JBL Tune 220TWS – Tech & audio review, wireless Bluetooth earbuds with mic

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Rating
SugarFire Star Rating 3 out of 6
3 out of 6 stars

The JBL Tune 220TWS are fully wireless Bluetooth earbuds. I was looking for an affordable pair of Bluetooth earphones which would also provide good quality sound. I’m typically very touchy with sound quality, so therefore I’m usually looking for the best. However, I don’t want to have to frequently spend hundreds of pounds on Bluetooth earbuds, every time they go wrong or get lost.

Enter JBL. JBL is a well known and established audio brand. On Amazon you are able to purchase a number of JBL earphones for less than a hundred pounds. Although you should note, the JBL Tune 220TWS is priced at £99.99 on JBL’s website at the time of writing.

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Overall, the main aspect which attracted me towards the JBL Tune 220TWS earphones was the type of earbud tip. Although they are in-ear, they are not in-ear monitors. I personally do not like in-ear monitors. They are not comfortable no matter the bud size. I also do not like being cut off from my surroundings and I personally believe they are worse for your ears health.

Product overview

Specs

Connectivity

  • Bluetooth version: 5.0
  • Bluetooth profiles: A2DP 1.3, AVRCP 1.5, HFP 1.6

Audio

  • Driver size: 12 mm (at the time of writing, JBL’s product page also mentions 12.5 mm separately to technical spec’s breakdown)
  • Dynamic frequency response range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Driver sensitivity at 1kHz / 1mW: 105 dB
  • Impedance: 32 ohms

Battery

  • Battery Type: Lithium-ion battery (22 mA / 3.85 V)
  • Charging time: 2 hrs (approx from empty)
  • Maximum play time: 19 hours approx (3 hours earphones, 16 hours charging case)

Other

  • Built-in Microphone
  • JBL Pure Bass Sound
  • JBL True Wireless
  • Weight: 57g (1.98oz)

What’s in the box

  • JBL TUNE 220TWS earpieces
  • Charging case
  • Micro-USB flat orange cable
  • Various booklets
JBL Tune 220TWS - General overview
JBL Tune 220TWS – General overview

Experience and thoughts

I had the JBL Tune 220TWS in black for this review. I tested them with a Samsung Galaxy S9, Samsung Tab A and an HP Envy laptop, which had Bluetooth v5.0 or v4.2.

I listened to a variety of music which includes rock, dance, EDM and pop, spanning newly released studio recordings to high quality vinyl recordings. I played WAV, FLAC and MP3 music files, used video files with AAC and EAC3 sound tracks and tried them with Amazon Music, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and YouTube streaming services.

Earbuds sound quality

The sound quality of the JBL Tune 220TWS was relatively good for a pair of earphones in this price range. Tested on flat EQ settings, they provide decent bass without being over the top and whether you are listening to music or watching a movie, they provide good separation between instruments, voices and sound effects. You can hear the lows, the mids and the highs very well, however although there was clarity of sound, I always felt there was that extra bit of clarity and richness missing, which also affected the openness of the sound.

Upon tweaking EQ settings, I found I was able to vastly improve the earbuds to yield a much richer sound quality, but once again there was a certain clarity missing. I also felt that the earphones were generally a bit quieter, as I found myself having to turn up the volume above my normal level to get a decent sound level.

Earphones and case – Design and fitting

The JBL Tune 220TWS were quite stylish in black and featured a matt finish on both the case and earbuds.

Earbuds

The earphones themselves are very similar to traditional earbuds in design, only they are wireless. They’re bud type, which is not the in-ear monitors (in-ear canal), JBL describes as an ergonomic design. It is much more similar to the traditional earbud design, only it has a sort of cone shaped fitting to fit more directly into the ear. As someone who has more sensitive ears and is not happy with fitting something deep into the ear at all, this earbud design is much more preferable and more comfortable.

They’re rectangular stem has rounded off edges and is quite blocky in appearance, but it’s acceptable and adds grip with handling them. Both earbuds have a single ‘easy to feel’ button on their bodies (each for a different function), and a small light indicator behind a silver mesh. The earbuds have “L” for left and “R” for right embossed on the body, with blue and red color coding for left and right on both the earbuds and case. They are light to wear in terms of weight and have never felt as if they were going to fall out.

In saying this, they’re fitting was not perfect for my ears. During usage I initially experienced some discomfort as they felt a little tight, but over time this effect seemed to fade and be acceptable. Obviously the earbuds need to stay in the ear and not fall out, which is why I suspect I initially felt this and they are based around a one size fits all design. Though, it should be noted that this tight discomfort feeling never really went away.

Material texture – Case and Earbuds

Both the case and earbuds used a tacky matt plastic. Personally, this was not too nice to touch, but I’m picky on these sorts of things, so I’m sure most would be fine with it. It was good for not getting fingerprints on and for grip, but grease would build on it. Interestingly though, the underside of the earphones which would touch your skin when wearing, used smoother plastic and a smooth rubber on the earbud tips. The case itself also had a different plastic on it’s interior, which was much smoother and shinier. This plastic was far more pleasant to touch and would have been much more preferable in place of the exterior matt plastic in general, though it attracted more fingerprints.

Earbuds case

Other than the exterior plastic texture, the earphones charging case was for the most pretty good. It had a reasonably strong spring hinge and seemed to utilise magnetism to help keep it shut. Though, I would still want to be careful of the lids hinge as it was not overly strong.

The earbuds fitted into the case well and seemed to use magnetism to hold the earbuds in place. But the way they fitted in the case, by sliding the stems into cut out vertical holes was not good for cleaning, as there is the potential for grease to build up over time with usage.

Battery life and charging – Loose charging connection

The JBL Tune 220TWS are supposed to contain enough power for 19 hours total of listening time (3 hours earphones, 16 hours charging case). In actual usage they mostly lasted long enough, although there were times where longer would have been better.

Charging the earphones by mains power took about 2 hours, but when charging the actual earbuds in the case, I noticed that one bud at random sometimes didn’t charge. I was fortunate enough to be able to test a second pair which also had the same issue. I suspect this is how the earbuds sit on the pins in the case to charge, which results in a more loose connection.

On another note, the flat orange micro-B to type-A USB cable which came in the box, although stylish, had a poorly designed type-A male connector. I think it was designed so you can plug it in either way around in a port, but it made it very stiff to plug in and honestly made me worry about putting it in any port.

Earbud buttons

The buttons were easy to find when wearing the earbuds, though they proved to be more difficult to press, as attempting to do so would really press the buds into the ear which was awkward and not very comfortable.

Bluetooth connection and earbud syncing

The Bluetooth connection was perfectly fine when connecting to my Android devices, however when connecting to my HP laptop the connection would initially drop and I would have to reconnect for it to stabilise. Using the earphones at a distance from the current paired device (living room to kitchen or bedroom in apartment) seemed to be fine, no drop outs or loss of connection.

Although, regarding the sync between the earbuds, I noticed some syncing issues would occur between the buds, every now and then when taking them out of the case. To fix this I would have to manually turn them off and back on in sync.

User friendly function sounds

In order to indicate what the earbuds were doing, such as turning on or off, they would make various sounds to indicate such things. Personally these sounds were OK but sounded a bit low quality and clunky.

About The Author
Alexander N. Messenger

Managing Editor for SugarFire.net - Alexander specialises in digital media. With knowlege in skill sets ranging from photography, video, journalism, website creation and graphics, he has gained a range of experience through career and entrepreneurial endeavours with online publication, digital media and marketing as well as the creation of art. He also has a degree in Digital Photography and studied Interactive Media and Art and Design in college.