JBL is now officially in the gaming industry with the recent launch of their first gaming-related product. The JBL Quantum ONE headset is a seriously great first product from the company, one that you should definitely check out if you’re in the market for a new headset.
From the outset, I’ll mention that this is a wired headset, so those after a completely wireless solution will have to look elsewhere. With that aside, the audio quality, design and comfort all add up to a very capable and impressive first product.
The JBL Quantum Range includes no less than 7 models, demonstrating just how serious JBL are about the gaming space. Having spent a couple of weeks with the flagship Quantum ONE on my head, it’s time to break it down in a full review, let’s go.
Lights in all the right places
The design of the packaging is quite an amazing piece of work, but once you flip that open, you’ll be greeted with the quite generously sized (read: large) headset. The immediate impression is definitely one of comfort and once it lands on your head, that’ll be proven to be true.
The headband and over-the-ear earmuffs are the two contact points with your head and both feature soft padding to make longer sessions not just comfortable, but gives you the feeling of having your head wrapped in marshmallows.
The exterior of the cups features multiple RGB lighting zones that can be customised to your preference, using in software. This is definitely some of the more distinctive lighting schemes I’ve seen for a while and is not only bright, fast and responsive, I actually really enjoyed experimenting with the many different configurations available.
The JBL logo is proudly embossed on the side of each ear cup, so if your friends and fellow gamers will be in no doubt which brand you’re rocking.
Of course, these aren’t just headphones, but a headset, which of course means you have a microphone to deal with. There’s many different approaches brand have to this and JBL have gone with a removable microphone which I always worry will get lost. Being able to remove the microphone does give those casual gamers more freedom to turn the headset into a simpler set of headphones, then connect the microphone when you need it. Personally like to find a really comfortable, great-sounding headset and use it for everything. This means I found myself leaving the microphone attached and using it for video conferencing.
With any headset, portability is a factor. While we aren’t travelling much right now, that will return and when it does, having a headset that slips into a backpack is critical. Thankfully JBL designers accommodate for this with rotating ear cups that allow them to lay flat, reducing their overall footprint for travel. Despite the flatter form factor, they are still around 7cm deep, as a result of how much padding is in the cups.
The final design element we need to discuss is the in-line volume control. This fairly sizable control dial allows you to adjust the mix between in-game audio and chat volume. Personally I think I would prefer a dial on the headset itself, as many other brands use.
How do they perform ?
Be in no doubt, this headset sounds amazing. While JBL has a long history in audio products, it’s quite staggering how good this product sounds for their first attempt at a headset.
For a product at this premium price point, expectations were definitely high, and I’d say they were definitely met. The most impressive audio experience was had when enabling the 360 degree mode in the accompanying software. We’re all familiar with surround sound that makes audio feel like it’s coming from different directions around you, but this is different.
The direction at which the audio comes to you, doesn’t change if you rotate your chair.
Normally if you have a headset on and rotate your head (or chair) then the audio comes with you, but with 360 enabled, it’s like the headset knows the direction you’ve turned and inverts the directional audio by exactly that degree, giving the feeling that it’s coming from a static direction. Probably the best way to explain this is this, when I turned my chair around 180 degrees, the audio then sounded like it was coming from behind me. The effect really is impressive. While it may not be something you want on all the time, having the ability to do is just a great option to have available.
Now for those that love the technical detail around, here are the detailed specs.
- Frequency response – 20 Hz – 40 kHz
- Microphone frequency response100 Hz – 10 kHz
- Max input power – 20 mW
- Sensitivity – 95 dB @ 1 kHz, 1 mW
- Maximum SPL – 97 dB
- Microphone sensitivity – 41 dBV @1 kHz / Pa
- Impedance – 32 ohm
- Microphone pickup pattern – Unidirectional
Microphone size – 6 mm x 2.7mm
Weight – 369g
Driver Size – 50 mm Dynamic drivers
Stand out features of this headset.
The JBL Quantum One headphones feature an impressive list of features.
Compatibility with all gaming platforms
Let’s start with the universality of the headset. The JBL Quantum ONE headset is fairly unique in its adaptability and application for use with such a vast array of gaming platforms. You can connect to the PC via USB or if you leverage the 3.5mm audio jack, it can then be used with PC (Windows or Mac), PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, your mobile phone, and VR.
Head-tracking audio with JBL QuantumSPHERE 360
JBL QuantumSPHERE 360 offers professional-level 3D-audio positioning on your PC. Thanks to a custom JBL’s algorithm, the software can transform the sound based on the position of your head, leveraging an integrated head-tracking sensor in the headset.
Hi-Res certified JBL QuantumSOUND Signature
I found the headset delivered really great sound, from subtle raindrops to the loudest of explosions, and that soundscape has been officially endorsed with Hi-Res certification. JBL calls this QuantumSOUND Signature which they believe has better audio, not only makes the gaming experience more immersive but also could make you more competitive. In the event the competition is behind you, understanding the directionality of where the source of the noise is coming from is incredibly important.
Active Noise Cancelling tuned for gaming
A must-have feature for gamers is Active Noise Cancelling. The JBL Quantum One system really works well, with isolation from the outside world, you can focus on the task at hand, gaming. Thanks to the over-the-ear design, this means the headset can really block out unwanted background sounds.
Being a headset, you have the headphones and microphone combination, but there are times where you just want to listen to music, or maybe you’re playing a a single-player campaign, rather than online with friends, so it’s great that JBL offers a removable microphone. This just detaches from the left cup of the headphones and is easily added when it’s time to return to gaming, join your next conference call, or record some audio.
DISCORD Certified game audio-chat balance dial
The Game-Chat balance dial is DISCORD-certified. This lets you adjust audio levels on the fly allowing you to set the proper balance on the headset without having to leave the game. This is also compatible with TeamSpeak, Skype, and other services.
On the PC. you can (and should) install JBL QuantumENGINE, which offers the ability to personalize your JBL Quantum ONE gaming headset.
Of course, there are all the standard settings like separate user profiles, microphone settings, but it’s the adjustments to the multi-zoned activate RGB lighting effects that I really enjoy. This helps make the headset your own and really shine at night time. By far the most impressive feature is the JBL QuantumSPHERE 360 where you can enable seriously immersive surround sound (only supported on your PC).
Not everything’s perfect
There’s really not a lot to complain about here, although in terms of a suggestion for improvement, the volume dial is probably the biggest opportunity. While many headphones have in-line controls to adjust volume, play/pause and even some to control the balance between in-game volume vs chat. The dial certainly offers fine-tuned adjustments, but the weight of it, means you’ll want to have this placed on your desk. This then shortens the available cable length between the dial and your head, which can restrict your movement.
This could be solved by moving from a full dial module, to a more streamlined in-line control.
I’d also love to see the volume wheel on the headset itself, move to a free-spinning version. While this also allows you to finely adjust your volume, I’m far more likely to want to move from 60% to 20% volume, than I am to move from 53 to 47.
While many of the JBL One series contains wireless versions, the top model, this model, the JBL Quantum One, doesn’t. Perhaps it’s not possible to deliver the best audio (in 360 or otherwise) over wireless connections, but I’d happily sacrifice a little audio quality, to have the freedom of wireless movement.
I did also experience my full audio stack crash which took a reboot to fix each time. This is likely due to a bad driver, so I attempted a re-install and the issue remained. It is difficult to say if this issue is specific to my headset and laptop, but 1 crash it 1 crash too many. I’m hoping JBL can update the drivers to correct this issue.
PRICE & AVAILABILITY
How much and when can you get one ?
JBL Quantum ONE will be available exclusively from JB Hi-Fi for $499.95. At that price, it definitely lands in the premium range, but if you’re a serious gamer or part of an eSports team, that’s probably not a price tag that scares you. For a more casual gamer, it’d definitely be a stretch, but that’s understood by JBL and is answered by the cheaper versions of the Quantum range.
The JBL Quantum 100 Gaming Headset starts at just A$59.00, but there are options right across the price range. These include the Quantum 200 for A$89, 300 for A$129, 400 for A$159, the 600 for A$229 and 600 for A$349.
With size, you typically pay the penalty of weight. With audio performance, often comes with a penalty of weight. Somehow, JBL has managed to make a seriously comfortable headset that offers amazing audio performance, but is also really light, making it great for all-day use or long gaming sessions into the night.
While this is the flagship headset and it should be amazing, I’m seriously impressed by what JBL has offered up here with their first headset. This product is so good, it’d easily pass as a 2nd or 3rd generation product.
If your budget can stretch to the Quantum ONE, then I definitely can recommend you get it.