The JBL Quantum 610 headset is the latest mid-range gaming unit from the veteran consumer audio brand. Replacing the previous JBL Quantum 600 model, the 610's look to pack in a seriously competitive set of features for the price.
Spatial surround sound, customizable RGB lighting, and a battery life of up to 40 hours make the JBL 610 seem like one of the best gaming headsets you can buy for their $149 / £100 asking price. That's on paper, however, and there's stiff competition in the mid-range market from the likes of Logitech, SteelSeries, and Razer headsets. To see if the Quantum 610's can stand out in a packed field of rivals, I put them through their paces with over 40 hours of testing.
The JBL Quantum 610 features an all-black all-plastic design that's centrepiece is the RGB logo on the outside of each cup. Aside from these LEDs and a little bit of flare via orange accents on the cabling, the JBL 610 is fairly subdued overall.
The LEDs themselves are nicely bright and colorful without being overpowering. They're a nice touch and one that's fully customizable with thousands of possibilities via the companion JBL QuantumEngine software.
The best things about the JBL 610 design, however, are the little things. On the inside of each cup is a prominent orange print of either left or right - something so simple but effective that it makes me wonder why every headset doesn't have it. Also, on the end of the mic is an unobtrusive LED that turns to red once it's muted. Again, very simple but incredibly handy to remind you that you're muted on discord.
Weight-wise, the JBL 610 sit at around 357 grams, which is on the medium to heavy scale for a modern wireless gaming headset. They aren't heavy enough to fatigue you over long sessions, but they are noticeably heavier than some similarly priced rival headsets, such as the Logitech G535 Lightspeed.
Another criticism of the design is that the JBL Quantum 610 are slightly on the bulky side for a headset. While generously proportioned and very comfortable thanks to the excellent padding and pleather covering, I found the cups to look fairly bulbous when worn. While no one turns up to a LAN party with style in mind, those with smaller heads (such as mine) might find these cans on the bulky side.
Type: Wireless (USB dongle)
Sound output: Stereo, 7.1
Microphone: Boom (swivel for on/off)
Compatibility: PC, Mac, PS, Xbox
Controls: Volume, on/off, chat volume
Impedance: 32 ohm
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
Tested on PC.
Where the JBL Quantum 610 look set to stand out against its rivals is with a specs sheet that's absolutely crammed with features. Major selling points here include JBL's 7.1 QuantumSurround technology and DTS headphone:X v2.0, which are both standouts for a headset within this price range.
You'll also find a nice set of physical features that lend to an excellent user experience. On the outside of the left cup, you have a USB-C port, a 3.5mm audio jack, a mic mute button, volume, and a useful chat volume dial that balances chat with game audio. Everything is really well placed ergonomically and easy to use in-game. In regards to overall usability, the JBL Quantum 610 knocks it out of the park.
Provided in the box is the USB dongle (which is needed as the 610s are not Bluetooth compatible), a USB to USB-C charging cable, and a 3.5mm jack cable with in-line controls for the volume and mic. If you're low on battery, the JBL Quantum 610 will work passively over the 3.5mm cable, which is a handy feature. On a side note, it's also nice that the cables provided feature a braided fabric design, which lends to a nice premium feel.
One big caveat with the Quantum 610 is that the headline JBL and DTS surround sound features are only compatible via JBL QuantumEngine software, which is currently only available on Windows. While the JBL Quantum 610s are technically compatible with Mac, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch (while docked), and mobile devices, bear in mind you'll be forgoing the more advanced features if you game on these platforms.
Out of the box, the JBL Quantum 610 features a fairly balanced sound, with decently powerful bass and nicely rolled-off highs that lends to comfort over long sessions. There's nothing fatiguing to the sound, although you can customize the profile to your heart's content using the provided 8-band equalizer in the JBL QuantumEngine software if you want a little more clarity in the highs. In the standard stereo mode, the JBL Quantum 610 is equivalent to rival headsets in this price range when it comes to sound quality.
Where things get a little trickier is with the 7.1 surround sound features. Personally, I found both the JBL and DTS settings to be finicky at best, with experience widely varying from game to game and track to track. Both settings, while offering slight benefits in regards to sound imaging and placing enemies, can really go overboard with the reverb, often throwing the overall sound out of whack.
Even with heavy tweaking on the provided 8-band equalizer, I often found the audio to be unpleasantly scooped in the mid-range, with overly booming lows and unpleasantly shrill highs. On more chill sessions of Cities: Skylines and Total War: Warhammer 3 this was absolutely fine, but in more intense applications like Hell Let Loose I found the surround sound overpoweringly cavernous and sharp sounding.
If you're going to use the surround sound features, I highly recommend getting down and dirty with the equalizer to get the best out of the set. For the record, the best presets to my ears were the 'Bass Boost' in stereo and 'Long Session' for the DTS surround sound setting. Enabling the 'Precise' setting for the JBL QuantumSurround sound is also absolutely essential for reducing the reverberation effect if you're going to use this mode in my opinion.
The JBL Quantum 610 has a rated battery life of up to 40 hours in its documentation, but I believe this was probably achieved by turning the RGB lighting and advanced features off. In testing, I got around 25 hours of playtime on a single charge, which is still great for a headset within this price range.
Should you buy the JBL Quantum 610?
If I sound overly critical of the JBL Quantum 610 - especially the surround sound features - know that these are great sounding if you're willing to experiment with settings. Overall, it's a good headset but one that needs a bit of tweaking to truly shine and to get the best possible results. Because of this, it's probably not the best PS5 wireless headset or console headset in general, but gamers in search of the best PC headset for gaming will find a lot to work with here.
The headset is solidly made, features powerful drivers, and includes a competitive array of tech under the hood for the price. If you can overlook a few minor quibbles with the bulkiness of the design, you'll also have a really comfortable pair of headphones with great battery life.
Price-wise, competitors in this budget range include the Logitech G535, SteelSeries Arctis 5, and Razer Nari Essential, all of which - aside from the Arctis 5 - don't offer any RGB lighting. Because of this, the JBL Quantum 610 are definitely worth considering if you're looking for a more customizable 7.1 gaming headset without breaking the bank.
How we tested the JBL Quantum 610
I used the JBL Quantum 610 as my main gaming headset over a week-long period, totaling about 20 hours in-game, and around 30 to 40 hours listening to music while working. Titles played while testing this headset included Hell Let Loose, Monster Hunter: Rise, Total War: Warhammer 3, and Cities: Skylines.