True Wireless technology is starting to sound better for cheaper. And few major brands do affordable audio products as well as JBL. So, I was thrilled to finally see a pair of JBL true wireless earbuds under $100. How do they perform? And will they suit your ears and listening style? Let’s find out in this JBL Tune 120TWS True Wireless Earphones Review.
JBL Tune 120TWS True Wireless Earphones Review
Although it took me a few tries to remember which side was up, these earbuds are easy to pop in your ears, and they provide a very effective level of sound isolation. In fact, they probably beat some of the cheaper noise-cancelling headphones out there. And even though the earpieces protrude out of the ears a little (for those who care about aesthetics), I found them very snug and comfortable to wear for long periods of time. (You'll find 3 different sized eartips in the box for optimal fit).
You’ll get a total of 16 hours of battery life from the Tune 120TWS. And you can listen for up to 4 hours at a time before having to put them back in the charging case. The Tune 120TWS charging case takes about 2 hour to fully charge from empty, using a micro-USB connection. A micro-USB to USB charging cable is included in the box.
Although JBL employs the older Bluetooth 4.2 version, I didn’t experience any dropped signals or interruptions, even in the middle of Manhattan, or as some audiophiles would call it, Bluetooth City.
Call clarity was better than I expected it to be. And though the transmission may not be as crystal clear as the Apple AirPods or RHA TrueConnect, for example, I was able to have an intelligible conversation in the middle of the city.
Functionality and Controls
I like that JBL has gone with buttons on the sides of the earbuds instead of touchpads, which can often be too sensitive to the touch. These two buttons control the usual functions, such as play/pause, track skipping, calls and voice assistant activation. Volume control is all that is missing. But even the Apple AirPods don’t have volume control unless you get Siri involved.
Even though the Tune 120TWS is somewhat of a no frills design, JBL has added some thoughtful details like magnetizing the buds so that they stick together when you throw them in your pocket or leave them on the table. And while the Tune 120TWS may not be sturdy enough to withstand being run over by a car, it certainly looks solid enough to handle some wear and tear.
The Tune 120TWS delivers a massive bass. Dry and grippy, you’ll hear tons of punch when listening to pop. And hip-hop fans will appreciate how subby these buds can get. The low-end also gives a lot of warmth and lushness to rock songs. And while cellos didn’t convey a huge amount of detail, these buds did lend a rich color and grandness to the instrument. Listening to acoustic double bass slaps, the low-end felt like overkill at times. So, jazz fans may want to be wary. But otherwise, the lows are versatile enough to handle pretty much any genre.
You can expect present upper mids with the lower mids a little scooped out. So, vocals lean a bit forward, and you’ll get a relatively dynamic feel overall. And although this makes for a fun sound signature, rock and pop-rock fans might be hungry for a little more body and expansiveness when listening to big hooks. That being said, the Tune 120TWS presents a clean sound for a wireless pair of buds in this price range. Acoustic guitar strums, for example, are well-separated, especially as they creep into the higher frequencies. So, these buds are also suitable for genres with intricate acoustic arrangements, like folk and bluegrass.
You won’t get a ton of transparency when listening to strings in this range. But at a 100 bucks, these wireless buds aren’t for critical listening. However, the high-end does give a little snap to percussion instruments in pop tracks. And though you won’t hear much sparkle, the highs avoid sounding blunted. And on the flip side, those with sensitivity to high frequencies will find this sound signature forgiving on the ears.
The soundstage is a little compact, and instrument placement is not particularly precise. But you’ll still feel a little dimension in terms of height and width. And that’s about all you can expect from wireless pair of earphones at this price point.
Great deal. The Tune 120TWS offers nothing fancy, but the sound quality and build are solid for 100 bucks. Great sound isolation, and the sound signature works for almost every genre. Heavy sweaters who need a pair of earbuds for the gym may want to go with a more secure-fitting, water-resistant model like the Under Armour Flash by JBL. But if you’re just wearing them around town or while on the can, they’re an ideal choice.
You can buy the JBL Tune 120TWS here: