Beoplay H9 Wireless Headphones by B&O Review
Let’s take a look at the new Beoplay H9 wireless headphones from the legendary design team at Bang & Olufsen. B&O have been at the top of the luxury lifestyle audio league for almost 100 years, with some amazing engineered designs that place equal weight on inspirational design as well as sound quality. Let’s see how that materialises with their top of the range wireless headphones.
Straight out of the box the Beoplay H9 wireless scream quality. Make no mistake, this is not a cheap pair of headphones – but at least you can feel the money with every look, with every touch of the materials. All the bits that look like metal, really are metal. The earpads are precision machined from a single block of aluminium, with a fully metal underlying chassis all round. The headband has a beautiful thick leather contrast stitched outer, with a high quality padded canvas material underneath, with the earpads being covered in superb soft leather with a generous memory foam padded ring.
There is a plush velvety drawstring pouch included in the box, along with the ubiquitous micro USB charge cable & 3.5mm audio cable for connecting up to older legacy devices (or using when the battery is flat) – pretty much standard. We would have really liked to see a more substantial case included, especially as the Beoplay H9 isn’t a folding design, but I guess you can always pick something up from the after market that suits your tastes if traveling.
Also very welcome (and unusual) is the inclusion of a removable battery. Much like the old Nokia mobile batteries, it can easily be replaced if you have a need for greater than the 14hrs of rated life. 14hrs of mobile power covers most people’s needs & we certainly didn’t have any problem with battery life, but it’s worth noting that some of the other competitors are managing to cram in 20hrs or more with their latest releases. At least the removable battery covers all the bases if huge run times are a big factor in your buying decision.
When you are paying this much money, you really need the design to be impressive.
And it is. Striking, but conventional especially in the all black finish we have here (you can also select a tan / beige option). Everything feels very solid & precise with no squeaks or creaks when flexing, as if the Beoplay H9 wireless will last for a generation rather than the 2 or 3 year product life cycle that feels more like the norm with so many other lessor headphones these days – the engineering led design team at B&O are spot on with the overall look & build quality. Discrete but super classy, we like it a lot.
The Beoplay H9 wireless fit is a little lighter than average, with the super comfortable memory foam padded earpads forming a nice seal against the side of the head. This helps a lot with passive isolation, and after a few minutes quickly felt natural & secure. The padded headband isn’t the softest we have ever seen, and you do notice the feel of the padded headband touching the top of your head but it is not intrusive, it just kinds of reminds you that the super premium materials are there sat on top of your head. These are very comfortable overall & we had no issues when listening for extended periods.
Beoplay H9 Wireless – Sound Quality & Performance
On to the make or break feature of the Beoplay H9 wireless review – can the sound deliver as well as the stand out design promises?
Listening to them in isolation (i.e. not swapping every five minutes for another pair of headphones to compare & contrast), the sound performance is really strong. There is definitely some manipulation of the sound stream, with the bass frequencies in particular being boosted. Listen to any tune with a beat & the Beoplay H9 will hit you hard in the side of the head.
Not boosted ala Beats headphones of the good old days, but definitely strong. The midrange & high frequencies are more natural sounding and have had less of a boosted influence, with a crisp & delicate touch to vocals. There is plenty of nuance & delicacy available which belies the balanced B&O approach, and the use of high quality components internally shines through.
The sound stage is wide & expansive, a good trick for a closed back headphone to pull off, with great separation of the individual instruments. At the price, the Beoplay H9 needed to not just look expensive, they also had to sound expensive which is a good thing here. They sound flipping great!
The sound is complemented rather than overpowered by the strong bass tag line, and the Beoplay H9 wireless succeed in providing an extremely musical & engaging delivery which we enjoyed. If you have an equaliser on your audio player of choice, a couple of small tweaks (slight bass reduction, slight boost to the upper midrange) see the audio performance further enhanced, with real detail & balance coming through that few others can match.
From a high end audiophile perspective, there are far more ‘accurate’ headphones out there, but the balance with the Beoplay H9 has been set squarely in the camp of ‘fun & engaging’ & that works out just fine! When used with a typical phone or any portable audio player they sound superb & we are sure that is the target audience rather than the audiophile seeking the best possible sound regardless of cost – to be honest most of that market would not be considering wireless headphones anyway.
Active noise cancellation is present & correct, with this implementation on the H9’s probably placed towards the top of the 1st generation ANC models out there. The noise cancellation does a decent job of cutting back the intrusive low frequency rumbles from engine noise & background fans, but it’s not the deafening silence or clever focused approach taken by the newer models like the Sony MDR-1000x or the Sennheiser PXC 550 which are leading the noise cancellation class right now.
If you would like more info on what’s going on with the development of Active Noise Cancellation right now, please check out our guide here –2nd generation active noise cancelling headphones
The bluetooth connection was nice & straightforward when tested with our audio players (an iPhone 7 and a Samsung Galaxy S7) with no issues with dropouts or any connection flakiness experienced within the stated 10m operating range.
Another engineering decision hit’s the mark here – the Beoplay H9 Wireless is one of the very few sets of headphones on the market that feature the advanced low latency version of the aptX protocol. While that is no better than standard aptX whilst listening to audio only (i.e. from your phone or media player), it means that you can watch TV or video using the H9’s without seeing any noticeable lag. If you are looking to make a ‘one headphone fits all’ type purchase that would work great with a wide range of devices, then the Beoplay H9 are the only high end option that we have seen so far.
If you are not sure what these connectivity formats mean, you can check out our in depth look at the aptX and other protocols here: Best Bluetooth Audio Formats – How to Get the Best Wireless Sound
It’s not all amazing though, the Beoplay H9 does have a few annoying features that should be noted – the touch controls which seem to be all the rage this year are not exactly perfect. Volume control, track skipping, pause are all controlled by stroking the right earcup – when it works great it is fine, but we had a few cases where the seemed to be a bit of delay between making the gesture & seeing any response. So you do the gesture again, only to find you skip 2 tracks rather than one. It’s a slight annoyance, and one that may be addressed in the firmware by the time you read this.
- Feature Set 92%
- Build Quality 96%
- Sound Quality 90%
- Value for Money 85%
- Overall Rating 91%
Beoplay H9 Wireless Review – Final Thoughts
We love the design of the Beoplay H9 Wireless, the superb construction & overall feel of the headphones is at another level when compared with the plastic generation that is the mainstream & that wins a lot of praise from us. The sound delivery is engaging & superbly musical (although not something you would want as a studio or recording monitor), and the inclusion of the aptX low latency protocol will make these enjoyable for use with the TV also.
So long as you have deep pockets, you are buying into an exceptional experience with the Beoplay H9 Wireless – Recommended.
Beoplay H9 Wireless – Spec Breakdown
Bluetooth Profiles A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
Connection Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, AAC, apt-X Low Latency
Battery Rechargeable & Removable Lithium Ion Polymer (770mAh)
Recharge Time approx 2.5hrs
Battery Runtime 14hrs with wireless & ANC enabled – maximum 21hrs in wired mode
Frequency Response 20Hz – 22,000Hz
Sound Pressure Level N/A
Total Harmonic Distortion N/A
Active Noise Cancellation Yes
Touch Sensitive Controls Yes