JBL Quantum 910 review
Virtual surround sound, head tracking, multi-platform connectivity and even ANC – sounds like a combination a true gamer would long for when it comes to high end headphones. JBL´s Quantum 910 are promised to make all these dreams come true. Asking for a retail price of roundabout 250 bucks, it marks the top-notch of JBL´s Quantum Series. Our eyebrows are raised and so are our expectations.
Lightshow under shiny gloss
Finish is of very high quality. Hidden behind glossy, semi-transparent casing we find a pretty stylish illumination. Not less than six keys on the bottom are meant to fully control the JBLs. There is an intuitive slider for volume control and another one meant to quickly adjust the balance between sounds effects and chat volume.
What we haven’t seen in any other product on the market: everything is officially Discord certified. So both digital input and output are marked as ´CERTIFIED´. Okay, the complete set is a bit on the heavy side despite its comfy pads. In the end of the night, you might feel them more then lighter models, but it does not mean you would feel uncomfortable.
Software and a tough choice
The given software package is especially attractive for PC gamers. We found standard features like EQ control and light adjustments easily available on the main page. You can either choose a preset or create your own small lightshow pattern. However, although there is a preset, transition between colours is less smooth than one would expect, so we in the end of the day found only static colours to be really convincing. On the other hand, you would by activating any lightshow definitely be sacrifizing a fraction of the battery life which is a maximum of 39 hours in dark mode. That leaves a lot of reserves, and the set is fully recharged in a decent 2 hours which is definitely less than a usual gamer´s sleep period after 39 hours of non-stop gaming. Not a very common feature in a gaming headsets: you might want to activate active noise cancellation (ANC) to dive even deeper into your game when being surrounded by other gamers.
DTS or JBL QuantumSPHERE
The surround virtualization could be set to two different modes: DTS and JBL QuantumSPHERE 360. It cas the latter is activated for the first time, an additional calibration is performed by inserting the supplied tiny in-ear mics into the respective ear one by one being covered by the headphones. With the help of some very brief test tones, a personalized frequency response is calculated to perfection the impression of surround sound. Sounds pretty impressive in the spec sheet, but it did not make such big difference in real life.
On the other hand JBL´s signature surround processing unfortunately affects the sound dramatically, while the simple DTS mode has much less of tonal influence. So in the end of the day we stuck to DTS or plain stereo mode most of the time when gaming. That´s a bit sad because JBL´s QuantumSPHERE 360 mode definitely offers precise imaging and very spatial sound. Tough decision every gamer has to take: Either well-balanced tonal reproduction or optimum of imaging and surround sound. You cannot have both.
Unlike most of wireless headsets, JBL´s Quantum 910 offer vast compatibility with any platform. In addition to the headset, USB audio adapter, 3.5mm jack wiring and built-in Bluetooth are included. All these options provide a bunch of cool features, may it be for console or PC. The manual as well as JBL´s website are quite helpful when it comes to establishing and optimizing connection to each and any platform, yet some ways might bear a compromise. One example: while PS4 and Nintendo switch leave all connectivity options available, on an Xbox the JBL is just an ordinary headset. Of course, that is not the case with a PC bearing no restrictions. You might want to connect it either wirelessly via USB dongle for a full 39 hours of wireless gaming, or directly with audio cable.
Incredible sound experience with limitations
In terms of sound quality it can be a true winner. When using it in wired mode for the first time, you have to do so without noise cancelling and lighting, but the excellent sound quality provided is noticable from the first go. The JBL Quantum delivers a true hi-fi sound, making listening to music both a thrilling and relaxing experience. When playing video games, you might want to activate surround sound, which conveys a precise localisation of sonic events. However, this 360-degree spatial imaging and ambience means a price to be paid.
When activating the surround function in the software, as mentioned before, you immediately notice a deteriorating tonal balance. Embedded music or soundtracks might even appear to be a bit on the cheap side, changing both tonal balance and perfection of ambience to what appears to be a distant portable radio in an underdamped room. On the other hand, we found the additional head-tracking to be really nice, although the effect is not as strong. After all, it is only adjusting the direction of sonic events slightly when you turn your head. As is does not make you percept the direction more precisely, it is not very useful in terms of gaming, even if it was specifically advertised for it.
Conclusion: JBL Quantum 910 – one for all?
Offering a whopping 39 hours of battery life and really great compatibility with many gaming platforms, the JBL Quantum 910 headset is a real powerhouse. A feature list as long, including things like active noise cancelling, is pretty rare in this category.
Overall, you’ll get the most out of the headset if you care about gaming sound. If you additionally gamble on consoles, all the better. And even without Bluetooth, the headset gives you a sound as versatile as no other gaming headset does. However, if you want to game on an XBox, you should wait for the JBL Quantum 910 X variant just unveiled at C.E.S. in Las Vergas, which is specifically designed for full functionality with the popular gaming console. After all, the previous Quantum 910 can’t do any more on it than an ordinary pair of headphones.
Specifications JBL Quantum 910 Wireless
- Retail price: 250 Euro
- Type: Over-Ear
- Transducer principle: Dynamic
- Weight: 420 g
- Features: ANC (Active Noise-Cancelling), RGB light mode, JBL Quantum Engine, Head-Tracking, JBL QuantumSPHERE 360, DTS Headphone X: V2.0,
- More at: jbl.com
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