JBL Tune 120TWS: Review, price and specification – Intras & headphones

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The Tune 120TWS represent the entry level of the headphones catalog true wireless, wirelessly, from JBL. This translates into a simple technical sheet: no protection against water or splashes like on the Reflect Flow, no "Smart Aware" mode like on the Live 300TWS …

The 120TWS is not sophisticated, and has no other objective than to offer comfort and quality sound. Ambitions in line with their pricing positioning: available since summer 2019 at the launch price of € 99.99, they are among the least expensive "big brand" references on the market.

The JBL Tune 120TWS is obviously not in luxury, but the essential is assured. The plastics used are of honest quality, and the assembly, even if it is not always of irreproachable precision (the valve of the case making it the most visible illustration), seems of sufficient robustness. The headphones are magnetized to the case when they are stored, which therefore prevents them from unexpectedly picking up the dust when they open.

Despite their relatively large size, the headphones benefit from a very successful ergonomic design, which allows them to adapt to the vast majority of body types and to be worn for long hours without causing any discomfort. It should be made clear, however, that as always with in-ear headphones, we cannot guarantee that this comfort is perfectly universal, given the great diversity of human ear morphologies; but discordant cases should be very rare.

The only real discomfort caused by the use of headphones actually comes from the controls, distributed over two mechanical buttons, one on the back of each headset. These require a fairly strong pressure before activating, and the pressure on the eardrum that results is obviously not the most pleasant.

These buttons allow you to pause or restart playback, navigate between tracks, or activate the voice assistant on your phone. As is unfortunately still very often the case with headphones true wireless, no way is given to adjust the volume from the headphones; we must systematically resolve to do it directly on the source device.

For everyday use, the 120TWS offer an overall satisfactory experience, but not immaculate for that matter. We particularly deplore a synchronization between the two headphones which can sometimes make its own, and cause from time to time a brief loss of stereophony. The concern is fortunately not very frequent not to become unbearable (in intensive use, it occurred 3 times in a week of use), but one would of course have preferred to be dispensed from it. In addition, the headphones do not integrate any voice announcement, and are content with simple jingles to indicate their status – switching on of each earpiece, loss or resumption of connection between the two earphones, connection to a Bluetooth device, entry into pairing mode … It goes without saying that it is only very difficult to get to find in all that, and that some confusions can arise when one tries for example to pair the earphones to a new source. In this regard, the JBL headphones are unfortunately not capable of multipoint connection to several sources simultaneously.

Unlike some models of headphones true wireless recent, the Tune 120TWS do not connect each side to the source device: it is the right earphone which acts as master and which relays the signals between the source and the left earphone. There are two consequences to this. First, the broadcast latency is very high, teasing the 400 ms; therefore impossible to comfortably watch a ehealth if you do not have the possibility of manually compensating for the sound / image offset.

Impulse response delay in Bluetooth

Impulse response delay in Bluetooth

Second, it is impossible to use the left earpiece alone as a hands-free kit. You can however do it with the right earpiece – and in this case, the earpiece has the decency to restore the entire signal (sum of the left and right channels).

But it will then be necessary to deal with a vocal capture which does little more than the union minimum. The restitution of the speech captured in a very calm environment manages on the whole to be clear (in spite of some failures of the noise cancellation processing); but in a noisy environment, intelligibility degrades very quickly. Most of the time, we prefer to simply put our phone to the ear to better be heard by the other party.

The headphones do not have proximity sensors, and therefore cannot automatically pause playback when they are removed, or even go into standby automatically. Be careful to systematically store them in their case, otherwise they will be found a few hours later with a dead battery.

In this regard, the headphones offer an autonomy of about 4 hours, while the storage case can provide 3 full recharges. These figures are not dishonorable, but still place the Tune 120TWS in the low average of the category.

If the Tune 120TWS therefore do little more than the minimum union on practical considerations, it is however at the level of sound performance that they offer us their biggest and best surprise.

Far from the unbalanced and imprecise sounds that we are still unfortunately used to hearing with intras true wireless entry-level and mid-range, JBL headphones surprise with their mastery. Without being perfectly neutral, the frequency response shows a reasonable V signature and without major irregularity, which therefore accentuates the feeling of liveliness of the sound without compromising its naturalness or its transparency.

We note in particular the very beautiful extension of the treble extremes and their perfectly measured presence which participate in the establishment of a very pleasant stage width – and, once again, quite unusual coming from wireless headphones. Admittedly, we can still blame them for a slightly light level of detail, but we do not deplore any excessive aggressiveness, no sibilance or acidity, even at high volume.

Nothing to report in terms of harmonic distortion, perfectly inaudible across the spectrum.

Nothing to report in terms of harmonic distortion, perfectly inaudible across the spectrum.

On the serious side, the picture is generally very similar. The rendering of the lower half of the spectrum undeniably leans towards the warm, but we would not speak of a bass sound as far as the accentuation of the low frequencies is fluid enough not to cause masking or sensation. sound overwriting. Without being the most remarkable that there is, the reactivity of the loudspeakers is sufficient not only to avoid any overflow effect, but also to give kicks or bass synths a definition and a quality of texture that is generally satisfactory.

Mission more than fulfilled, therefore, for the Tune 120TWS, which manage to offer a sound reproduction in no way brilliant, but musical, and without any real major defect – and therefore of all-round versatility.

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