JBL Tour Pro 2 review: the screen-toting case is fun, but the sound is just fine

With a touchscreen case and lots of settings these buds are fun to use but not fantastic

JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds and case on navy background
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The JBL Tour Pro 2's touchscreen is a winner. We enjoyed using it and so will most of your train carriage. There are lots of settings on offer here and the JBL app is fun to use. We thought ANC was pretty good and enjoyed listening to them, but they don't feel worth the price tag and some genres definitely sound better than others.


  • +

    Touchscreen case is great

  • +

    Various fit tests/EQ profiles add value

  • +

    Good battery life


  • -

    Sound could be better for the price

  • -

    ANC is average

  • -

    Rivals offer more

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JBL Tour Pro 2: two-minute review

JBL is famed for its rock-solid audio products, the kind of shiny but affordable gems which reveal themselves as diamonds in the rough more often than not and almost always, always sound excellent for the money. So what happens when the company veers off its successfully navigated low-cost path to go all-in on a flagship set of all-guns-blazing, active noise-cancelling, uniquely screen-toting earbuds? Is our best noise-cancelling earbuds guide about to welcome a new arrival? 

The JBL Tour Pro 2 sit above (way above) the brand’s other earbuds – including the splendid JBL Live Pro 2 – which feature possibly the best active noise cancellation at the level I've ever experienced. But the huge upgrades are easy to see from the off; there's a whacking great color touch-screen on the front of the case for starters. 

This, dear reader, is a thing of beauty. It is delightful. It's fun, it lets you accept calls with ease (how many times have we tried our best to touch the correct earpiece in the right way, succeeding only in hanging up on our friendly caller?) and it provides simple, scrollable access to ANC profiles, alarms, spatial audio and other perks. During daily use, we find ourselves playing with EQ profiles and useful extras which might have seemed unworthy of the hassle had they been squirrelled away in an app, requiring our phone. Then again, the screen did lose its sparkle, so to speak, after a few days.

Because of said screen, we worried that the battery-life might be a little on the anaemic side. Not so – the total claim of up to 50 hours of playtime (or 30 hours with ANC activated) and a very good 10 in just the buds themselves before they need charging stood up to scrutiny. Fast charge means 10 minutes plugged in will get you five hours of playtime too, which is a smart trick. 

So off they go to our best true wireless earbuds guide then? We love the design; we love all of the sound tests and special customizations – including Personi-fi, which is one of the most thorough audio tests within a set of earbuds we've taken to date. We also think the JBL Tour Pro 2 sound good and ANC works well. But that's it. We didn't find the sound stellar, and we wouldn't rate the ANC as fantastic. 

Listening to music with the JBL Tour Pro 2 is a pleasant experience for the most part. Instrumental music, jazz, easy listening and soulful tracks sounded smooth. But bassy tracks, rock music and even some vocals didn't sit well with us. Vocals, at times, were a little tinny – especially with the built-in EQ profiles, which we didn't enjoy using – and it was hard to pick out the detail in powerful instrumental tracks, making for a muddy listen at times. 

To us it feels a little like JBL nailed it with the JBL Live Pro 2 and tried to go all out with the Tour Pro 2 – slapping a screen on the case, bumping up the specs, improving the sound – when really they're excellent buds and at times it feels like the Tour Pro 2 are a little overcooked somehow.

Don't get us wrong here, the JBL Tour Pro 2 are good. In fact, if you don't have many top-performing buds to compare them to like we do, you might find them great. But are they premium price tag, top-of-the-range great? We're not sure.  

JBL Tour Pro 2 case on beige background

The case makes answering calls without touching your phone so, so much easier.  (Image credit: Future)

JBL Tour Pro 2: price and release date

  • Launched January 2023
  • Coming to the US in Spring 2023
  • Cost $249.95 / £220 / AU$350 

The JBL Tour Pro 2 launched in January 2023 in most regions and will be coming to the US in Spring 2023. The buds cost $249.95 / £220 / AU$350 in either champagne or black finishes. 

This price puts them slap bang into competition with the likes of Apple's AirPods Pro 2 ($249 / £249 / AU$399) and the Bose QuietComfort 2 ($299 / £279 / AU$429), some of the best true wireless earbuds you can buy today, a category in which the Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds also feature among the best, at $279.99 / £250 / AU$449.95 – although this particular set of earbuds is now available for quite a bit less than the original MSRP. 

In case it needs to be mentioned, this pricing puts the JBL Tour Pro 2 out of contention for our best budget earbuds buying guide, where the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, Beats Studio Buds and Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 rule the roost (although they aren't as fully featured of course). 

For this money – and toting the smart screen no other audio outfit has offered to date – the JBL Tour Pro 2 are on to a winner, provided the sound is up to snuff. 

JBL Tour Pro 2 app on three screens

The JBL Headphone app makes myriad options easy to access and understand  (Image credit: Future)

JBL Tour Pro 2: features

  • Excellent app adds scope to tailor the case
  • Sound and fit tests add value
  • ANC efficacy is easily beaten by AirPods Pro

You can customize the sound by telling the buds which sonic profile sounds best to you, in the Personi-fi 2.0 software. It starts out with an environment noise check (you need to be in a relatively quiet spot), then a wearing status check (you need to have a good seal betwixt ear canal and earbud). It then plays you nine chirpy sounds per ear, and you remove your finger when the sound is imperceptible. We take this test twice, and receive a different pictorial result each time. That said, the second time, the sound augmentation did feel more to our liking. 

However, other members of the team weren't as impressed and there was no discernible difference in the audio sample that plays after the test, no matter how many times they tried.

Still, we're not done. The Ear Canal Test (which must be done in a noisy environment) plays another music clip. After it, you can relax as the hybrid True Adaptive ANC does the rest. We note a slight hiss after completion, but toggling 'Leakage Compensation' and 'Ear Canal Compensation' within the 'Customize ANC' tab largely nixes it. We sit under an office heater at work and find it is quashed by the Tour Pro 2 ANC, but certain low-level sounds (cars passing outside, heeled footsteps on concrete) do creep in. Switch to the Apple AirPods Pro 2 and it's a different story – the bottom drops out of the room. With the Tour Pro 2, low-level sounds are diminished, but still, we can hear some extraneous background noise. 

The six-mic setup does promote crystal-clear audio during our tests – and the advanced built-in voice recognition can react to your voice, pause music and enable Ambient Aware, then resume the tunes once your conversation is over. This is really good, (it can be set to low, mid or high, depending on how loudly you and your colleagues speak) and we also find call-handling a breeze. But those are just two of a slew of perks, including an EQ tab with five different presets (or create your own), Spatial Sound profiles for music, movies or games, 'smart' audio and video modes, SilentNow (which aims to create a no-music silent bubble by turning on ANC but disconnecting Bluetooth – ideal for naps, because it can be set on a timer with an alarm at the end), Personal Sound Amplification (which can amplify situational sound from your surroundings – and between each ear) adding a volume limit and a Find My Buds feature, if one goes missing. All of this, and we've yet to talk about the features afforded by the case… All in good time. 

Before that, the buds: they feature a capacitive touch panel at the very top of the stem. You can switch noise cancelling on and off with a tap on the left stem, double tap for TalkThru and tap and hold to trigger Siri. All of these are customizable – at least to a point. You can’t decide which gestures do what, but you can select which gets priority on each bud. If you want on-ear volume control (which most of us do) you have to sacrifice either ambient sound control or playback options, which is a shame – but a relatively small gripe. 

We need to stress that the case helps in a big way, but we do think this experience could be subjective. The screen built into it never fails to acquiesce to our taps first time, quickly becoming a joy and a pleasure we wonder how we ever lived without. For example, we find ourselves scrolling straight to the volume tile (you swipe across) to alter volume rather than even attempt to use the buds. It's a brilliant addition – and within the JBL Headphones app, you can alter the screen brightness, choose one of five screensavers, toggle on message notifications and select which of seven further feature shortcuts you'd like to have access to on-screen. We toggle off SilentNow, since it's a feature we'll rarely use (we don't get to sleep on the job!) but for some that may be a priority. It's also very handy that notifications appear on this screen too – it really is like a smartwatch on your charging case – like calls and messages. 

Although we were excited by the case – and do think it could be game-changing for some – it's worth mentioning we did use it less and less once the novelty had worn off. If you find yourself forever opening apps that control your earbuds or headphones, it'll make a big difference. If you don't need to tweak settings much, it may be more of a gimmick.

  • Features score: 4.5/5

JBL Tour Pro 2 earbud held in hand

The earbud is quite deep, but it's secure even in our smaller ears  (Image credit: Future)

JBL Tour Pro 2: sound quality

  • Easy-listening, jazz and instrumental genres sound good
  • Not for those who prioritize detail and dynamic breadth
  • Doesn't have the punch or power we were expecting

These buds sound good, they really do. But they're not fantastic and that's what we expected with their price tag. Having said that, with lots of settings we did find a sound we enjoyed and think they definitely suit some genres more than others. 

We experimented with the different EQ profiles on offer and settled on leaving these off in favor of Harman's revered curve (the company's own heavily researched target sound signature, said to produce the best sound quality that most listeners prefer). That's because we found the EQ sound profiles to be a bit of a disappointment, especially vocals which were tinny and studio, which sounded far away. We didn't notice much of a difference in the others. 

We most enjoyed the JBL Tour Pro 2 for easy listening and soulful tracks. Proxima Parada's Musta Been a Ghost was smooth and the balance felt perfect here. The same can be said for instrumental and ambient music, like Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury's score for Devs. We like to listen to that while working and it provided an enjoyable soundtrack to our day. Having said that, instrumental music only sounded good to a point. Hildur Guðnadóttir's Joker soundtrack lacked the detail and the power we're used to from other buds. We had just been using the LG Tone Free T90Q buds so compared the two and the LGs felt more expansive, more powerful and enjoyable to listen with.

It's worth mentioning that spoken word sounded great and, strangely enough, the not-totally-perfect-but-fine ANC coupled with this fact made these good buds to wear outside if you like walking and listening to audiobooks and podcasts. We don't like feeling completely isolated from the world when we're listening on-the-move, so these did seem like the best of both worlds.

Tracks with more bass or rock music didn't sound as rich or powerful as we'd have liked. For example the 2023 Remaster of Iggy & The Stooges' Search and Destroy was a little muddied and we couldn't differentiate between instruments and vocals as much as we'd have liked, meaning there was an overall flat effect. Likewise, the Dead Weather's Treat Me Like Your Mother lacked detail, resulting in a muddied listen that wasn't altogether pleasant. 

Wondering if this was just something to do with rock music than the buds themselves, we listened to BANKS' Waiting Game and found the vocals more tinny than we expected – that's usually such a smooth listen – and the bass was powerful, but it had a fuzzy-sounding effect. Look, all of these examples sounded objectively fine, but we're used to trialling a pair of new earbuds at this level and being blown away by the new things we discover from our favorite tracks, that didn't happen here. Instead, we were underwhelmed.  

If you want buds for music while you're working or podcasts, we like these. If you're after audiophile quality or like powerful tracks – whether that's classical or rock – we think you might be disappointed here.

  • Sound quality score: 3.5/5

JBL Tour Pro 2 earbud held in a hand

We liked the small stem of the JBL Tour Pro 2 buds, which stayed in place better than buds with longer ones. (Image credit: Future)

JBL Tour Pro 2: design

  • Smart case is really fun to use
  • Battery life is surprisingly good 
  • Some will struggle to achieve a seal

As with Apple's AirPods range, the Honor Earbuds 3 Pro, Huawei Freebuds Pro 2 and Nothing Ear (1) to name just a few, the JBL Tour Pro 2 sport little stems. Despite thinking that the driver housings look a little on the bulky side at first glance, some of the team with smaller ears downsize once and find the earpieces fit well very little fiddling. That said, those with larger ears may struggle – only three ear tips are provided, and one of the team couldn't achieve a seal good enough to pass any of the fit tests (more on these in a moment) even with the largest set, despite several minutes of adjusting them. At this level, a few more ear tip size options – and in different materials – is desirable. 

JBL has added its own more angular, look-at-me take on the AirPods' ice-white, no-sharp-edges design though. Here, there are lips and notches in various materials and finishes, including the rubberised driver housings, matte top plate and mirror-finish accents on the stems. There's even a little 'TOUR' embellishment written on the circumference of each bud, as well as JBL's branding on the tails. These are every inch JBL's top-tier offering and the design choices reflect that. 

Let's bypass the touchscreen for a second. The underside of the case hasn't been forgotten. This has a rubberized portion which adds traction and means you won't inadvertently swipe it off your desk – a small detail, but the gestural among us will love it. 

The 10mm dynamic drivers represent a significant leap up from the 6.8mm drivers found in the JBL Tour Pro+, and they're listed as Bluetooth 5.3 LE audio-compatible, too. So, it seems a shame that no higher-resolutions codecs are supported – no LDAC, no aptX (standard, HD, Low Latency or otherwise). 

With up to 50 hours of playtime (or 30 hours with ANC activated) and a very good 10 in just the buds themselves before they need charging, they also trounce most of the competition at the level for stamina. For comparison, the Sony XM4s have 8 hours in each bud, but only 16 in the case, and the latest Apple AirPods Pro 2 offer 6 hours in the buds and a further 30 hours in the case. Fast charge means 10 minutes plugged in will get you five hours of playtime too, but the case can also charge wirelessly. 

The JBL Tour Pro 2 have an IPX5 water and dust-proof rating. Interestingly, the case itself has a rating of IPX2 (just make sure you close it). So the whole package is splash-proof, but not waterproof. Many earbuds at the level offer at least an IPX4 certification (which means they'll survive a sweaty gym session) but certain options go much further. The Jabra Elite 7 Active carry an IP57 rating, which means they're dustproof and can be submerged in water at up to one meter in depth, for up to 30 minutes, and survive.

There’s a feature in the JBL Headphones app called 'Check My Best Fit', which plays a short clip of music to ensure you’ve got a good seal in each ear. It's no slouch either, telling us to alter the bud in our troublesomely-shaped right ear until we're good to go. We pass this test, but some of the team fail time and time again. To speak plainly, this is why we removed a star from the design score – if they don't fit, it's impossible to get the best sound from them. And that's not the end of the story when it comes to aural tests! We'll get to grips with further features below. 

  • Design score: 4/5

JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds and case on gray background

The shiny finish of the JBL earbuds stands out and makes for a sleek and stylish design. (Image credit: Future)

JBL Tour Pro 2: value

  • The screen is currently unique – and thus, hard to quantify
  • Myriad extra fit and hearing tests 
  • Audio and ANC can be beaten at the level

We don't hate these buds, far from it. If you want that case, you can't currently buy anything like it from anyone else. It's almost akin to adding a smartwatch to the front of an earbuds case. And if you're wondering whether it's fun to use, it is. We really enjoy the unique feature but know this is bound to be a matter of personal taste. The novelty did wear off after a few days. 

Despite some of our issues, the JBL Tour Pro 2 also sound good and we're always singing the praises of JBL's plethora of settings within its user-friendly app. But for us it's a question of value. Are they worth the premium price tag? Unless you're completely swayed by the screen, we think you can find a better sound and fit elsewhere.

Even noise cancellation, which we enjoyed, can be bested. The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, Sony WF-1000XM4 and AirPods Pro 2 outshine the JBL Tour Pro with relative ease – and although those first two options are priced close-to and a little more than the JBL proposition, the Sonys are now quite a bit cheaper.

  • Value score: 3/5

JBL Tour Pro 2 earbuds case displaying ANC profiles

The easiest way to switch between ANC profiles you'll find in a set of earbuds.  (Image credit: Future)

JBL Tour Pro 2: should you buy them?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
JBL Tour Pro 2
Design The case! The case is a joy – but make sure they fit4/5
FeaturesThe comprehensive companion app makes accessing the exhaustive feature-set seem a breeze4.5/5
Sound qualityANC and sound are good but not great.3.5/5
ValueYou can do better for less – but if you want the screen, this is currently the only option3/5

Buy them if…

You want that look-at-me smart screen
Rarely have we looked at an earbuds case and been so wowed. You'll love pulling it out of your pocket and amazing your friends. 

You care about calls, especially when commuting
The fact that you can just tap the touchscreen on the case to accept phone calls saves a lot of effort (and stress), especially when your phone's in your bag and you struggle with on-ear touch controls. 

You like a whole host of customizations
If you like to know for certain whether your buds fit correctly and the hearing tests sound interesting (they certainly are) the JBL Tour Pro 2 remain a compelling option.

Don't buy them if…

You want the best sound money can buy
JBL's top-tier buds will not satisfy the audiophile. Want the best sound quality possible for this money? You will find better performances from Apple and Sony (see below for this).

You don’t like a "toothbrush head" design
Many wireless earbuds have a stem these days, (thanks to Apple's ubiquitous AirPods) but plenty don’t, so shop around if you want a more rounded or teardrop-shaped style.

You want the ultimate ANC experience
The ANC here is acceptable, but look to the AirPods Pro 2 or the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 if you want the best noise-nixing earbuds on the market.

Also consider

If our JBL Tour Pro 2 review has you considering other, non screen-toting true wireless earbuds, then take a look at these three alternatives.


Apple AirPods Pro 2
Own an iPhone? Want the best ANC experience from a set of earbuds? Look to the AirPods Pro 2 – their H1 chip allows you to seamlessly pair them with other Apple devices and the difference in terms of 'blank canvas' active noise nixing is quite startling. 


Sony WF-1000XM4
The Sony XM4s are at the top of our best earbuds list for a reason. Sound performance and noise cancelling here is excellent, as is call quality. And although their launch price was high, they're now available for far less than the JBL Tour Pro 2. 


Bose QuietComfort 2
The master of noise-cancellation tech is back on top here, taking the competition right to Sony – and these second-gen. buds sound even better than before. Battery life is nothing to write home about (at only six hours from the buds) but still, for similar money to the JBL Tour Pro 2, these are arguably the best noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds around right now. 


Audio-Technica ATH-SQ1TW
If you don’t have top-tier JBL kind of money, consider the minimal, cubist look of these Audio-Technica buds that deliver great sound. Unfortunately, there’s no ANC (or screen), but the price is fantastic at only $79/£79/AU$129…

Becky Scarrott
Senior Audio Staff Writer

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.