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JBL Tour One M2 review

Jul 01, 2023

The JBL Tour One M2 can be considered a sensational update on an already winning design. Thanks to those big 40mm drivers, they’re beautifully dynamic and are as at home with nu metal as they are classic rock. Sumptuously finished, and supremely comfortable to wear, they come highly recommended.

Exciting, dynamic audio performance

Insanely comfortable

Bass isn’t subterranean

Takes time to master physical controls

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The JBL Tour One M2 headphones offer advanced noise cancelling and reassuringly dynamic audio thanks to big 40mm dynamic drivers. Suited to guitar-led indie rock, melodious prog and grinding nu-metal, they’re versatile crowd pleasers.

The black or silver design is understated for JBL and the cups pivot so they’re easy to stow - although it takes a bit of practice to master the body controls. The right has a power/pairing switch and volume control rockers and is touch sensitive for playback or voice control, while the left has a customisable button for Active Noise Cancellation and related modes.

The headphones run Bluetooth 5.3 LE and support two device multipoint connections while battery life is up there with the best at around 30 hours with ANC on and 50 hours when it’s off.

A second generation iteration of JBL's flagship over-ear headphones, the Tour One M2 are handsome in a minimalist way, with matte ear cups offset by a gloss trim. There’s a choice of two colours: stealthy-black or glam rock silver. The headphones fold and the cups pivot, making them compact enough to stow in a bag or deep pocket.

The right cup has a power and pairing switch plus volume control rockers and is touch sensitive for simple playback control or voice control; the left offers ANC modes. Like their predecessor, these headphones are supremely comfortable to wear. Tipping the the scales at just 268g, they don’t over clamp and the faux leather padding used in the headband and earmuffs is marshmallow soft.

The JBL Tour One M2 also come with a carry case, 3.5mm cable, USB-C cable and airline adapter.

The feature roster is the right side of smart on the JBL Tour One M2. The noise cancelling headphones react to your voice, pausing music and enabling Ambient Aware mode, so you can carry on a conversation. An alternative Smart Talk mode lowers the volume of music so that you can hold a quick conversation.

The JBL Tour One M2 also feature an updated version of the brand’s True Adaptive ANC noise cancelling tech which is generally impressive. In ANC mode they hide intrusive noise, effectively cloaking even high volume distractions. I wore the JBL Tour One M2 on a flight to New York and they made short work of aeroplane engine noise to the point where it was undetectable when using British Airways' inflight entertainment system. A Man Called Otto barely had to raise his voice.

If you want to take advantage of noise cancelling without draining Bluetooth, there’s also a SilentNow feature. This disconnects your smartphone and activates ANC which is good for both short and long commutes.

Thanks to Bluetooth 5.3 LE, the battery life on the JBL Tour One M2 is generous. These headphones run for 30 hours with ANC activated and 50 if you turn ANC off. That’s more than enough for several days ear-wear without worrying about charging.

Helpfully, they’ll also fast charge if you’re caught short. Ten minutes on the juice translates to around five hours of playtime - and there’s also support for Google Assistant and Alexa.

I think the JBL Tour One M2 offer an exhilarating listen thanks to the pair of large 40mm dynamic drivers which do the sonic lifting, tuned with JBL pro-sound pixie dust. They sound fast and dynamic, with excellent fine detail.

There’s a variety of sound profiles on the partnering JBL app (Club, Bass, Vocal, Jazz), but Studio is the only one you need. It offers loads of detail and a balanced mid-range which is delivered with a bourbon-sweet musical edge.

This tonality perfectly fits the indie rock of Sydney-based three-piece Middle Kids. The stabby guitar riff of Highlands doesn’t get in the way of the silky euphoric vocals.

These headphones also support JBL Spatial Sound, a novel post-processing mode that creates a more immersive sound stage. There are three presets: Movie, Music and Game but results are variable. The Music setting's spatial treatment works a treat on the live cut of American Beat by the Headcats, effectively putting you stage front and the live atmosphere wraps around you.

I’m not so convinced it adds much to the studio release of Motorhead's Ace Of Spades though. The standard Studio EQ when cranked up is rewardingly raw and rowdy enough.

Bass delivery can be considered clean and agile and perfectly showcases Roger Waters' propulsion bass riff on Pink Floyd’s Money, although I can see some might hanker for more exaggerated weight.

The crunching opening to Muse’s Hysteria could perhaps slam harder but this is a minor niggle for such a fine pair of hard rockin’ headphones.

The bottom line is the JBL Tour One M2 sound great. Consider me satisfied.

There’s no shortage of competing quality noise cancelling headphones. One obvious alternative to the JBL Tour One M2 are the Sony WH-1000XM5. Similarly minimalistic in style, they come in slightly more expensive but boast slightly better noise cancelling and a host of smart features, including Speak-to-Chat and 360 Reality Audio support. But the drivers are smaller at just 30mm.

A budget big brand alternative would be the Sennheiser HD 450BT over-ear headphones. These also offer Active Noise Cancelling, a 30 hour battery life and lightweight design (238g).

Steve is a home entertainment technology specialist who contributes to a variety of UK websites and mags, including Louder Sound, Yahoo UK, Trusted Reviews, T3, The Luxe Review and Home Cinema Choice. Steve began his career as a music journo, writing for legendary rock weekly Sounds, under the nom de plume Steve Keaton. His coverage of post punk music was cited in the 2015 British Library exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination, as a seminal influence on the Goth music scene.

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