A major name in audio offers you a single microphone for creators. The company is JBL and the microphone is the JBL Quantum Stream, part of their Quantum line of products. It is a very simple budget microphone with a bit of RGB and some software control. But is that, combined with the JBL name, enough to make their only microphone stand out among the nearly endless line of microphones on the market?
In the box, you get the microphone, a mic stand, a USB-C to USB-A cable and the quick start guide. The Quantum Stream has a dual electret capsule and a single knob that controls everything, from mic gain to headphone volume and switching between cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns. There is also a small RGB ring around the bottom of the mic and a capacitive mute button on the top of the microphone.
The Quantum Stream is very light and feels quite cheap. The knob has that nice click where you feel when you are changing the levels, but is also a very cheap build. The stand is basic with only the slightest adjustments able to be made. The cable is the nice, braided type, but I wish it was a straight black colour because it camouflages better with a mic arm. What they provide you is a black and orange cable.
“The Quantum Stream has a dual electret capsule and a single knob that controls everything, from mic gain to headphone volume and switching between cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns.”
To control the single knob on the Quantum Stream, you click the knob in to switch between modes. The RGB turns light blue when you are controlling headphone volume and purple when changing the gain. The light becomes brighter or dimmer as you turn the levels up and down, giving you a nice visual representation of what you are controlling. Holding down the button for two seconds will switch you between polar patterns. Cardioid is the default (and, in my opinion, the only one you should be using on a mic like this). Tapping the top of the mic will mute it and the RGB will turn red to represent this.
Software is available for the Quantum Stream. The JBL Quantum Engine gives you a ton of control of your microphone. You can control everything that you can control via the knob, plus add some EQ to the mic. The UI has a basic, but fun look, showing a hologram of the microphone in the corner and a bit of a retro look.
Setting up the JBL Quantum Stream on my arm was a challenge. I had to remove a part from my mic arm to actually be able to plug the USB cable and my headphones into the mic. Once it was set up, the angle of the microphone relative to the camera meant that the RGB wasn’t easily visible to the audience. It isn’t the end of the world as the lights are more indicators for the broadcaster, but if you want them to show up on video, I’d recommend mounting it upside down on your arm to give the ring a better chance to be seen.
“At $99.95 USD, the JBL Quantum Stream sits just above where I would qualify it as a true budget microphone…”
The sound quality was ok out of the box. It had decent bass, but not as much as I would like to have. The mid tones were a bit too present in the audio and the high frequency was lacking for my taste. This was fixable for the most part with a little bit of EQ. It wasn’t perfect but was serviceable for being more of a budget microphone.
It’s the ambient noise that needs to be contended with on this condenser microphone. If you have a quiet or sound treated room, you should be just fine, but sitting in an everyday room will be a bit noisy. A decent noise reduction filter is sufficient in most cases, particularly if you add music to your video.
At $99.95 USD, the JBL Quantum Stream sits just above where I would qualify it as a true budget microphone, but under $100 is still considerably cheaper than a lot of mics on the market. It has a reasonably decent sound and, while there are better microphones out there for less money, the addition of a software solution adds some value to the mic. More controls in the software would add more to the value, but since this is JBL’s only microphone at the moment, I wouldn’t expect any drastic upgrades to the Quantum Engine anytime soon.