Bang and Olufsen has long been known as a premium player in the consumer audio world, and that tradition isn’t going to stop anytime soon. But the level of quality that the company has shown off in the past few years goes above and beyond. Today we’re taking a look at some of the latest headphones in the company’s Beoplay lineup, called the B&O Beoplay H9’s.
But do the headphones really live up to the ultra high-quality name that B&O represents these days? Absolutely. And more.
Take these cans out of their box and you’ll notice one thing straight away — these bad boys are sexy. In fact, they scream luxury. The pair that we’re reviewing are black, although the headphones come in a beige-type color too. Regardless of the color, however, the Beoplay H9’s are clearly beautifully made headphones.
Unlike other headphones that might perhaps be a little cheaper, the Beoplay H9’s feature top build materials. While some headphones might feature a faux metal, these cans offer the real deal, which isn’t only necessary considering the price point, but it helps really sell them as premium headphones too. On the top of the headband, you’ll also get a nice leather, which is also quite nicely stitched on.
Under that headband can be found a little padding. While the padding looks very nice, we might have liked just a touch more. The headphones aren’t heavy, but overtime the top of the head can get slightly irritating. In this case, it’s most definitely not a deal-breaker, but just something to keep in mind.
The earcups themselves are really quite sleek too. On the left earcup, you’ll find a little battery slot for a rechargeable battery — which is nice because it helps ensure that the headphones last more than a year or so. On the right earcup, you’ll find a Bluetooth on/off switch, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a microUSB port for charging. Also on the right earcup, you’ll find touch controls for volume and playback. They’re a pretty nice addition, although we found we had to press a little harder than we’re used to from devices like smartphones to get any response. Still, we love the concept and can’t wait to see it developed a little more in future B&O Beoplay headphones. Last but not least, you’ll see a little grill on the right earcup which is where we assume the microphone lies — that’s how noise cancelling technology really works.
In the box, apart from the headphones, you’ll get an instruction manual, plane adapter, aux cable, microUSB cable, and a carry bag. The bag is clearly very high quality, but we can’t help but wish we had a more protective hard case, especially for headphones in this price range. That’s coupled with the fact that the headphones don’t fold up, so while they are well-built, you’ll still want to take care of them.
In general the headphones are absolutely beautiful. They have quite a premium build quality, come with a range of accessories, and are built to last.
The B&O Beoplay H9 headphones don’t just look great, they feel pretty nice too. As mentioned, we would have liked a little more padding under the headband, but that’s really the only change we would have wanted to see.
When it comes to the padding on the earcups, you’re really set here for at least a few hours of listening. Part of the nice comfort level is the fact that the headphones have a relatively tight fit, but thanks to the padding on the earcups, that’s not really a big issue. That pressure is really needed for headphones like this — to achieve true sound isolation, you need a good seal around the ear.
Of course, a great design and high comfort level don’t really matter if they’re let down by a bad sound quality. Thankfully, on the closed-back B&O Beoplay H9’s, the sound quality is pretty damn great.
Now, let’s make something clear before we talk about the sound — these headphones are not built for the studio. They’re consumer headphones, and as such they aren’t aimed at providing the flattes frequency response possible, but rather at coloring the music in a way that fits most of today’s music. And that’s something they do very well.
The bass on these cans is particularly present. Each kick drum hits your ears like a ton of bricks, while bass lines are strong and bulky. Somehow, however, they manage to pull this off without getting too muddy. If you’re a hi-hop fan who wants strong bass, these are perhaps the headphones for you.
The midrange is a little more cut back — as would be expected from headphones like this. Still, the tuning in the midrange sounds great. There’s a good amount of low-mid frequencies, while the high-mids are tame enough to avoid that radio-type feel you sometimes get from cheap headphones.
The high frequencies are an interesting beast here. There are plenty of the upper-high frequencies, which help give everything a nice presence, especially vocals, but slightly more lower-highs would have been nice. That’s really getting nit-picky though — in general the headphones sound excellent.
Of course, how the music sounds is only part of the equation with the B&O Beoplay H9’s — they have active noise cancellation too, which is an important thing to consider. We have to say, these headphones have some of the best noise cancellation we’ve ever tried. It’s almost eerie. Sure, you can still hear things outside the headphones, but not many things. B&O’s hybrid active noise cancelling works wonders, and if you’re looking for a pair of headphones with ANC, then these could be the right ones for you.
The B&O Beoplay H9 headphones don’t blow any minds, but they certainly perform well. One of the trade-offs of having a sleek design and so much tech is often battery life, and that unfortunately seems to be the case with the H9’s, which, according to B&O, last up to 14 hours on a charge. Still, if you’re good about charging your devices, that should be fine — just don’t expect to get more than a week or so of moderate-heavy usage. Thankfully, if you do run out of battery you’re not stuck without headphones — just pop in the aux cable and keep listening.
The Bluetooth performance is pretty standard on these. The H9’s have Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX Low Latency, so they should perform just as well if not a little better than any other Bluetooth headphones on the market.
The B&O Beoplay H9’s are seriously nice headphones. If you’re a mixing engineer looking for a pair of reference cans, these may not be the best for you, but for everyone else, if you have $499 to drop on a pair of headphones, we can’t recommend these enough. With a beautiful design, a comfortable feel, and top-notch sound quality, B&O continues to raise the bar as to what a high quality par of headphones are like.
|Band & Olufsen
|20Hz – 22kHz
|Active noise cancellation
|Total harmonic distortion
|Rated input power
|14 hours with Bluetooth and ANC
|Maximum input power
|Carry bag, aux cable, microUSB cable, plane adapter
|Black, “Argilla Grey”