It’s wonderful to see the push of new technology into the gaming space. Iteration and evolution go hand in hand across every aspect of our hobby, and while new consoles or GPUs and CPUs dominate the headlines, you can find that same push throughout the gaming sphere. The JBL Quantum 800 is a perfect example of that impetus, as a gaming headset that packs in pretty much every modern convenience you could possibly want. The question then becomes whether or not all of those aspects come together to make the Quantum 800 an era-defining peripheral, or an unfocussed mess. I’ll give you a hint: it’s the first one.
The JBL Quantum 800 is an over-ear headset, capable of connecting to pretty much anything ever designed to have audio come out of it. You’ve got a USB-A 2.4Ghz wireless dongle that works across PC, PS4, PS5, Switch and Mac, while its 3.5mm connection mops up everything else from Xbox Series X through to Google’s Stadia. If that’s not quite enough, it also has Bluetooth 5.0 meaning you can hook them up to your phone as well. The JBL Quantum 800 wants to be your only headset, and its connectivity means it might just manage it.
It certainly looks like a modern gaming headset, having been forged from a mixture of all-black matte and gloss plastics, with some highlights provided by its exposed black and orange wiring. Comfort is provided by leatherette-covered memory foam beneath the headband and across the thick earpads.
They sit towards the upper end of the spectrum with their weight, jumping the neck-bracing heft of the Astro A50s and carrying more than Steelseries’ Arctis range. The comfort options are so good though that I certainly didn’t have any problems wearing them for many hours of gaming, watching and listening, but you won’t forget you’re wearing them.
Since they pack in every modern convenience a headset “needs”, that also includes RGB lighting.The Quantum 800 features a glowing JBL logo on each earpiece, as well as a further ring of the colourful stuff around it. Much as we’ve come to expect you can do all sorts of things with them, from pulsating to following the pace of whatever you’re listening to.
Of course, there’s also the welcome option to turn them off. If you do so you’ll get around the full 14 hours of battery life that JBL promises, while the lights will drain things a good bit quicker. I still didn’t find I had to reach for the charger very often during the weeks, even if I had with them lit up like an ear-based festive spruce.
I’d normally jump onto the controls at this point and mop up the remaining visual elements, but I really need to talk about how good the Quantum 800 sounds. Certified for Hi-Res Audio, the 50mm drivers are capable of bringing every element of games, music or movies to life in a way that only the very best headsets do. There’s a pleasing roundness to the bass, while top end details literally sing out through the mix. I cannot fault the audio output this headset is capable of, and I’m excessively demanding these days when it comes to headphones.
The JBL QuantumEngine software lets you dig even deeper into the 800’s capabilities, and it comes with DTS Headphone X v2.0 alongside JBL’s own virtual surround sound option. DTS is the clear winner here, adding depth and spacing to just the right degree to stretch your listening experience to a 360-degree field. Besides all of the surround sound shenanigans you’ll find EQ settings and access to some of the 800’s other features including active noise cancellation. I wasn’t lying when I said this thing did everything.
Now, the noise cancellation isn’t as accomplished as you’ll find from Bose or Sony’s top-end headphones, and it’s limited to either wireless or Bluetooth connections meaning that if you’re wired the old-fashioned way you’re going to miss out. With no signal pumped through it certainly doesn’t have that same other-worldly feel of cutting you off from one of your senses.
ANC also bumps the bass elements up to help mask the outside world, which isn’t exactly what we’ve come to expect from the technology. That said, it’s a welcome addition that will mean there’s even less chance of hearing that it’s time to stop playing games because it’s time for tea, or that your wife is threatening to leave you because you don’t listen to her. Please note, this is not autobiographical.
The Quantum 800 puts plenty of control at your fingertips, with each earcup housing a set of controls. The right-hand side features the power switch, as well as the Bluetooth toggle for pairing. The left meanwhile hosts a pair of dials, one for the volume and one for the game/chat mix, as well as a button to activate the ANC and a mic-muting button. The last one is slightly redundant since the mic sits at the end of a flip-up mic arm, and mutes itself when you flip it up, but if you’re the sort that wants to see their mic and know it’s off, well, the option’s there.
The mic does a great job as well, coming in with Discord, Teamspeak and Skype certification. Other than the easily-lost furry mic shield, it’s exactly what you need when you’re heading online to chat to friends and enemies alike.
The Quantum 800 are undoubtedly a premium headset – you can tell that the moment you take them out of the box – but their £179.99 price-point is surprisingly realistic given what you’re getting. They boast far more connection options than the Astro A50 and have an audio response akin to the Steelseries Arctis Pro, while undercutting both by at least £100.