JBL Quantum TWS Air review: 'impressive audio comes with caveats'

JBL Quantum TWS Air earbuds in charging case on a wooden surface
(Image: © Future)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

The JBL Quantum TWS Air earbuds are perfect for anyone looking for a powerful and textured soundstage in their gameplay. With a lightweight form factor, they're endlessly comfortable, but this smaller build means the fit isn't designed to withstand everyday travel use. Bluetooth connections don't offer the same impressive audio either, so iPhone users after an all-in-one solution should be looking elsewhere.


  • +

    Sleek stemless buds with light weight

  • +

    Solid build quality

  • +

    Rich, powerful audio across a range of platforms

  • +

    Excellent dual beamforming mics


  • -

    Don't feel super secure in-ear

  • -

    Drops ANC from previous model

  • -

    Latency and quality suffers in Bluetooth

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JBL has been riding a wave with its series of Quantum headsets. Offering confident audio quality and a suite of handy features, these devices have been hitting a lower mid-range price point particularly well over the last few years. It's no surprise, then, that the audio brand is doubling down on its previous true wireless gaming earbuds release from last year; the JBL Quantum TWS. 

The new TWS Air model has already hit the shelves in the US and is poised to land in the UK shortly. The stem-less buds will join a massive range of successful gaming headsets under this umbrella, so I took the Airs out for two weeks to see just how well they stand up.

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Key Specs
Connection2.4GHz / Bluetooth 5.2
Frequency response20Hz - 20kHz
MicrophoneDual beamforming
Additional ear-tipsS / M / L
Battery8 hours + 16 hours in case
CompatibilityPS5, PC, Nintendo Switch, mobile


  • Small stemless buds feel solid 
  • Less premium case
  • Light weight and loose fit means they slip out easily

Considering the JBL Quantum TWS Airs come in at under $100, the build quality of the buds themselves is seriously impressive. The stem of the previous model has been shaved off here, bringing the TWS range in line with more luxurious earbuds from the likes of Samsung and Sony. Each bud feels extremely sturdy, with a robust matte plastic build and a flair of shine on the top. Not only that, but they're particularly light both in the hand and in-ear, making for a weightless experience that I couldn't seem to match among the gaming earbuds I have stashed away for comparison.

JBL Quantum TWS Air earbuds on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future)

The pill-style case doesn't quite match this premium experience with a thin plastic construction and smudge-prone outer material. However, the hinge feels solid and smooth with a soft landing when opening, and I have no scratch concerns from throwing the full kit into a backpack every day. 

Three LED battery indicators sit under the main lip, with a USB-C charging connection on the other side and a glossy but subtle JBL logo adorning the top. JBL does get a big thumbs up for including a small cut-out for the 2.4GHz USB-C dongle within the case itself - this isn't something I've seen in too many gaming earbuds and it's a lifesaver considering the rate at which these can get lost, especially out on the road.

JBL Quantum TWS Air charging case

(Image credit: Future)

The set comes with medium-sized silicon tips already installed, with small and large tips included. I'm generally a medium fit and can achieve the perfect seal with the majority of earbuds out of the box. However, I had to jump up to the larger size here as the buds themselves feel a little loose in the ear. Even on the large tips, I was still concerned about walking the dog with the JBLs in tow, as if they could slip out at any minute.


  • Average feature list for price
  • Nice dedicated app for EQ and gesture controls
  • Excellent dual beamforming microphone

While the design is, for the most part, punching above that $100 price tag, the feature set of the JBL Quantum TWS Air is somewhat average. The new buds drop the active noise cancellation of the previous generation in favor of a cheaper 'Ambient Aware' audio mode. Essentially, this is the opposite of noise canceling - allowing environmental sounds in while you play. That's great if you play at high volumes anyway, but I wouldn't necessarily celebrate it as the standout feature JBL is pitting it as. 

It's true, very few gaming earbuds under $100 offer active noise cancellation, and the reduction in weight and size calls for some sacrifices to be made. However, if you're willing to move just a little further up the price range you'll find the original JBL Quantum TWS model and the Razer Hammerhead Hyperspeed offering this at $149.99 / £149.99.

JBL Quantum TWS Air charging case and 2.4GHz dongle

(Image credit: Future)

Onto what you are getting, though. The TWS Airs still feature additional EQ presets and settings via the JBL app, as well as the ability to map the tap controls on each side. For the most part, these controls are easy to remember and responsive. You'll be able to toggle the Ambient Aware settings via a quick tap which is helpful when out and about, while quickly switching between 2.4GHz and Bluetooth modes to swap between sources when gaming as well. There's dual connectivity here, but it's not the true dual connection you'll find on more expensive sets. You'll be able to answer a phone call, for example, while connected to a Nintendo Switch, but not run two connections directly at the same time.

When it comes to chat, you've got dual beamforming mics keeping you covered - a set of microphones I was particularly impressed with. Audio is crystal clear and well-rounded, with nice background noise reduction even when taking a quick call outside.


  • Excellent balance and power when connected via 2.4GHz
  • Latency and audio quality suffers in Bluetooth
  • Also great for music, as long as you're on Android

I've always harbored a soft spot for JBL audio. Since picking up my first pair of super cheap Tune headphones I've always been impressed by the power of this Harman sound. The same is true for the JBL Quantum TWS Air. These buds pack a surprising punch, neatly balancing environmental and weapon sounds in High on Life and handling Super Mario 3D World's jingles with plenty of space and texture. I did have to force the buds further into my ear to get the full bass response, but once I did, even the growls of a Doom Eternal battlefield didn't prove too much for these drivers.

There's a buoyant energy to this audio, thriving in the mid-range but still offering plenty of power for a bassy kick and twinkling highs. Playing via the 2.4GHz connection on Nintendo Switch, PS5, and PC, there was plenty of definition and super clear response, though things certainly suffered in the Bluetooth department. 

Here there was considerably more lag than I'm used to in today's faster Bluetooth connections. At certain times I was actively noticing a delay in gunshots (sometimes of nearly a second) when playing CS:GO and High on Life on PC, which takes a lot considering I'm not exactly a competitively skilled player. I replicated this across Nintendo Switch as well, though issues weren't nearly as pronounced.

It's really best to stick with that speedy 2.4GHz connection, so if you're buying for an iPhone beware. Music was represented equally well, though - again - carried less weight when connected via Bluetooth. I did, however, notice that podcasts sounded particularly tinny. The kind of velvety richness and texture offered to sound effects and soundtracks don't feel like they're extended to dialogue here.

Should you buy the JBL Quantum TWS Air?

JBL Quantum TWS Air earbuds in case on a wooden surface

(Image credit: Future)

The JBL Quantum TWS Air makes a great companion for anyone after a Nintendo Switch headset, but can also offer plenty of power for PS5 and PC. If you're after a cheaper set of earbuds that prioritize audio quality over additional features - and don't want to break that three-figure price barrier - the Airs are a serious consideration. There are, however, design issues and Bluetooth weaknesses that offer their own caveats.

If you're planning on doubling up your use, and picking up a set of earbuds for both gaming and everyday use, I'd recommend seeking out something a little more stable in the ear and reliable over Bluetooth. The Razer Hammerhead Hyperspeeds are a go-to here, packing a secure fit, speedy connection, and throwing in active noise cancellation for just $50 more. You're dropping your overall battery life a little (and these won't be suitable if you're after a stemless design), but the boost in useability is well worth it. 

For pure cable-free gaming, though, the JBL Quantum TWS Air makes an excellent proposition. While we're still waiting on UK availability, US audio hunters should be well served for now. 

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JBL Quantum TWS Air vs The Competition
SpecsJBL Quantum TWS AirJBL Quantum TWSRazer Hammerhead Hyperspeed
Price$99.99$149.99 / £127.99$149.99 / £149.99
Connection2.4GHz / Bluetooth 5.22.4GHz / Bluetooth 5.22.4GHz / Bluetooth 5.2
Frequency response20Hz - 20kHz20Hz - 20kHz20Hz - 20kHz
MicrophoneDual beamforming (4 mics)Beamforming (6 mics)Omnidirectional
Noise cancellingN/AAdaptive noise cancellingActive noise cancelling
Additional ear-tipsS / M / LS / M / LS / M / L
Battery8 hours + 16 hours in case8 hours + 16 hours in case6.5 hours + 26 hours in case
CompatibilityPS5, PC, Nintendo Switch, mobilePS5, PC, Nintendo Switch, mobilePS5, PC, Nintendo Switch, mobile

How we tested the JBL Quantum TWS Air

I used the JBL Quantum TWS Air for three weeks, testing across a range of platforms including Nintendo Switch, PS5, PC, Asus ROG Ally, iPhone 14 Plus, and Black Shark 5 Pro. During this time I played Super Mario 3D World, Doom Eternal, CS:GO, High on Life, while also using Spotify Premium for music and podcasts. For more information on how we test gaming headsets, check out the full GamesRadar+ Hardware Policy.

We're also rounding up all the best PS5 headsets and the best PC headsets as well. Or, for more portable play, check out the best mobile controllers on the market. 

Tabitha Baker
Managing Editor - Hardware

Managing Editor of Hardware at GamesRadar+, I originally landed in hardware at our sister site TechRadar before moving over to GamesRadar. In between, I've written for Tom’s Guide, Wireframe, The Indie Game Website and That Video Game Blog, covering everything from the PS5 launch to the Apple Pencil. Now, i'm focused on Nintendo Switch, gaming laptops (and the keyboards, headsets and mice that come with them), PS5, and trying to find the perfect projector.