The Quantum 100 is the entry-level wired gaming headset from JBL. Despite some assets in its possession, it struggles to convince...
The Quantum 100 is a wired around-ear headset with a removable microphone. It is the entry point into JBL's gaming headset range and is aimed at the market of gamers with a modest budget, who want an effective headset/microphone combo at a low cost.
At first glance, it's pretty easy to see what JBL sacrificed for these low-cost headphones. Indeed, the Quantum 100 does not particularly shine by its manufacturing quality because of its numerous visible assembly marks. The headphones are also entirely made of plastic and have no metal reinforcements, which does not play in favor of its solidity. That said, the Quantum 100 is relatively flexible and doesn't crack when bent. The matte finish of the plastic also gives it a sober and unobtrusive look.
The earpieces can only be rotated 90° inwards, which still allows the headphones to be worn easily around the neck. The earpads are removable and can therefore be changed in case of damage.
All the controls and connectivity are located on the left side of the headset: an input to connect/ disconnect the supplied microphone, a non-detachable mini-jack cable, a button to activate or deactivate the microphone, as well as a non notched wheel to manage the volume control.
Considering the barely decent build quality, it would be easy to deduce that the Quantum 100 isn't very comfortable. On the contrary, JBL's headphones can be worn for long hours, thanks in part to their extremely light design (220g). The ear cups are satisfyingly wide and deep, so that the ears do not touch the protective grille of the speakers. On the other hand, the memory foam pads are thick enough to properly cushion the pressure of the headphones around the ears, but the contact with their leatherette cover could have used a little more softness.
Larger heads, however, may feel the pressure the Quantum 100 puts on the top of the skull. This one would have gained in comfort with an additional notch to deploy the headband, not to mention a thicker pad on the bottom. A more ovoid and less flattened shape would also have allowed it to satisfy the strongest noggins.
The Quantum 100 is a wired headset with a single 3.5 mm mini-jack cable, 120 cm long, a rather modest size that may not be enough if the PC tower is a bit far from the sitting position at the desk. This headset is therefore compatible with devices that have a mini-jack connector (consoles, some smartphones and computers...). Nevertheless, it would have been desirable if the manufacturer had provided a Y-adapter for full compatibility with computers with a separate audio input and output.
Although it doesn't offer an unpleasant audio experience, the Quantum 100 is far from producing wonders with a rough sound signature reminiscent of the Quantum 600. More inaccurate than its predecessor, JBL's entry-level headphones lack access to the QuantumEngine app's equalizer to restore any sort of sound balance.
As the frequency response measurement above indicates, the Quantum 100's sound signature is uneven: by clearly abandoning the midrange and upper midrange in favor of the bass and lower midrange, the proposed rendering is warm, soft and effectively limits auditory fatigue, but at the price of a very muffled, dull sound that is cruelly lacking in sharpness and clarity. This behavior alters the timbre of many sources, in particular the voices which are relegated to the background. This feeling of constant distance makes it difficult to evaluate the positioning of the various elements in terms of depth and distance, especially in play.
To make matters worse, bass reproduction is far from being mastered. They suffer from a lack of impact and detail, their fluffy and "diffuse" aspect not very flattering, marring the readability and the ability to discern precisely certain elements (rolls on the large percussion, synth layers, bass lines...). The highs are not in remainder and also suffer from a defect of balance and smoothness which gives them a pronounced and not very aesthetic aspect (the effect is in particular audible on the cymbals which seem as "broken").
The Quantum 100's detachable microphone has a remarkable pickup quality. It is positioned at the end of a malleable gooseneck boom that is long enough to be ideally placed right in front of the mouth. This microphone delivers solid performance, as it reproduces the voice naturally and at a good sound level. However, it does not reach the performance of a good dedicated microphone, notably because of slightly slobbery low mids and highs that are a little too aggressive.
Whether used in a quiet or noisy environment, the microphone manages to pick up the user's voice perfectly. The example of a noisy environment above speaks for itself: even with many sources of noise in the room (kettle, turned-on TV, dripping faucet and street noise from an open window), the intelligibility and timbre of the voice are clearly preserved. Only keyboard clicks can be annoying, especially with a mechanical model.
The Quantum 100 may be suitable for gamers, or even telecommuters, looking for a humble headset to communicate for several hours, provided they're not fussy about sound quality (and don't have too big a head). Even then, we recommend that you take a closer look at some of the more expensive headset references, which are far more satisfying in all aspects.