Snazzy speakers with great audio

If you are a gamer who hates wearing a headset, you might want to take a look at JBL's latest PC gaming speakers, the Quantum Duo.

This dual-speaker system is said to combine JBL's proprietary surround sound technology with Dolby Digital technology. Each speaker has a 2.5-inch woofer and a 0.75-inch tweeter, housed in an all-black rectangular plastic body that is 21cm tall, 8.9cm wide and 17.6cm long. The exposed drivers and the body's lightning stripes motif give the speakers a minimalist look.

All the controls are on the right speaker unit. A front volume control knob is flanked by touch-sensitive buttons for brightness (of the lighting effects) and surround sound. A 3.5mm audio port below the volume control knob allows users to easily connect a pair of headphones.

On its top are three buttons - for power, Bluetooth and lighting effects control - that are arranged in a row. Behind this row is a button for colour selection.

At the rear of the right speaker unit is a power port, a 3.5mm audio port, a micro-USB port and a USB-C port. Note that the rear audio port cannot be used when you are using the front audio port.

Setting up is a breeze. Connect both speakers using the included USB-C cable, then connect the right speaker to your gaming PC via the included micro-USB cable, and power up the speakers. My PC recognises the speakers without any issues.

For Bluetooth connection to your smartphone, press the Bluetooth button for three seconds and wait for the speakers to appear as an option on your smartphone's Bluetooth menu. Tap on it to pair.

When not powered up, the Quantum Duo looks rather dull. But when powered up, it has to be one of the most snazzy PC gaming speakers around.

The lighting effects on the speakers' sides and front look really cool, especially in the dark. You can choose from seven lighting colour options - yellow, orange, pink, purple, green, blue and a band of colours - and combine each option with three lighting effects, namely solid, wave and flow. Just press the colour selection button and the lighting effects button to toggle through the options.

The front surround sound button shows a white hue instead of the selected lighting colour when surround sound is turned on.

When surround sound is turned off, I find the audio output when listening to songs to be neutral, with the bass lacking punch but the mids and highs sounding sharp and clean.

  • FOR

    • Great audio quality 

    • Cool lighting effects 

    • Front 3.5mm audio port for easy headphones connection

  • AGAINST

    • Does not support JBL Quantum Engine software 

    • A tad expensive

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $269

    DRIVERS: 2.5-inch woofer, 0.75-inch tweeter

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 60Hz to 20KHz

    CONNECTIVITY: USB, Bluetooth 4.2, 3.5mm jack

    WEIGHT: 1.4kg (a speaker)

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

But when surround sound is activated, it is a whole new world. When listening to songs, the bass is much more punchy while the vocals and highs remain detailed and clear.

During gaming, the surround sound can be a touch echoey. But while it is not as lifelike as the sound from a 7.1 speaker system or a 7.1-channel gaming headset, it still sounds incredible. I can hear which the direction bullets are coming from while gaming, and pick out the different environmental sounds around me.

Not to mention, the excellent bass quality means every thump and explosion sounds thrilling, but yet I can still hear the shouts and cries of my virtual teammates.

On the downside, JBL's Quantum Engine PC software does not support the speakers. Thus, you cannot customise the lighting effects or equaliser settings, and are stuck with the out-of-the-box lighting effects and audio settings.

Not to mention, the Quantum Duo is a tad expensive. At $269, it is pricier than competitors such as the Razer Nommo Chroma ($239.90). While the Quantum Duo is cheaper than the Logitech G560 ($329), the latter comes with a sub-woofer.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2020, with the headline 'Snazzy speakers with great audio'. Print Edition | Subscribe