JBL tried to do a bit too much with its flagship Quantum Onegaming headset, offering programmable lighting, active noise cancellation, and simulated surround sound enhanced by head tracking in a $300, wired package. The Quantum 800 tries to do a lot, too, but by foregoing the head tracking it manages to offer most of the same features in a much more convenient wireless package for just $199.95. The result is a compelling headset that offers plenty of features for its price, along with strong audio performance. That’s enough for the JBL Quantum 800 to earn our Editors’ Choice for wireless gaming headsets.
The Quantum 800 is sleek and dark, covered in matte gunmetal and black plastic. The back of each earcup holds a circular textured panel with the JBL logo, which lights up with customizable colored lighting when the headset is on. Metallic, reflective dark gray plastic frames the light-up panels. The left earcup holds the flip-down boom mic, a foam-covered capsule mounted on a stiff but bendable black rubber arm.
The earpads are padded with a generous amount of memory foam, wrapped in soft faux leather. The underside of the headband has lighter padding but similarly supple faux leather. The result is a soft, snug over-ear fit that should be comfortable for long gaming sessions, with strong noise isolation that enhances the headset’s active noise cancellation.
A power switch and a Bluetooth pairing button sit on the bottom edge of the right earcup. All other controls and connections sit along the back and bottom edges of the left earcup, including a USB-C port for charging, a 3.5mm input, a mic mute button, a volume wheel, a game/chat balance wheel, and an active noise cancellation button. USB and 3.5mm cables are included, along with the USB transmitter.
The USB transmitter is a 2.4-inch-long black plastic stick that terminates in a USB plug. It’s a bit large for a wireless dongle, though it’s skinny enough that it should fit in most crowded ports. An indicator LED sits on the top next to a JBL logo, with a connect button on the side.
According to JBL, the Quantum 800 can last up to 14 hours with the lights disabled. Your use will vary depending on the volume level you use and whether you keep the lights on.
Connectivity and Software
The Quantum 800 is designed to be used with a PC through the USB transmitter. It also supports Bluetooth if you want to connect it to your phone, and has a 3.5mm port for using the headset wired with any game console (or anything else with a headphone or headset jack). All the customizable features require a wireless connection to your PC, though.
JBL’s QuantumEngine software lets you adjust a variety of features on the headset. It provides a 10-band customizable EQ with multiple presets, to start. You can also toggle DTS simulated surround, JBL’s own QuantumSurround, or disable simulated surround entirely. The colored lighting on the sides of the earcups is also programmable, and you can adjust both the JBL logo and the outer light ring to cycle through up to five different colors at various speeds. The microphone menu offers few options, but you can adjust the sidetone (how much of your voice comes through the headphones when you talk) in addition to mic volume.
The boom microphone is very sensitive and sounds excellent with some tinkering. My first test recordings were filled with sibilance, but after I reduced the microphone volume a bit in the QuantumEngine software, it worked much better. Test recordings after the adjustment were clear and sharp.
This is a very good mic, though if you want to seriously record or stream you might want to consider getting a dedicated USB microphone instead of relying on a headset.
The Quantum 800 features active noise cancellation (ANC), like the Quantum One headset. The difference is that it’s much more useful on the Quantum 800 because of the Bluetooth connectivity; you can connect it to your phone and enjoy ANC when out and about. The ANC button on the headset toggles it on with a long press, and switches between ANC (or non-ANC) listening and a pass-through mode that lets you hear your surroundings clearly with the headset on.
Music sounds very good on the Quantum 800 when you use the right settings. Like with the Quantum One, I found the bass to sound thin unless you use the Bass Boost EQ preset, which produces a more robust sound that doesn’t sacrifice any clarity in the mids or highs. Curiously, using the QuantumSurround simulated surround mode produces the best balance when listening to music. The mode boosts treble to match the strong bass, and while the result is a somewhat scooped signature that isn’t particularly accurate, it’s an exciting and balanced sound. Stereo and DTS modes don’t boost the higher frequencies, so music can sound a bit flat or (if you use the Bass Boost preset) bass heavy.
The steady bass drum in Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” sounds full and weighty, without any distortion even at maximum (and unsafe) volume levels. It doesn’t quite rattle the head with subwoofer levels of bass, but it’s still a powerful thump. The guitar strings and vocals both come through clearly in the mix, even with the prominent bass.
The opening acoustic guitar plucks in Yes’ “Roundabout” get plenty of resonance and a good amount of string texture, and when the electric bass kicks in it sounds punchy. The guitar, cymbals, and vocals sit squarely in the center of the mix, and aren’t overwhelmed by the bass.
The Crystal Method’s “Born Too Slow” also demonstrates the Quantum 800’s strong bass response and solid treble. The driving, ominous backbeat of the track sounds full and almost thunderous, and the guitar riffs and shrieking vocals get enough presence to stand out in the mix.
For games, Doom: Eternal sounds very good on the headset. The Bass Boost EQ makes shotgun and rocket blasts seem thunderous, but even the more mids-focused FPS EQ preset brings strong bass response to the action. The simulated surround effect offers good positional imaging when dealing with a crowd of enemies around you, and the different sounds of weapons come through distinctly.