JBL Club Pro+ Review: Super Interesting EQ Features!
These earbuds are definitely one of the cooler ones to come out from JBL, and they perform pretty well, but there are still a few problems to iron out. I must say, I really dig the design of the Club Pro+ earbuds though.
The case is made out of plastic, yes, but there is a slight bit of heft to it, so it doesn’t feel like a toy in the hand. The matte black colour with that sort of sheen is also pretty durable. You don’t get fingerprints or scuffs on the case easily, which is nice. On the bottom, you get a USB-C charging port, a pairing button as well as a LED indicator for charging status. The case also supports wireless charging, which is very nice.
Inside, you get the two earbuds along with individual LEDs that show if the earbuds are charging when you put them into the case. The earbuds themselves are actually really nice. The faceplate is a sort of triangular shape that is a refreshing change from the round or square earbuds we normally get. It’s also shaped pretty ergonomically, which results in a comfortable fit even though they do stick out of my ears a little.
As for passive noise isolation, it’s pretty decent, although there is ANC on these earbuds, which we’ll talk about later.
Moving onto features, these use the JBL companion app, which starts off a bit wonky for me, before setting in. During the initial set-up, I tried out the earbud fit test, and after tapping it like five times with no response, I gave it around 5 seconds and the music finally started playing. All good I thought, and closed the popup.
Imagine my shock when the loud music started playing again. And again. And again. Nothing I did could stop the earbud fit test music from playing and I was like, man, this is karma for me spamming the button. Anyway, I plopped the earbuds back into the case, closed the lid and took out the earbuds again. Perfectly fine after that. The moral of the story? Give the app some time and don’t spam the button.
After that though, the app wasn’t really laggy or anything, so it was probably just a one-off thing. I did a quick firmware update, and it was pretty fast. In the app, you get battery levels for both earbuds as well as the case, and the options to toggle ANC and ambient sound on or off. There’s also a “smart audio & video” button, which is pretty cool. Basically, you get to choose if you want the earbuds to focus on sound quality or low latency. I didn’t really notice any latency when watching videos anyway, so yeah.
There are touch controls, and you do get to select what set of controls you want on each earbud. There’s ambient sound control, playback control, volume control and voice assistant, or you could turn it off if you rather.
In the app, you can also set auto-off, play/pause in-ear detection and the different modes for ANC and ambient sound. Interestingly, the EQ feature, called Stage+, comes with two options. You can either pick a DJ Signature or use your own custom EQ. The DJ signature sound curves are supposedly only available for a limited time, and right now, there are only three: Martin Garrix, Vintage Culture and Tigerlily. I guess these will eventually expire and new ones will be added, although I have no idea how often that would be. The thing is, there’s no way to see how the sound is changed with these signatures either, so it’s a lot of experimenting.
The custom EQ, though, is pretty interesting. I tested out exactly how many points I could add to the graph, and it topped out at a whopping 16 points, although whenever I saved it, it defaulted to just 10 points. I mean, nobody’s going to do 16 points on the EQ like me, really, it was just a bit of a fun experiment. I also tried to max out the number of EQ settings, but I got all the way up to 21 different custom EQs, so… Well done JBL I guess? Nobody’s really gonna have 21 settings or more, so it’s nice to know JBL doesn’t limit you to just one or two I suppose.
There’s Bluetooth 5.1, which is a bit odd. Most earbuds seem to either be on 5.0 or 5.2, this is the first 5.1 earbuds I’ve seen in a while. That means there’s no Bluetooth low energy audio and stuff like that. The earbuds also only support SBC and AAC, which is a bit of a disappointment. It would have been nice if there’s also aptX adaptive, especially considering the price tag of US$199 or S$299. The earbuds are also independent, so you can use either side as you want.
Battery life isn’t too bad. JBL claims six hours with ANC on or eight hours with ANC off, and it’s pretty accurate. There is an additional three charges in the case for a total of around 24 or 32 hours, which is in line with what I would expect out of a case this size.
There’s an IPX4 water resistance rating, which means the earbuds will hold up fine to sweat and rain, although I think they’re a bit bulky for exercise, and I’d probably recommend something that sits a bit more securely in the ear if you’re planning on going to the gym.
You get ANC in these, and they’re actually pretty decent. The earbuds do a good job of reducing low pitched environmental noise, although higher-pitched noises do still get in from time to time. Car noise and the likes aren’t completely removed, but they are effectively dampened.
Microphone quality is decent, although it does get a bit thin from time to time. Overall, fine for voice calls.
The sound quality, though, is pretty good. JBL is owned by Harman after all, and you get a well-balanced sound throughout. The bass is impactful and accurate while not being overly emphasised. The mids and highs are both pretty accurate, although I did feel there’s a slight dip in the mids leading to a bit of underemphasis and a slight lack of body and richness. Treble, though, is nice and bright.
Keep in mind, there are so many ways of tuning the sound with these earbuds thanks to the DJ Signatures and custom EQ, so you’ll really be able to tinker around and find the optimal sound for yourself. Personally, I did most of my testing with the EQ off, although I did quite like the Vintage Culture Signature. It brought the mids up and the vocals were a lot more forward, with a slight bit more punch to the bass.
The soundstage is pretty decent, nothing too crazy, but it won’t leave you feeling it’s too cramped either. Imaging is okay, not 100% accurate, but you get the general sense of instruments. Layering is pretty average; sometimes instruments start blending together, but honestly, you’re not getting these for critical listening anyway.
Personally, if you’re using the custom EQ, I’d recommend bumping the upper mids up a touch in addition to whatever else you want to do.
So, who would want to get these? Well, if you want a pair of relatively accurate earbuds that have the ability to really be fine-tuned, I’d say these offer that ability. The DJ Signature is also a pretty cool thing with new ones supposedly going to be added.
If you want something that’s excellent and engaging out of the box though, you might want to check out other earbuds, because I think these earbuds do require a bit of work on the EQ side to shine. ANC is pretty decent here too, so all in all, I’d say they’re worth the US$200 price tag, especially if you like the case and earbud design.