JBL have been in the headphone game for a long time now but they have never really focussed on the gaming section of the market. With online gaming taking off even more in the past couple of years they have now released a line of headsets dedicated to gamers.
Although the new Quantum series were launched at CES earlier this year we only recently saw them launch into Australia and with prices ranging from just $59.95 up to $499.95. There is something for not just every price level but also every level of gamer.
The JBL Quantum 800 sits just underneath the Quantum One in the pecking order but it is the best wireless headset in the range — the Quantum One is PC-USB only. As such the Quantum 800 is not cheap but boy does it come with a lot of features. With so many features it is difficult to test every single one of them out but read on for our best effort at testing them all.
What is it?
This headset is a series over-the-ear headset designed for serious gamers — well, anyone who games who wants some great sound and every advantage while playing. They are large with possibly the most amount of cushioning I’ve ever seen on a seat of headphones, some fancy colourful lights that can be customised to your preference and a boom mic that can be flipped out of the way for normal Bluetooth use or to just mute the mic.
So what’s in the box?
The box includes not just the headset but all you need to connect the headset to your device. There is of course a USB-C charging cable — in a nice braided design that matches the JBL colour scheme (a nice touch), a 3.5mm auxiliary cable with included inline controls on them and a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi dongle for connecting your headset to your PC.
A very gaming-centric design
One thing that is hard to escape on the design of this headset is the sheer size of them. The ear cups are massive but look decent — there is nothing understated about the design of the Quantum 800. The ear cups are finished in a shiny mirror-like finish with the earcups housing a myriad of buttons for various functions.
The left ear cup houses the USB-C charging port, volume control, weighting of chat versus gaming sound control, the ANC on or off button, the auxiliary port for wired use and a mute button. The right ear cup has less buttons but that is where you will find the power switch and the Bluetooth pairing button.
Gamers seem to love the bright lights on their peripherals — we have seen it on the various keyboards and mice that we have tested out and if you’re a gamer you will well and truly be aware of this. The JBL Quantum 800 has enough lights to keep gamers happy — the logo on each ear cup glows in RGB colours along with the ring around it.
Unfortunately these RGB lights can only be controlled using the JBL Quantum app on your PC/Mac. There is no Android or iOS app (yet?) to control any of the various functions of the headset — this is a bit short-sighted by JBL but through this decision you can see that although the headset supports all gaming devices it is expected to be used by PC gamers. The headphones though will support any gaming console you throw at them — PS4, Xbox, Switch, Android, iOS, VR, Mac.
After installing the app you can see below how not just the RGB lighting could be changed but also the equaliser, the type of surround sound it was supporting and the microphone levels.
One thing to keep in mind is the headphones need to be connected to the PC with either the auxiliary cable or the Wi-Fi dongle for the app to detect them and changes to be made.
But are they comfortable?
You would expect that a headset with this much padding would be comfortable and for a long time. The quantum 800 is most definitely all that. I honestly thought that because they were so large I would have issues wearing them for extended periods of time but given the sheer amount of cushioning on both the ear cups and the headband they were pleasant to wear.
The headphones are not the lightest I have ever worn but far from the heaviest and JBL seem to have hit a decent note with the weight on these making them sturdy along with still being light and comfortable.
Surely it sounds good too?
JBL of course is a sound company so you would expect the Quantum 800 to sound good. With JBL’s signature sound — and yes it is very distinctive IMO — they do sound great. The heavy bass is not too over the top making explosions etc in games sound amazing. The mids and highs are very JBL with the mids being a tad muted but the high end frequencies are well distinguished.
Compared to a dedicated high end set of headphones such as the Bose NC700 the sound isn’t on par with the Bose being less heavy on the bass and more precise with the mids and highs. That isn’t the target market here though. These are for gamers and given the functionality of the ability to change the dominance of either the game sounds or the chat these are positioned well as a premium headset for gamers.
If the JBL signature sound isn’t for you then you can adjust it using the equaliser within the JBL Quantum app — this then keeps the same settings (lights, sound and mic) for Bluetooth and wireless functionality too.
What are the specific gaming features?
We have already touched on the gaming features but the most important ones here are the ability to alter the volume of the sound from the game and the chat makes for a great experience. This way neither overpowers the other.
The ANC included in the headphones also makes for an immersive experience with the ANC being good but not great. It wasn’t up to the Bose levels but it was enough to shut out nearly all sounds with very little intrusion on the experience.
The microphone boom had a handy function where it was easily flipped up and down as required. Flipping up switches it to mute which is a nice and easy way to mute your chat should someone be talking to you IRL and you don’t want that chat going out to the world.
What I didn’t love
My only issue with the headset is the lack of an Android app to control the functionality. Nearly every other headphone manufacturer includes it and JBL have in the past too but this one is their first gaming headset of any note and it is entirely possible that the sheer volume of functionalities is too difficult to be edited from an Android device.
While I think that may be possible I don’t think it is the reason and I suspect (and hope) that a mobile version of the app is in development and we will see it sometime in the future. We are seeing more and more phones with either an entire device dedicated to gaming or a large section of it so it would behove JBL to create an app to allow editing of this functionality on a mobile device.
A minor annoyance is the size of the headset. It would definitely be a struggle if you wanted to carry this around with you but for home gamers that won’t be an issue. The lack of a carry case or protective case too may prevent much portability of it — this is definitely an oversight considering the cost of them. Even a small cloth bag would be better than nothing.
The final word
This is a decent device for listening to music but a great device for gaming. The device has everything that gamers apparently want — fancy lights, dedicated game audio controls, a boom mic with easy mute function, it is comfortable and lightweight.
At the same time gamers who buy them do not have to use them exclusively for gaming. They would certainly suffice all but the serious audiophiles for use as a music/audio headset. Gamers can buy these safe in the knowledge that these will be great for their gaming but can be used for everything they do — and with any gaming device.
If you are interested in this or any of the JBL Quantum gaming headsets you can get them from JBL Online or at JB Hi-Fi. The Quantum 800 retails for $349.95 and at that price it’s decent value. The sound is certainly comparable to something from Bose and the gaming features are right up gaming alley and if you reside in that alley we can certainly recommend these for you.