Audio giants JBL have recently entered the gaming market with the Quantum line, a new range of headphones and speakers tuned specifically for gunfire, explosions, and other in-game sound effects.
Right at the top of the line is the Quantum One, a circumaural set of cans with 50mm dynamic drivers, active noise cancellation, and JBL’s QuantumSphere 360 surround sound technology with its unique gyroscope-based head-tracking.
Priced at US$300, the Quantum One falls on the pricier side of gaming headphones, so what are you getting for your money?
JBL has embraced a futuristic aesthetic for the Quantum One with an all-black look accented with lighting on the earcups. I’m not normally a fan of RGB lighting, but I really like the Tron-like effect of the Quantum One (plus it perfectly matches my favorite Valorant skin line: Dot Exe). You can further customize the lighting through JBL’s Quantum Engine PC software.
Both the headband and ear cups are padded with extra thick memory foam making them soft and cushiony. I often find headphones uncomfortable to wear for extended periods, but I had no issues wearing the Quantum Ones for six hours straight, as they provide just the right amount of clamping force for a secure fit and tight seal without feeling like your head is being crushed.
The left ear cup houses all of the ports and buttons. Here you’ll find a USB-C port, a 3.5mm jack, and a microphone port for the detachable microphone, as well as buttons for muting the microphone, a volume dial, a head-tracking calibration button, and the noise cancellation on/off button.
While you can connect the headphones through the 3.5mm jack — and for console gaming, this is your only option — you’ll only get the benefits of the JBL Quantum Engine through the USB connection. You’ll also need to install JBL’s software to be able to calibrate the head-tracking for optimal surround sound.
Most gaming headsets are pretty bad when it comes to listening to music but I was pleasantly surprised by how good the Quantum One sounds. The headphones provide a wide sound stage with a balanced range, providing clear mids and highs while still offering sufficient bass.
As for gaming, I started off by testing the Quantum One with ANC and surround sound off, just to compare it to my usual gaming headphones (a pair of HyperX Cloud 2s). Starting off with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, audio quality was superb with both deep rumbling explosions and screaming overhead jets each clearly defined. On Valorant, footsteps were easily heard and it was easy to pick out subtle sound cues like Omen teleporting even through a hail of gunfire.
The Active Noise Cancellation works well too and shuts out all but the most intrusive outside sounds, letting you focus entirely on your game.
Turning on the Quantum Engine, I was impressed by the accuracy of the sound location. Even in a game like Valorant, which doesn’t offer an in-game surround sound setting, the Quantum Engine did a good job at helping me pinpoint exactly where an enemy was coming from and how far away they were.
While other gaming headsets also offer surround sound, what sets the Quantum One apart from the rest is its head-tracking feature. This uses a gyroscope inside the headset to tell which direction your head is facing. For example, if you turn to the left, the in-game audio will adjust accordingly with sounds directed at the ear that’s facing the screen. Now, to be fair, you rarely turn your actual head when playing a game but the technology does work and I can imagine this feature will be even better when paired with a VR setup.
The JBL Quantum One offers a fantastic combination of comfort, audio quality, active noise cancellation, and surround sound. While traditional gamers may not get the most use out of its unique head-tracking feature, if you have a VR setup, these headphones may be just what you need to bring your experience to the next level.