Few producers have actually mastered combining noise cancellation with Bluetooth audio like Bose has with the QuietComfort 35 II. At $499, the circumaural (over-ear) B&O Play Beoplay H9i headphones are considerably dearer than the Bose mannequin, to not point out B&O Play’s personal Beoplay H8i, an on-ear model that prices $100 much less. From an audio standpoint, the H9i headphones are wonderful, with adjustable EQ to fine-tune the sound signature to your style. By way of noise cancellation, nevertheless, there’s room for enchancment.
Accessible in black or gray-and-tan fashions, the Beoplay H9i are some critically lovely, fashionable headphones that mix Scandinavian cool and luxurious. The highest of the headscarf is roofed with stitched leather-based with some beautiful grain, the earpads are a a lot softer leather-based, and there are matte grey and silver highlights on the outer panels. The underside of the headscarf would not appear like it might be almost as comfy because the closely cushioned reminiscence foam earpads, but it surely feels good on the scalp. The earcups swivel on the base of the headscarf, permitting for an exceptionally comfy match. Inside every earcup, a 40mm driver delivers the audio.
The facet panel of the fitting earcup homes the ability/pairing change, a USB-C port for the charging cable, an audio cable jack (an audio cable is included), standing LEDs, and pinhole mics. Connecting the included cable would not robotically energy the headphones down, but it surely breaks the Bluetooth connection. In wired mode, the headphones can be utilized actively (so you may make use of the noise cancellation) or passively (to protect battery life). The outer panel of the fitting earcup is, just like the left earcup, emblazoned with the B&O Play brand, in addition to delicate markings that point out the management pad.
The controls are operated by a collection of swipes and faucets—faucet the middle to play or pause a tune, or reply or finish a name. You modify the amount by tracing your finger up or down the outer fringe of the round panel, and also you skip tracks by swiping ahead or backward. To activate noise cancellation, it is a downward swipe, and one other downward swipe turns it off. An upward swipe turns the transparency mode on or off—this mode lets you hear your environment, and works fairly successfully.
Sometimes, after we see on-ear capacitive contact or swipe-based controls, we gird ourselves for mishaps, or at the least the necessity to repeat a swipe a number of occasions earlier than having the specified impact. B&O Play nails it, nevertheless. It is impressively straightforward to precisely function the entire above-described controls.
A proximity sensor will auto-pause music while you take away the earcups, and resume playback while you put them again on. What we like about it’s the brief delay—it waits till it is apparent the headphones aren’t in your head, which is not the case with some trigger-happy pairs we have examined. (We’re taking a look at you, Bowers & Wilkins PX.)
The headphones ship with an ultra-soft felt drawstring bag in grey, and an airline jack adapter, along with the included charging cable and audio cable. They’re suitable with the Beoplay cell app, which helps you to tinker with the EQ. B&O Play’s tackle the standard bands or faders is probably just a little goofy—you select between Heat, Excited, Relaxed, or Vivid, or mixtures of varied ranges of those adjectives, by dragging a dot nearer or farther to every phrase, positioned close to the 4 corners of the display—but it surely does a pleasant job of subtly adjusting lows, highs, and stability to style.
The mic provides strong intelligibility. Utilizing the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, we may simply perceive each phrase we recorded. There is not any distortion, and the mic would not sound too removed from the mouth—however there are some sometimes swishy Bluetooth artifacts—these accustomed to the sound of cymbals on low-quality MP3s will perceive what we imply. Nevertheless, this is kind of par for the course with Bluetooth headphone mics.
B&O Play battery life to be roughly 18 hours, however your outcomes will fluctuate together with your use of noise cancellation, your mixture of wired lively and wi-fi playback, and your quantity ranges.
Let’s begin with noise cancellation. You can not modify the extent of cancellation, or the fashion of cancellation, within the app. There are competing fashions that do that with various levels of success, and we would actually wish to see it at this worth. There’s additionally the difficulty of hiss. We sometimes affiliate high-frequency hiss with lower-tier noise cancellation. It isn’t solely unplesant, however the objective is to get rid of noise, not create it. Moreover, whereas the noise cancellation is kind of efficient, it is not as highly effective because the Bose QuietComfort 35 II’s, which prices $150 much less. It additionally impacts the audio efficiency—music sounds completely different, and never in a constructive means, while you have interaction the circuitry.
All of that stated, this noise cancellation is within the high tier of what we have examined. It eliminates huge swaths of ambient noise. Your AC unit whir will disappear. Your coworker’s chatter will probably be tamped down, although not eradicated. So do not confuse our gripes with complete disapproval—it is simply that $500 can purchase you top-of-the-line noise cancellation. And on no account ought to noise cancellation have an effect on audio playback, whereas right here, audio can sound prefer it’s going by means of an disagreeable filter that makes sure sounds pinched and nasally. Surprisingly, the inexpensive Beoplay H8i has fewer points on this regard.
With the noise cancellation and EQ off, on tracks with intense sub-bass content material, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the headphones ship some critical thump. This sound signature will attraction to followers of massive bass, however there’s additionally loads of greater frequency presence to maintain issues balanced. At high volumes, the deep bass would not distort, and at extra average ranges, the bass remains to be highly effective with out overwhelming the combo.
Invoice Callahan’s “Drover,” a observe with far much less deep bass within the combine, offers us a greater sense of the general sound signature. The drums on this observe can sound too thunderous on bass-heavy headphones, however by means of the Beoplay H9i, they sound spherical and vigorous, with a strong depth that is not overly exaggerated. Callahan’s baritone vocals are delivered with an excellent mixture of low-mid richness and high-mid crispness, and there is loads of excessive frequency presence to push the guitar strumming and better register percussive assault ahead. This can be a brilliant, vibrant sound with loads of low frequency presence to anchor it.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church within the Wild,” the kick drum loop’s assault will get loads of high-mid presence, permitting it to stay punchy and lower by means of the layers of the combo. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with gusto—loads of sub-bass presence, however nothing that overwhelms the stability of the combo. The vocals on this observe are clear and crisp, and by no means veer into overly sibilant territory.
Orchestral tracks, just like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel In accordance with the Different Mary, sound wonderful by means of the Beoplay H9i. The decrease register instrumentation will get just a little added oomph, however nothing obscene. The stage nonetheless belongs to the upper register brass, strings, and vocals, that are brilliant and clear, however by no means harsh, neither is the general combine ever brittle.
From an audio standpoint, the Beoplay H9i headphones are terrific, if a bit expensive. From a noise cancellation standpoint, they’re lower than par with Bose, which sells the Bose QuietComfort 35 II for $150 much less. So in the event you’re on the lookout for the very best lively noise-canceling wi-fi headphones, Bose remains to be your greatest wager. However we’re additionally followers of the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless and AKG N60 NC Wireless. For $500, we anticipate extra, and though B&O Play’s luxurious design does justify a few of the worth hole between the H9i and different fashions, we would wish to see it backed up by flawless noise cancellation efficiency.