JBL Tour One – luxury travellers Bluetooth, ANC, over-the-ear headphones (review)
The JBL Tour One is the latest from JBL’s extensive stable of headphones and earphones. It is quite a departure from its Club and Tune series – a tribute to the elegance of travel with luxurious leatherette and black chrome highlights.
To position it – at $349, it is a direct competitor to mid-range headphones like Sony WH-XB910N and Sennheiser HD 458BT.
Our job is to see where it excels, and we can tell you we are impressed. Value and performance-wise, this rates very well.
JBL Tour One Australian review
|From||JBL online and major CE retailers|
|Country of Manufacture||China|
|Company||JBL (Est. the mid-40s) is short for James B Lansing (Yes, he was the Lansing in Altec Lansing.) Now it’s part of the Harman group of companies owned by Samsung.|
|More||CyberShack JBL news and reviews|
We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed.
First impression – you sure these are JBL? Exceed
JBL makes nice stuff – don’t get me wrong. But these are, well, different. From the textured, hard-sided travel case, the fold-flat design (like Sennheiser PXC-550 II), two-pin aeroplane adapter, 3.5-2.5mm audio cable and USB-A to USB-C charge cable, this is for executive travellers.
The headphones exude class – soft leatherette ear cups and headband and black chrome highlights make this look way more expensive than it is. Remember, this is a mid-range product and should be rated like that.
Setup – Exceed
You can use this as a BT headset without the App. The JBL Headphone app is for firmware updates, customising buttons, and the EQ (we love this).
The basics – travellers need comfort – Exceed
While they are not the lightest at 275g, they are very comfortable to wear. In part, that is because the ear cups are quite large – 62 x 42mm x 21mm deep – they will fit any sized ear. The clamping weight is light but firm (just right), but the cups can trap a little heat after extended use (like all closed-back headphones).
Noise-cancelling – Pass+
If you want to block out a Jumbo jet on take-off, you will need to spend much more. This is it if you are looking for effective Adaptive Noise Cancelling (where AI algorithms constantly adjust the level).
The result is reasonable active noise reduction from 20Hz to 100Hz (low-mid-bass) and adaptive reduction (mix of passive and active) from 100Hz to 1kHz. Passive reduction (noise isolation) kicks in from 1-4kHz (voice range) and handles higher-pitched noise like air conditioners.
You can use these as ANC (no music) to block sounds, but pulsatile tinnitus suffers will hear your heartbeat.
Ambient mode is fine (it still plays music, but you can hear surrounding sounds), and you can adjust the level. TalkThru is excellent and avoids the need to remove the headphones.
Privacy – Pass+
Being closed-back, they don’t leak, so you can use them at higher volumes in office and close environments.
Sound signature – Exceed
These have an accurate mid-bass profile (starts at about 50Hz and builds solidly to 100Hz) that adds the much-needed warmth to its otherwise neutral (flat/good) sound signature. From there, it is pretty flat (neutral) to 7kHz, takes a dip (to avoid harshness) and then flat to 16kHz, where it declines to 20khz.
We tested on Bluetooth with the SBC codec.
- Cable (no sound processing) moves the signature to Mid-centric – still pleasant, not as punchy. It also enables Hi-Res audio.
- USB is for charge only.
- Volume is quite good – it is limited to 80dB on smartphones, and there was negligible distortion.
- The sound stage (as with any closed-back headphones) is just outside your ears.
You can read more How to tell if you have good music (sound signature is the key – guide).
We love the App EQ – very flexible.
Mics – Pass
There are two external beam-forming mics, one external noise cancellation and one internal feed backwards mic. It has ‘voice aware’ (side tone) to feed back some of your voice in conversations.
During calls voice was clear, but the volume was a tad low. It struggled to exclude traffic noise. This is all firmware fixable, and we are sure JBL will address this.
Battery – Exceed
JBL claims 25/50 hours BT, ANC/on/off. We set up a continuous loop, BT/ANC, and it achieved just over 30 hours. The charge time is about 2 hours (5V/1A), and you cannot use them while charging. If that is what you need, then Sennheiser PXC 550-II has a USB DAC for charging and listening.
BT 5.0 – Pass
It only offers the SBC codec, which is fine for travelling headsets. Again you need to spend much more to get LDAC, aptX (and its variants) and more.
The maximum distance from the host device was 18m. You can adjust for the best audio quality, improving the BT bandwidth.
Gamers note that BT latency is around 180ms, so use the cable (but the mic is disabled).
Voice Assistants – Pass
It supports Google Assistant and Siri depending on the smartphone OS. It will work with Alexa devices like PCs or via the App.
Build – Pass
While these are well-made, there are no user-replaceable items like pads or batteries. We expect 3-5 years of good use.
CyberShack’s view – JBL Tour One offers excellent mid-range performance
JBL Tour One meet or exceed the requirement of a mid-range, over-the-ear, BT, ANC headphone. They should be on your shopping list if you are looking at Sony or Sennheiser in that bracket. To do any better, you need to spend quite a lot more, so don’t get hung up if someone tries to compare them to the premium Sony, Sennheiser or Bose – they are not.
What they are is very good, all-around BT, ANC headphones with that lovely JBL sound signature wrapped in a premium case.
Ironically its main competitor is the JBL Club One, which has more ANC noise blocking. But frankly, Adaptive is probably better for all-around use, so, advantage Tour One.
JBL Tour One, JBL TOur One
JBL Tour One$349.95
- Comfortable and will fit big ears
- Excellent battery life – 30hrs ANC
- Adaptive noise cancelling is better for all-around use
- Hi-Res cabled mode
- Excellent App and EQ
- Hands-free calls are adequate if a little low volume
- Don’t expect Jumbo jet ANC levels
- It can get a little warm after a few hours
- Needs more work on the firmware to make this the class-leader
- SBC codec only