I’ve always been fond of JBL for making no nonsense, decent quality audio products. But I also have never found a set of earbuds that fit me properly, that I would consider swapping my over ear headphones for. So imagine my surprise when I reached for my new JBL Quantum TWS Air earbuds over my old faithful headphones.
Straight off the bat, the JBL Quantum TWS Air earbuds are a nice, simple, and sleek design. They’re a bit slimmer than some of the other buds I’ve seen recently from Samsung or Yamaha, and they don’t have the weird stick bit that Razer and Apple seem so fond of in their earbuds. Instead you have a slim head of the bud, embossed with the JBL logo, that fits nicely in the ear, and doesn’t stick out. This means that they are relatively low profile, and that if you have smaller ears, they aren’t going to slide out simply because they’re too big to fit.
Along with a simple but sleek design for the buds, the charging case also follows suit, but with three noteable features. The first is a strong magnet in the case to keep the buds in place. I’m not saying it’s a Herculean effort to get the buds out, worthy of appeasing the gods, but it was harder than I expected, and means that I think the chances of having issues where the charging connections don’t match up later in life, is limited. The second feature is the speed at which the earbuds connect to your saved devices when pulled out of the case. By the time you’re popping the buds in, you’ll already be connected. Lastly, there is a little slot in the case that holds the wireless dongle.
That’s right, these earbuds have a wireless, usb-c dongle. This is by far my favourite feature, but also the one I have the most complaints about. Whenever companies make wireless dongles, they always seem to ignore that most people pop their phone into a phone case, so in order to use the dongle on my phone I need to take it out of the case. Which is fine at my desk, but useless if you’re on the move. However the presence of a dongle at all means that your ability to connect to different devices goes through the roof. Officially, the dongle is to be used on phones and PCs, or anything else with a usb-c port. I had it working well on my PS5 and Switch, making it a very cost effective way to have a mic and sound on most of your gaming devices without needing a million cables. I would have liked to have seen a usb-c to usb-a cable in the box though, to make the use on PC just a little bit easier.
This dongle also allows for quick switching between devices on another level. Leave the dongle plugged into your PS5 or PC, and with the JBL app on your phone, swap from Bluetooth to dongle and vice versa depending on what device you’re using. Unfortunately for me, switching between the two types of input on one device managed to unpair the earbuds from the dongle. That’s fine, it’s pretty easy to pair them again, but that resulted in a new issue. Now my right earbud doesn’t work when connected via dongle.
Aside from me either breaking them, or having received a faulty pair, are these good earbuds? Yes, I’m still loving them.
The earbuds have all the expected features, tap the side of the earbud to pause, start, skip your music, or answer and end calls. Any more functionality can be found in the JBL app on your phone, or PC. Here you can set up gestures, change the equalizer, and update the earbuds, along with everything you could do with the touch controls. The app on PC is a slightly different beast that makes set up for the earbuds much easier, and gives you access to a much needed, amped up version of the earbuds surround sound.
The sound quality is really good, with a bass that you can actually feel. Something that is always impressive in an earbud, and one of the reasons I generally go for over the ear headphones rather than earbuds. The Quantum Air TWS has actually knocked me from that bias, and has actually won me over.
Advertised with eight hours charge on the buds, plus sixteen hours case charge, you have plenty of time with them. I found this to be accurate, and managed two weeks of using them on and off at work before I had to charge them. Of course, like any set of earbuds, you are able to charge the case while the buds are used, which while expected, is also handy. The charge cable is also that bright JBL orange, so while it’s likely not blending in with your decor, you’re probably not losing it either.
While these buds feature Ambient Aware, which allows some sounds to come through so you are able to keep an ear on your surroundings, at the tap of a button, they don’t have any form of active noise canceling. As they are advertised as a gaming earbud, it would have been nice to see some form of noise canceling other than ‘you’ve stuck something in your ears’.
Unfortunately, they also fall short in the surround sound department, as well as the microphone quality. The mic is pretty much what you’d expect from an earbud. It’s too far from your mouth to pick up what you’re saying really clearly, but it does the job, and doesn’t make you sound unintelligible. Just as if you’re far away. The surround sound almost feels like it’s there, but lacks any ability to pinpoint where a sound is truly coming from, which is a must have in any competitive gaming.
Overall, aside from the connectivity to most gaming devices, these earbuds aren’t particularly gaming focused. If you want something wireless that connects to most devices at a reasonable price, they’re a good option, with the added bonus of not looking weird wandering around with a boom mic shoved in your face.
All in all, these earbuds were easy, and enjoyable to use. They pack more punch than I expected and the easy use across so many different devices is useful. Will I continue to use them for music and the odd phone call, yes. Will they replace any of my gaming headsets? Definitely not, but I would use them in a pinch.