JBL hasn't always been a name associated with gaming headsets, but with the JBL Quantum one - a relatively new flagship premium entry - the veteran audio company is making a new bid for gaming dominance.
On paper, the JBL Quantum One certainly impresses with its eye-watering specs sheet:m fully customizable LEDs, DTS sound profiles, active noise cancellation, and not to mention the much-acclaimed QuantumSPHERE 360 head-tracking, mean this is a headset heavy in features indeed.
But, at a hefty $299 / £229 asking price, they've got to walk the walk if they want to compete with the best gaming headsets.
Upon opening the packaging you’re greeted with a sturdy, somewhat weighty set of fairly premium-feeling headphones. While they're an all-plastic build, In the hand you can’t deny there’s a sense of quality with these JBLs.
Type: Wired (3.5mm jack, USB-C)
Sound output: Stereo (7.1, DTS)
Microphone: Detachable boom
Compatibility: PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, mobile
Controls: Volume, mute, ANC, head tracking calibration
Impedance: 32 ohm
Frequency response: 20 Hz - 40 kHz
Tested on PC.
That said, the plastic casing is actually quite plain, with a few industrial touches on an otherwise unremarkable headset. The main aesthetic is provided by the flashy silver JBL logo, flanked by some RGB LEDs, which, when turned on, make this headset light up like a neon sign. For my tastes, it’s a little too much, but the LEDs are fully customizable through the software either way. Personally, I much prefer the subdued designs being put out by the likes of Sennheiser gaming headsets these days, though I’ll give JBL points for being bold, and also building a really solid feeling headset too. The design’s not without its nice little quirks either: the L and R print on the inside of the cups are a lovely touch, which, as soon as I saw I thought, 'why don’t other brands do this?'.
What’s more, where this headset really shines is in its comfort. The memory foam padding on the band and cups is extremely generous and superbly alleviates any weightiness when worn, even over lengthy sessions.
On the headset itself, you’ve got controls on the left cup for volume, noise cancellation, mic activation, and also a re-center button for the spatial head-tracking feature. Altogether, it’s a nice little set of features, and, if you use the USB-C connector, you’ll also get a dial that can balance between in-game sound and chat.
The software, downloadable on the JBL website is easy to set up as well, has a nice clean user interface, and gives you plenty of settings to play around with. In the easy to navigate menus, you can calibrate your spatial head tracking and LEDs to your heart's desire, with often lurid results. You’ve also got the sound presets here and an optional 8-band equalizer, which was welcome as I personally found the default settings to be a little shrill sounding. A couple of quick tweaks, however, and I was able to get the bass sufficiently thumping the highs thoroughly tamed.
All-in-all you’ve got a nicely designed headset here, with plenty of customizable features to play around with - as long as you’re on PC that is.
To truly put the headset to the test I dived into Escape from Tarkov. As many will know no doubt, your life in this game depends on your situational awareness, ability to accurately place threats, plus a healthy sense of paranoia. And, while I didn’t need any help with the latter, the Quantum Ones certainly did the business otherwise. NPC and players alike were placed with excellent positional accuracy thanks to the fantastic 7.1 surround, and gunshots reverberated with an oh-so-satisfying crack and punch. In this application, these cans are utterly fantastic and an easy recommendation for enthusiasts who want to hear every rustle, reload, and footstep of their would-be opponents.
The included detachable boom mic is also of good quality - another plus for those who want a headset capable of keeping up with the rigors of competitive gaming.
Over longer, more casual sessions the Quantum Ones perform equally as well, if not even better. Thanks to the extremely plush fit I was able to feed my unhealthy obsession with playing long sessions of Mount and Blade Bannerlord without any discomfort. The ANC also, while not world-beating, does function well enough to fully immerse you in your environment - perfect for RPGs and sim games alike.
The fairly novel head-tracking feature added another level of interest along the way, albeit in a more minor way than expected. Calibrate and activate this feature in the app (again, PC only) and the headset will tailor its surround sound based on your real-life head position. These PC-only features do elevate the headset and make it a strong contender for those looking for a different PC headset for gaming.
I’ll be honest, with a name like QuantumSPHERE 360, I was fairly sceptical at first, but it does mean the headset feels quite natural to wear over long periods, almost as if you were sitting in front of a pair of speakers. That said, I did notice that the transitions from one ear to the other can sometimes be a little bit abrupt and you need to recalibrate fairly regularly to keep the sound balanced. In brief, it’s a cool bonus feature, but it’s not the main selling point of this headset.
Overall - should you buy it?
For console gamers, the Quantum One is definitely a hard sell. While you’re still getting a fully functional headset with ANC, you’re missing out on the head tracking and, more importantly, the ability to fully customize the LEDs and sound profiles to your liking. As a result, it's not really one of the best PS4 headsets or best Xbox One headsets - but it is comfortable in what it does offer. If you mainly play on one of the best gaming PCs or best gaming laptops I’ve got no hesitation in recommending these excellent high-end cans from JBL. They sound great, have nice little bonus features, and have a comfortable if somewhat gaudy build.