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Hands-on review: JBL Quantum TWS Air
Thu, 30th Nov 2023

I have been fortunate enough to try several different models of JBL earbuds, and the Quantum TWS Air has proven an interesting addition to my listening experience. Ergonomically, JBL continues to surprise me with their beautifully comfortable devices. With three sizes of tips included, even the most demanding ears will be catered for. 

The interface through the JBL Headphone App allows you to customise settings, with adjustable Equalizer settings and choices of audio and game modes. The Sidetone setting allows you to adjust how much of your own voice you hear during calls.  

The Quantum TWS Air is designed for gamers. This sadly meant that I had to devote several hours to gaming on my phone and iPad. Such is the heavy load that reviewers must bear.  

Switching to game mode from audio mode apparently gives me improved “lip-synching performance.” It was just one of many settings that I am currently having fun figuring out. The JBL Dual Source and Fast Pair functions mean that switching from my iPhone to MacBook Pro is a simple affair. I experimented with Spotify and could happily switch from one to the other seamlessly. 

I currently have the user guide open so I can practice the touch controls, which means using a series of dots and dashes. So far, I have learned how to switch from Ambient Aware to Talk Thru to Siri. This caused me some amusement as my Laptop and iPhone both responded but with different answers to my “How’s the weather in Hamilton?” question. 

I quite like the carry case, which features an easy-to-read indicator, letting you know the battery status and connection status when pairing. There is also a USB-C dongle for use on your preferred gaming device. I also like the way the earphones flick in magnetically into their slots, although the opposite was also true. My pudgy digits had to work overtime to get them out of the box until I discovered a slight lip on the earphones. After that, getting them in and out was a piece of cake.  

I have spent some time using the App to get just the right mix of bass and treble for my discerning ears. I’m pleased to say that they passed my informal test, where I play Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s “Live Rust” to see if I get that authentic heavy metal distortion that all lovers of ‘70’s rock know and love. I spent a few happy minutes head-banging along to those timeless classics before switching back to my Gospel playlist on Spotify. It was nice to juxtapose some Lauren Daigle with Neil. The Quantum TWS Air were equally happy in both genres. I threw in the 2009 remastered version of the Beatle’s “Revolution”, which has John playing some wonderfully distorted lead guitar. This mix has the bass and drum on the left track, with vocals and guitar on the right. 

I was happily screaming along with Paul when I suddenly realised I hadn’t tested how they would perform in an actual conversation. I exited my bubble and called up a family member who generally has trouble hearing me on my mobile device. The Quantum TWS Air made quite a difference at both ends. They seem very good at picking up sounds right across the register. According to JBL, “your voice will always come through loud and clear thanks to the dual beamforming mics technology on each side.”  The ”Smart Ambient” technology is designed to ensure those of you immersed in your gaming universe will at least be aware of the sound of your real-world surroundings.

JBL promises up to 24 hours of play time, with the charging case battery life at 16 hours. Their website gives an extensive list of their features. With a listed price of just under $170, they will make a thoughtful gift for many during this festive season.