These JBL headphones offer the ultimate in adaptability

July 31, 2023
4 mins read


JBL Tour One M2 Wireless ANC Headphones

These nifty new headphones from JBL cover all bases with so much adaptability that PAT PILCHER couldn’t resist giving them a top rating.


JBL’s Tour One M2 is their latest top-of-the-line flagship over-ear cans. Was I itching to get them over my ears to test them out? Hell yes! On paper, there’s plenty of good stuff to get excited about. They come with adaptive noise cancellation, personalised sound, spatial audio support and a long-lasting battery, all wrapped in a super lightweight design.

The first thing I noticed about the Tour One M2s when unpacking them was their understated design. IInstead of flashy LEDs, shiny alloys and other pointless frilly bits, these cans are designed to sit on your head without causing discomfort or making a spectacle of themselves. This is something other headphone makers could learn from. I don’t know about you, but wearing an expensive, flashy pair of cans that scream “Mug me!” is an avoidable risk. Here’s the thing. The Tour One M2s might look basic, but their design works where it counts. They offer a lightweight fit, good physical noise isolation and excellent wearability thanks to their well-padded earcups and headband.

The controls combine physical buttons for power/Bluetooth, ANC and volume, plus touch controls for playback. They’re sufficiently intuitive that I got up and running without referring to the included quick-start guides.

As you’d expect with a pair of premium cans, the Tour One M2s come in a handy travel case and are collapsible, so you can pack them easily. The case has a side pocket for storing optional USB, 3.5mm cables, and an aeroplane adapter. For travel, these may just be the business.

On the features front, the only thing missing is an Amazonian hill tribe (although the carry case is sufficiently capacious that several may be tucked away). The headline feature is what JBL call adaptive noise cancelling, which is what it says on the tin – built-in mics sample ambient noise, constantly adjusting ANC levels to compensate in real-time.

I found that people’s noise, traffic, and other environmental noises were well blocked, even if noise cancelling levels were sometimes inconsistent. Still, the word here is adaptive, and overall they delivered plentiful and blissful silence with only exceptionally loud external sounds occasionally leaking into my ears. What was noticeable was how cleanly ANC worked in adaptive mode. Environmental noise didn’t noticeably change audio playback.


The other big feature is their transparency modes. The Tour One M2 has two different modes, which take the form of Ambient Aware and TalkThru. Ambient awareness effectively amplifies sounds around you, and the degree to which this happens can be tweaked. It works exceptionally well for catching conversations and other important audio cues, with some sounds almost appearing to happen right next to me.

TalkThru is more voice-focused. I found it particularly useful on the bus or even when flying as it focuses on people’s voices over other ambient noise, helping me hear announcements that would otherwise be garbled.


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For calls, the JBL uses a 4-mic set-up with JBL’s Voice Aware technology, and the performance was excellent. The people I called said they could hear me clearly and background noise was kept to a sensible minimum.

Smart Talk is a Speak to Chat feature that enables TalkThru mode when it detects your voice, pausing any music playing. Once you’ve finished speaking, you are promptly returned to music playback with ANC re-enabled. For dealing with flight attendants when travelling, it’s super useful.

If those were the only features, that’d be great, but there’s more. So much more.

Installing and exploring the JBL Headphones app uncovered a literal tonne of other nifty stuff. I could choose between enabling Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Bixby. There’s a 10-band equaliser with five pre-sets. If the EQ isn’t delivering the sonic goodness that your ears crave, JBL also includes “Personi-Fi”. It allows you to craft your own personalised audio profile via a hearing test that measures your hearing via a series of tones in both ears. Once done, the Tour One M2’s output is customised to your hearing, which greatly improved my listening experience. Further adding to your audio pleasure is Low Volume Dynamic EQ which boosts highs and lows at lower volumes.

Then there’s JBL’s Spatial Sound mode which has movie, music and game profiles. As its name suggests, it expands the sound stage. While its effect wasn’t hugely noticeable with music, it filled out the audio in movies and TV shows. Further adding to TV and movies was the Smart Audio & Video feature. As well as optimising audio with music, it more crucially reduced latency with video and gaming. The Personal Sound Amplification feature is largely similar to Ambient Aware. Hence, its inclusion seems a tad baffling, even if it is more customisable than the default Ambient Aware mode.

While there’s no doubt that the Tour One M2 has got optimising audio well covered, JBL also caters for blissful silence via the “SilentNow” feature, which disconnects Bluetooth, activating noise cancelling. You set how long it runs for, and it’ll play a notification to wake you up. Lastly (but by no means least), there’s an Auto Power Off feature, which helps extend the run time, as well as wear detection to pause music when the headphones are removed and a Volume Limiter to prevent hearing damage. There’s really not much more JBL could have added to the app.

The Tour One M2 supports Bluetooth 5.3 and SBC plus AAC codecs. Taking them out for a stroll around Wellington’s RF-congested CBD, their connectivity was rock solid, with no dropouts.

In terms of their audio, the Tour One M2 delivered a balanced and accurate sound. They initially sounded a tad bland until I tweaked the many settings in the JBL app and nudged the volume up a bit. Soft music, such as Vangelis’s Chariots Of Fire soundtrack, played with a superb sense of space and excellent treble clarity. Beethoven’s ‘Ode To Joy’ (the fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony) really delivered, placing me in the front row of a large concert chamber. Pitch Blacks Rude Mechanicals transported loads of bass and crunchy synth pads, all beautifully panned and mixed right into my noggin. While I would’ve liked a tad more bass, the accuracy delivered from the Tour One M2 was superb, with everything I played offering up plenty of depth, heft and a real sense of space.

The Tour One M2s are incredibly well-featured and seem almost infinitely tweakable. Their wireless performance is bombproof, and they offer up solid audio. While their ANC isn’t on the same level as Bose or Sony, the sheer functionality provided for talk-through and ambient sound modes is super impressive, especially considering their reasonable sticker price.


Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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