Here’s the deal. The JBL Quantum series are decent headphones, but are they worth the price?
Launched under the slogan “Sound is Survival,” the Quantum series are JBL’s first-ever headsets, designed exclusively for hardcore gamers to outlast opponents especially in first-point shooter games.
After testing active noise-cancelling Quantum One -- priced at 299,000 won ($270) -- and comparing it them over Lunar New Year holidays with Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC headset available at 249,000 won, I would say that the latest Quantum model is slightly overpriced. But, if you don’t mind the price tag, Quantum One can be a powerful weapon in a gaming realm.
When playing Valorant, an FPS game developed by Riot Games, Quantum One provided more vivid gunshot and footstep sounds than Sennheiser, allowing gamers to detect the location of their opponents and pull the trigger first.
As a former sergeant who served 21 months at Camp Humphreys, I would say Sennheiser provides a more realistic version of gunshot sounds. But inside shooting games, gunshot sounds are audio hints, not music to enjoy. For gamers, they don’t need high-quality gunshot sounds but clear, straightforward ones.
However, what really sets Quantum One apart from ordinary gaming headsets is its Quantum Sphere 360 technology.
With typical headphones, when gamers move their heads, the soundscape follow their movements. However, Quantum One is equipped with a head-tracking sensor that compensates gamers’ head movements.
For example, if there’s a sound coming from in front of you, gamers could rotate their heads 90 degrees to the left and the sound source’s perceived location moves to their right ears -- the sound stays locked in space as they move their heads.
As the sound positions match head movements, gamers can pinpoint the opponents’ location and follow their footsteps more precisely.
Also, the Quantum Sphere 360 technology takes into account the natural sound perception mechanism of human brain, which uses small head movements to determine whether the sound came from the front or behind. Simply put, the brain processes the differences between when a sound arrives at the left ear and right ear to determine where the sound is located. By fixing the location of sound sources, the Quantum Sphere 360 technology prevents confusion and compensates for unconscious natural head movements of gamers.
Of course, the technology is subtle, and difficult to notice when bullets start flying around during a game. But for gamers whose wins and defeats are decided in a split second, every advantage counts.
The Quantum Sphere 360 technology only supports Quantum One. A downgraded version called Quantum Surround technology supports the Quantum 800 headset, available for 249,000 won.
In terms of design, Quantum One is flawless. The ear pads are covered in real leather and filled with plush memory foam. Also, a three-part RGB lighting scheme glows elegantly on the sides of the cups. Gamers can customize the colors with PC software Quantum Engine.
But if there’s one design glitch, it would be the wire. Quantum One’s wire has a scratchy texture. This wire keeps rubbing with your clothes and sends disturbing noise through the cups, undermining the headset’s noise-cancelling technology.
Also, it’s a mystery why Quantum One, which is a wired headset, has a detachable mic, when Quantum 800, which supports wireless Bluetooth mode, has a non-detachable mic.
All in all, Quantum One and Quantum 800 headsets are premium models suitable for an extreme gaming experience. For light users and music lovers, cheaper options with higher sound quality are recommended.
By Kim Byung-wook (email@example.com