B&O Play has two new pairs of noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones, and each are dearer than the chief within the class, the QuietComfort 35 II from Bose. The $399 on-ear Beoplay H8i headphones are the inexpensive of the 2, and we really favor them barely to over-ear Beoplay H9i, which value $100 extra. Neither mannequin can match Bose’s top-of-the-line noise cancellation efficiency, but when audio (or a trendy design) is extra of a precedence, the Beoplay H8i is a pair value contemplating.
Obtainable in beige-and-gray or black fashions, the supra-aural (on-ear) Beoplay H8i headphones look fashionable and splendid, with several types of leather-based used on the scarf and earpads. The on-ear match is sort of comfy—the earpads are generously cushioned with reminiscence foam, and the scarf, which appears to be like much less padded, continues to be fairly simple on the scalp when it comes to stress or long-term fatigue. The earcups, which block out a strong swatch of room noise passively, handle to create an immersive expertise regardless of not sealing off your entire ear fully.
All capabilities are dealt with by a three-button on-ear management pad on the backside of the suitable earcup. A central button controls playback, name administration, monitor navigation (with a number of faucets), and voice help, and there are devoted quantity up and down buttons on both facet of it. When held for 5 seconds, the central button additionally places the headphones into Bluetooth pairing mode.
We’re not followers of the auto-pause/play performance the headphones have when eliminated and positioned again in your head. The pausing is sensible and we will reside with it, however we’re not satisfied everybody needs their music to start out up the second they place headphones again—it may be jarring while you’re not anticipating it, and there seems to be no strategy to disable this operate.
The left earcup homes an influence button/NC change that prompts or deactivates the noise-canceling circuitry, in addition to the transparency mode (relying on which approach you push the change). This panel additionally homes a jack for the included three.5mm headphone cable, a USB-C port for the included charging cable, in addition to a pinhole microphone and a standing LED. The cable lacks a mic or a distant, however the headphones can be utilized in energetic mode whereas it is linked, permitting you to make use of the noise cancellation if you want. The on-ear controls are disabled in wired mode, so all cell system operation have to be dealt with on the system itself. The headphones may also be utilized in wired passive mode to protect battery life (or when the battery is kicked).
The mic affords strong intelligibility. Utilizing the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, we might perceive each phrase that we recorded. There have been the same old Bluetooth mic audio artifacts, and among the phrases sounded a bit of fuzzy, however that is par for the course with wi-fi headphone mics.
The Beoplay app is free and has playback controls, in addition to monitor navigation controls for while you’d slightly use a display than the on-ear buttons. There’s additionally an EQ that, slightly than utilizing digital faders or sliders, makes use of a considerably goofy matrix—you progress a dot nearer to one in all 4 adjectives (Heat, Excited, Vivid, or Relaxed) and the audio is adjusted in increments. The EQ may be disabled, and there are additionally presets. Its impact on the audio is pretty delicate, however it’s a strategy to get barely richer bass, or to dial down the brightness a bit with out killing the general sound signature. The app additionally downloads software program updates for the headphones.
B&O Play estimates battery life to be roughly 30 hours, however this quantity will range dramatically along with your mixture of energetic wired and wi-fi playback, your use of noise cancellation, and your quantity ranges.
The noise cancellation circuitry does a strong job of eliminating ambient room noise—AC whir, airplane rumble, or different fixed droning distractions get tamped down considerably. It is value noting that the earpads do a strong job of passively lowering ambient noise on their very own, so the ANC circuitry will get a bit of little bit of an help.
Like most noise-canceling headphones that are not made by business chief, Bose, the Beoplay H8i create a bit of little bit of hiss when the NC is activated. It is not too distracting, and customarily talking, that is among the more practical noise cancellation we have examined lately. Sadly, the noise cancellation has an impression on playback—when enabled, the audio will get a bit of extra bass response. That mentioned, the impact is delicate and not likely disagreeable, and the remainder of the frequency vary appears to be impacted much less by the NC being engaged.
A phrase to the clever: Do not contact the tiny slender openings on every earcup for the ambient mics when the headphones are in clear mode. Whereas this mode is sort of efficient for monitoring your surrounding or having a fast dialog with no need to take away the headphones, the mics are delicate and shifting a finger over one in all these slender openings will end in a loud, high-pitch scratching sound—virtually similar to the sound you get while you rub a reside microphone’s grille along with your fingers (as a result of that is basically what you are doing).
With the NC disabled, the audio efficiency continues to be fairly strong within the bass division. On tracks with intense sub-bass content material, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the headphones ship a robust thump that may enchantment to these looking for some added bass push with out going overboard. The highs are nonetheless dutifully represented, so there is a strong steadiness regardless of the highly effective lows. At high, unwise listening ranges, the bass would not distort on this monitor.
Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a monitor with far much less deep bass within the combine, provides us a greater sense of the overall sound signature. The drums are given some added bass depth—they sound spherical and full, however they by no means veer into overly thunderous territory. Callahan’s baritone vocals really sound much less wealthy than they sometimes do—there is a strong high-mid presence that brings out their treble edge, and the overall sound is crisp and brilliant, with some good anchoring within the deep lows, so each the thump of the drums and the brilliant guitar strums stand out properly.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church within the Wild,” the kick drum loop will get some strong high-mid presence permitting its assault to slice by way of the layers of the combo. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with strong deep bass depth, with out going too far. The vocal performances on this monitor are delivered with superb readability—we get a powerful high-mid presence and never a lot added sibilance.
On orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel In keeping with the Different Mary, the decrease register instrumentation get some delicate boosting, pushing ahead ever so barely, however the stage belongs to the upper register brass, strings, and vocals. There are a scattered few moments within the combine which have some notable sub-bass push, they usually’re delivered with barely added depth.
For each audio and noise cancellation, we really just like the on-ear Beoplay H8i headphones greater than their pricier over-ear sibling, the Beoplay H9i. Neither can match the QuietComfort 35 II’s noise cancellation prowess, however they each provide better-than-average efficiency. Sonically, many listeners will favor the audio high quality of the Beoplay headphones over the Bose headphones, regardless of the QC35 II being fairly strong in that regard as effectively. And nobody will disagree that the Beoplay H8i and H9i are each extra fashionable. In the event you’re extra involved about audio than Bose-level noise cancellation, however the Beoplay fashions are too dear, think about the Libratone Q Adapt On-Ear and the AKG N60 NC Wireless.