One guess who JBL is going after with their new Tour One wireless headphones. Did you say Bose Quiet Comfort? Maybe Sony XM4s? If you said either one of those, you smashed it. But, are they good enough to compete with the current top spot of premium wireless Bluetooth headphones? They look great, don’t get me wrong, but how do they perform? Let’s find out.
The JBL Tour One wireless headphones are literally some of the softest headphones I’ve come across. They’re coated in some kind of soft to touch plastic which feels almost rubbery. The headband on top though is a leather material so don’t put too much pressure on here as you may end up stretching out the material over time. There’s a metal rod running through the band so they’re tough, and the cans themselves are on very stiff hinges to hold them in place while storing in a bag. The cans twist 45-degrees so you can wear them comfortably around your neck, and the memory foam earpads are super soft!
The button placement is extremely simple, and you’ve not got much to go on, most of the features are activated in the partner app for your phone. On the right earcup, you’ve got a power and Bluetooth pairing switch as well as volume control. There’s a 3.5mm aux input if Bluetooth isn’t your thing. And on the left, you’ve got a USB Type-C charging port, in which a cable comes with the headphones, and a button to switch between the Ambient Aware mode and noise cancelling. Super simple stuff, and doesn’t clutter the headphones with loads of buttons.
Sticking the headphones on and I noticed straight away that the clamping force of these headphones is pretty much non-existent, thanks to the cushions of the earpads. I was happy wearing these headphones for longer periods of time, and they just felt so lightweight on my head also across the crown, as this has some nice padding too. The earpads can easily fit over my ears with no trouble or uncomfortableness and it means that noise isolation is at its maximum. The JBL Tour One headphones also detect when they’ve been removed from your head, and will pause your music until you rest them back on your ears. Tapping the right earcup will play and pause your music which is pretty cool. Double-tap will skip track forward, and a triple tap will skip trackback, all of which are super accurate to the touch which is nice. I very rarely found myself mis-tapping.
One thing though that I did notice though, and it’s really down to the amount of time I used the headphones in one go, is that the skin around my ears got a bit sweaty where it was touching the pads. Your mileage may vary, but I wanted to let you know this happened to me. It’s definitely down to the materials used on the earpads for sure, but I’m not sure it’s something I can really complain about as the quality is so nice and soft and protective from clamping force. Just something to look out for I suppose.
The Ambient Sound Control feature was so good, that when I first turned it on after listening to some Simple Minds, I heard some heavy rainfall on what I thought was the track. But, the sound was coming from outside, as it had just begun to rain. The passthrough worked fantastically and would be a great feature if you’re in an office and someone is trying to grab your attention. You can’t have the noise cancelling feature turned on at the same time as the Ambient Sound Control, which is a shame, but to be honest, having them both turned on would defeat the purpose. The noise-cancelling did a fantastic job too, and there was no white noise hiss, and my PC fans and the rain outside were completely blocked out. Even my mechanical keyboard while typing this review sounded very heavily muted.
The app offers some fairly decent features, including activation of the features already described, but you’ve also got a number of changes that can be made. The first big one is the voice assistant. Of course, being on Android I chose my native Google Assistant. You can also EQ your music, either through some preset options like Jazz, Bass and Club and you can also change the custom button functions. Finally, you’ve got the auto-off timer function you can turn on and off and whether the headphones will pause when you take them off or not. There’s a massive 50-hour battery life if you turn ANC off and use them in their standard mode, or this cuts to around 25 hours if ANC is active. They take around two hours to charge from empty to full too which is impressive.
The sound quality of the JBL Tour One headphones though was absolutely insane! I was super impressed with the amount of detail and clarity in my music, which saw vocal lines cut through instruments well, and a super large soundstage on bigger orchestral tracks. I would definitely recommend EQing your music using the JBL app yourself, as I found their preset EQ settings to be a little too intense. I mainly listen to rock and metal music, so I’m all about the big power chords and double bass drums, and I found the preset EQs to just muddy my music slightly. I used the Jazz preset as a starting point, and pulled back on some of the bass, and raised the mids slightly. This meant that bass was more controlled and clarity from vocals and high-hat and cymbal crashes could be heard. The other thing is these headphones aren’t particularly loud. Not that I’m used to exploding music into my eardrums, but this definitely helps with the level of clarity you can hear from your music.
There is a huge amount to love about the JBL Tour One headphones. They’ve definitely impressed me quite a lot, and there’s no secret in who they’re chasing after with these. After all, they’re pretty similarly priced to them, and that’s the Sony WH-1000XM4s. But, they undercut Sony in price, which is a win for JBL. You can find them online for around £279, which isn’t a bad price at all for what you’re getting. I love the comfort of the JBLs and the simplicity of the app is decent too. No fiddly menus to get lost in or a ton of features to get confused by. They’re a simplistic set of headphones that look great and sound amazing.