Last year I reviewed the JBL Quantum TWS earbuds, and they’ve been my daily drivers since. While their size is a bit large for my liking, the combination of great sound and battery life has been too much to pass up. With a new, streamlined option releasing in the Airs, I had to see what upgrades have come about. Some things still haven’t been ironed out from the original TWS, but the sound is still as stellar as you can ask for.
Inside the box, you’ll find all these things, which I grabbed directly from the website to make sure it was all correct-
- 1 x Quantum TWS Air earbuds
- 1 x USB Wireless Dongle
- 1 x Charging Case
- 1 x 3 sizes of ear tips
- 1 x Type-C USB charging cable
- 1 x Warranty / Warning (W / !)
- 1 x Product Quick Start Guide / Safety Sheet (S / i)
So obviously not anything more than you’d expect from a new pair of earbuds, but it’s appreciated that they’re using USB-C charging. It’s the best there is and can give you a quick charge up when you’re on empty.
Something you’ll notice right away if you owned the original TWS earbuds is that the TWS Air case is much smaller. Of course, that’s due to smaller buds, but it’s nice to not have the somewhat oversized TWS case in my pocket. The TWS Air case is much more in line with others, like the Pixel buds or Airpods, even if a small bit larger.
Once you stick the stud-like Airs in your ears, you’ll most likely notice what I did. First, that they are extremely light, and second, just like the original TWS the fit isn’t as great as I’d like. Speaking on the first, I love the adjustment of the Airs. You barely feel them in your ears, with a weight profile that matches the name. But, the fit is almost awkward, like it’s not sitting in place correctly. Even when they are well inserted, it feels like they’re going to fall out depending on my movements. I’ve tried changing out the rubber ear tips, which I never do, but it’s only gotten incrementally better. Love the weightless feel, but the fit could use more, maybe even a rubber piece to hold it against my earlobe like some do.
On a versatility note, the Airs, like the original TWS, can be used nearly anywhere. They feature Bluetooth, but also a USB-C dongle, meaning linking them with your devices is largely seamless. The only caveat I found is with Xbox; using them with the Xbox isn’t possible even with a USB-C to A adapter. Like it was with the original TWS, the USB-C dongle makes it really easy to link any device, but I’m disappointed in the lack of true simultaneous support. If you’re connected with the dongle, no Bluetooth is available beyond answering a phone call, so you had better not be plugged in elsewhere while attempting to use it.
The sound for the TWS Airs is where things really come together. It’s absolutely phenomenal, great highs and lows all formulating to tremendous audio. What is interesting is where and how you use it though. On my PC, running it for a match of Call of Duty was not good, with the sounds being a bit muddy and missing definition. While better on PS5, it still wasn’t as crisp as I’d like, although I expect any even decent audio you get on the more heavy duty hardware to be a bonus.
Where the TWS Airs excel (given I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing them in the previous paragraph after praising them), is in the mobile setting. I, like many, prefer the use of over-ear headsets, and JBL has you covered with some great ones (check out Adam’s review of the 910s here). But, when I’m using a portable device, a more portable set of headphones makes sense, so earbuds are usually the call. With the Nintendo Switch, the Steam Deck, and the Oculus quest, they are at their best, delivering amazing audio on each platform. Maybe it’s just not having all kinds of random equalizers in the mix altering what the TWS Airs do best, but in any case, these are great on the go.
This especially extends to music, which I think are the strength of these earbuds. Most already know I’m a music junkie, and I’m very critical on if any sort of device can output a pleasing mix of my favorite songs. The TWS Air does exactly that, and works even better than some over-ear headphones I’ve used. The bass and treble it can provide are top notch, the complete package for any music you want to listen to.
When it comes to battery life, they overdeliver. The original TWS has great battery life, and in my time with these I don’t see any difference in that. It feels like my case has had a charge for a while, and with a promised 16 hours for it and 8 for the earbuds themselves, you’re going to be able to stay charged as you’re on the go.
Even though I’m largely thrilled with the performance of the TWS Airs, I do bemoan the lack of ANC (Active Noise Cancellation). It’s a feature I loved with the original TWS, and while the lightweight nature of the device means something probably had to go, I’m not happy it was that. The ambient aware settings are still there, but the talk-thru almost silences whatever you’re listening to, meaning you might as well pause.
All of your additional settings are controlled via the JBL app, like what gestures on the earbuds initiate and EQ settings. In my opinion, everyone should have an app for their headphones, and the JBL app elevates the experience. The EQ is especially great, strengthening what you’re already getting from the sound.
Lastly, the microphone. The TWS Airs boast dual beamforming mics, and they work much better than I expected. With the original TWS I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the audio, but the TWS Airs have definitely improved on every aspect. It’s crisp, clear, and just as good, if not better, than using your phone or headset mic. I would even record voice-overs with these, no joke. They’re that good.
JBL Quantum TWS Air
A nice variation on the formula, the JBL Quantum TWS Airs are a nice complement to their big brother. The missing ANC is noticeable, but the fantastic sound and mic make these a great choice for on-the-go gamers and music lovers.
- Amazing sound
- Crisp microphone
- Fantastic battery life
- Fit can be awkward
- No Active Noise Cancellation