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JBL Quantum ONE
May 4, 2020
2.7m (USB-A to USB-C Chat dial connection)
1.2m (3.5mm cable)
6.1 x 5 x 2.7 cm (ear cup internal)
The JBL Quantum ONE is packed to the brim with unique features. It’s a wired headset, designed with PC as its foremost platform, with a strong focus on audio spatialization and head tracking. It also features active noise cancelling (ANC), not entirely common among gaming headsets. However, for all the bells and whistles, does the headset deliver on the basics of comfort and sound quality?
We spent a week with the JBL Quantum ONE to see if it justifies its high price tag.
The Quantum ONE is squarely targeted at PC gamers. It has interesting features that set it apart from the pack, most of which are only available when paired with a Windows PC. Anyone looking for a headset that delivers on a unique set of features will find something to love here. However this headset is also good for anyone interested in a gaming headset that delivers on audio quality; it’s still compatible with a wide range of devices, just without the audio spatialization and noise cancelling (ANC only works while using the USB connection).
What is the JBL Quantum ONE like?
The JBL Quantum ONE is a wired headset, featuring RGB lighting, active noise cancelling, and some very unique audio spatialization technology. The headset is on the heavy side, weighing in at 369g, but fortunately the padding on the headband and ear cups help make it comfortable for several hours at a time. The weight makes the headset feel sturdy and well made, but the extensive use of plastic in the construction does subtract from its value somewhat. Additionally, the headset lets the ear cups rotate to lie flat on a surface, and the headband allows easy adjustment up and down to accommodate different head sizes.
How do you control the JBL Quantum ONE?
The Quantum ONE features an excessive number of buttons on the left ear cup that allows the user to adjust its many features. There’s a volume slider, a microphone mute button, a button to toggle the active noise cancelling (or you can hold it down to turn on TalkThru), and finally a button to center the headset while using the QuantumSPHERE 360 head tracking.
While this is an intimidating number of buttons to consider when you first try the headset, you quickly get used to knowing where the most important controls are located. The headset also features an inline jog wheel control that allows the user to balance the volume of the game they’re playing compared to a Discord call or other audio output. This dial is very well made and enjoyable to use.
What can the JBL QuantumENGINE software do?
The included JBL QuantumENGINE is a Windows-only software that greatly expands the features of the JBL Quantum ONE. With it, you can access a number of standard features like the ability to control the RGB lighting, the EQ, and the microphone. Additionally, the JBL Quantum ONE includes a small microphone that you place inside the ear, and it then helps the software calibrate the headset to your ear shape for optimized surround sound.
What is JBL QuantumSPHERE 360?
QuantumENGINE also gives the user access to JBL’s audio spatialization features. This includes JBL QuantumSPHERE 360, which uses DTS headphone:X v2.0 to track the orientation of the user’s head relative to the monitor and uses it to better adjust the position of the surround sound audio. (We’ve seen this in products like the Apple AirPods Max and the company’s in-ear AirPods.) In effect, if a sound is coming to your right or left you can turn your head to face it and the spatialization will adjust accordingly. This feature is impressive, though the use cases for it may be limited, and there are some latency issues some of the time.
Is the JBL Quantum ONE good for gaming?
The JBL Quantum ONE is a very solid choice for a high-end gaming headset. The addition of a jog wheel for adjusting game and voice chat volume makes long Discord gaming nights near effortless. The detachable microphone and different connectivity options make it useful in a wide variety of setups. Most importantly, the headset sounds great in a number of different games. A few quick games of Halo 3 or a casual half-hour romp in Elden Ring and I had to remind myself that I wasn’t wearing my go-to daily driver headphones.
How does the JBL Quantum ONE connect?
The JBL Quantum ONE has two main connectivity options. The first is to use the included USB-A to USB-C cable with an inline jog wheel, which offers the full array of features including better microphone support, RGB lighting, and active noise cancelling. The other option is to use the included 3.5mm headphone cable, giving this headset full compatibility with a number of different gaming consoles and handheld devices, but sacrificing some of the features. Because of this, the headset is compatible with the vast majority of devices, including the PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and the Steam Deck. However, the headset is primarily designed with PCs in mind.
How is the sound isolation on the JBL Quantum ONE?
The JBL Quantum ONE comes equipped with some excellent active noise cancelling that effectively blocks out a lot of outside sound. Low rumbles, such as that of highway traffic or a running laundry machine are very effectively filtered out. The headset also has fairly good isolation in general, which works quite effectively if you choose to switch off ANC. Someone having a conversation or playing music over speakers in the same room as you will be fairly effectively cancelled while wearing the JBL Quantum ONE.
How does the JBL Quantum ONE sound?
The JBL Quantum ONE has a fairly even frequency response across the spectrum, but with some variation in the high end. It deviates from our target curve from 2-6kHz most noticeably, which can sometimes cause sibilant sounds (vocals especially) to sound harsh. Aside from that however the headset has fairly good bass and midrange response, with only a slight dip around 200Hz.
Lows, mids, and highs
The biggest issue with the sound quality on the JBL Quantum ONE is down to the slightly deviant high end. Because of this, sibilant noises tend to feel slightly harsher than they do on other headsets. This can be heard in songs like Galvanize by The Chemical Brothers, where the violin in the intro sounds unusually abrasive. Aside from this however the headset handles bass and midrange excellently. In Machine Gun by Noisia, the bass in the chorus sounds especially clear and present. The vocals on Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen also sound particularly solid on this headset.
How is the JBL Quantum ONE microphone?
The JBL Quantum ONE has a detachable microphone that’s easy to manipulate and reposition. There’s some attenuation in the bass and high end, but it accentuates nicely the frequency range that brings good speech intelligibility. Rejection of incidental sounds in the background is particularly good here, which you can observe in our “office” demo. Take a moment to listen to the two mic demos below to judge for yourself how it sounds.
JBL Quantum ONE microphone demo (Ideal):
JBL Quantum ONE microphone demo (Office):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the JBL Quantum ONE?
Overall the JBL Quantum ONE is fairly easy to recommend, assuming you have the money to pay for it. If this is inside your price range you will no doubt find yourself impressed by the myriad unique features as well as the headset’s proficiency in the areas of sound reproduction and noise isolation. The construction of the headset is generally solid, although you may be put off by all the plastic. Altogether it’s a fairly solid headset with a wide array of very unique features; but from the outside, it can be hard to judge if these features justify the high asking price.
What should you get instead of the JBL Quantum ONE?
If you’re interested in a similar premium headset that matches or exceeds the JBL Quantum ONE for value, the foremost suggestion would be the EPOS H3PRO Hybrid, a wireless headset that delivers excellent quality for a comparable price to the JBL Quantum ONE. If you’re looking for something on the cheaper side, a common recommendation for a gaming headset remains the Razer BlackShark V2, a wired headset that echoes a lot of the design ideas behind the JBL Quantum ONE.
Frequently asked questions about the JBL Quantum ONE
While the JBL Quantum ONE is clearly designed with Windows PCs in mind, other devices do function with JBL’s USB connector. We tested the headset with both a Linux PC as well as the Steam Deck, where it sounded excellent and was able to make use of the active noise cancelling without issue. Unfortunately, the audio spatialization feature requires the JBL QuantumENGINE software. Additionally, the headset supports connecting with a 3.5mm headphone jack, which enables it to be used with an even wider range of devices such as a Nintendo Switch in handheld mode.