When it comes to headphones, we are no doubt spoilt for choice. And JBL helps with that spoilt feeling with headphones spanning a huge price range making them great for consideration no matter what the style you’re after. At the premium end is the Tour Range, and their Tour One over-ear headphones are pretty sensational for the price.
You’re looking at $349 for these, which when you consider the features is a solid $150 below some of the competitors in this space. Over-ear, noise cancelling, great sound, it would be easy to consider Bose, Sony, Sennheiser here. But JBL also plays within it’s lane, so in reality these are actually a Step up for many considering those features, as opposed to a direct competitor to those established in the ANC space.
Addressing that elephant in the room, the noise cancelling is fantastic, but if travel is your think and you’re a complete and utter nark for slashing the white noise of a Rolls Royce aircraft jet engine, then no – these are not the top of the class. That award likely still goes to Sony. But frankly, I think the quality of the sound helps offset any tiny, incremental differential you get from the noise cancelling performance.
Let me be very clear, the noise cancelling will impress 95% of people who put these on, but for the 5% who have owned or own a Bose or Sony set of top tier travel gear headphones a discerning ear might notice.
I think all that is offset by the fact JBL has two other things at least in their corner. Firstly, sound performance, and secondly, they haven’t lost their way on design so these still neatly fold into themselves and into a nifty carry case to take up less space in your carry-on. That’s a big win for me right now.
Where these headphones enter the “shut up and take my money” category are the controls. Unlike other brands who are trying to minimalise the design and reduce physical controls, these are the best of both worlds.
Physical button for power and ANC, and of course volume, and touch controls on the ear cup for track and call control. Plus a physical Bluetooth switch and cable plug-in option so you can be wired for sound and get noise cancelling if that’s your thing.
And – as with all JBL headphones, their connectivity to the JBL app is class leading, in fact I’d go so far as to say the JBL headphone app is the best thing JBL has going for them in the market. It allows fantastic EQ controls, as well as adjusting what you want the touch-controls to be and for simple software updates.
Unlike other brands, I rarely get any issues launching the app and recognising the headphones. Simple and effective.
Of course, all this means nothing if the sound isn’t up to scratch, and for $350 it had better be.
And it is.
Sensational sound quality, with a rich full feeling right out of the box. Of course that adjustable EQ in the app means you can adjust these however you like, but the reality is – for many – you’re going to be impressed without any tweak at all.
JBL’s focus on sound is what matters most when you’re enjoying hours of music back to back, be that at home, or on a plane.
I found that with ANC on to block out the noise of the plane and my volume down probably 30-40% on my normal listening levels these were a sensational ways to block out the world mentally while travelling.
Sure, the factor of Noise cancelling on a comparative product might just pip these at the post, but I’d choose these for sound and on-device controls every day of the week.