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JLab JBuds Air Pro review: Inexpensive sports buds with strong sound

Solid performance in another great value wireless model from budget earbud maker

The JLab JBuds Air Pro being held in hand aloft a brick background
(Image: © Alex Bracetti/Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The JLab JBuds Air Pro are a bargain for fitness fanatics that want strong sound and battery life performance at a low price.

Pros

  • +

    Bass-forward sound with custom EQ

  • +

    Effective ambient listening mode

  • +

    Long battery life

  • +

    Sturdy feel and secure fit

Cons

  • -

    Charging via USB-A port

  • -

    Uneven frequency response

  • -

    Google Assistant unresponsive at times

  • -

    No companion app or wireless charging

The JLab JBuds Air Pro is a sequel to one of the best cheap wireless earbuds: the JBuds Air. It retains much of what still makes the original a top seller through online retailers, including bass-centric sound, durable construction, instant auto-connect capabilities, and a tiny charging case with integrated USB cable. This version also comes with some upgrades like an ambient listening mode, longer battery life, and multipoint technology (pair to two devices simultaneously).

JLab JBuds Air Pro: specs

Colors: Black

Battery life (rated): 9 hours; 36 hours (charging case)

Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1 (codecs: AAC and SBC)

Water resistance: Yes (IP55 rated)

Size: 0.88 x 1.03 x 0.83 inches (per bud); 2.87 x 1.48 x 1.20 inches (charging case)

Weight: 0.18 ounces (per bud); 1.12 ounces (charging case)

That’s an enticing package for just $60, though compromises come attached to the low MSRP, most of which are carried over from past brand releases (it’s time to update the charging system, JLab). Despite its shortcomings, the JBuds Air Pro is a reputable gym partner that can be had for nearly half of what some of the best workout headphones sell for.

See which models rank among the best running headphones we’ve tested. And if a bargain is what you really seek, then look at our picks for the best cheap running headphones

For now, here is our full breakdown of the JBuds Air Pro.

JLab JBuds Air Pro review: Price and availability

You can purchase the JBuds Air Pro exclusively through JLab for $60. It comes in one color: Black. Inside the box are a charging case, three sets of different sized gel tips, a user manual, and a two-year warranty.

We’re seeing more entry-level sports buds hit the market every other month. Two newer releases worth looking at are the energetic-sounding Tribit MoveBuds H1 ($89) with earhook design and the rugged Skullcandy Dime ($26). Other JLab models like the Go Air Pop ($20) and Go Air Sport ($30) are notable alternatives.

For all of the latest wireless earbuds sales, bookmark our best headphones deals page.

JLab JBuds Air Pro review: Design and comfort

These buds look no different than their predecessor, or any other oval shaped JLab model. Aesthetics haven’t changed much either. The entire frame is built from sturdy black plastic and comes with an IP55 rating for sweatproof/dustproof and water-resistant protection. In other words, the JBuds Air Pro can withstand lots of damage, be it excessive moisture or hard spills onto the concrete.

The JLab JBuds Air Pro wireless earbuds resting on a concrete surface

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

The charging case is compact and has the signature built-in USB cable tucked in at the bottom. It feels solid and keeps the buds docked, though the lid is a bit flimsy, so dropping the case at the wrong angle puts the buds at risk of spilling across the floor.

The JLab JBuds Air Pro charging case resting on a workout stabilizer cushion

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Comfort is acceptable for buds this thick. I wore them for hour-and-a-half stretches throughout the day; minor soreness was felt around the concha in between breaks. Your ears shouldn’t experience any fatigue during workouts. Also, the buds won’t weigh down your ears at 0.18 ounces, which is much lighter than popular rivals like the Beats Powerbeats Pro (0.7 ounces).

Our reviewer wearing the JLab JBuds Air Pro on an outdoor run

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

You’ll get some stable fit out of the JBuds Air Pro as well. The design molded to my ears and the gel tips created a tight seal that kept the buds locked in. I never had to adjust them on runs and slippage never became a problem.

JLab JBuds Air Pro review: Controls and digital assistant

Something I’ve always appreciated about JLab is their willingness to program each pair of buds with a full suite of media controls. You’re not just getting basic functions (playback, call management, digital assistance), but also advanced ones (EQ selection, listening mode activation, volume) that are cleverly assigned on both buds. Input methods consist of single, double, triple, and long taps.

The JLab JBuds Air Pro's touch controls being demonstrated

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

JLab even added motion detection to auto-pause content when taking off the buds and resume playback when placed back on your ears. This feature and the touch controls worked like a charm. 

JLab’s mic array picked up vocals well and executed Bixby and Siri voice commands with precision. Google Assistant wasn’t as intuitive, misinterpreting basic commands like “what is my next event” for “what is molecular.” This wasn’t the case most times and Google’s AI bot executed most commands accurately, but I would be remiss not to share that specific blunder.

JLab JBuds Air Pro review: Sound quality

The JBuds Air Pro features a warm sound signature and comes with proprietary EQ3 Sound, which is the company’s three-EQ mode available on all JLab wireless earbuds. Each mode (Balanced, Bass Boost, JLab Signature) can be directly enabled on the buds and tweaks sound for better or worse, depending on your music selection.

On workout favorites like Jamiroquai’s “Shake It On,” the 6mm driver produced punchy bass, which intensified in Bass Boost mode and felt like bass drumsticks were striking against my ear drums. Essentially, that is the forceful low end you want to consume before kickstarting a run. At the same time, all that bass subdued the mids and highs. Switching over to Balanced placed the spotlight on mids and gave the airily spoken chorus more life over the upbeat production.

However, I preferred Balanced since it evened out the low end and kept it impactful, while bringing more clarity to the midrange.

Jamiroquai’s “Shake It On” being tested on the JLab JBuds Air Pro

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Sebastien Tellier’s “La Ritournelle” was the ticket when nearing the finish line. Balanced neutralized the frequency range to hear every sonic element clearly. The string arrangements sounded compelling, and the drums were punchy, granted they hit harder in the other modes. Signature brought an airy feel to the soundstage that accentuated highs (the violins sounded so clean), though the lows were still too aggressive and diminished mids. Bass Boost overemphasized the ominous lows and reduced the clarity of instruments.

When factoring in comfort levels, the JBuds Air Pro isn’t an ideal choice for movie watching, but that didn’t stop JLab from developing a Movie Mode to reduce audio lag with videos. I couldn’t tell the difference in performance between Movie and Music Modes because the quality was the same: smooth.

AAC and SBC are the only audio codecs supported, but the former sufficed for quality streaming over my Google Pixel 6 Pro and MacBook Pro. All the tracks I listened to during testing were through Apple Music and Spotify.

JLab's Smart Burn-In Feature being tested

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

JLab also has an audio burn-in tool you can download from iOS or Google. For those unfamiliar with the burn-in process, it’s when you play static noise or music for several hours to break in your buds or headphones, hoping to enhance audio quality. The jury is still out on whether it works. Just know that it’s accessible should you be curious to try it.

Noise isolation was decent and allowed for peaceful listening in areas with minimal background noise. Any speakerphone conversations or chatter in the living room were blocked out. High-frequency sounds like my son’s crying and his new whistle toy often broke my concentration.

JLab JBuds Air Pro review: Special features

If you’re looking for wireless earbuds that provide a more mobile, feature-laden experience, I suggest looking elsewhere. JLab has two apps, one being the aforementioned burn-in tool and the other reserved specifically for the Epic Air Sport ANC

All other features are programmed on the buds. Luckily, they provide a handful of serviceable ones like EQ3 Sound, Movie Mode, and digital assistance. The JBuds Air Pro also gain two more: ambient listening and multipoint technology.

Be Aware Mode is JLab’s version of Transparency mode and it is great for increasing your awareness of surroundings. Many of the noises in my vicinity were audible, especially voices, which came in loud and clear. This allowed me to share a few words with the missus before heading out on runs. Once on the road, I heard bicyclists and chatty runners on the same trail, as well as vehicles coming up the block and construction work taking place on the Intracoastal Waterway.

The JLab JBuds Air Pro's Awareness Mode being tested outdoors

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Bluetooth multipoint isn’t something you see on many cheap wireless earbuds, so for JLab to gift owners this feature is huge. It operates flawlessly. When paired to two devices at once, the JBuds Air Pro lets you control audio on both without scrambling the connections. It was relieving to use my Samsung Galaxy Note S22 Ultra during workouts and jump on my MacBook Pro shortly after without having to unpair.

Bluetooth 5.1 played a role in how well Bluetooth Multipoint communicated and performed with devices. Connectivity was steady and wireless range extended up to 60 feet.

JLab JBuds Air Pro review: Battery life and charging case

JLab continues to set the standard for long battery life on cheap wireless earbuds. The JBuds Air Pro holds up to 9 hours per charge and 36 hours via charging case. Do the math and that is four extra charges to hold you over for about two weeks before recharging. This is more than what some of JLab’s other buds provide like the Go Air Sport (8 hours), but still shorter than the category-leading Epic Air Sport ANC (11 to 15 hours). I guess what matters most is that you get more than the industry average time – 4.5 to 5 hours – set by the AirPods Pro.

The JLab JBuds Air Pro charging case's integrated USB cable connected to a MacBook Pro

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

As great as this sounds, there’s still a major issue with recharging. The built-in USB cable was a cool feature when it was introduced a few years back, but it’s outdated and forces users to find a USB port to juice up the case. All other models have more effective charging methods (Lightning/USB-C charging or wireless charging).

JLab JBuds Air Pro review: Call quality and connectivity

Call quality is OK. JLab equipped each bud with a MEMs microphone, and though they claim it produces clear calls, that’s not entirely true. The low volume and tinniness were two things that people on the opposite end of voice and video calls complained about. They could still hear me and make out most of my words, but loud background noises and wind disrupted chats.

A video call being taken on the JLab JBuds Air Pro

(Image credit: Alex Bracetti/Future)

Dropout was nonexistent. I was satisfied with Bluetooth 5.1 keeping calls live as I walked around the house, while my smartphone charged in the bedroom.

JLab JBuds Air Pro review: Verdict

Many of JLab’s low-cost wireless earbuds tend to be more of the same. The JBuds Air Pro does fall in line with its siblings, though the inclusions of Bluetooth Multipoint and Be Aware Mode give it enough distinction to stand out as one of the brand’s top offerings. Bold sound, responsive controls, stable connectivity, and more playtime in a water-resistant design make it an appealing purchase for brand enthusiasts and budget-conscious exercisers.

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.

  • BillM704_MZ3SGT
    I have a pair of Skullcandy Push Actives that have a lot more features such as voice control and can be charged via USB C. I'm also able to change the sound profile, customize the EQ, toggle Stay Aware mode on and off and update the firmware with their Skull-iQ app. They also have Tile tracking built in as well. For about $40 more, I'd go with the Skullcandy's then these
    Reply