has gone from being renowned for their loud, slightly obnoxious, party-minded bass to a maturing producer of headphones that see balance as a virtue. On previous JBL models that I’ve tested, bass has always been wound back – still strong, though – for a better overall performance which brings the mids and highs into view.

That much is repeated with the JBL Club Pro+ truly wireless earbuds, competing nicely in a very, very overcrowded market. Now, I’d say they are on the same level as similarly priced offerings from Sennheiser, Sony, and Bose. Something well worth paying attention to.

Design

JBL aren’t attempting anything different here. The Club Pro+ is a slick black pair of buds that come with 3 pairs of silicone ear tips designed for the usual ear sizes. Despite a noticeable heft in the design, they feel light and comfortable in the ears and fit well enough to make them appropriate for long listening sessions.

JBL have split on-board controls with intuitive use in mind. It’s an easy lay out, where the left bud is used to toggle through active noise cancelling modes (which includes Ambient Aware and Talk Thru), while the right earbud features all the typical touch playback controls you’d expect – skip track, pause, play. You can also configure some functionality via the JBL Headphones app, assigning which bud can be used to answer and end calls, and which can be used to summon your device’s smart assistant.

All fairly standard here, but importantly, it all works well. There’s no erroneous tapping, no unregistered inputs. Across my time with the earphones – I like to test for at least two months before I write about them – I’ve had no issue, unlike with some other competing buds.

You are paying quite a bit for the these earphones though, so you’d want something a bit more generous than an average IPX4 rating. Yes, that’s the same as the AirPods Pro, but Apple is also being similarly stringy when it comes to waterproofing. Splash these, fine, but make sure they aren’t exposed to anything more like a constantly running stream of water.

Performance

With Bluetooth 5.1 and AAC and SBC codecs, you can expect a strong, stable experience with the connection. There were a few stutters and drops when I was moving quite frequently with them in (see: running), but for the most part, they should work fine.

6.8mm drivers in each bud appear to handled performance quite well. As with other JBL headphones I’ve tested in the past, there’s a noticeable attempt at achieving better harmony between the low-end, mids, and highs. Importantly, this is best found at the higher volumes, where the bass doesn’t topple and nothing else about the signature is overwhelmed.

That being said, there’s still a clear preference towards bass. This is JBL after all. So those nice, stinging subs on a series like Big K.R.I.T’s sub-testing “My Sub” series sound great. As does something a bit more spaced out like Kanye West’s “Use This Gospel”.

The tap-to-talk feature that should now be standard on all high-end earphones works exceptionally well here. In fact, it works better than just about any other earphone I’ve tried. Not as intuitively well as on a pair of over-ears, but I’m impressed. The mics have apparently been calibrated especially to make sure this feature works consistently, so that quick chat at the coffee shop won’t throw your entire listening session off balance.

Battery

There’s better battery out there. Although JBL keep it rather strong here. You’re getting a solid 7-8 hours on a single charge, with time spent in the included charging case easily milking 24 hours of use for you. This will, of course, depend heavily on usage so I’d be getting around 6 hours consistently on a single charge, simply because I like my volume maxed out.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights: Excellent audio performance with better balance than you’d think from JBL; responsive on-board controls; consistent tap-to-talk feature and clear mics.
Lowlights: Bass still slightly overwhelming at mid-to-high volumes; poor water resistance.
Manufacturer: JBL
Price: $329.95
Available: Now

Unit supplied by JBL for review.

Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review and a freelance travel writer. You can reach him on Instagram by following @chrisdsingh.

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