JBL makes a ton of audio gear and it spans across a huge range of options from portable and desktop speakers, to headphones and more recently into gaming headsets. Now the online gaming world is growing, so is the competition for dollars in the gaming space and JBL are vying for some of that income.
The Quantum range of headsets is a pretty varied offering, at the top end the Quantum One that costs an eye-watering $499.95 down to the Quantum 100. Today we’re taking a look at that entry-level headset, the Quantum 100 that costs a mere $59.95
The look, feel and initial impression
Clearly, it’s a gaming headset but I won’t waste time with the simple details. I consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity to test a wide variety of equipment like this through Ausdroid. So I’ve used and purchased myself some really good quality — read: expensive — headsets in the past, so I’ll be honest that my expectations weren’t huge from a $60 headset.
The first impression I got when I unboxed the headset wasn’t much better either. It felt lightweight, it felt plasticky and it felt fragile and kind of cheap. A feeling echoed by my wife who, on first view and contact with the headset said “I’d probably give you about $50 for that”.
I’m not sure that this is a headset I’d throw in in my bag for work, and be confident of it surviving a commute. That general feeling changed a bit when I put the headset on though because it is so lightweight and well-padded the cheap feeling was somewhat overcome by the comfort.
There’s no real pizzazz about the Quantum 100, it’s very basic from start to finish. There’s no RGB lighting, the connection is wired only and you’re going to get stereo sound only. If you’re expecting more from a headset that only costs $59.95, perhaps your expectations need a bit of adjustment?
In the box, you’ll get the headset, microphone (it’s detachable) and some very basic documentation. The simple hint here is to plug it in, it should just work — on anything you plug it into — since it connects via a 3.5mm plug. Once plugged in you’ve got some basic controls on the headset to mute your mic at a single button press and a volume roller. The design is simple but has a slight edge to it that says “gamer” and I like that because not everything has to be adorned with RGB flare.
Comfort and audio quality
There’s plenty of padding around the earcups and they do sit well, with the headset very well balanced. So the immediate feel of these is one of lightweight, balance and padded comfort which is — being brutally honest — what you’d expect of most headsets these days. So my first feeling with them is that they’re pretty comfy and should go well for gaming sessions
The problem I have in terms of comfort is the material chosen to cover the foam: It’s vinyl and if you’re going to play for an extended period of time it gets pretty hot. Now in winter, I’m not stressed about that because warm is good but in Summer I can see these being pretty uncomfortable.
For a company like JBL with a good reputation for solid sound delivery to deliver a spud headset would be very disappointing. The Quantum 100 is marketed as having “JBL Quantum Sound Signature”:
From the tiniest footsteps to the loudest explosion, JBL QuantumSOUND Signature makes every scene epic and every gamer more competitive. Our signature audio delivers the most realistic soundscape for a competitive advantage in any battle.
Which in real people terms, is marketing fluff for “we’ve tuned these for the best audio experience we can deliver on this budget”. While they’re not noise cancelling, the audio balance is pretty good, it’s not outstanding but it’s not disappointing and at under sixty bucks, that’s actually impressive…
If you’ve played too many a lot of games, you’ll know that much of the atmosphere of audio is in the mid-range which is done pretty well. Highs are clean, without being shrill but lacking a bit of power and the bass is acceptable, but nothing to yell about from the rooftops.
The truth to the matter is: There are a lot of better sounding headsets out there, but they cost a lot more.
The Microphone is decent
There are a couple of features of note with the microphone that rate a mention. The first is the fact it’s detachable, so if you’re playing solo games or listing to media on a device then you can remove it. But the quality of the microphone is pretty darn good when you consider the cost of the headset.
While I can only speak on the feedback I got from others and Skype test calls, it’s clear that the directional mic is solid. There’s minimal background noise that filters into your chat and that makes for a better experience for others, particularly if you’re conscious of using the mute button to avoid unnecessary transmissions.
I had a few people notice that I wasn’t on my normal headset while gaming, but that is a more expensive option with a noise-suppressing microphone. There weren’t any complaints of the sound quality, more noting that it was a slightly different tone to my transmissions and more background noise (although not much) getting through.
Areas for improvement
Sometimes looking at hardware on the cheaper end of the market, it’s difficult to be fair and subjective. So keep in mind that the following comments are made with the price tag in mind. The biggest issue I had with the Quantum 100 is the “cheap” feel of the headset with the all-plastic construction through the hinges and adjustable points on the headband. Not specifically because they made it uncomfortable, but because it makes me genuinely worry about the longevity of the device and whether with time, that the plastic will wear and break easily.
I’d also really like to see the cable a bit longer, probably another 60 – 80 centimetres to make sure that, if your computer is under a desk, the cable can reach. The 1.2m cable just isn’t long enough for many users and their desk setup.
So who is the target market and should you buy one?
The TL:DR on this is that the Quantum 100 is a decent buy for someone on a budget, looking for decent sound and decent comfort. Perhaps you’re looking to get your kids on a headset instead of blaring music and game noises through your home. I can say with certainty that if you play a lot of games and have a disposable income available, then you’re likely shopping for a much higher device than these.
The Quantum 100 is a solid buy for the money, it will give you some good sound and generally a pretty good experience. All of this is delivered for less than $60, but with the design and materials used I would be cautious about transporting it anywhere on a regular basis.
What JBL is doing with their Quantum headset range is offering choices from $59.59 through relatively consistent jumps in features and cost, up to $499.95. The result of this is that even the lower end devices get some trickle down effect of the high-end devices R&D outcomes. This wouldn’t be the case if JBL were purely focussed on budget buys and they’re certainly not purely focussed on big money devices. It’s a fine line to walk, but JBL seems to be achieving that very well right now.
If the Quantum 100 — or any of the range in fact — capture your interest, then you can check out the range at your local JB Hi-Fi or on the JBL Website. As we’ve mentioned the Quantum 100 retails for $59.95 with other options ranging through to the $500 mark within the JBL Quantum range.