In case you missed this earbuds deal back in early June, it’s now returned.

As I said in my original post, over the years, JBL has put out some decent true-wireless earbuds, but nothing that really got me too excited. That’s finally changed with the arrival of the Samsung-owned brand’s new Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 buds. Both sets of buds — the Live Pro 2 have stems while the Live Free 2 have a pill-shaped design — offer a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance, plus a robust feature set. The list price for both is $150, but they’re on sale at a few different retailers, including Amazon and JBL itself, for $100.

The Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 are equipped with the same 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips. I got a tight seal from the largest set of ear tips and both buds fit my ears securely — I was able to run with them without a problem and they are IPX5 splash-proof. Both use Bluetooth 5.2 and have multipoint Bluetooth pairing, allowing you to pair them to two devices simultaneously. The touch controls worked fine. Also worth noting: Both models’ charging cases feature wireless charging and while they’re thicker than AirPods cases, they’re still quite compact. 

The Live Free 2 in black.

David Carnoy/CNET

Aside from the design, the biggest difference between the two buds is battery life. The stemless Live Free 2 are rated for up to seven hours, while the Live Pro 2 are rated for 10 hours. They have a quick-charge feature that gives you four hours of juice from a 15-minute charge.

You may get slightly better microphone pickup from the Live Pro 2 because their stems are closer to your mouth, but both models were good at reducing background noise during calls. There’s adjustable sidetone via the app that allows you to tweak how much you hear your voice in the buds as you talk (I always appreciate some good sidetone). 

I was impressed with the noise canceling, which has an adaptive setting that can be toggled on and off in the app. It did an excellent job of muffling sound with virtually no hiss. There’s also an ambient aware mode (an adjustable transparency mode) and a talk-through mode that reduces the volume on whatever you’re listening to and opens the earbuds up to the outside world so you can have a conversation. The buds have upgradeable firmware. 

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The models sound very similar, delivering dynamic, bold sound (read: a relatively wide soundstage) with good detail and strong bass. Their sound compares favorably to the sound offered by more expensive buds like the Beats Fit Pro and they also sound better than the AirPods Pro. While they’re a touch bass-heavy, you can tweak the sound profile a bit in the EQ settings of the app to tone things down a bit. They lack a bit of the refinement and depth that some higher-end buds such as the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 offer, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find better sound at this price.

I can’t guarantee the buds will fit everybody’s ears as well as they did mine. JBL claims they should fit those with smaller ears, but my ears are more medium-sized so I can’t say whether that’s really true or not. While I was slightly more partial to the Live Pro 2 — they make for an excellent AirPods Pro alternative, especially for Android users — the Live Free 2 are more discreet-looking and didn’t stick out of my ears much at all. 

Note that not all Live Pro 2 colors are available at a discount. However, the Live Free 2’s three color options are available for $100. It’s unclear how long the sale lasts, although I suspect that we’ll see these discounted sporadically going forward.

Alas, they don’t support the aptX audio codec for Android users (the AAC audio codec sounds just fine, however). But with just about every key feature you could ask for and strong overall performance, they’re a good value at $150 and an excellent deal at $100.

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