For the last few weeks I have been using the JBL Quantum 800 headphones in all kinds of situations - gaming, webinars, online meetings and just play video watching.
For avid gamers, auditory feedback is as important as visual feedback during games. Many new gamers invest hundreds and thousands of dollars on discrete GPUs and high-quality screens but leave sound in second place when it comes to investment budget. But if you experience a pair of headphones designed for gaming and in-game communication then you can quickly change your mind about it.
The JBL Quantum 800 headphones give you a lot on a relatively small package. You can use the headphones with all sorts of gaming systems - be it over a 3.5mm audio cable, Bluetooth or its own dedicated 2.4 GHz wireless transmitter.
Each one of these connections will give you different features. Obviously the 3.5mm audio cable will give you the most basic of the connections but not much in terms of sound quality control - and nothing beyond stereo. You can upgrade to a completely wireless Bluetooth connection, which supports both the A2DP (stereo streaming) and HFP (handsfree) profiles but you will really get all the cool things to play with when connecting the JBL Quantum 800 headphones via its dedicated wireless transmitter.
Regardless of which connection method you use, the JBL Quantum 800 headphones offer you active noise cancellation (ANC), which is very effective at filtering out white noise from the environment. Add to this the very comfortable over-ear cups and you can very easily forget about the world when wearing these - I have a particularly noisy desktop with large fans and can say the ANC works extremely well in this situation.
As mentioned the best quality will be achieved when using the 2.4 GHz wireless transmitter. You will need a free USB port for this device. Once plugged you install the JBL QuantumENGINE software. In my case, testing with Windows, a sound driver will also be installed as part of this process and your headphones will be treated as speakers. This driver is important because "speakers" are devices that can be setup to 7.1 channels, while headphones/headsets can't.
The main user interface is a series of buttons, sliders and switches on the headphone body. There's the on/off button (which is also used to pair with the wireless transmitter), the microphone mute/unmute, a Bluetooth button to put the device in pairing mode, an ANC button to turn this feature on and off, as well as a slider to balance the sound between voice chat and game sources. And there's a volume button - which strangely doesn't work if you connect the JBL Quantum 800 headphones via Bluetooth (in this case you need to turn the volume up or down directly on the source).
Also of interest here is that the microphone arm can be moved up and down to mute/unmute the microphone - when in the full up position it automatically mutes the microphone. A LED at the tip of the microphone will turn to red when the microphone is muted, regardless of being muted because of moving the microphone up or pushing the mute/unmute button.
The buttons are easy to reach and control - with time you develop a bit of muscle memory and know just where to reach for each of these buttons.
Once you install the software and pair the headphones you have access to all those controls I mentioned, plus lots of settings that allow you to control every aspect of the JBL Quantum 800 headphones. You can use the dashboard to check the current volume, microphone level, battery level. You can also turn ANC on and off from here (instead of using a button on the headphones itself) and tweak the sound equaliser.
The dashboard allows you to manage the spatial sound feature, which can use either the JBL QuantumSURROUND engine (a 7.1-capable sound engine) or DTS Headphone:X. To fully utilise the 7.1 capability you will need to set the JBL QuantumENGINE driver in the Control Panel Sound applet to 7.1 (the default is stereo).
The dashboard also allows you to control the LED - the JBL logo is illuminated as well as a ring around the cups. Note that using the LEDs are fun (mainly for people watching you) but will cut battery life quite considerably, which is why I really turned it off.
The headphones offer sidetone (when you can hear you talking, which is particularly useful during conference calls) but you have to use the software to turn the feature on.
You will know the battery life is coming to an end thanks to feedback sounds. Charging is via USB - thankfully it uses USB-C so you can use the same charger as your phone or other devices such as Chromebook or laptop.
I did notice a few times the Windows Audio Service stopped working and needed to be manually restarted, while a couple of the times the crash would cause apps using sound to pause until the service was back. I suspect something in the driver might have caused a crash but couldn't find anything in the Events records.
The dashboard also has a System Software option to update the JBL QuantumENGINE software and driver, as well as an option to update the JBL Quantum 800 headphones themselves. There was an update during my review period - first I was offered the software update. Once this was done the dashboard notified me of a firmware update. This can't be done over the wireless connection but the updated app just guided me through the process, which involved plugging the headphones to the PC via a USB cable.
As mentioned I did use the JBL Quantum 800 headphones in a variety of situations and, yes, some gaming - mainly playing Borderlands 3 missions and Age of Empires III. The sound is superb (I do enjoy the AoE soundtrack). The headphones are quite comfortable for long use, thanks to the very soft material - despite the 410g weight. For comparison, my usual Logitech headphones weight half of that but don't have ANC built-in.
Overall very impressed with the JBL Quantum 800 headphones and you should consider it when upgrading your gear next time.