Although many companies offer wireless headphones specifically designed for gamers, Bluetooth is still a problem. It’s not a perfect way to stream audio to begin with, but adds even more issues while gaming because it introduces a subtle delay between what’s happening on screen and what’s being heard. JBL’s new Quantum TWS wireless Bluetooth earbuds solve that problem by giving gamers another way to wirelessly connect the buds to a console or gaming rig.
The Bluetooth protocol was incredibly useful when it was introduced years ago as a more convenient and power-efficient way to wirelessly connect multiple devices over a short distances (before everyone had wireless networks in their home). But now it’s in desperate need of an update to better accommodate how we use it today, particularly when it comes to wirelessly broadcasting audio.
Despite sounding like completely different things, Bluetooth and 2.4GHz audio are more or less the same thing. In fact, Bluetooth actually uses the same 2.4GHz band to wirelessly broadcast data, but it’s a proprietary format (that needs to be licensed for a product for a fee) designed to make life easier for consumers. If a device boasts Bluetooth support, it’s guaranteed to work with other Bluetooth devices—the same can’t be said for a 2.4GHz device, which is why they always come with their own USB dongle to bridge the connection between devices like PCs and mice, keyboards, or headphones.
Using a 2.4GHz dongle does mean you’re giving up an available USB port, but proprietary 2.4GHz hardware also usually results in a much better wireless connection with an improved data connection, better power consumption and battery life, and audio with considerably less lag and latency. So that’s why JBL’s new Quantum TWS wireless earbuds include both options: Bluetooth 5.2 for maximum compatibility and ease of use with countless mobile devices, and a USB-C 2.4GHz wireless dongle stored in the earbuds’ charging case that can be connected to PCs or consoles allowing for wireless audio with minimal latency.
The JBL Quantum TWS earbuds can actually be connected to both Bluetooth and the 2.4GHz dongle at the same time, allowing gamers to instantly switch between gameplay and answering an incoming call on a phone. Battery life is promised to be eight hours on the buds alone with an additional 16 hours when paired with the charging case, though features like adaptive noise cancellation may reduce run time slightly. The JBL Quantum TWS also feature IPX5 sweat resistance, six beamforming microphones (three on each bud) so teammates can easily hear you on a multiplayer campaign, and will be available later this year for an actually reasonable $150.