The JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless are in-ears with active noise cancelling (ANC). These headphones have a neutral sound profile that you can tweak to your liking using their companion app's parametric EQ or presets. They have a comfortable, breathable fit and are also stable enough for running or working out. Unfortunately, their ANC does a sub-par overall job of blocking out noise around you, and it performs very similarly to their passive isolation abilities. Some users may find their 5.4-hour battery life a bit short, too, although their carrying case supplies roughly two additional charges if you need it.
The JBL Live Free NC+ are good for neutral sound. Out-of-the-box, they have a fairly neutral sound profile that's suitable for a variety of audio content. However, they lack a bit of low bass, and their treble range is recessed, so vocals and lead instruments are veiled while sibilants like cymbals are dull. On the upside, their companion app offers a parametric EQ and presets to help customize their sound. They also have consistent audio delivery.
The JBL Live Free NC+ are decent for commute and travel and are comfortable, lightweight, and portable. They're also well-built and have a breathable fit. However, their ANC struggles to block out bass-range noise like the rumble of bus or plane engines, which could be annoying.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus are great for sports and fitness. These comfortable and lightweight earbuds have stability fins, so they shouldn't fall out when you're running or working out. They also have a breathable fit and are rated IPX7 for water resistance, although we don't currently test it. They're very portable, too, and can easily fit into most pockets or bags without a problem.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus are decent for office use. These headphones have a comfortable, breathable fit and hardly leak any audio, so you can listen to music at high volumes without your colleagues hearing it. The ANC can also block out ambient chatter around you. However, their roughly 5.4-hour battery life may not be enough to get you through your day without pausing to recharge them.
The JBL Live Free NC+ aren't recommended for wireless gaming. While you can connect them to a Bluetooth-enabled PC, the latency is likely to be too high for gaming. They also aren't compatible with Xbox One or PS4 consoles.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus are Bluetooth-only headphones that you can't use wired.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus are mediocre for phone calls. Their integrated mic has a poor recording quality, so your voice sounds very thin and lacking depth. It struggles to separate speech from ambient noise around you, so you may have a hard time being understood if you're talking in a noisy environment. Their ANC also does a sub-par job blocking out ambient sound, making it harder to hear the other person.
The JBL Live Free NC+ have a straightforward look similar to the JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless. They're mostly one color, and the brand's logo is visible on both earbuds. However, they're a bit bulky and stick out of your ears. They come in four color variants: Blue, Black, Pink, and White.
The JBL Live Free NC+ are comfortable. They don't put much pressure on your ears and don't have a deep fit. Using the touch controls doesn't hurt your ear either, and they come with differently-sized ear tips and stability fins so you can find the best fit for you. However, the earbuds themselves are a bit bulky.
The JBL Live Free NC+ have alright controls. You can tap the left earbud once to cycle between ANC on, ANC off, and Ambient Aware, which allows you to hear your surroundings without turning off your audio. You can also double-tap for Talkthru, which allows you to talk to someone without taking your earbuds out. The right earbud has music and call-related controls. You can tap once to play or pause your audio, tap twice to skip the track forward, and tap three times to skip the track backward. If you double-tap either bud, you can answer or end a call. Holding either bud also mutes your mic when you're on a call or activates voice assistant.
The controls are responsive, and the buds have a chime for the number of taps you register. However, it can be hard to differentiate chimes for ANC/Ambient Aware/Off. You also lose some control if you're using one earbud while the other one charges.
These headphones have outstanding breathability. Since they don't cover your outer ear, they don't trap in much heat, so you shouldn't sweat more than normal when wearing them.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus are incredibly portable. Like most truly wireless in-ears, they're small and lightweight, so it's easy to toss them into most pockets or a bag. They also come with a small carrying case, which should also fit into most pockets.
The case is good. It's made of sturdy plastic and has four LED lights to indicate the battery level. There's a button on the back of the case that resets or reconnects the left and right bud. On the downside, you may need to adjust the fins to fit inside the case for the earbuds to fit.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus have a good build quality. They're mostly solid plastic, which feels durable, and they come with three types of ear tips to help you get a more comfortable fit. However, they seem potentially weaker than the other parts of their build. On the upside, they have an IPX7 rating for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this.
The JBL Live Free NC+ have a very stable fit. Thanks to their stability fins, they should stay in place, even during moderate physical activity.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus have a very neutral sound profile suitable for a variety of audio. However, they lack a bit of low bass, so your mixes lack a bit of thump and rumble. Vocals and lead instruments are also veiled, while sibilants like cymbals are dull. On the upside, their companion app offers a parametric EQ and presets so that you can tweak their sound to your liking.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus have outstanding frequency response consistency. Like most in-ears, once you achieve an airtight seal, you should get consistent audio delivery each time you use them.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus have outstanding bass accuracy. They lack a bit of low-bass, so your mixes lose out on some thump and rumble. However, the rest of the range is very flat and balanced, so mixes have punch and warmth without sounding overwhelming.
These headphones have excellent mid-accuracy. Vocals and lead instruments are clear and accurate, although the dip in the mid-mid slightly nudges them to the back of the mix. However, this shouldn't be too noticeable.
These headphones have good treble accuracy. The response is underemphasized across the range, so vocals and lead instruments are veiled while sibilants like cymbals are dull.
The JBL Live Free NC+ have excellent peaks and dips performance. Most of the peaks and dips are minor. A small bump in the bass range adds a bit of extra thump and punch, while a dip in the mid-mid slightly nudges vocals and lead instruments to the back of the mix. The uneven mid-treble makes sibilants alternatingly dull and piercing.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus have outstanding imaging. The weighted group delay falls below the audibility threshold, resulting in a tight bass and transparent treble. Also, the L/R drivers of our unit are well-matched in phase, frequency, and amplitude response, so objects like footsteps and voices are accurately placed and localized within the stereo image. However, these results are only valid for our unit, and your experience may vary.
These headphones have a terrible passive soundstage, which is typical for in-ear headphones. Due to their design, they completely bypass the outer ear. This is a key factor in creating a large and out-of-body soundstage. The sound seems like it's coming from inside your head rather than from speakers placed around you. Since they also have a closed-back design, their soundstage doesn't seem as open or spacious as open-back headphones.
The JBL Live Free NC+'s weighted harmonic distortion performance is great. The entire range falls within good limits, which results in clear and pure audio reproduction.
These are the settings used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid in this configuration.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus have sub-par noise isolation. Their active noise cancelling (ANC) feature doesn't offer better performance than the headphones' passive noise isolation abilities. They struggle to block out bass-range noise like the rumble of bus or plane engines. They do a better job of cutting down office chatter, though, and can block out the high-pitched hum of an AC unit. If you're looking for similarly designed JBL earbuds with a better noise isolation performance, check out the JBL Tour Pro+ TWS True Wireless.
The JBL Live Free NC Plus have an outstanding leakage performance. They don't leak a lot of sound, and escaping audio sounds thin. You should be able to listen to audio at high volumes without disturbing those around you, even in a moderately noisy environment.
The integrated microphone has a poor recording quality. Your voice sounds very thin and lacks depth. There's also some distortion present.
Note: Although the Recorded Speech file doesn't appear to match the test's overall scoring, this is the correct audio file. The microphone's frequency response lacks bass, which isn't very noticeable in the recording. That said, the Microphone Frequency Response graph represents the mic recording and matches the scoring of this test.
Update 11/04/2021: These headphones have been updated to test bench 1.5. In this update, we made changes to the way we test noise handling. We now use a subjective evaluation of our audio clips. This new method has resulted in different results than what we had reported in our previous test bench. As a result, the scoring of this box has changed, and we have updated our results.
The microphone has mediocre noise handling. It struggles to separate your voice from background noises, even in moderately noisy settings. You may need to take calls from a more quiet environment to be heard clearly.
The JBL Live Free NC+'s battery performance is alright. With their ANC on, they're advertised to last around six hours, but we tested a bit less than that. Their case holds roughly two additional charges, and you can use one bud while the other charges. Note that battery life can vary depending on usage, so your real-life experience may vary. If you're looking for JBL in-ears with a better battery performance, try the JBL Tune 130NC TWS Truly Wireless.
The JBL Headphones app is impressive. It has a parametric EQ and presets so that you can customize their sound to your tastes. You can also control the ANC, adjust the auto-off timer, turn the auto-pause on or off, see the battery level of the headphones and case, and set up gestures or voice assistant. The app has a couple of Smart Audio Modes: 'Normal', 'Audio Mode', which is advertised to optimize your Bluetooth connection for high-quality audio, and 'Video Mode', which is advertised to lower latency.
Update 11/04/2021: These headphones were updated to Test Bench 1.5 and their latency values have changed. Our previous Test Bench 1.4 measurements reported their 'Video Mode' latency was 137 ms on PC, 0 ms of latency on iOS, and 26 ms on Android. However, our new test bench uses an average of three measurements instead of one, resulting in 135 ms of latency on PC, 33 ms on iOS, and 72 ms on Android when using this mode. As a result, we have updated our text to better reflect test bench 1.5 measurements.
The JBL Live Free NC+ have fair Bluetooth connectivity. While they don't support multi-device or NFC pairing, they have low latency on iOS and Android devices when using their 'Audio Mode'. Their latency is a bit higher on PC, though, so they may not be the best choice for streaming video. That said, some apps and devices compensate for latency, so your real-world experience may vary.
You can also use these headphones in 'Video Mode', which is advertised to lower their latency. When using this mode, they have 135 ms of latency on PCs, 33 ms on iOS, and 72 ms on Android devices.
The JBL Live Free NC+ can't be used with a wired connection. They have a USB-C to USB-A cable to charge their case.
These headphones aren't compatible with Xbox One or Xbox Series X consoles.
The JBL Live Free NC+ come in a few color variants: 'Black', 'Blue', 'Pink', and 'White'. We tested the Blue variant, and you can see its label here. We expect all color variants to perform similarly to our model.
If you come across another variant, please let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.
The JBL Live Free NC+ are in-ears with active noise cancelling (ANC). Like the JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless, they have a comfortable fit, well-built design, and are compatible with the JBL Headphones app, which offers a parametric EQ and presets to help you customize their sound. However, their ANC feature does a sub-par overall job, especially compared to other ANC earbuds like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless.
Check out our recommendations for the best noise cancelling earbuds and in-ear headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones, and the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds.
The JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless are more versatile headphones than the Beats Solo Pro Wireless. The JBL are in-ears that are more comfortable, stable, and neutral-sounding, which some users may prefer. They also have a companion app that offers a parametric EQ and presets so that you can customize their sound to your liking. However, the Beats are better-built, and their ANC does a better job of cutting down more ambient noise around you. They also have longer-lasting total battery life.
The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are better in-ears than the JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless. While both have a comfortable fit, the Apple are better-built, their ANC can block out more ambient noise, and they have higher total battery life. They also have an H1 chip for seamlessly pairing them with your Apple devices. However, the JBL's companion app allows you to tweak their sound with a parametric EQ or presets.
The JBL LIVE 300TWS Truly Wireless and the JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless are similarly performing in-ears and, depending on your usage, you may prefer one over the other. While both headphones are comfortable and well-built, the 300TWS do a better job of passively blocking out noise than the NC+'s ANC. The 300TWS have a better mic recording quality. However, the NC+ have a better battery performance and have lower latency on Android, iOS, and PC, although different devices and apps compensate for this differently.
The JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless are somewhat better than the JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless. While both headphones are comfortable, the CLUB PRO+ are better-built, and their ANC can isolate more noise around you. Their mic also offers better overall performance, and they have longer continuous battery life.
The JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless and the JBL Live Pro+ TWS True Wireless have different strengths and, depending on your usage, you may prefer either one. The Live Free NC+ have a more bass-heavy sound profile out-of-the-box, which some users may prefer, and their ANC has a better noise isolation performance. While both headphones are comfortable, the Live Pro+ have better controls. However, the Live Free NC+ are more stable, and they have lower latency on iOS and Android.
The Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless and the JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless have different strengths and, depending on your usage, you may prefer either one. While both headphones are comfortable, the Jabra are better-built, have a better noise isolation performance, and support multi-device pairing. They also have under seven hours of continuous playback time, and their carrying case holds three additional charges. However, the JBL have a more stable fit, and they have a neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer.
The JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless and the Sony WF-C500 Truly Wireless have different strengths, and you may prefer either, depending on what you’re looking for. The JBL have a much more comfortable, stable fit and an IP57 rating for dust and water resistance, while the Sony are rated IPX4 for water resistance only. However, the Sony have a much better noise isolation performance and a longer continuous battery life. Their mic also has a significantly better recording quality.
The JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless are somewhat better headphones than the JBL Reflect Flow True Wireless. The Live Free NC+ are more comfortable, and their sound profile can be customized using their companion app's parametric EQ and presets. The Reflect Flow are better built and can isolate more noise passively.
The JBL Tune 130NC TWS Truly Wireless are more versatile headphones than the JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless. While both are comfortable, well-built, and have a neutral sound, the Tune 130NC have active noise cancelling and can block out more background noise. They also have a better overall microphone performance and a longer continuous battery life. However, the Live Free NC+ have a more stable fit.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless are somewhat better in-ears than the JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless. The Sony are better-built, have a longer continuous battery life, and support NFC pairing. Their ANC can also cut down more ambient noise around you, and their integrated mic does a better job of recording your voice. However, the JBL are more comfortable and stable in-ear.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless are better in-ears than the JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless. The Bose are better-built, have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, and have longer continuous battery life. Their ANC also does a better job of blocking out background noise around you. However, the JBL are more comfortable, and their companion app offers a parametric EQ and presets, which some users may prefer compared to the Bose's graphic EQ and presets.