Review: JBL Tour One M2 are feature-packed headphones for a decent price

JBL Tour One M2 review on Newshub by Daniel Rutledge.
Photo credit: Newshub.

JBL has recently released a new set of wireless, noise-cancelling headphones in Aotearoa that come packed with many features.

The Tour One M2 offers 'true adaptive' ANC (active noise cancellation) that is customisable, a decent ambient mode, 30 hours of battery life with the ANC on, Bluetooth 5.3 and LE Audio compatibility.

They've launched for around $370, which is less than what many comparable products with the same set of features launched at - so what are they lacking?

I've been using a pair of JBL Tour One M2s and my overall thoughts are that this is an impressive package, given the price. It is a good sign that many of the features that were premium a few years ago are now standard, just like USB-C charging is.

The headphones sound great and offer decent noise cancelling, yet it is in audio quality where you can hear the difference between these and the pricier brands - but only if you listen closely.

And the features offered are really generous. The adaptive noise cancelling automatically adjusts to what's going on around you, with great, reactive voice recognition software.

If you start talking, it'll pause your music and convert ANC to ambient mode, then swap back once you finish talking.

You can also customise the ambient mode in the app, with seven different levels of control for how much outside noise you're letting in.

I also like the fast charge feature, where if you're in a rush but low on battery, just 10 minutes plugged in will give you five hours of battery life.

Sound quality-wise, these are almost as good as what you get from the best in category recent releases from Sony and Technics.

There are 40mm dynamic drivers that deliver a nice, balanced sound, but it's not quite as rich as some of its competitors.

JBL Tour One M2 wireless noise-cancelling headphones available in New Zealand.
Photo credit: Newshub.

It's great you're able to tailor the sound to your preference through the companion app, as is the case with most headphones like these ones.

I tested them alongside the Sony WH-1000XM5, Technics A800, Bose QC45 and Apple Airpods Max with 'Hotel California' from The Eagles, 'Bass' from A.M.C and Blur's 'There's No Other Way'.

They mostly hold up, especially when it comes to bass, but do lack a little of the lush clarity offered by those generally more expensive competitors.

I also tested them on a colleague who didn't know which brand he was listening to and rated their sound quality as better than the Bose but not as good as the Technics, Apple or Sony, but noted that none of them sounded bad.

Of course, this is a subjective test and each of these products can be tweaked from the standard sound profile to your taste.

But in short, the Tour One M2 don't sound drastically worse than any of their major competitors, and most people won't be listening to them alongside each other anyway.

One aspect that was noticeably worse to my ears, however, was in spatial audio. That is offered but just doesn't sound as 3D as it does with some of the other headphones that do it, especially Apple's.

The JBLs are nice and light at 268g and fold nicely into their handy pack, but build quality-wise they feel a little less premium than the likes of the Sony headphones.

Again though, you could be saving over $200 compared to WH-1000XM5s, depending on where you buy them - and the Tour One M2s are much better than that price difference suggests they should be.

Newshub was supplied a pair of JBL Tour One M2 headphones for this review.