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We've recently released our Test Bench 1.6 update for Headphones! Read the Latency R&D Article to learn more.

JBL Tune Buds True Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.6
Reviewed Dec 20, 2023 at 12:46 pm
JBL Tune Buds True Wireless Picture
7.5
Neutral Sound
7.7
Commute/Travel
8.3
Sports/Fitness
7.3
Office
5.8
Wireless Gaming
5.6
Wired Gaming
6.7
Phone Calls

The JBL Tune Buds True Wireless are Bluetooth earbuds that offer active noise cancelling (ANC) technology at a wallet-friendly price. They have a round, stemless design that resembles the JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless. There's a wealth of customization options via the JBL Headphones app, like a graphic EQ and presets. You can toggle features like Ambient Aware and TalkThru, which mix varying amounts of ambient noise into your audio.

Our Verdict

7.5 Neutral Sound

The JBL Tune Buds are good for neutral sound. They have a V-shaped sound profile that overemphasizes the bass and treble ranges, with a more balanced mid-range response. There's plenty of boom and thump in the low end, which adds intensity to genres like house and hip-hop. The mid-range is quite neutral, so instruments and vocals sound clear and detailed, and there's plenty of treble presence, though sibilants can sometimes sound piercing. There's even a graphic EQ and presets available through the app if you want to customize the sound further. As expected with in-ears, though, the soundstage is bad.

Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit.
  • Graphic EQ and presets through companion app.
Cons
  • Bad passive soundstage.
7.7 Commute/Travel

The JBL Tune Buds are good for travel and commuting. They have a lightweight, portable design that you can easily stow in a bag or pocket, and their ten-hour battery life will get you through long journeys without needing a charge from the case. Their ANC system doesn't block much background noise, especially bass-range sounds like engine rumble. There's no volume control by default, which can be frustrating, so you'll need to remap the controls through the app to add this function.

Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit.
  • Great battery life performance.
Cons
  • Mediocre ANC performance.
8.3 Sports/Fitness

The JBL Tune Buds are great for sports and fitness use. They have a lightweight and portable design, and their comfortable in-ear fit is stable enough that they'll stay in place during runs or moderately intense workouts. They're also rated IP54 for protection against water splashes. There's no volume control by default, which can be frustrating, so you'll need to remap the controls through the app to add this function.

Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit.
  • Great battery life performance.
Cons
  • No volume control by default.
7.3 Office

The JBL Tune Buds are decent for office use. Their comfortable fit and ten hours of continuous battery life are enough to get you through long days at the office. They also don't leak much audio, so you can crank the volume without worrying about bothering others. That said, their noise isolation performance is mediocre, though they do better at blocking out mid-frequency sounds like office chatter than bass-range noises, like engine rumble. The integrated mic's recording quality is also unremarkable, so your voice will sound hollow and muffled in virtual meetings.

Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit.
  • Great battery life performance.
  • Bluetooth multi-point connectivity.
Cons
  • Mediocre ANC performance.
  • Mic struggles to separate your voice from noisy environments.
  • No volume control by default.
5.8 Wireless Gaming

You can only use the JBL Tune Buds with Bluetooth-compatible PCs. Even when using the 'Smart Video' mode that reduces latency, there will still be sync issues between the audio and video that make them unsuitable for gaming.

5.6 Wired Gaming

You can only use the JBL Tune Buds wirelessly, so they're unsuitable for wired gaming.

6.7 Phone Calls

The JBL Tune Buds are okay for phone calls. They're comfortable enough to wear for extended periods, and they support Bluetooth multi-device pairing, so you can easily pair them with up to two devices. However, the integrated mic's recording quality is mediocre and won't separate your voice from noisier environments, like a busy street. Their ANC performance also struggles to block out bass-range noises, like engine rumble. For this reason, they're better suited to taking calls in quieter environments, like a home office.

Pros
  • Comfortable and stable fit.
  • Bluetooth multi-point connectivity.
Cons
  • Mediocre ANC performance.
  • Mic struggles to separate your voice from noisy environments.
  • 7.5 Neutral Sound
  • 7.7 Commute/Travel
  • 8.3 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.3 Office
  • 5.8 Wireless Gaming
  • 5.6 Wired Gaming
  • 6.7 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Dec 20, 2023: Review published.
  2. Updated Dec 14, 2023: Early access published.
  3. Updated Dec 11, 2023: Our testers have started testing this product.
  4. Updated Nov 28, 2023: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  5. Updated Nov 13, 2023: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The JBL Tune Buds come in various colors, including 'White', 'Black', 'Blue', and 'Purple'. We tested the 'Blue' version; you can see our unit's label here.

If you come across another variant or your headphones are different, let us know in the forums, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The JBL Tune Buds are mid-range wireless in-ears with active noise cancellation (ANC) technology. Their stemless design is reminiscent of the JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless, but their noise isolation performance isn't as robust, and the mic's recording quality isn't quite as good. They're also similar in features and price point to the JBL Tune Flex True Wireless. While the Tune Flex come with both 'open' and 'sealed' ear tips to suit various applications, they lack the Bluetooth multi-point connectivity found in the Tune Buds. If you're a fan of the stemless design but want earbuds with better noise isolation performance, the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless are also a great choice, although their sound profile isn't as neutral as the JBL.

If you're looking for more earbuds, try our recommendations for the best earbuds and in-ear headphones, the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds under $100, and the best JBL earbuds and headphones.

Beats Studio Buds True Wireless

The JBL Tune Buds True Wireless are better than the Beats Studio Buds True Wireless. The JBL have a more neutral, versatile sound profile out-of-the-box and an app with sound customization features. They also have a longer continuous battery life and an auto-off timer to save power. However, the Beats have a one-touch pairing feature that works with Android and iOS. They support Apple's Spatial Audio feature, which works with apps like Apple Music and is designed to create a more immersive listening experience.

JBL Live Pro 2 TWS True Wireless

The JBL Tune Buds True Wireless and the JBL Live Pro 2 TWS True Wireless have similar feature sets with slightly different strengths. The Tune Buds have a more neutral default sound profile, though you can tune the sound profile of both buds through the excellent JBL Headphones app. The Tune Buds also have a better mic performance and a slightly longer continuous battery life. That said, the JBL Live Pro TWS have a better noise isolation performance that blocks out a wider range of ambient noise. 

JBL Tune Flex True Wireless

The JBL Tune Buds True Wireless are better in-ears for most purposes than the JBL Tune Flex True Wireless. While both buds have similarly neutral sound profiles and are equipped with ANC, the Tune Buds have a longer continuous battery life and a better noise isolation performance, making them a better choice for commuting. They also feature multi-device pairing, which is great if you want to connect multiple devices to them while working from home or at the office. However, some users may prefer the Tune Flex's stem design and that they come with both 'open' and 'sealing' ear tips, which allows you to choose between a passively isolating seal and one that lets in some ambient noise.

Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless

The JBL Tune Buds True Wireless are better earbuds for neutral sound than the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless. While both buds can be customized with graphics EQs and presets, the JBL have a more balanced sound profile. They also have a more stable fit and a longer continuous battery life. That said, the Anker have a much better ANC system that blocks out a wider range of frequencies than the JBL.

JBL Live Free NC+ TWS True Wireless

The JBL Tune Buds True Wireless and the JBL Live Free NC+ share a similar stemless design, and they both have fairly neutral sound profiles that are well-suited to a variety of audio content. However, the Tune Buds have a better battery life performance and better noise isolation, so they're better suited to commutes and long journeys. However, the Live Free NC+ have a more stable fit that's better for intense runs and workouts.

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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 Buds have a simple, stemless design, with the JBL logo emblazoned on each bud. They're available in different colors: 'Black', 'White', 'Blue', and 'Purple'.

7.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.03 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

Once you find the right pair of ear tips, these buds have a comfortable fit. They're light and fit snugly in your ear without putting too much pressure on your ear canal. However, their stemless design protrudes from your ear a little, so they can get snagged if you're lying down or wearing a hat. They must also be inserted correctly to ensure a proper seal: the manufacturer advises you to insert them at a 45-degree angle and then twist them upwards. The buds can somewhat loosen up in your ear if you're eating or speaking.

6.7
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Good
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

The control scheme is alright. It's simple and intuitive, with responsive touch controls on the surface of each bud. You can play or pause, toggle the Noise Cancelling, Ambient Aware, and TalkThru modes, skip tracks or return to the previous track, and access the voice assistant, all through inputting taps on either bud. Unfortunately, there's no volume control by default, and you'll have to remove the ANC or playback controls to accommodate them. While there are audio cues to acknowledge that a command has been registered, there's no minimum or maximum warning tone. That said, re-mapping these controls in the companion app is easy. The default controls are as follows:

On the left earbud:

  • Single tap: Switches between ANC on and 'Ambient Aware' mode, which lets you hear your surroundings without removing the buds.
  • Double tap: Toggles 'TalkThru' mode, which pauses audio and lets in ambient sound. Also answers or hangs up a call.
  • Tap and hold: Activates voice assistant.

On the right earbud:

  • Single tap: Plays and pauses audio.
  • Double tap: Skips to the next track.
  • Triple tap: Skips to the previous track.
  • Tap and hold: Activates voice assistant. Mute/unmute during a call.

9.7
Design
Portability
L 1.3" (3.4 cm)
W 0.8" (2.1 cm)
H 0.7" (1.7 cm)
Volume 0.74 in³ (12.20 cm³)
Transmitter Required No

These buds are lightweight, portable, and take up very little space in a bag or pocket. You can also stow them in their carrying case to protect them while they're not in use.

7.5
Design
Case
Type Hard case
L 1.9" (5.0 cm)
W 2.5" (6.4 cm)
H 1.2" (3.0 cm)
Volume 5.86 in³ (96.00 cm³)

The case is of a good quality. It's lightweight plastic, with LED lights indicating the battery level. While the hinge is snappy, the lid is made of a thinner plastic that feels less solid than the rest of the case.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

These earbuds are well-built. Besides the silicone ear tips, both the buds and the case are constructed entirely from plastic. The overall construction is solid but doesn't feel particularly premium. The plastic used for the case lid is also a bit lighter and more susceptible to damage, and the silicone ear tips may rip or become damaged over time. On the upside, these buds are rated IP54 for protection against water splashes and light rain.

7.5
Design
Stability

These buds have good stability. They'll stay in your ears during light exercise, so you'll have no problem maintaining a good seal while jogging in the park. However, they'll likely fall out of place during more intense workouts, and the fit tends to loosen up while talking or chewing.

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

  • JBL Tune Buds
  • 3x pairs of silicone ear tips (S, M, L)
  • Carrying case
  • USB-C to USB-A charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
1.67 dB
Treble Amount
-0.82 dB

The JBL Tune Buds have a V-shaped sound profile with an over-emphasized bass response and prominent treble. The bass range has plenty of rumble and boom that fans of genres like EDM and hip-hop will appreciate. The mid-range response is well-balanced and provides a detailed reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. However, the treble range is a little more uneven, and some peaks in the response across the mid-treble result in bright, sometimes piercing, sibilant sounds. That said, you can customize the sound to your liking through graphic EQ and presets in the companion app.

8.4
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.32 dB

These buds have great frequency response consistency. There are some deviations in the treble range, but with the right ear tips, you'll have no trouble achieving a consistent sound delivery between different listening sessions.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
8.0
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.93 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
4.42 dB
Mid-Bass
2.39 dB
High-Bass
-1.08 dB

The JBL Tune Buds have very good bass accuracy. The response is overemphasized across the low and mid-bass, so there's plenty of rumble and boom on tap. The high-bass is more neutral, resulting in a warm sound signature that isn't too boomy.

9.4
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
0.79 dB
Low-Mid
0.42 dB
Mid-Mid
-0.46 dB
High-Mid
0.13 dB

The mid accuracy is superb. The response is balanced across the entire range, resulting in detailed and accurate reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. On recordings like Claude Debussy's Arabesque No. 1, the piano's keystrokes sound deft, well-weighted, natural, and clear.

8.3
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
2.62 dB
Low-Treble
2.12 dB
Mid-Treble
0.97 dB
High-Treble
-8.64 dB

The treble accuracy is great. The low treble is quite neutral, so there's plenty of detail in the upper harmonics of vocals and instruments. The response across the mid-treble is a little more varied but still sounds balanced. Some small peaks across this range bring out the brightness in sibilants, like cymbals.

7.3
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.88 dB
Dips
0.91 dB

These buds have a decent peaks and dips performance, and they generally follow their own sound profile, though there are some deviations in certain ranges. A peak across the low to mid-bass adds boom and rumble to kicks, but a small dip in the high-bass makes instruments like snares and bass guitars sound a little thin. Two peaks across the low and mid-treble add harshness to the upper harmonics of vocals and sibilants, like cymbals.

8.7
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.31
Weighted Phase Mismatch
2.16
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.72
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.64

The imaging performance is excellent, which indicates the manufacturer's reputation for good quality control and ergonomics. We've tested a lot of JBL headphones, and many of them have well-matched drivers, though it's worth noting that imaging varies between units. Our unit's group delay falls below the audibility threshold across the entire range, resulting in tight bass and transparent highs. The drivers are also well-matched in phase, amplitude, and frequency response. There's a slight bump in the phase response in the mid-mid, but this is difficult to hear in real-life content, like music and podcasts, even if you're listening out for it.

1.1
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
3.6
Acoustic Space Excitation
1.4

They have a bad passive soundstage, which is to be expected with closed-back earbuds. Their design means that sound doesn't interact with your outer ear the way it does with open-back headphones. Audio seems to be coming from inside your head, as opposed to from speakers placed around you. The resulting soundstage sounds closed off and unnatural.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
8.2
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.249
WHD @ 100
0.075

The JBL Tune Buds have a great weighted harmonic distortion performance. The whole range falls within a good level, and audio reproduction is clean and pure. While there's some distortion present in the high-treble, it's difficult to hear as we lose sensitivity to this range over time.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
4.9.0
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.3
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
Off
ANC
Adaptive Noise Cancelling
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Integrated

These are the settings used to test the JBL Tune Buds. Our results are only valid when the earbuds are used in this configuration.

Isolation
6.4
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-16.86 dB
Noise Cancelling Yes
Bass
-5.7 dB
Mid
-22.84 dB
Treble
-23.99 dB

The noise isolation performance is acceptable. The ANC can block out some background noise, but it's only a slight improvement on the passive isolation provided through their in-ear design. Overall, these buds do a good job of blocking out mid and treble-range noise, like fridge hum and background chit-chat. However, bass-range noises, like engine rumble, will still find their way into your audio, even with the ANC on. There's no way to switch between different ANC modes or strengths, but you can activate Ambient Aware mode to hear your surroundings better or TalkThru mode, which lowers audio volume and lets in external mid-range audio to hear conversations.

8.8
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
28.74 dB

They have an excellent leakage performance. The general level of leakage is low and concentrated in the treble range, so escaping audio sounds thin. You can crank your tunes in an office environment without bothering anyone.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
Mic Yes
6.3
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
273 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
4.54 dB
HFE
2,957.7 Hz
Weighted THD
0.133
Gain
-20.17 dB

The integrated mic has a passable recording quality. You'll be understandable to the person on the other end, but your voice will sound thin and a little muffled.

6.7
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
12.42 dB
Noise Gate
Always On
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
7.5
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
5.5
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample

The mic has an okay noise handling performance. It does a good job of separating your voice when there's a consistent level of background noise, like in a cafe, as the mic takes a few seconds to adjust to the environment. However, there is some static present that reduces speech clarity. Loud and sudden noises, like passing trains, will completely drown out your voice. Fortunately, particularly loud noises are reduced after a second or two to the benefit of whoever's on the other end of your call.

Active Features
8.1
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
10.4 hrs
Additional Charges
3.0
Total Battery Life
41.6 hrs
Charge Time
0.85 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Auto-Off Timer
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The JBL Tune Buds have a great battery life performance. The manufacturer advertises ten hours of continuous battery life with the ANC on, and we tested just above that. With the ANC off, the manufacturer advises that the battery life can be extended by another two hours. There are also another three charges via the carrying case and an auto-off timer that turns the buds off to save battery after a certain amount of time, which can be set in the app.

8.0
Active Features
App Support
App Name JBL Headphones
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
Graphic + 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. You can use it to toggle features like Ambient Aware, TalkThru, and ANC, as well as smart video and audio. The Ambient Aware feature is useful if you want to stay aware of your surroundings while listening to music and the TalkThru function lets in some external mid-range frequencies so you can focus on a real-life conversation without removing your earbuds. Using 'Video Mode' lowers the latency to minimize audio/video sync issues, and 'Audio Mode' lets you stream audio in higher quality. You can adjust the sound with a graphic EQ and presets, remap the controls, change the voice assistant settings, and even track down lost buds with the Find My Buds feature. You can check out a video of the app in use here.

Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Wired Connection
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable
No
Length
N/A
Connector
No Wired Option
Latency - Analog
N/A
Latency - USB
N/A
Recorded Latency
N/A
Recorded Latency Connection No Wired Audio

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

8.7
Connectivity
Bluetooth Connection
Bluetooth Version
5.3
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
Quick Pair (Android)
Yes
Quick Pair (iOS)
No
Line Of Sight Range
334.65 ft (102.00 m)
Latency - SBC
174 ms
Latency - aptX
N/A
Latency - aptX Adaptive (High Quality)
N/A
Latency - aptX Adaptive (Low Latency)
N/A
Latency - LDAC
N/A
Recorded Latency
Recorded Latency Codec SBC
AAC Support
Yes

The JBL Tune Buds have excellent Bluetooth connectivity. They support multi-device pairing, so you can connect them to up to 2 devices without the hassle of disconnecting and repairing. They're also compatible with Google Quick Pair for easy connection to Android devices. While they aren't compatible with high-resolution lossless codecs, like LDAC, you can enable the Smart Audio mode to stream audio at a higher quality, albeit with higher latency. You can achieve a lower latency performance via the default SBC codec when using the Smart Video function, which optimizes the latency for watching video. However, even in this mode, you'll still experience some syncing issues between the audio and video. The manufacturer also advertises that they will be adding the LC3 codec via a firmware update at some point to make the buds compatible with LE audio.

0
Connectivity
Wireless Connection (Dongle)
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Latency - Dongle
N/A
Recorded Latency
N/A
Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
No
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No

These earbuds are compatible with Bluetooth-enabled PCs but can't connect 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

The JBL Tune Buds come with a portable carrying case that can hold up to three extra charges. The case doesn't support wireless charging, so you can only charge it through the USB-C port.