JBL is best known for its consumer speakers and headphones, but much less for its gaming products. However, the American manufacturer has since the beginning of 2020 a vast choice of products dedicated to the practice of video games, and in particular an armada of seven wired and wireless headsets.

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Within this plethora of offerings, the Quantum 600 (€149) represents the entry-level wireless headset. Of course, it relies on JBL’s reputation and audio expertise by promising excellent acoustic performance: immersive and precise QuantumSound sound signature, QuantumSurround in-house surround virtualization, voice pickup quality…

Our test was carried out with version of the headphones and version of the software.

As a whole, the Quantum 600 and more particularly the headband are relatively imposing. The headband has a good amount of travel and is able to withstand a lot of torsion. The headband is connected to the earcups by braided cables and a hinge system that allows the earcups to swivel 90 degrees inward. The entire headset is covered in plastic shells, which don’t stop it from feeling very solid, and it should stand up to the ravages of time without any problems.

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> À l’intérieur de la boîte se trouve le casque, le dongle USB-A, un câble mini-jack avec télécommande de 140 cm et un câble USB-C/USB-A de 160 cm.

Inside the box is the headset, the USB-A dongle, a 140cm mini-jack cable with remote control and a 160cm USB-C/USB-A cable.

On their outer side, the ear cups each feature the JBL logo which can be illuminated with RGB lighting. The headphones also sport the indispensable leatherette-covered memory foam pads, which are here unclipable and replaceable. The entire lower surface of the headband is also made of the same material.

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The non-detachable gooseneck microphone, meanwhile, is attached to the left earpiece. Its flexible base allows for optimal placement of the microphone in front of the mouth. It can be completely folded back when not in use. The presence of a windscreen is appreciable, but it has an annoying tendency to slip.

Without being a reference in terms of comfort, the Quantum 600 comes out with honors. Its rather substantial weight of 346 g proves to be rather well distributed on the top of the head thanks to the foam band located under the headband. The very thick ear cushions rest gently around the ears to perfectly cover them. Unlike many helmets with leatherette-covered pads, the Quantum 600 is relatively immune to heat.

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Les épais coussinets offrent une isolation passive correcte.

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The thick ear cushions provide decent passive isolation.

JBL’s headphones are not without their faults, however. Despite the thick cushions, the ears quickly find themselves pressed against the speaker grille, especially since there is no covering to soften the contact. The weight of the headset could also be reduced, especially when compared to the G733 and its 278 g, because it is difficult to forget, especially during long sessions.

The Quantum 600 communicates primarily wirelessly, via a proprietary 2.4GHz communication protocol and with a long USB-A dongle (PC and Playstation 4/5 compatible). The headset also has a mini-jack input under the left earcup that allows it to be used with the vast majority of devices. In this case, the headset operates passively and therefore does not need to be turned on.

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Contrary to what you might think, the USB-C port on the headset is only for charging: no audio communication can be established through it. Because of this, and because it’s also not possible to turn it on while it’s charging, you’ll need to connect the charging cable AND the mini-jack cable if you want to continue using it when the batteries are dead. We have seen more practical…

When first used, the Quantum 600 and the dongle need to be paired. To do this, you have to hold down the button on the dongle as well as the power switch, located under the right earpiece. Once this little manipulation is done, the headset finally becomes operational.

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JBL’s headset is not stingy with controls. All the essential controls are indeed accessible diIt is located on the left earpiece. There is the indispensable volume control wheel – which is not synchronized with the PC volume -, a very practical wheel to manage the balance between the game/chat sound and a button to deactivate the microphone. The latter can also be deactivated when it is folded down. A red light illuminates so the user knows at a glance if the mic is off. When the headset is used passively, via mini-jack, the headset’s additional controls and features are unfortunately no longer operational, but the manufacturer still had the good idea to integrate a remote control into the cable to control the volume and disable the microphone.

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Le casque garde en mémoire les derniers paramètres définis dans l’application (tout est désactivé en usage passif).

The headset keeps the last settings defined in the application in memory (everything is disabled in passive use)

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The JBL QuantumEngine application, only accessible on PC, is full of indications and setting options, all translated in French. There’s a reminder of the various volume settings, remaining battery level, how to configure the listening experience (10-band graphic EQ), RGB backlighting, mic input gain and mic feedback level in the headphones. It’s also this software that allows you to activate one of two surround virtualizations (DTS:X or JBL’s QuantumSurround).

Given JBL’s promise and reputation, we were expecting the Quantum 600 to be a great performer in terms of sound reproduction quality, but unfortunately that’s not where it’s going to stand out…

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Mesure de la réponse en fréquence (normalisée à 94 dB SPL, à 1 kHz) — sans EQ (noir), avec EQ personnalisé (bleu).

Frequency response measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL, at 1 kHz) – without EQ (black), with custom EQ (blue).

With the original settings, and in passive use, the Quantum 600 opts for a very colorful and uneven sound signature. The W-profile of the headphones leaves a particular place to the low frequencies, giving the rendering a very round and warm aspect, at the expense of many key points. The bass is indeed deep and the foundation is solid, immersion at this level is assured: explosions and other in-game effects are indeed correctly reproduced. However, the headset doesn’t really show precision at this level and the bass rendition lacks detail. When the scene gets a little too rich in this area, when there are many sources (whether instruments or other sound elements), they clump together and you really struggle to distinguish them well.

<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]>Mesure de la réactivité des membranes : ondes carrées à 50 Hz.

Measurement of the reactivity of the membranes: square waves at 50 Hz.

The bass emphasis is not specifically due to an excess of energy, but rather to the particularly pronounced folding of the upper midrange and treble. Like many other gaming headsets, the Quantum 600 acts on the presence zone (around 4 kHz), which has the effect of softening the sound reproduction and limiting auditory fatigue to a minimum. There is therefore no need to worry about keeping the headphones on your ears for long sessions. Nevertheless, the action of the headphones at this level is far too frank because it gives a particularly blunt, dull and muffled aspect to the global restitution. What’s more, this behaviour also causes problems in the perception of space since the sources always seem a little distant, especially those supposed to be in the foreground.

But let’s be reassured: it’s possible, when the headphones are used wirelessly and therefore under power, to attenuate some of these defects with the equalizer present in the application by acting on certain bands, notably those of 500 Hz and 4 kHz. We can thus gain a little definition, presence, clarity, and limit at the same time the nasal aspect of voices.

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<!–[if IE 9]><!–[if IE 9]> Mesure de la distorsion harmonique (normalisée à 94 dB SPL, à 1 kHz).

Harmonic distortion measurement (normalized to 94 dB SPL, at 1 kHz).

For its first gaming headphones, JBL provides not one, but two 7.1 surround virtualization systems.
The first, JBL QuantumSurround, is based on an in-house algorithm, but it really struggles to convince. In its “Immersive” mode, the bass is frankly too prominent, and the resonances generated are not far from being unbearable. In the two other modes, the bass is fortunately wiser, but the position of objects remains rather confused because of the additional reverberation effect added by the algorithm. It goes without saying that this also spoils the appreciation of any musical content, in-game or not. To add insult to injury, we also detected numerous distortion problems.
The headset is also compatible with DTS Headphone:X 2.0, which is a little better controlled than QuantumSurround… but not enough to be of any real interest for gaming. We prefer to do without it and stay in stereo to keep a coherent scene and instinctively identify the sound objects that are present.

The Quantum 600 offers good quality voice pickup when used wirelessly, and even excellent when used wired. In this first configuration, the signal is obviously truncated of a part of the grThe voice is well respected and its intelligibility is always preserved. The timbre of the voice is well respected and its intelligibility is always preserved. The microphone’s narrow pick-up pattern allows it to separate the voice from the surrounding sounds, even in a noisy environment (in our second sound example, we can almost detect the sound of our TV and washing machine spinning in the same room). Our voice still stands out well, even when faced with the sounds of typing on a mechanical keyboard.

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In wired use, there is simply nothing we can reproach the quality of the microphone’s pickup, which is simply impeccable, both in terms of power, balance, respect for timbre and potential sensitivity to plosives/whistles. Finally, it should be noted that, in this case of use, the microphone return in the headset is unavailable.