JBL has a real luxury problem. Because the Tour Pro 2 contains so much exciting technology that the US company struggles with clear highlights – and actually extremely practical features such as multipoint (connecting two devices at the same time) are not actively advertised at all. The most unusual and also the most striking star is certainly the charging box with an integrated touch display, which can be used to make the most important headphone settings without having to take out the smartphone every time. A unique selling proposition that could set a precedent.
To put it simply, everything that JBL currently has in store has been packed into the new in-ear flagship. But now the question arises whether this leads to confusing overkill or to one of the best headphones on the market. A little spoiler in advance: As so often, the truth lies in between. We reveal the details in our detailed test report.
Design and comfort
The JBL Tour Pro 2 is visually unobtrusive. Instead of attracting attention with a striking play of colors or striking details, the earbuds prefer to attract attention with their different surfaces and structures. Sometimes matt, sometimes shiny, sometimes rippled, sometimes smooth. There are also a few nice details in places, such as the highlighted touch surface on the pen with the slightly shiny JBL logo. Available in black or champagne white, everything is covered in similar shades, which brings a certain calmness to the design. In-ears as well as the colour-coordinated charging case look quite classy and are first-class processed.
The two earbuds are comfortable in the ears, each weighing 6.1 grams. In fact, they are so good that they are often forgotten there. However, the hold can be a problem for some ear types: In our case, the earbuds slip out with the smallest jerky movement or when bending over – no matter what attachment size is used. When we finally put on a second pair of tester ears, it turned out that the fit was okay here and that light (outdoor) sports were also conceivable from time to time. Thanks to the IPX5 certification, the in-ears can also be used in the rain. At this point it must be emphasized that wearing comfort and support are to be assessed individually. From our point of view, however, the Tour Pro 2 is not suitable for sports. There are far more useful models – like those from our top 10 sports headphones.
equipment and service
In addition to the charging case and earbuds, accessories include a short USB-C charging cable and earplugs in three sizes. With a view to the upper price range and the problems with the seat, we feel that the attachments supplied are not enough. A few additional sizes or variants with memory foam simply should have been in there. Luckily, retrofitting makes sense and isn’t expensive, as we summarized in our guide to improving fit, shielding, and sound for in-ear headphones.
What JBL lacks in terms of equipment, the manufacturer makes up for in terms of operation with the Tour Pro 2. Initial setup is painless and the fantastic companion app is one of the best and most comprehensive on the market. Here you can really set and personalize each of the many comfort features in detail. The touch control is quickly rehearsed, works well and can also be adjusted a little via the app. If desired, the language of the announcements (e.g. from English to German) and the language assistant (Siri or Alexa) can also be changed there.
JBL Tour Pro 2 Screenshot
The third player in the operating group is the charging case: the 1.45-inch touch screen on the front can be used to set functions that can otherwise only be found in the app. For example, you can easily switch between the different equalizer presets, which would otherwise require you to grab your smartphone and start the app. In addition, the touch control on the earbuds can also be relieved, for example by moving the entire ANC management to the charging box.
All in all, that sounds super practical, but in practice things with the touch display don’t run smoothly at all. We found three main points of criticism: First, the screen reacts extremely sluggishly. Secondly, the menu is completely overloaded. In the worst case, you have to wipe your way through 14 pages. Some of these can be excluded from the menu via the app, but not the completely pointless ones, like choosing the wallpaper on the lock screen. As if you want to change it all the time – the way via the app is completely sufficient. This urgently needs to be improved with an update.
The same applies to our third point of criticism: Incoming messages and notifications can be displayed on the charging case. Very practical, but with only four to five seconds this happens far too short. We haven’t found a way to increase the timing or browse the news to make the feature workable. Well meant, poorly implemented. However, a patch could fix that as well.
Technology, features and battery performance
As mentioned at the beginning, the Tour Pro 2 offers a lot of the latest technology. In particular, there are the two dynamic 10 millimeter drivers, which are supposed to sound the so-called “JBL Pro Sound” into the listeners. If you can’t imagine what that means: JBL basically means the often courted “JBL Signature Sound”, which is defined by powerful bass and clean highs, only finely tuned. Only SBC and AAC are used as codecs. We would have preferred AptX or LDAC for Android users. Transmission is via Bluetooth 5.3 and the earphones are even multipoint-capable, which JBL doesn’t really mention anywhere, although this is an extremely practical and unfortunately far too rare functionality. Over Multipoint Bluetooth two devices can be paired with the earbuds at the same time – and the Tour Pro 2 automatically recognizes from which the sound should be looped through.
When we come to the features, the list gets particularly long. The highlights include the fine-tuning of the ANC and Aware modes, the useful energy-saving functions and an equalizer with five presets (Jazz, Vocal, Club, Bass and Studio) – and the ability to add as many custom presets as you like. As an exceptional feature, the Tour Pro 2 offers a surround sound mode called “JBL Spatial Sound”, which we don’t like so much for music, but is quite nice for films and games. With “Personi-fi 2.0” there is also a tool in the app that uses a multi-stage hearing test to create a personal hearing profile in order to then adjust the sound afterwards. A very cool feature that also makes an audible – and better-sounding – difference for us.
The Tour Pro 2 shows good values in terms of battery performance: the ten hours of music playback time specified by JBL with the ANC switched off and eight hours with the ANC switched on correspond to our experience. The charging case, which also supports Qi charging, has a total of up to 40 hours.
Basically, we attest the Tour Pro 2 a great sound potential. The crux of the matter, however, is the comparatively large number of sound features and setting options that the headphones bring with them. It’s obviously very gratifying to have so much feature choice and control. However, we also find that it is easy to overdo it here. Anyone who simply activates everything that JBL offers in terms of sound features can quickly get a rather strange gibberish in their ears. According to the motto: too many cooks spoil the broth – or in this case the sound.
At the beginning, some hard work is invested in the fine tuning, the equalizer is optimized (the in-house presets often sound rather inappropriate) and maybe the great thing Personi-fi 2.0feature is set up and activated, JBL’s in-ear top model shows its best sound side. Sometimes less is more. All other convenience features should be considered optional and only activated when needed.
When it comes to noise cancellation, the Tour Pro 2 performs at a good level. Low-frequency noise in particular is strongly suppressed. However, the earphones cannot dampen high-pitched sounds such as voices quite as effectively. A busy café can sometimes still be heard. Sony, Apple or Bose offer more advanced technology here – such as the Bose QC Earbuds II (test report).
Unsurprisingly, JBL also has some comfort features ready with the ANC: The noise canceling can be continuously adjusted or, if desired, automatically adapts to the environment. In addition, an auditory canal and loss compensation can be switched on. For the latter, the software checks the sound loss status and adjusts the ANC level in real time. However, we did not notice an effect with either function.
Im Ambient Aware– and TalkThrumode, however, we noticed a strong background noise. However, both modes serve their purpose well. The voice quality for phone calls is okay. This is also useful here VoiceAware-Function that plays your own voice during calls and regulates it in three stages.
JBL’s recommended price for the Tour Pro 2 is 280 euros. At the time of testing, at least the black version can occasionally be found on the market for around 250 euros.
Frankly, we’re torn about the JBL Tour Pro 2. On the one hand, it offers the latest technology with an almost overwhelming number of comfort functions. He also knows how to convince with sound and ANC – and then there’s the touch display on the charging box, which nobody else has. On the other hand, there is also a big disappointment here: the cool idea of using the charging box, i.e. the real highlight of the in-ears, seems like it hasn’t been thought through to the end and is much too fiddly. The potential for outstanding headphones is simply wasted here. It remains to be hoped that JBL will make some improvements with a software update.
Of course, the smart charging case is still a small highlight – if you want it, you should grab it. Without the gimmick’s but also pretty good. If you can accept a few compromises in terms of comfort features and want to save a lot of money, you will find a strong alternative at JBL of all places, which we can only recommend: the JBL Reflect Aero TWS (test report) from 115 euros with almost identical sound performance as well as ANC and with far better carrying properties. Otherwise, it is also worth taking a thorough look at our True Wireless Headphones theme world.