Disclaimer: The B&O Beoplay H8 were sent to us for an evaluation period of three weeks by B&O Beoplay in Denmark. The sample is being returned this week.
B&O Beoplay H8 – Review
In August of 2013 I had the pleasure to review the B&O Beoplay H6. My expectations weren’t too high before I got the sample but it turned out to be a very well-tuned headphone and we ended up recommending it to a lot of people that were looking for a closed headphone, together with the DT770 and the B&W P7. The H6 already was considered a “design” headphone but B&O Beoplay has upped the design level on the H8 considerably. As the H8 clearly is a fashion headphone the “looks” section will be a bit longer as usual. Readers that are looking for this kind of headphone simply want to read about it.
She’s got the looks
The Beoplay H8 is a wireless on ear headphone with ANC: Active Noise Cancelling. That’s right: Noise Cancelling, not our favourite kind of technology. More on that in a later part.
The H8 was designed by Jakob Wagner who also designed the original H6 and you can clearly see both headphones share the same looks. The H8 is available in Argilla Bright and Gray Hazel, our review pair was the bright version and while I absolutely like its form, I’m not really a fan of the light gold color. Build quality and finish/presentation is pretty good but I didn’t expect anything less for a design & fashion headphone by the hands of B&O. Materials used are aluminum, fabric, plastic and lambskin leather. This isn’t a headphone for veganists, that’s for sure. The gold cups actually are made out of carefully sun-polished and anodized aluminum. These cups aren’t just cups: they house a touch control system which is actually pretty awesome.
H8 In Use
On ear headphones in my eyes are developed as portable headphones to start with. Why else would anyone out of free will choose an on ear headphone? Most of the time they’re horrible to wear and the sound quality isn’t always to write home about. Sure there are exceptions like the Beyerdynamic T51P whose comfort and sound is great but overall it aren’t the most comfortable and best sounding headphones.
It’s no surprise I’m not the biggest fan of the Beoplay H8’s comfort after stating that. They do have those lambskin ear pads with memory foam but saying they rest gently on your ears is an overstatement. After half an hour of use I already feel the need to take the H8 of my ears. The headband isn’t the softest either and the top of my head starts hurting after a while too. The Vmoda XS and Beyerdynamic T51P score a lot better in the comfort section. It’s not really head bang proof either. Listening to Faith No More’s latest Sol Invictus album, the H8 goes flying off my head right after the 3rd head bang, if I can call it like that.
For a portable headphone it is quite big to carry around. It measures 180 x 190 x 40 mm or 7.1 x 7.4 x 1.5 in and weighs 255 grams. Maybe fashionable people wear the headphone around their neck when they’re not using it but I tend to put my headphones in my man bag. Yes, I have a man bag. Serious though, the ear cups do fold 90 degrees so you can put them flat on your desk or against your chest when you’re not listening to them but the headband doesn’t bend so they take up a lot of space when you put them in your bag. Maybe the design got in the way of its comfort and transportability. Maybe I’m just an addict that uses headphones for way too long without a break. Maybe I should set my timer for 30 minute listening breaks. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s not just me. Maybe the design got in the way of things. Maybe you should just decide for yourself. Yeah.
Bluetooth you say, hmm
Wir schreiben das jahr 2015 and so far my life has been pretty much Bluetooth-less. In my 37 years on this planet I never really had the need for something with Blue Tooth technology. Well there was this one time where I bought a Jabra Bluetooth ear piece to accept phone calls when driving but it was so horrible I replaced it with a girlfriend. Now she’s taking my calls when I’m driving and she can do other stuff too. Stuff I can’t see Bluetooth doing any time soon, like marrying me later this year.
But anyway, the H8 comes with Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX codec that is supposed to give you uncompromising sound. The battery in the left ear cup that allows all this to happen is a replaceable 800mA Lithium one that charges in 3 hours’ time. It will give you 14 hours with Bluetooth and ANC, up to 16 hours with Bluetooth and even up to 35 hours with ANC. I always say any battery driven device should work for at least 10 hours and the Beoplay H8 has no issue whatsoever with that. I have to admit I didn’t listen to the H8 till the battery died, but I’ll take their word for it.
The thing is the Bluetooth worked quite nice. It connected without any issue to my Samsung S4 phone and I didn’t experience any drop outs. Not even with the phone on my desk and me walking around it. I had a less nice experience with the H8 connected to the TOTL AK240 DAP, drop outs every x seconds, very annoying. Sound quality wise the Bluetooth connection wasn’t bad at all but I’ll take a cable over wireless for now, thank you. I do advise to charge the battery when you’re not using the H8 as charging the battery results in rather loud peeping and hissing that’s audible throughout the music. Sound wise the difference between cable and BT isn’t easy to analyze as you can’t switch back and forth from BT to cable. I do feel there’s still a difference where cable actually sounds better.
Apart from the AK240 hiccups (I blame the AK), I didn’t really experience any drop outs but I always had my phone on me or I was very close to it. I seem to be lucky when it comes to drop outs, the Sennheiser RS220 which is/was known for its dropout always worked fine when I was using them, even when I was a floor up or down from the source. Call me positively surprised by the BT in the H8. I have read several reports of people complaining about the H8’s BT but I can’t confirm that with my sample.
More on Page 2, after the click