The Vibe Beam and Vibe Buds, also released as the Wave Beam and Wave Buds in some global regions, are two of JBL’s newest budget TWS earbuds. They are both compatible with (what I think) is JBL’s latest app control schematic, which includes their “Ambient Aware” and “Talk Thru” technologies. The purpose of those is to allow people to seamlessly hear and interact with their surroundings without needing to hassle with stopping their music or taking off their earbuds.
Both of these pairs of TWS earbuds have quickly become quite popular, enough so that a lot of people are wondering how they actually compare to each other. Is one decidedly better than the other? I have fully reviewed them both and will answer that here.
JBL Vibe Beam vs Vibe Buds Side by Side
JBL Vibe Beam vs Vibe Buds Specs and Features
|Spec||Vibe Beam||Vibe Buds|
|release date||Feb, 2023||Feb, 2023|
|price-tier ⓘbudget: around $30 or less
value: around $30-$60
performance: around $60-$100
premium: around $100-$200
elite: more than $200
|design style||8mm single dynamic driver||8mm single dynamic driver|
|earbuds battery life||8h||8h|
|total + case battery life||32h||32h|
|onboard controls||touch based||touch based|
|active noise cancellation||no||no|
|EQ app compatibility||yes||yes|
|Multipoint 2+ device support||no||no|
|warranty||1 year||1 year|
Spec wise the Vibe Beam and Vibe Buds are exactly the same, and the only real difference between the two, which is a fairly obvious one, is the housing design style – The Vibe Beam has the stemmed ovoid design while the Vibe Buds has the on-ear bud style design. While the Vibe Buds and Vibe Beam look the same “on paper,” it’s still certainly possible for the two different housing styles to make the sound noticeably different.
JBL Vibe Beam vs Vibe Buds Charging Case
The obvious difference here is that the Vibe Beam case has a lid and The Vibe Buds case doesn’t. The “no lid” case style, while not common, is something that some TWS products use, and the main purpose of it is that it ostensibly makes putting in and taking out the earbuds as seamless as possible. I could maybe see that being appealing to some people if the case is just going to sit on your desk or bedside table or whatever, but, I think most people care more about security when they’re carrying a case around in their bags or pockets and want a lid thusly.
The Vibe Beam case, in addition to having a lid, is one of the better budget TWS cases that I’ve seen. It has a nicely compact and pocket friendly shape with nicely rounded edges, and it also feels very firm and sturdy. The lid hinge is also very sturdy and not flimsy at all.
Winner: Vibe Beam
JBL Vibe Beam vs Vibe Buds Fit and Comfort
Both the Vibe Beam and Vibe Buds have a relatively comfortable and secure fit, but the Vibe Bud fit feels a little better. This surprised me, because the shallow on-ear style design with shallow tips usually fails miserably in my experience and is seldom used. The Vibe Buds fit does have the shallower on-ear style feel, but it also manages to be 100% secure with no seal breaking issues. The Vibe Beam seal, on the other hand, would break and suck out the bass a little bit if my moved parts of my head around in certain ways.
The Vibe Buds tips are a little more malleable and gel like, and I think as a result fit and feel better. The fact that JBL made the on-ear bud style fit work so well with the Vibe Buds is actually the uniquely strong selling point of the product in my opinion.
Winner: Vibe Buds
JBL Vibe Beam vs Vibe Buds Isolation
Neither the Vibe Beam nor Vibe Buds have active noise cancellation, but the Vibe buds isolation, once again surprisingly, is somewhat better than that of the Vibe Beam, which is pretty poor. The Vibe Buds have overall very impressive isolation for this style of earbud – not amazing overall, but still impressive nonetheless.
Winner: Vibe Buds
JBL Vibe Beam vs Vibe Buds Controls
The Vibe Beam and Vibe Buds have the same control schematic and customizability in the JBL app, which is needlessly limited – you can’t just individually assign commands to function slots, but rather you can only assign groups of functions, called “gestures” to either the right or left earbud, e.g. volume functions to the left earbud and tracking functions to the right earbud.
The significant design flaw that results from this – and this is my main criticism of both products – is that in order to assign the transparency function group to touch controls, you have to give up either tracking or volume functions. Otherwise, the only way to utilize the “Ambient Aware” and “Talk Thru” modes is by toggling them on or off in the JBL app, and that is cumbersome and totally defeats the purpose of seamless transitioning, which is supposed to be one of the main selling points of these products.
I did find that the touch commands were easier to execute and more reliable on the Vibe Buds than the Vibe Beam, probably because the Vibe Buds have the larger surface area on the backs. I struggled with “misses” with the Vibe Beam but didn’t with the Vibe Buds.
Winner: Vibe Buds
JBL Vibe Beam vs Vibe Buds Sound Quality
Preliminary note: this page explains how I evaluate the sound quality of headphones and earbuds.
Both the Vibe Beam and Vibe Buds have very solid sound quality that’s above average for their price-point. They do have the same specs and 8mm driver design, but as I said earlier the different housing styles could make the two products still sound noticeably different. I did not notice any real differences though – the default Vibe Beam tuning is slightly different than that of the Vibe Buds (the mids are a little more pronounced), but I think because both earbuds are compatible with the EQ customizer in JBL’s app (which is very good) their sound potential is basically the same.
Final Verdict: Is the JBL Vibe Beam or Vibe Buds Better?
Both the Vibe Beam and Vibe Buds are well performing budget TWS earbuds, and this is a niche that JBL generally does very well at. And while I’d say they’re pretty much the same sound wise, the Vibe Buds come out a little ahead in my opinion because of their better fit, better isolation thusly, and better touch controls.
I wish you could get the Vibe Beam case with the lid for the Vibe Buds though – not only does it have the lid, but the case is also really good for its price-point, and is definitely one of the better TWS cases that I’ve seen.
Get the Vibe Beam wireless earbuds on Amazon (affiliate link)
Get the Vibe Buds wireless earbuds on Amazon (affiliate link)