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JBL Tour One vs Sony WH-1000XM4 (2021): Which Over-Ear Headphones Are Worth The Splurge?

Over-ear headphones are the best choice for many music lovers out there because they get an immersive experience like no other. If you want a pair of your own, two models you can look into are the JBL Tour One and the Sony WH-1000XM4, both of which promise top-notch audio quality and advanced features. However, we definitely think that one is much better than the other. If you want to find out which one we’ve named as the winner, here’s our in-depth comparison of the two models, covering their design, performance, noise cancellation, and battery life.

JBL Tour One vs Sony WH-1000XM4 Comparison Chart

ModelJBL Tour OneSony WH-1000XM4
 JBL Tour ONE Wireless Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones, Hi-Res Audio, Perfect Voice Clarity...Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Overhead Headphones with Mic for...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
MaterialsPlastic and synthetic leatherPlastic and synthetic leather
Water-ResistanceNo ratingNo rating
ControlsPhysical buttons and touch-sensitive panelPhysical buttons and touch-sensitive panel
Charging PortUSB-CUSB-C
Noise CancellationYesYes
Battery Life24 to 28 hours30 to 38 hours

Design

The JBL Tour One and the Sony WH-1000XM4 both have sleek and subtle designs.

JBL Tour One vs Sony WH1000XM4 design
Both the JBL Tour One (left) and the Sony WH-1000XM4 (right) aren’t waterproof.

If you’re not into flashy over-ear headphones, both the JBL Tour One and theSony WH-1000XM4 will be right up your alley. Sporting all-black matte designs, they’re sleek and fashionable yet subtle enough so that they won’t catch any unwanted attention at the train or at the office. In terms of build, both models are made mostly out of durable plastic, with their headbands and ear cups padded with pleather for extra comfort.

While there’s nothing to really complain about the Tour One and the WH-1000XM4 in terms of design, you do have to make sure that you keep them away from water as they don’t come with a water-resistance rating. So if you’re looking for a pair of headphones that you can take with you to the gym, these two aren’t the best options.

As for controls, the Tour One and the WH-1000XM4 both sport a mix of physical buttons and touch-sensitive panels. It’s pretty easy to control music playback with either of them, saving you the hassle of having to whip out your phone to play, pause, or skip. Both models are also equipped with headphone jacks as well as a USB-C charging port.

Audio Performance

The Sony WH-1000XM4 have a more balanced sound than the JBL Tour One.

JBL Tour One vs Sony WH1000XM4 audio
Both the JBL Tour One (left) and the Sony WH-1000XM4 (right) have a powerful bass performance.

JBL headphones are known for their thumping sound signature and the JBL Tour One are no exemption to this. While they may sound quite restrained out of the box, you can easily tweak the EQ to enjoy a lively and exciting bass performance. The lows are exceptionally punchy when you’re playing EDM and hip-hop tracks. While the bass on the Tour One is very enjoyable, the treble can get quite intense, especially on jazz and rock tracks. But if you do find the highs too piercing for your ears, the customizable EQ can fix this issue in a jiffy.

As for the SonyWH-1000XM4, they’re powered by 40mm circumaural drivers which give them a colorful bass performance as well. But even though the lows come through with a lot of power, the sound curve manages to be well-balanced overall and the details don’t get lost in the mix. But what’s most impressive about the WH-1000XM4 is their incredibly wide soundstage which allows you to hear individual musical instruments breathing in their own space. So if you were to replay your favorite tracks with these headphones on, you’ll probably hear details you never knew were there before. In addition, they’re compatible with Sony’s 360 Reality Audio which allows you to enjoy spatial audio.

Noise Cancellation

The Sony WH-1000XM4’s noise cancelling feature is more powerful and seamless than the JBL Tour One’s.

JBL Tour One vs Sony WH1000XM4 noise cancellation
The JBL Tour One (left) have True Adaptive NC while the Sony WH-1000XM4 (right) have Dual Noise Sensor technology.

The JBL Tour One have something called True Adaptive NC which automatically adjusts the ANC based on the sounds in your surroundings. While this technology looks good on paper, the experience can be quite a confusing one especially when you’re in a noisy environment. If you’re walking down a busy street, for example, the True Adaptive NC will take all of the low and high frequencies into consideration and it will keep increasing and decreasing the ANC to compensate for these sounds. The adjustments are very audible and can be quite distracting and annoying. If you want a more consistent listening experience, it’s best to stay on the Everyday mode.

While the Tour One’s ANC leaves room for improvement, it seems like the SonyWH-1000XM4’s noise cancelling abilities are close to perfection. With the help of Sony’s Dual Noise Sensor technology, the mics in the ear cups are able to absorb external sounds and analyze them using the QN1 noise cancelling processor. The headphones are then able to quickly adjust their noise cancellation response and by quickly we mean over 700 times a second. And unlike the Tour One, they’re able to do so without disrupting your listening experience. Powerful and seamless, there’s really nothing else to ask for from the WH-1000XM4’s noise cancelling feature.

Battery

The Sony WH-1000XM4’s battery life can outlast that of the JBL Tour One.

JBL Tour One vs Sony WH-1000XM4 battery
The Sony WH-1000XM4 can last up to 38 hours on a single charge.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 don’t just trump the JBL Tour One in terms of noise cancellation power; they’re able to edge out their competitor when it comes to battery life too. While the WH-1000XM4 can last up to 30 hours with the noise cancelling on (even longer at 38 hours if it’s off), the Tour One can only manage up to 24 to 28 hours per charge. You can, however, try to prolong the Tour One’s battery life by a couple of hours by using wired playback.

Verdict

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are able to beat the JBL Tour One in all aspects.

The JBL Tour One and the Sony WH-1000XM4 have a lot of design similarities, both being sleek, durable, and comfortable. But that’s about all they have in common because the WH-1000XM4 are able to trump the Tour One in all other aspects.

Not only do they have a more well-balanced sound than their competitor, but their noise cancellation feature is so much more effective and seamless. It’s rare for headphones to have both powerful noise cancellation and high-quality audio but the WH-1000XM4 are able to give you both. Not to mention they have an impressive battery life as well. This is why they’re the clear winner of this comparison and are arguably one of the best over-ear headphones you can get your hands on.

If you liked this JBL Tour One review, you can also check out our JBL Tour One vs Club One comparison.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ Are the JBL Tour One headphones worth it?

While the JBL Tour One headphones have a fun and dynamic sound, their EQ needs some tweaking and their noise cancellation leaves room for improvement as well.

๐Ÿ“Œ Are the JBL Tour One headphones waterproof?

The JBL Tour One do not come with a waterproof rating and should be kept away from places like the gym, shower, and pool.

๐Ÿ“Œ Are the Sony WH-1000XM4 worth it?

The Sony WH-1000XM4 are arguably one of the best over-ear headphones you can get your hands on as they boast of a well-balanced sound, powerful noise cancellation, and reliable battery life.

๐Ÿ“Œ Are the Sony WH-1000XM4 waterproof?

The Sony WH-1000XM4 do not come with a waterproof rating and should be kept away from places like the gym, shower, and pool.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Denise Jose

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Researcher and yoga teacher passionate about article writing, photography, wellness, and mindfulness.