The JBL Live 300TWS is the company’s latest release in the true wireless category. These earbuds package dynamic sound and smart controls into a rugged, stylish chassis that matches the luxurious appearance of its popular over-ear headphones. JBL also designed these earbuds with splash and sweat protection. While the Live 300TWS offers quality features, these headphones have apparent flaws that hamper overall performance. This includes issues like an unfavorable fit, mediocre listening modes, and muffled bass. This is our JBL Live 300TWS Review.
JBL Live 300TWS Review: Design
These are some large, but stylish and sturdy earplugs you are looking at. They have almost the same aesthetics as the Live 650BTNC headphones, which consist of a hard plastic housing that feels like aluminum and has round, shiny accents on the front that add a touch of flair. The knobs are IPX5 coated to protect them from excessive sweat and heavy water splashes.
The Live 300TWS is more substantial than some of the more favorable oval options on the market (e.g., Jabra Elite Active 75t, Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus) and sticks out. If you want buds with a more discreet silhouette, they may not be right for you. The bold colors look great, especially the black and dark bronze version, which complements the premium design of the buds. I also like the fact that the tops come with lots of accessories.
Even though the Live 300TWS case is lighter than the large block of aluminum packed with the JBL x UA Flash wireless earplugs, it’s still sleek and leaves you with bulging pockets. Another problem is the docking station. It’s not as simple to use as the Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2, which allows you to drop the earplugs to charge and store them on the go seamlessly.
Here you need to place them on their respective slots and push them down so that they click into the charging mechanism. A positive point I can share is that the plastic chassis of the case is durable and will survive hard spills on the ground.
JBL Live 300TWS Review: Comfort
The bulk of these buds makes them uncomfortable and unstable. Each bud weighs 0.2-ounces, but they feel heavier in hand and on the ear than the Apple AirPods Pro (0.19 ounces per bud) and Jabra’s Elite Active 75t (0.19 ounces per bud). The Live 300TWS also presses hard against the ear and exerts unwanted pressure that causes pain after about 45 minutes. I found them a little painful to exercise after an hour of use.
Determining the right fit is also a hassle. Even here, the size is the problem because the large body interferes with the placement of the fin in the upper part of the concha. I wore the tops while walking, and the fins were continually jumping out, so I had to stop every few blocks from getting them back in place. You can only imagine how problematic this can be when you run outside.
Controls and Assistant
JBL is one of the few manufacturers that successfully programs touch controls on its wireless earbuds while adding as much functionality as possible. The Live 300TWS takes full advantage of the small property and places a wide touch panel on the outside of each earplug that supports multiple tapping and smudging movements. You can tap virtually anywhere, even at the edges, and the buttons will accurately record commands. Even better is how to personalize the controls via the JBL Headphone app.
The right earpiece works as follows: play/pause music (1x tap), skip a track or answer/end calls (2x tap), play previous track (3x tap), volume up/down (swipe forward or backward), turn on the digital assistant (tap and hold), or enter pairing mode (double-tap and hold). That’s a lot of controls for just one side. The left button makes it easier to cancel a Digital Assistant request (tap once), hear notifications (tap twice) or scroll through the different listening modes (swipe forward on the left button). All in all, the buttons are sensitive, although there is some delay: about 1 to 2 seconds, depending on the command.
Like many of JBL’s current releases, the Live 300TWS has a Google Assistant integration and supports Alexa and Siri. The results are adequate, because the microphones show excellent speech recognition, but pick up a lot of background noise. This can lead to Google Assistant misinterpreting requests. When using the feature in quiet environments, both Google and Apple’s AI bots recorded questions, word for word, and answered them quickly. You should be able to perform everyday tasks such as accessing your calendar, opening Spotify, or reading incoming messages without any problems.
JBL Live 300TWS Review: Features and Apps
The JBL Headphone app has several features that improve the user experience. At the top of the list is the EQ to refine the sound by manually adjusting the frequency levels to your hearing. I strongly recommend its use, especially if you are trying to get more bass out of these buttons. If that’s too much work, there are a handful of presets to choose from, although some sounds are a bit off; I noticed that kicks and bows strike harder in Jazz mode than Bass.
Active Noise Cancellation is absent on the JBL Live 300TWS, but JBL offers consolation in the form of two other modes: Ambient Aware and TalkThru. The first mode opens the sound image to hear what’s going on around you, while the second keeps the volume extremely low so you can chat with others without removing the earbuds.
Unfortunately, neither works very well. I couldn’t tell the difference between the Ambient Aware and standard mode, because the level of sound around me sounded precisely the same. TalkThru reduces the noise to about 10%, which makes it easier to communicate with others when the music is playing in the background, but it’s so low that you can’t even hear it. It’s better to press pause and resume playing after the conversations.
Other features include Find My Buds and the listening mode switches, the digital assistant, and the auto power-off setting, which put the buttons into sleep mode when they are idle for a few minutes. This is a sufficient number of features to work with, but other apps offer more functionality.
JBL Live 300TWS Review: Call Quality and Connectivity
The Live 300TWS is a reliable calling headset. As I talk to my fiancée while shopping outside, I hear her loud and clear. She said my voice sounded a little distant and muffled, but she could still listen to what I was saying. It was more rewarding to be inside, with most of my friends complimenting me on how good I sounded, even with my television in the background.
I was shocked at how fast the buttons were linked to my Google Pixel 3XL and MacBook Pro; it’s almost as quickly as the Google Pixel Buds with Android devices. Bluetooth 5.0 was also reliable, allowing me to listen up to 40 feet wirelessly before the sound started stuttering. The only thing missing is multipoint technology, which would have made it possible to pair two devices at the same time.
Battery Life and Charging Case
JBL indicates battery life with 6 hours at a time charging. Realistically, this is about 5.5 hours when high volume, media streaming (e.g., Spotify, YouTube), and wireless calls are taken into account. Yes, it sounds disappointing, especially since it floats around the same playing time as the AirPods (5 hours), but JBL’s power management allows you to squeeze as much juice out of the buttons as possible. By using them for two hours a day, I hardly noticed the power drop until I hit about 10% by the end of the third day.
Even then, I wasn’t so surprised, because fast charging ensured that I could generate enough juice to get through a quick conference call; 1 hour of use on a 10-minute charge is pretty sweet. The charging case gives you 14 hours of extra playing time. That’s about two and a half hours extra, which is excellent for flights from coast to coast. I wish it came with wireless charging, especially when you see lower-priced buttons like the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 support the function.
JBL Live 300TWS Review: Performance
JBL is known for its powerful, bass-forward sound, which is why I’m surprised at the tamed low end of the Live 300TWS. The thumping response you’d expect on speaker songs that rattle is either absent or jammed with distortion. No matter how disappointing this sounds, the tops have two things in mind: stellar midrange and vocal reproduction.
Mary J. Blige’s “I Love You” was a serene listening that emphasized the reach of the singer; it’s impossible not to feel the lamentation in her voice on the bridge. The striking piano melody, which Isaac Hayes’ “Ike’s Mood” beautifully plays together, also captured the mood perfectly, while Mary’s clear harmonization made me long for more.
The switch to something fiery, Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know,” had a more Acappella-like vibe. The excellent vocal clarity made her aggression and bending more surreal. Unfortunately, the catchy bass and crashing drums were masked and only felt when listening to the maximum volume. Super-bassy cuts like Run the Jewels’ “Out of Sight” also lost its sharpness and sounded loud with the choir and the disharmonious effects that caused sibilance.
Another factor reducing sound quality is sound isolation. The tips have difficulty creating a tight seal that prevents background noise from getting into the audio fragment. I could hear my fiancé talking to her parents when she tried to place Spotify’s playlists in a zone, while loud noises, such as a Mustang car engine and a drill bit, pulled me away from the music.
Price and Availability
The JBL Live 300TWS initially sold for $149, is currently available for $119 from major online retailers, including Amazon, or directly from JBL. This earbud is available in four colors: Black, purple, blue, and white. JBL supplies the Live 300TWS with a charging case, a USB charging cable, three sets of earplugs (S, M, L), four sets of wing fins (XS, S, M, L), a quick start guide and a warranty.
JBL Live 300TWS Review: Conclusion
The JBL Live 300TWS are capable earbuds that deliver decent performance for the price, and by that, I mean the current price drop: $120. Your ears will undoubtedly be satisfied with some convincing midsummer and vocal clarity. Being able to customize the sound image is also a great advantage for audiophiles who prefer a signature with more treble or bass; the latter do not wear the same pure bass resonance as some of JBL’s other models. The Live 300TWS’s smart controls and stable wireless performance also contribute to its appeal.
Where the buttons fall short of the competition are comfort, special features, and battery life. Their large shape makes it challenging to establish a secure fit. Both listening modes need more work. And when you look at what other models offer in terms of playing time on a single charge, these buttons only provide half of that.
If you can live with those compromises, the JBL Live 300TWS is worth considering, especially at a discount. Otherwise, it’s better to look at those that deliver more bang for the buck, such as the Jabra Elite 75t/Elite Active 75t or Galaxy Buds Plus.
Give the JBL Live 300TWS a try if you value excellent midrange sound and robust aesthetics.
- Clear, lively mids
- Sleek, sturdy construction
- Intuitive controls
- Companion app with sound customization
- Weak bass response
- Bulky and uncomfortable