JBL's new noise-cancelling headphones undercut AirPods Pro and AirPods Max

JBL Tour One and JBL Tour Pro Plus
(Image credit: JBL)

JBL has announced an array of headphones ahead of CES 2021, including a new Tour line of noise-cancelling headphones to rival the AirPods Max and AirPods Pro.

The JBL Tour One are over-ear cans claiming up to 50 hours of battery life, while the JBL Tour Pro Plus are a pair of true wireless earbuds. Both include “adaptive” active noise cancellation (ANC) that automatically adjusts to the wearer’s surroundings, a handy tool to have as both will be going up against some of the best headphones on the market when they're released on May 30.

Revealed alongside the Dolby Atmos-ready JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam soundbar, the Tour One and Tour Pro Plus will cost $300 and $200, respectively. This puts them in a good position to undercut the $549 AirPods Max and the $250 AirPods Pro, even if both JBL headphones are still priced for premium quality.

What, then, do you get for your money? The Tour One offer an ambient mode to augment the adaptive ANC, large 40mm dynamic drivers and the Hi-Res Audio certification, meaning they can get the most out of lossless music streaming services like Tidal and Amazon Music HD. And, while that 50-hour battery life only applies to simple Bluetooth playback, JBL still promises a respectable 25 hours with ANC enabled.

The JBL Tour Pro Plus earbuds, meanwhile, come in at 6 hours of playback with ANC, with one hour reclaimable from 10 minutes of charging. They also feature customizable touch controls and IPX4 water resistance, so are essentially sweat-proof. The Tour Pro Plus don’t have the Tour One’s Hi-Res Audio support, but do share similar ambient and “Talk Thru” modes for when you want to better hear your surroundings.

JBL also announced new wireless earbuds to join its existing Live series of headphones. The Live Pro Plus offer the same adaptive ANC and IPX4 rating as the Tour Buds Plus, but at a slightly cheaper $180. The Live Free ANC Plus also feature active noise cancellation, but in a more basic form that doesn’t adapt to surroundings. These will cost $150 and will release on March 14, the same day as the Live Pro Plus.

Rounding out JBL’s major announcements was the Charge 5, the latest addition to its popular Charge family of Bluetooth speakers-slash-power banks. This will release sometime in April for $180, the same as the JBL Charge 4 currently costs, and promises the same 20 hours of battery life. However, the Charge 5’s weatherproofing has improved to reach an IP67 rating, making it dust-proof as well as waterproof.

The Tour One and Tour Pro Plus were very much the stars of JBL’s reveal, so come the end of May it will be interesting to see how well they stand up to Apple’s more expensive noise-cancelling headphones. The AirPods Pro in particular will also face competition from the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, so there’ll at least be plenty of ANC buds to choose from this Spring.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.