JBL Quantum One Review
When JBL's Quantum One headset started popping up in our pro usage lists our interest was piqued. Not because JBL is such a massive gaming company but because JBL is known in the audio world for producing great products, and going by what we've seen from other respectable audio-focused brands we can reasonably expect a high quality sound experience here.
Of course expectations don't always match the reality (which is why we do reviews) but if we look at what this headset offers it's not unreasonable to get a bit excited. What you're getting here is a headset that not only has virtual surround sound capabilities but also head tracking and active noise cancellation. Top that off with programmable RGB lighting and the promise of great audio quality and you're left with something that's, in theory, a great fit for people who like to go all out with their gear. We've sent one over to our reviewer to find out whether theory is the same as practice in this case. Read our full review to find out his verdict!
JBL Quantum One - First Impressions
This is without a shadow of a doubt a gaming headset. If you're looking for something subtle and sleek this isn't going to float your boat, even with the RGB off. That's fine with me: I absolutely don't care about the looks of a gaming headset myself but I wouldn't necessarily give it a price for best aesthetics either if you get what I'm saying.
That aside: it does feel nice. Despite the fact that it's made of mostly plastic it doesn't feel cheap or flimsy, and the luxuriously applied padding combined with the surprising lightness makes this a pleasant feeling headset overall. It's also decently flexible without being creaky, so I was pretty impressed by the build quality.
The unboxing experience deserves a special mention here. The sturdy cardboard box uses a vaporwave color scheme (the default RGB lighting uses the same blue/pink colors by the way) and uses a magnet to keep it closed. Fold it open and you'll be greeted by some more artwork and of course the headset itself. I like the way they did this: this is a premium priced headset, so it's nice to see that JBL has spent some time to make sure that the packaging matches the asking price.
Inside of the box you get the headset, a USB cable with chat balance dial, the detachable mic and pop filter, a calibration mic, and a 3.5mm audio cable.
Build and comfort
I already mentioned it but I am pretty impressed by the overall build quality and comfort levels of the Quantum One. I flexed the headband in all directions as far as I deemed reasonable (and even a bit beyond that) and heard no creaks or signs that it was about to give up on me, and the fact that the ear cups can rotate freely in both directions makes for a headset that will fit a large variety of skulls.
My particular skull happens to be a bit larger than an average one and I managed to find a comfy fit with room to spare on the headband, so this should fit pretty much anyone without any issues. The clamping force is very reasonable too, and the fact that the headset is lighter than you'd give it credit for means that you should be able to wear this headset for hours on end without feeling any pressure points though this can of course vary based on head size, head shape, and what not.
What I did notice is that it gets rather hot in the ear cups. It's winter where I live and even now I felt the need to give my ears a bit of a breather every once in a while. That's partially due to the fact that I'm not a fan of leatherette materials but the material that's used for the cups just doesn't feel very breathable regardless. It's just a minor inconvenience but if you live in a warm climate and/or you're sensitive to this kind of thing you might want to take note of this.
One more note is that the cable is very rigid. This isn't a problem on its own but there isn't a lot of cable between the headset and the chat balance dial, and that combined with the rigidness meant that I had the control puck drop to the floor more than once, creating a slightly annoying tugging sensation. It's nothing more than an annoyance, but this could easily be fixed by including a lighter and more flexible cable and increasing the distance between the chat dial and the headset.
Sound and mic
As someone who knows JBL a bit I had high expectations when it came to the sound quality of the headset, and I have to say those expectations were met. The default sound profile is perhaps a bit too flat for my liking (that's personal though) but luckily you've got a bunch of EQ settings that you can tweak and I very quickly found a setting that I really liked. The Quantum One sounds great on all fronts: you can get a decent bass (though it doesn't have the most impressive lower tones I've ever heard in a gaming headset) and mids and highs come through clearly without sounding too sharp or harsh.
For gaming it's amazing. In competitive games with a reliable audio engine (CS:GO and Overwatch, for example) the spatial audio is stellar. The FPS preset in the software also deserves a shout here. Usually these FPS presets scoop the bass in favor of a harsh and piercing trebly sound profile but here it actually sounds as if someone did some work to ensure that your ears don't start to bleed at higher volumes while still getting a sound profile that prioritizes useful sounds (reloads, abilities) over stuff such as explosions. The gaming performance is, in a nutshell, fantastic.
I usually test gaming headsets for music and media consumption as well, and it's not rare that they suffer on that front but this isn't the case with the Quantum One. I would have no issues using this as my main set for listening to tunes and watching some movies: it's not the very best sounding headset I've personally ever used but it's certainly miles above most dedicated gaming headsets in terms of overall sound quality if you're asking me.
The Quantum One comes packed with not one, but two spatial audio technologies. The first is DTS Headphone:X 2.0, which is one of those virtual surround sound technologies. It sounds pretty good: you get a noticeable bass boost in this mode, and the whole thing sounds a bit less neutral and more cinematic but if that's what you're after it functions fine.
The more ear-catching feature is JBL's QuantumSPHERE 360 tech. If you want to use this you'll have to use a special (included) microphone in order to calibrate this system, after which you get thrown into the QuantumSPHERE. What this means is that the headset tracks your head position: if there's an alarm going off right in front of you and you turn your head it'll now be coming predominantly from your side. This is a cool feature to play around with but in my opinion it made the headset sound a bit worse, and since it's not all that useful in games I mostly left it off during my testing. Perhaps this feature really shines in games where you can reasonably expect danger to come from all sides such as Warzone or Tarkov though.
Finally we have the mic. It's decent. That would be fine for a regular headset but this is definitely a product that's in the higher end of the price spectrum when it comes to gaming headsets so I feel like it sounds a bit disappointing. Don't get me wrong: it's very clear and consistent, but it's not all that natural sounding and I've tested better mics in much cheaper headsets so there's room for improvement here.
Mic Sound Test
Features and ease of use
The Quantum One works as a console headset but if you want to go all out you're going to want to use this with a PC. With JBL's software you can do all the tweaks you'd want: you can mess with the EQ, you can set sidetone, activate the noise cancelation, ...
Speaking of which: I am not an expert on noise cancelation (I don't like to be shut off from my surroundings, even when I'm working) but it's pretty decent here. It's not going to drown out a busy street or train carriage but for these small/annoying noises (such as your housemate calling you from across the house to clean up after yourself) it works fine. Don't expect it to work wonders though.
On the headset itself you've got a number of useful controls: a button to toggle the noise cancellation (for those times your housemate actually makes it to your room and wants to talk to you), a button to re-center the QuantumSPHERE, a volume wheel, and a mic button. Muting the mic lights up a small red LED on the mic itself by the way, which is always a nice touch.
All in all the Quantum One is incredibly easy to use. It might take a bit to get used to the button layout on the headset itself but the software is laid out really nicely and takes virtually no time to get used to at all. It also looks nice (though that's subjective) and carries over that almost retro vaporwave trend that you find on the packaging.
The JBL Quantum One is a headset that, to me, comes across as if JBL wanted to throw everything they had at it. For the most part, they succeeded.
The sound quality and gaming performance of the Quantum One is certainly up there with the best, and it's very comfortable if you don't mind the pretty dense ear cup foam that they've used. But then you've got the mic which is rather subpar for a headset at this price point, and the fact that the QuantumSPHERE technology isn't necessarily the most useful tech for tactical competitive shooters. I could be wrong: perhaps this is great for larger games with a '360 sphere of danger' like Warzone and Escape from Tarkov but I am not experienced enough with those games to give an accurate judgement on that.
This is a great 'all out' piece of equipment, and if you're sure that you're going to use these features like head tracking and active noise cancelation often then this is a top pick, but otherwise you'll be able to find other headsets that suit your needs. I think that a slightly cheaper wired version of this headset without the QuantumSPHERE tech and a better mic would be a better fit for dedicated competitive gamers, but that doesn't take anything away from the fact that this is a very good headset. It's just a matter of deciding how much these premium features (that, I would guess, drive up the price) matter to you.