For quite some time, your options for gaming headsets were dictated by computer-part-selling-gamer-oriented brands. Very rarely do we see the big audio guys dip their interest in the gaming segment. Which is strange and makes you wonder what took JBL so long? You see, the Quantum range by JBL offers the first-ever gaming headsets by JBL in India.
And there are no half-measures here.
A seven-strong army of gaming headsets spanning across multiple price segments ensures that there’s a headset for every price and budget.
What we have is the JBL Quantum 600 which sits bang in the centre of the budget spectrum as far as price goes. At ₹16,999, you pay almost half as much compared to the top tier JBL Quantum One (₹29,999). So, what do you get for that price? And how do they fare against the competition? We played hours and hours of Valorant wearing these to answer exactly that.
Fit and finish
All the headsets in the Quantum range sport a similar design ethos. The 600 in question is made entirely from plastic, good plastic but it’s fairly heavy too. Definitely not as lightweight as the SteelSeries Arctis 5 which I was using earlier.
The headband is quite flexible and decently cushioned but I could feel my head touching the headband plate through all that cushion after long hours of playing. The slider was all the way to the max size, but I guess I have a big head or the cushion isn’t enough.
The ear cups squeeze in on your ears quite firmly too. Initially I could feel the drivers touching my ears but then the Quantum 600 adjusted to my head and loosened a bit. In a good way.
If you stomp your foot and shake your head viciously after dying in a video game, they won’t come off as easily. So, they’re good if you have anger issues. The PU leather (artificial leather) wrapped around foam cushions adds a bit of passive noise cancelling as well.
You won’t find a Bluetooth connection on these wireless headphones. They come bundled with a USB 2.4GHz dongle for a seamless wireless connection, a 3.5mm audio cable, a windshield foam for the microphone and a USB Type-C charging cable.
JBL says the QuantumSOUND Signature is tailor made for gamers to pinpoint enemy footsteps as accurately as possible. It’s something the competitive gaming community will benefit greatly from and we think all you CS:GO players, especially the last minute bomb diffusers, will appreciate the JBL Quantum 600 for its surround sound.
We played Valorant (the love child of CS:GO and Overwatch) with Quantum surround sound (or Sound Signature, call it what you want) and it does provide directional clarity. It’s easy to pinpoint approaching enemies, although it takes a bit of time to get the hang of things when playing with this mode on.
Sadly, the Quantum surround only works with PC games and after you’ve downloaded the JBL QuantumENGINE software to configure the surround sound. We were hoping the dongle would save our settings and carry them to our PS4 Pro for some Call of Duty: Warzone mischief but unfortunately that isn’t the case here. You do get DTS surround sound but it differs from the spatial prowess of Quantum surround sound. Albeit, for games like The Last of Us 2 the audio quality is crisp and detailed. The Quantum 600 picks up subtle ambient sounds in the The Last of Us 2 game which we wouldn’t be able to hear on our two year old SteelSeries Arctis 5. It’s not a fair comparison but definitely a massive audio upgrade. Environments in The Last of Us 2 come alive with chirping crickets and creaking doors which are easily lost on cheaper headsets. Meanwhile the fantastic soundtrack by Gustavo Santaolalla adds more flair to the game and the Quantum 600 are quick to pick it up too.
Features and QuantumENGINE software
These are very versatile in terms of usability but that transition isn’t necessarily fluid. Allow me to explain. In terms of features, the Quantum 600 are packed to the brim. You can, in practice, play on all and every platform. Something, I as a video game reviewer, was very keen to test.
First up, Nintendo Switch. It doesn’t have Bluetooth and neither does the headset, so the 3.5mm audio jack takes care of that problem. The 3.5mm audio cable also has a mute button and a volume rocker which is nice but pointless. You see, the headset has a boom mic with flip-to-mute feature and a dedicated mute button on the headset as well. There’s even a master volume rocker on the headset and another volume wheel for adjusting between chat and game audio. So, why are there three options to mute the microphone and three audio adjusting wheels in total? Our guess is that different platforms will work differently so the options are there for you, but in our use with the Apple iPhone 11, Nintendo Switch, PS4 and PC the flip-to-mute boom mic worked 100% of the time. We didn’t really need the in-line audio controls on the 3.5mm jack if the headset already has them. We will trade that for Bluetooth anyday.
Here’s where the confusion gets even weirder. You cannot use the QuantumENGINE software on PC without the USB dongle connection. The software prompts you to use the dongle or a USB connection but it doesn’t work with the USB cable or 3.5mm jack connection. You get audio output from the 3.5mm jack but you cannot use the surround lovin’ or access the software using it. USB connection simply charges the headset. So using the dongle on the PC is your only option, don’t break it!
The software itself is light and offers a good amount of tweaking for audio settings. The EQ lets you adjust audio to your liking or you can pick from the presets. The headsets have lighting but it’s not your one trillion-multizone-doing-a-cartwheel type RGB that other gaming products offer. Whatever it is, it's fine by us. Lighting in headsets is a one-time indulgence, kudos to JBL for adding it though.
The Quantum 600 does two channel connections on PC (one for microphone input and one for output), hence the two volume wheels on the headset.
In terms of audio quality, the Quantum Surround is quite honestly very good. We really enjoyed the directional audio capabilities but just make sure to change back to DTS when listening to music on your PC.
We played 10% by KAYTRANADA and the delivery is precise with a wide frequency range. The headsets slightly favour bass but it's punchy and clean. We switched to Chanel by Frank Ocean and the emphasis on vocals and bass is pretty evident from these gaming headsets. But they do keep the R&B soul intact on his vocals which is important.
The JBL Quantum 600 will last you a good two to three days of hardcore gaming on battery. We went through two to three hours of gaming sessions every night and it lasted us for about three days.
It doesn’t have a detachable microphone but the flip-to-mute microphone is just very easy to use and quite intuitive as well. The mic itself is clean and shushes out distant noises, not all of it though because your friends over at Discord will definitely hear your loved ones screaming at you, just make sure to keep them 5 feet away.
The Quantum 600 can provide you audio on every single gaming platform but that is if you adjust to how it wants to do things. Apple and Android users without a headphone jack will need a converter dongle, Only PC users will get the Quantum surround sound and only if they use the 2.4GHz dongle. Wherever you’re gaming, the JBL Quantum 600 can fit in that space. Versatility is its strongest achievement, even if it comes with unnecessary steps.
We really want Bluetooth but more importantly if these are aimed at competitive gamers then we need swappable ear cushions for cleaning and replacing the PU leather cushions with breathable mesh cushions for extra comfort during long gaming sessions.