Written by Cheryl Tan
Any gamer can attest to the fact that a good pair of headphones is essential. Not only does it give you the edge by letting you pinpoint directional audio cues, but you’ll most likely be wearing it for a prolonged period of time and using it for communication, which is crucial for games that require teamwork.
The JBL Quantum ONE is the brand’s first venture into gaming headsets, and it’s a surprising one, packing features like head tracking, surround sound, active noise cancellation and more into a cool, LED-equipped headset that doesn’t come cheap.
Let’s talk about design. The first thing that will catch your eye when you plug in the headset is the LED lights running along the side of the earcups, as well as the faceplate with the JBL logo. There’s a bunch of preset light designs in the JBL Quantum Engine app that you’ll be prompted to install once you set up the headset, but if you want to make it truly yours, there’s an Advanced Mode where you can set all sorts of colours and patterns to match your taste.
There’s a removable microphone arm on the left earcup, which retains shape pretty well and will stay in the position that you put it. A nice QOL addition is the red light near the end of the mic that will light up if you mute the mic, ensuring that you’ll always know if your teammates can hear you or not.
The padding on the earcups and headband is thick and immensely comfortable. I had no issues wearing these for almost eight hours on end, listening to music, gaming and more. Clamping force is perfect and the headset sits really well on the head.
It runs powered via a USB-C cable with a volume control knob that connects to the PC, allowing for easy adjustments between game and voice chat levels. The fabric-sleeved cable is actually pretty stiff, so it’s not as pliable as the cables on other gaming headsets I’ve tested.
The controls for ANC toggling (press to toggle TalkThrough, press and hold to toggle ANC), recentering of the headphones for head tracking, volume knob and microphone mute buttons are all on the left earcup. It’s definitely a lot to remember at the start, but you’ll quickly remember which buttons are where after a few days.
Sound quality is actually surprisingly good. On the Flat preset in the EQ settings, you get a clean sound that doesn’t put much emphasis on the bass or treble. It might not be the most ideal solution for listening to music, but it doesn’t make songs sound terrible either.
Changing the surround sound isn’t quite as easy as it seems though. If you click between the QuantumSPHERE 360, DTS and Off settings in the app and don’t experience any difference, you’ll have to go into your sound settings to change the properties and enable Audio Enhancements.
Once done, you’ll notice the soundstage opens up considerably on either spatial sound setting. QuantumSPHERE 360 definitely introduces a bit of echo in and changes the sound of the song by bringing the treble and vocals more to the forefront, however, so I recommend DTS when listening to music for a more accurate representation.
Gaming with the Quantum ONE is a dream. Turn on the QuantumSPHERE 360 and revel in the excellent audio that the headset provides. Audio cues like gunshots and footsteps are perfectly located, you get a great soundstage that doesn’t feel compressed at all, and the ANC feature is definitely helpful in making you feel even more immersed in a game.
There’s even an advanced calibration for the surround sound that will factor in your head diameter and height, but unfortunately, this feature will only start being available in Summer 2020, according to the JBL team so I wasn’t able to test it.
Head tracking is a pretty interesting feature because we typically don’t think much about it, if at all. Most gamers don’t tend to turn their heads to follow sound cues, and personally I prefer just using my mouse to move my character to pick up cues when I’m playing a first-person shooter. In slower-paced games with dialogue, however, it definitely helps with immersion.
I could be checking out different parts of a room by just turning my head while someone was speaking to me and the dialogue would fade slightly to the left or right, which definitely felt more natural.
So the question is, is everything in here worth the S$369 price tag? Honestly, at this very point in time, I’d say it’s almost worth it. After all, it’s a pair of extremely comfortable headphones with decent sound quality for music, excellent when playing games, and the addition of ANC and surround sound provides a lot of value for me.
Once the surround sound calibration is available, I’ll be more confident in recommending this. It is pricey though, there’s no getting around it. For casual gamers, perhaps this isn’t one to look at. But if you play a lot of competitive shooters like Call of Duty: Warzone, Apex Legends, Overwatch and the likes, this is definitely a good investment.
More information and purchase options for the JBL Quantum ONE (S$369) is available on JBL’s website.