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JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Review updated Jun 27, 2023 at 09:34 am
Latest change: Writing modified Jun 27, 2023 at 09:34 am
JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless Picture
7.4
Neutral Sound
7.5
Commute/Travel
8.2
Sports/Fitness
7.1
Office
5.8
Wireless Gaming
5.6
Wired Gaming
6.3
Phone Calls

The JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless are wallet-friendly in-ears with a stem design. Like their sibling product, the JBL Tune 130NC, they have companion app support, so you can fine-tune their performance to your liking. Their noise cancelling (ANC) performance falls short of similarly-priced competitors like the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro Truly Wireless.

Our Verdict

7.4 Neutral Sound

The JBL 230NC are decent for neutral sound. Out of the box, they have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that delivers extra thump, rumble, and boom to mixes. That said, their companion app offers a parametric EQ and presets that you can use to help customize their sound to suit your tastes. They have outstanding frequency response consistency, so you won't experience bass and treble delivery deviations.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
  • Parametric EQ and presets available.
Cons
  • Bad passive soundstage.
7.5 Commute/Travel

The JBL TUNE 230NC are good for commuting and travel. These headphones have a lightweight and very portable design, making it easy to take them on the go. They also have a comfortable fit, and their continuous battery life of over eight hours with an additional three charges in their carrying case can last through long days on the road without too much of an issue. However, although they have an ANC system, they still struggle to block out the low rumble of bus and plane engines.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
  • 8.7-hour continuous playback time.
Cons
  • ANC doesn't block out bass-range noise well.
8.2 Sports/Fitness

The JBL TUNE 230NC are great for sports and fitness. These lightweight in-ears have a comfortable and stable in-ear fit suitable for jogs in the park or working out at the gym. They're also certified IPX4 for protection against water splashes, have over eight hours of continuous playback time, and have easy-to-use controls.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
  • Certified IPX4 for water resistance.
Cons
  • Bad passive soundstage.
7.1 Office

The JBL 230NC are satisfactory for office use. They have a comfortable fit, and their over eight-hour continuous playback time can last through a shift at the office. Their carrying case supplies three extra charges, which is handy in a pinch. While their ANC struggles to block out bass-range noise, they do better to cut down office chatter.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
  • ANC can cut down ambient chatter.
  • 8.7-hour continuous playback time.
Cons
  • Sub-par recording quality.
  • Bad passive soundstage.
  • No multi-device pairing.
5.8 Wireless Gaming

The JBL 230NC are compatible with Bluetooth-enabled PCs. However, their latency is likely too high to be suitable for gaming. While they have a low latency 'Video Mode' that can help reduce audio lag, it may not be enough to prevent syncing issues between your audio and visuals.

5.6 Wired Gaming

The JBL 230NC are wireless earbuds, and you can't use them wired.

6.3 Phone Calls

The JBL TUNE 230NC are passable for phone calls. Unfortunately, their integrated mic has a sub-par recording quality, so your voice sounds dark and muffled. While the mic can separate speech from moderate ambient noise well, if there are very loud sounds around you, your voice is also drowned out, which can be frustrating if you need to take a call from a busy street. That said, even though their ANC offers a mediocre overall performance, it can help block out ambient chatter around you if you're taking calls from the office.

Pros
  • Comfortable, well-built design.
Cons
  • Sub-par recording quality.
  • 7.4 Neutral Sound
  • 7.5 Commute/Travel
  • 8.2 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.1 Office
  • 5.8 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.6 Wired Gaming
  • 6.3 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Jun 27, 2023: We've updated this review's text to ensure its accuracy and clarity.
  2. Updated Sep 29, 2022: We've added a comparison between these earbuds and the JBL Live Pro 2 TWS True Wireless in Noise Isolation.
  3. Updated Dec 21, 2021: Review published.
  4. Updated Dec 17, 2021: Early access published.
  5. Updated Nov 04, 2021: Our testers have started testing this product.
  6. Updated Nov 01, 2021: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  7. Updated Oct 26, 2021: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The JBL TUNE 230NC come in four color variants: 'Black', 'Blue', 'Sand', and 'White'. We tested the 'Black' variant; you can see our model's label here. If you encounter another variant, please let us know in the forums, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The JBL 230NC are a sibling of the JBL Tune 130NC TWS Truly Wireless and have an ear stem design rather than an oval earbud look. Overall, they perform very similarly to the TUNE 130NC, with very good battery performance and a customizable sound. However, they offer a mediocre noise isolation performance, falling short compared to other budget-friendly in-ears like the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro Truly Wireless.

Check out our picks for the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds, the best noise cancelling earbuds, and the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds under $100.

JBL Live Pro 2 TWS True Wireless

JBL Live Pro 2 TWS True Wireless have a slight edge over the JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless. The Live Pro 2 have a significantly better noise isolation performance, thanks to their ANC system, and they support multi-device pairing, meaning you can connect them with up to two devices at a time. However, the TUNE 230NC have a more comfortable and stable fit. Their sound profile is a bit more neutral, which some people may prefer.

JBL Tune 130NC TWS Truly Wireless

The JBL Tune 130NC TWS Truly Wireless are similarly performing in-ears as the JBL Tune 230NC TWS True Wireless. While both headphones are comfortable and well-built, the 230NC have a more stable in-ear fit and better battery performance. The 130NC have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer, and their ANC can block out more ambient noise.

Jabra Elite 3 True Wireless

The Jabra Elite 3 True Wireless and the JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless are similarly performing headphones. Both headphones are comfortable, well-built, and stable. That said, the Jabra can block out more background noise passively and have better controls. However, the JBL have longer-lasting continuous battery life.

Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless

The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are better in-ears than the JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless. While both headphones are comfortable, the Apple are better-built, have a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, and a significantly better noise isolation performance. They also have an H1 chip for seamless pairing with your Apple devices. However, the JBL have a companion app that offers a parametric EQ and presets to help you adjust their sound to your liking. They also have significantly better battery performance.

Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless

The Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless are slightly better in-ears for most users than the JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless. While both headphones are comfortable and well-built, the Anker have a significantly better noise isolation performance, and their integrated mic has a better recording quality. However, the JBL have a significantly better battery performance.

Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless

The JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless are more versatile in-ears than the Apple AirPods (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. While both are comfortable, the JBL have a more stable in-ear fit, a more neutral sound profile, which some users may prefer, more consistent audio delivery, and their companion app offers a parametric EQ and presets to help you adjust their sound to your liking. They also have a better battery performance and are equipped with an ANC system that can block out more background noise. However, the Apple feel better built and have an H1 chip for seamless pairing with your Apple devices.

JBL Live Pro+ TWS True Wireless

The JBL Live Pro+ TWS True Wireless and the JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless are similarly performing in-ears with a few differences. While both headphones are comfortable and well-built, the Live Pro+ have a significantly better noise isolation performance, and their mic has a slightly better recording quality. However, the TUNE have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer, and they have longer continuous battery life.

JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless

The JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless and the JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless are similarly performing headphones. While they're both comfortable and well-built, the Live Free NC+ have a more stable in-ear fit and somewhat better controls. However, the TUNE 230NC have a better noise isolation performance and a longer continuous battery life.

JBL Tune 225TWS True Wireless

The JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless are better in-ears than the JBL Tune 225TWS True Wireless. The TUNE 230NC are more comfortable, better-built, and can deliver audio much more consistently. Their default sound profile is more neutral, which some users may prefer, can block out significantly more ambient noise, and have superior battery performance. You can also customize their sound using their companion app's parametric EQ and presets.

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro Truly Wireless

The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro Truly Wireless and the JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless have different strengths, and you may enjoy either one. The Anker have a superior noise isolation performance, and they come with nine pairs of ear tip sizes to help you get the best fit possible. On the other hand, the JBL are more comfortable, have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer, and have significantly better battery performance.

Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless

The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless and the JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless are similarly performing headphones with different strengths. While both are well-built, the JBL are more comfortable, have a more neutral default sound profile, which some users may prefer, and their battery performance is better. However, the Anker have lower latency on iOS and Android devices as well as a significantly better noise isolation performance.

Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless

The Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless are more versatile headphones than the JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless. The Sony are better-built, can block out significantly more ambient sound, and their mic offers better overall performance. They also support NFC pairing. However, the JBL have a more comfortable and stable in-ear fit. Their battery performance is better, too.

JBL LIVE 300TWS Truly Wireless

The JBL LIVE 300TWS Truly Wireless and the JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless are similarly performing headphones and you may prefer either one. While both headphones are comfortable and well-built, the LIVE 300TWS have a more stable in-ear fit, can passively isolate you from somewhat more ambient noise, and their mic has a significantly better recording quality. However, the TUNE 230NC have a superior battery performance, and their mic has a better noise handling performance.

Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless

The Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless are slightly better in-ears than the JBL TUNE 230NC TWS True Wireless. While both headphones are comfortable, the Jabra are better-built, have a significantly better noise isolation performance, and their mic has a better recording quality. They also support multi-device pairing so that you can stay connected to your PC and smartphone at the same time. However, the JBL have a superior battery performance with longer-lasting continuous battery life, and their default sound profile is more neutral, which some users may prefer.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
Type In-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Truly Wireless
Transducer Dynamic

The JBL TUNE 230NC have a similar design to the JBL Tune 225TWS True Wireless and the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro Truly Wireless with a sleek ear stem design, and there's a manufacturer's logo and indentation on both stems. They come in the following color variations: 'Black', 'White', 'Sand', and 'Blue'.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

The JBL TUNE 230NC have a comfortable fit. Their lightweight design doesn't put pressure or enter your ear too deeply. You won't experience fatigue if you're wearing them during long listening sessions. However, they stick out of your ears a bit.

6.5
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Decent
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control No
Microphone Control Mute/Unmute
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control On/Off
Talk-Through
On/Off
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

These buds have touch-sensitive controls, similar in layout to the JBL Tune 130NC TWS Truly Wireless. There are audible tones when pairing the headphones and cycling between the ANC on, ambient mode, and off. They lack volume controls by default, but on the upside, you can always add them on via the companion app. If you use the buds in mono mode, you lose some controls as the command layout is split between the left and right earbuds.

On the left earbud:

  • Single tap: Cycles between ANC on, 'Ambient Sound Control', which allows you to better hear your environment without taking the headphones out of your ears, and off, which turns off both ANC and Ambient Sound Control.
  • Double tap: Turns 'TalkThru' on and off. This feature lowers your media's volume and enables 'Ambient Sound Control' so that you can have conversations.

On the right earbud:

  • Single tap: Plays and pauses audio.
  • Double tap: Skips to the next track.
  • Triple tap: Skips to the previous track.

On either earbud:

  • Double tap: Answers and ends calls.
  • Tap and hold: Activates voice assistant. Also rejects a call. When you're on a call, this function mutes and unmutes your microphone.

9.5
Design
Portability
L 1.5" (3.8 cm)
W 1.1" (2.7 cm)
H 0.7" (1.8 cm)
Volume 1.13 in³ (18.50 cm³)
Transmitter Required No

These headphones are very portable, which is to be expected for in-ear headphones. They're small and compact, so you can easily fit them in most pockets or bags without an issue, even when they're inside their carrying case.

7.5
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 1.9" (4.8 cm)
W 2.4" (6.2 cm)
H 1.1" (2.7 cm)
Volume 4.94 in³ (81.00 cm³)

The carrying case is good. It's very similar to the JBL Tune 130NC TWS Truly Wireless, although the inside of the case is molded to specifically fit these earbuds. The case is made of plastic, and there's a magnet to help hold the buds in place. There are LED lights to indicate the battery life of the case. However, the plastic feels a little cheap, and the lid feels flimsy compared to the body of the case.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

These buds have a good build quality. They're mostly made of plastic and feel sturdy enough to survive a couple of accidental drops without taking too much damage. They're also rated IPX4 for protection against splashes of water. However, the plastic used on the buds seems like it could mark or scratch easily. The carrying case also seems cheap, and its lid feels flimsy.

7.5
Design
Stability

These headphones have good stability. Although they don't have stability fins, they won't fall out of your ears during moderate movement like a jog in the park. However, if you wear them during more intense physical activity, they can shift in place, so you may need to readjust their fit.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • JBL TUNE 230NC earbuds
  • 3x tip sizes
  • Charging case
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
2.84 dB
Treble Amount
-1.23 dB

These buds have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that delivers a touch of extra thump, rumble, and boom. That said, vocals and lead instruments are still clear and detailed in your mixes. If you prefer a different sound, their companion app offers a parametric EQ and preset to help you adjust their sound to your liking.

9.0
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.21 dB

These buds have outstanding frequency response consistency. Once you get a proper fit using the included ear tips, you'll get consistent bass and treble delivery each time you use them.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
7.9
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.04 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
4.6 dB
Mid-Bass
3.34 dB
High-Bass
1.86 dB

These headphones have very good bass accuracy. The response is overemphasized across the range, resulting in more thump, rumble, and boom to your mixes. In songs like Starboy by The Weeknd, the bassline throughout the track sounds full-bodied and rich. However, the extra bass doesn't overwhelm vocals and lead instruments.

9.1
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.16 dB
Low-Mid
0.01 dB
Mid-Mid
-1.55 dB
High-Mid
0.62 dB

The mid accuracy of these buds is fantastic. The range is very flat and neutral, ensuring that vocals and lead instruments are clear and detailed. However, a small dip in the mid-mid nudges these sounds to the back of your mix.

8.4
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.38 dB
Low-Treble
-0.96 dB
Mid-Treble
-2.07 dB
High-Treble
-2.65 dB

The JBL TUNE 230NC's treble accuracy is great. The response is slightly underemphasized across the range but still fairly even. Vocals and lead instruments are slightly veiled, but sibilants like S and T sounds are dull.

8.9
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
0.72 dB
Dips
0.9 dB

These buds have excellent peaks and dips performance. For the most part, the peaks and dips are mostly minor, which means that the headphones can control their sound profile well. A peak in the low-bass mostly affects the left driver, adding thump and rumble to that driver. A dip in the mid-mid nudges vocals and lead instruments to the back of your mix. A peak in the high-mid to low-treble affects the left driver more than the right, so vocals and lead instruments sound slightly harsh. A dip in the low-treble dulls sibilants like cymbals.

9.2
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.19
Weighted Phase Mismatch
1.86
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.37
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.14

JBL makes a lot of headphones, and across their products, they've shown fairly consistent quality control and ergonomics, which helps ensure a solid imaging performance. While imaging varies between units, our unit's L/R drivers are well-matched in group delay and amplitude, frequency, and phase response, which helps ensure the accurate placement of objects like instruments in the stereo image.

1.1
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
3.9
Acoustic Space Excitation
1.2

These buds have a bad passive soundstage, which is normal from in-ear headphones. To create an out-of-head soundstage, your outer ear needs to be activated by sound resonances. However, these headphones bypass your outer ear, resulting in a soundstage that makes it seem like sound is coming from inside your head. Since they also have a closed-back design, their soundstage doesn't seem spacious.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
7.8
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.245
WHD @ 100
0.121

The JBL TUNE 230NC have a very good weighted harmonic distortion performance. There's a peak at normal and high listening volumes, but it's very difficult to hear with real-life content. As a result, all frequencies fall within good limits, resulting in clear and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
v3.1.0
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 44.1kHz
EQ
Off
ANC
On
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test these headphones. Our results are only valid when used with these settings.

Isolation
6.1
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-16.1 dB
Noise Cancelling Yes
Bass
-3.74 dB
Mid
-20.51 dB
Treble
-25.9 dB

These buds have a mediocre noise isolation performance. Although they have active noise cancelling (ANC), there's very little difference between ANC on and off. We also noticed subjectively that there wasn't much improvement between both modes. With the ANC on, they struggle to block out the low rumble of bus and plane engines and perform worse in this regard than the JBL Tune 130NC TWS Truly Wireless and JBL Live Pro 2 TWS True Wireless. They do a better job of reducing office chatter and the high-pitched hum of AC units.

9.0
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
27.24 dB

The JBL 230NC's leakage performance is outstanding. Leakage is mostly concentrated in the treble range, and escaping audio sounds thin. That said, if you're listening to audio at a high volume in a moderately busy environment like an office, people around you won't hear it.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
Mic Yes
5.6
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
93.77 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
6.18 dB
HFE
2,061.43 Hz
Weighted THD
0.495
Gain
-8.8 dB

The integrated mic has sub-par recording quality. Your voice sounds dark, unnatural, and a bit muffled.

6.8
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
23.87 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
7.0
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
6.5
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The mic's noise handling is okay. The mic can separate your voice from moderate ambient noise. However, when loud sounds are present, like a train pulling into the station, your voice becomes hard to hear among the noise, and some distortion is present.

Active Features
7.8
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
8.7 hrs
Additional Charges
3.0
Total Battery Life
34.8 hrs
Charge Time
0.9 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Auto-Off Timer
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

These buds have a very good battery performance. The manufacturer advertises them to last eight hours continuously with their ANC on, and we measured over that. Keep in mind that battery life can vary depending on use, though. On the upside, their carrying case supplies an extra three charges if needed, and their always-on standby mode helps conserve battery life if you forget to turn them off. This feature turns on after sensing 15 minutes of inactivity. These buds also have an auto-off timer you can customize via the companion app.

8.0
Active Features
App Support
App Name JBL Headphones
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
Parametric + Presets
ANC Control
On/Off
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping Yes
Surround Support
No

The JBL Headphones app is great. It offers a parametric EQ plus presets to help you customize their sound. You can also see the battery life of the headphones as well as the case, turn the ANC on and off, toggle between Ambient Aware and TalkThru modes, and remap controls. You can also adjust the auto-off's timer, set the TalkThru level, and access Find My Buds. There are three different modes you can access: 'Normal' (for a stable connection), 'Audio Mode' (for better audio quality), and 'Video Mode' (for lower latency).

Connectivity
6.9
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.2
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
527.56 ft (160.80 m)
PC Latency (SBC)
323 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
248 ms
Android Latency
294 ms

These buds have okay Bluetooth connectivity. Unfortunately, they don't support multi-device or NFC pairing. Their latency is also high on PCs as well as Android and iOS devices, meaning you may notice syncing issues between your audio and visuals. These buds have a 'Video Mode' via their app too, and it's advertised to help lower their latency. However, while this mode can lower latency, it's still quite high across PC, iOS, and Android devices, so you'll notice lip sync issues. That said, some apps and devices compensate for latency differently.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection
No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

You can't use these headphones wired. They come with a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging their case.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
No
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No

These buds have full audio and mic compatibility with Bluetooth-enabled PCs. However, you can't use them in any other way.

Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
No
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
No
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
No
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No
2.2
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
Charging Case
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
Yes
Power Supply
USB-C

These buds have a plastic charging case that supplies roughly three additional charges and a USB-C port for charging. It doesn't support wireless charging, though.