JBL’s newly announced Tour Pro 2 wireless headphones come with a smart display in the case – and while they won’t be here until January, I’ll be first in line to get mine.
Think of your life in terms of crucial technological ‘ah’ moments and you’ll likely be able to launch three or four instances of paradigm shift. Mine would include the first time my sister and I got dial-up on my dad’s Sony Vaio over our bedroom phone line; using Skype video calls to actually see someone hundreds of miles away; Music downloads from LimeWire and Spotify – which I’ve now avoided in favor of streaming high-res music, but that’s another story.
Problem is, I’ve just added a new ‘ah’ moment to the list – namely the new charging case for the JBL Tour Pro 2 headphones. It beats the cases offered by any of the best true wireless headphones today. on the market for a country mile.
I won’t mince words: this case changes the game. In addition to the app and in-ear controls, you can pick up the case, scroll through various customizable options on the home screen, see a visual representation of the remaining battery life on each earbud as a percentage (how many times have I criticized manufacturers for installing an LED light in a charging case; a bad indicator of remaining power?), adjust noise cancellation, and even accept messages.
Review: JBL’s smart case is a first in headphones – and others should follow suit
I’ve spent the last three and a half years testing some of the best noise-canceling headphones on the planet and I’ve never seen anything like it. Just to make myself clear: there’s a great touchscreen in the case, and that changes everything. It’s almost like having a smartwatch (possibly even one of the best smartwatches) strapped to your headphones.
The first true wireless headphones arrived in 2015, and by late 2018, most headphones offer a wireless listening experience and maybe some in-ear controls if you’re lucky, and that was it. Oh, how things have changed…
JBL calls the Tour Pro 2 headphones its “most powerful and feature-rich headphones ever, taking performance to the next level with an intelligent, seamless user experience and superior audio, including immersive JBL Spatial Sound and the first true wireless headphones to be encapsulated in JBL’s innovative smart case”.
I tapped and swiped the Tour Pro 2’s 1.45-inch LED touchscreen at a recent meeting with JBL to manage music, customize the headphones, and check my call history, messages, and social media notifications in real-time (all without touching my phone) – and now you can receive a call by tapping the earphones case.
The bottom of the case also has a rubberized part that adds traction and means you won’t inadvertently take it off your desk – a small detail, but as a highly gestural person, I love it.
More than just starting a conversation, this screen encourages me to leave my phone in my bag – and as any traveler knows, that’s a big shift in priorities. Normally my headphones case gets thrown in a bag and forgotten about until I need to put the headphones away, but this development makes the case my primary device for managing calls and messages as well as music.
Leaving the case aside for just a minute, the 10mm dynamic drivers and Bluetooth 5.3 LE audio-compatible headphones also have a full set of new features.
You can customize the sound by telling the buttons which sound profile sounds best for you in Personi-fi 2.0 software, or take the Ear Channel Test in a noisy environment and then sit back while the True Adaptive ANC hybrid does the rest. If you need to take a call, the six-mic setup promises crystal-clear audio – and the advanced built-in voice recognition can react to your voice, pause the music and activate Ambient Aware, and resume music once the conversation is over.
And with up to 50 hours of playback (or 30 hours with ANC on) and a very good 10 hours just on the buttons before they need charging, they’ll last longer than a trip. Fast charging means 10 minutes plugged in also gives you five hours of playtime if you’re in a hurry, but the case can charge wirelessly too.
JBL Wireless over-ears having second billing? OK then
It’s rare for a product vying to be a set of the best headphones on the market to be thrown into the shadows by a pair of headphones, but here we are. They don’t have a case, but the upcoming JBL Tour One M2 (successors to the JBL Tour One Wireless) comes with many, Many new promises and benefits.
Features of the high-quality JBL Tour One M2 include Bluetooth 5.3 with LE Audio, truly adaptive noise cancellation with customizable ANC and ambient sound, 40mm dynamic drivers, the same customizable sound experience with Personi-fi 2.0, superior four microphones with VoiceAware, immersive JBL Spatial sound, up to 50 hours of total music playback (30 hours with ANC enabled), and a compact, foldable design that weighs just 268g.
For reference, the Sony WH-1000XM5 weighs in at 250g and has a battery life of 30 hours, while the excellent Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless weighs in at 293g and promises 60 hours of endurance – but no design can bend like the Tour One M2 can, er… I can.
prices? It is clear. The JBL Tour Pro 2 and JBL Tour One M2 will be available in Black and Champagne from January 2023 for £220 (approximately $260 or AU$370) and £280 (approximately $330 or AU$470 ), respectively.
Premium, yes, but as I’ve already disclosed, I’ll be getting my Tour Pro 2 as soon as I can… and you should come back in the new year for a full review from me.