Tour One M2 is a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, which JBL boldly claims are “the best on the market”.
The headphones adjust noise cancellation in real time based on your surroundings. They also have a smart feature that recognises when you start talking. The music is then muted while Ambient Aware is activated, allowing you to hear the sounds around you instead of being cancelled out. The music gets loud again when the headphones recognise that the conversation is over.
JBL is not alone in this, but I have to say it works better than on many others. Perhaps a little too well, because as soon as you clear your throat a little loudly, the music pauses and the surroundings come in.
Something that makes the JBL headphones quite unique is the ability to customise the sound to your individual hearing. By completing a Personi-Fi hearing test in the JBL app, the headphones create a sound profile specifically for you. This should give you a customised sound experience that suits your hearing perfectly.
While the hearing test works well, it can be a little challenging to press and then release at just the right time to indicate when you no longer hear the sound being played. A little inaccuracy in the pressing and the sound image can be wrong. Personally, I prefer to adjust the sound with the equaliser (EQ), but for many, JBL’s customisation function will still be an easy way to improve the sound.
“Personal sound amplification” or ambient sound?
If you don’t want to use noise cancellation, but rather the opposite – to let the surroundings in, there are two options. Personal Sound Amplification lets sounds from your immediate surroundings through. Which seems very similar to Ambient Aware, the other similar feature. But it’s actually not quite the same.
With Personal Sound Amplification, certain sounds, especially in the treble range, are amplified much more. It can give a slightly unusual sound experience, like wearing a hearing aid. On the other hand, it sounds quite artificial, but it can certainly be nice in certain situations. However, I prefer Ambient Aware, which provides more natural ambient sound.
The JBL watches have so-called spatial sound, or Spatial Sound. This is supposed to provide a kind of surround sound, and you can choose between Music, Movie or Game. I think music has better rhythms and a more vibrant sound with the function switched off. If you’re streaming film and TV, however, it works fine. Game mode gives the greatest effect, but with somewhat reduced dynamics. Personally, I prefer Movie mode when watching films.
Long battery life
When it comes to battery life, the Tour One M2 impresses with up to 50 hours of playtime without noise cancellation and 30 hours with. And if you’re in a pinch and need a quick charge, you can get up to 5 hours of playtime with just 10 minutes of fast charging when the headphones are discharged.
Good call quality
During mobile phone and video calls, the user’s voice comes through clearly to the receiver. A total of seven microphones are used to both reduce noise and effectively pick up the voice. The voice will be clear, perhaps with a slightly harsh midrange, but you can safely use these headphones in your home office or office space.
The JBL bells sit very comfortably on the head. Both the bells and the headband have soft cushions that fit well. At the same time, the headphones stay in place even when you move your head back and forth while listening to music.
However, they can wobble a little if you shake your head. In this case, the archrival Sony WH-1000XM5 fits even better.
The sound of the JBL Tour One M2
When it comes to the sound, we’re treated to a luscious bass. The bass range is perhaps a little relaxed, without the “party blast” we associate with JBL. But the bass goes deep, providing a nice contrast and a solid foundation to the sound.
The treble is airy, more so than on the Sony rival. Although JBL only uses the AAC codec, while Sony uses the superior LDAC codec.
Take the song Party Girls by Victoria Monét. A great club/RnB song with catchy rhythms, which JBL reproduces with a lot of energy in the bass, and also a good amount of air without being sharp in the sound. The midrange is somewhat restrained, however, and the vocals can seem a little thin.
Fix the sound with EQ
There’s no need to worry, though, because JBL has a great in-app EQ that lets you adjust the sound just the way you want it. I adjust the bass range sharply down around 250 Hz to bring out the midrange. On the other hand, I raise the bass around 64 Hz to get more punch, but pull down at 32 Hz to make the bass clearer.
At the same time, the midrange is raised around 1 kHz to emphasise the clarity of voices and instruments.
After this adjustment, much of the colouration is removed, yet the “JBL sound” is largely preserved. In other words, it still sounds entertaining and punchy, just clearer.
More balanced than Sony
Compared to the aforementioned Sony WH-1000XM5, which has a more pumping mid-bass, the JBL headphones are perceived as more balanced. The Sony rival produces an even more festive sound, but JBL has better resolution in the overtone range and the treble is better with more airiness.
Listening to the song Pegasus by Arlo Parks, the JBLs have a nice balance between the deep synth bass and Arlo Parks’ clear voice. Phoebe Bridgers’ softer second voice fills out the soundstage, which the JBL headphones reproduce beautifully.
Classical music also comes out well, and even jazz instruments are well separated from each other, while the bells bring out the dynamics and temperament of the music. Great!
Good noise cancellation
The active noise cancellation (ANC) is among the best. Especially because it adapts in real time to leakage through the headphones. The Sony headphones do the same.
The Sony’s are more effective at attenuating low-frequency noise, but JBL attenuates more evenly across the frequency range. When pink noise is played through the PC speakers, almost only high-frequency noise remains when I use the Sony headphones, whereas the JBL doesn’t change the character of the noise to the same extent. It attenuates more evenly, but less effectively.
Neither dampens wind particularly well, but neither amplifies it, which can easily happen with such brutal changes in sound pressure that wind creates.
It should be noted that the JBL headphones have a faint but distinct background hiss, while the Sony headphones are completely silent.
Use only as silencers
Finally, I would like to mention the SilentNow feature, which disables Bluetooth and allows you to enjoy only the noise cancellation. This is especially useful when sleeping or relaxing in noisy environments. You can reactivate Bluetooth by pressing and holding the button on the left earbud.
With the Tour One M2, JBL has created a pair of very good headphones. The first version was already very good, but the noise cancellation required careful placement on the ears. The M2 adjusts the cancellation according to the fit, and it works very well.
The headphones have a great sound experience with solid bass, clear treble and the ability to customise the sound to your preferences. Although the journalist disagrees with JBL that the noise cancellation is “best on the market”, it is still very good.
The JBL headphones’ great sound character and other qualities make them a great choice for music lovers on the go.