Review: B&O BeoPlay H8

Touchy Touchy

“An intuitive touch interface gives you full control of all functionality. Turn your music on and off, answer calls, switch Active Noise Cancellation on and off, and much more. All at your fingertip.”

As soon as you connect your H8 by Bluetooth the aluminum right ear cup transforms in to a remote control. While I was skeptical about this I have to admit I became a big fan once I started using it. The more you use the controls, the easier it gets and I think B&O Beoplay did a great job on them. I won’t go in to detail on what movements do what, the manual explains it all in detail. The only issue I had with it was that I did a couple of accidental redials on my phone when I just wanted to pause and play the actual song. I’m sure the local pizza place didn’t appreciate it. The ear cup remote system will of course stop working as soon as you connect a cable but call me a fan!

Performance

Straight out of the box (a used version) the absolute first impression the H8 gave me was one of bass and air. It’s not easy getting the sound right with on ear headphones as a lot of people wear it in a different way. B&O certainly managed to get enough bass in it though. Impressions are with Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) turned off.

For an on ear headphone the sound stage is OK, compared to over ear headphones the sound stage width is average which isn’t bad at all. It’s wider than it is deep though. Stereo imaging is actually pretty good with a nice left-right balance. 3-Dimensionality isn’t the H8’s strongest point but I didn’t expect that from it either. Detail retrieval is pretty good, sure it’s not the most detailed headphone you’ll ever hear but it’s reasonably good. I wouldn’t call it a neutral tuned headphone.

The Beoplay H8’s tuning is very enjoyable and it’s more a fun kind of tuning than it is an audiophile tuning if I may call it that. There’s a slight darkness in the sound and from bass to highs the H8 has a very smooth delivery. At the same time I always had the feeling the bass, mids and treble weren’t really connected to each other. All are delivered smoothly but the connection between them is a bit lacking. It’s more like they’re doing their own thing by themselves and I can’t seem to shake off that impression.

Bass obviously has a focus in this headphone and is emphasized. It’s got a lot of body and it’s on the slow and not so tight kind. It goes quite deep and has good rumble but at the same time there isn’t too much detail, layering is lacking a little. For an on ear design, bass even if it doesn’t sound like it, is quite impressive. The mids are very rich and have good body but compared to the bass and treble can be perceived as a little bit recessed but not overly so. It’s easier to notice in some recordings than in others. Like with the bass the mids don’t have the best layering.

I find the treble to be very inoffensive, it’s not the most detailed or most extended treble but it’s perfectly tuned to enjoy all kinds of music at all times without it ever being hot or sibilant. I have used the H8 for a lot of hours and I’ve played music ranging from the Beatles to Nailbomb. The H8 does it all but when playing popular (dance) music or R&B it really performs best. I also enjoyed it a lot when watching movies and series on my laptop, it’s a very lively sounding headphone.

With ANC turned on you might hear less noise from the outside but it unfortunately also decreases the H8’s sound quality. Highs get rolled off and there is less detailed and layering everywhere resulting in a more boring and compact sound. On top of that all you will find the H8 to produce a lot more floor noise with ANC turned on. I wouldn’t suggest using the ANC unless you really need to.

The only other Bluetooth headphone in my collection is the Philips M1BT. I never reviewed it myself and I have hardly ever used it but the H8 surely beats the M1BT to me. The M1BT just sounds muffled in my opinion and it doesn’t really sound good in my opinion. Comfort wise the H8 has the Philips beat too. I never got to hear the M2BT, maybe that’s another story. Compared to other non BT on ear headphones the HD25I-II and certainly the T51P is still miles ahead.

Conclusion

In the end the H8 to me is a very well-functioning and enjoyable fashion headphone. Tuning is clearly bass focused and while it’s no audiophile kind of unit, the tuning is very enjoyable and fun. The ANC is a nice thing to have but I wouldn’t really turn it on unless you’re in a really noisy environment.

The Beoplay H8 scores big in the looks department. At the same time I do have some questions about the design in regards to its transportability and comfort. The materials used in the H8 are top quality and the headband looks oh so sexy. The Beoplay H8 sells for $499/499€. You pay a pretty steep price for Beoplay’s latest but you get a wireless design headphone with ANC made from top materials in return. Included in the box is an audio cable with 3.5 mm jack, a micro USB cable for charging, a flight adapter, carrying pouch and a quick guide.

The H8 doesn’t need any amplification and I’ve used it directly out of my phones, several DAPs, portable amps and even the Chord Hugo. When using better devices and amps the bass will get a bit tighter but there is no real need for amplification.

If you’re looking for a fashion headphone with a blue tooth wireless connection and ANC on top of that, the H8 has a lot going for you. It’s not as easily recommendable as the H6 is though. I personally don’t need all the extras the H8 has to offer and I do prefer the H6’s tuning. The H6 is going for $399 nowadays and together with the HP100, COP and DT770 still is a headphone I would recommend in the mid fi closed headphone segment any day. If you just want an on ear headphone, do have a look at the Vmoda, Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic offerings as well.

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

23 Comments

  • Reply May 21, 2015

    dalethorn

    Interesting that the sound becomes less clear in NC mode. The Bose QC25 and the Logitech UE-6000 are the opposite – the treble becomes less muffled in NC mode.

    • Reply May 21, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      People should just get customs 😉

      • Reply May 27, 2015

        Rasmus Horn

        I would agree customs or maybe just closed headphones would suit most people better. I even prefer the passive noise cancelling in the BeoPlay H6 over the ANC in H8. I also prefer the sound better as well even during transport. I also don’t get why wireless is important to people when the source is right next to them (during flight, train, transport or in the pocket) most of the time. So for me the H8 went back to B&O again, the H6 stays.

        Nice review by the way! 🙂

        • Reply May 27, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          thanks mate. how’s the new job going?

          • Reply May 27, 2015

            Rasmus Horn

            So far so good 🙂 I miss the products and some of the old colleagues but other than that everything is better the new place.

            Congrats on the engagement. Enjoy the time and don’t let work consume too much of it. 😉

  • Reply May 21, 2015

    brcmrgn

    You are correct about the AK240 Bluetooth – it’s bad. I had this problem between the AK240 and the Noble BTS. The Sony A17 works flawlessly as a Bluetooth source.

  • Reply May 22, 2015

    Ted Tillholm

    Congratulations on being engaged.
    Maybe Mike will fill in for you while you’re on your honeymoon:)

  • Reply May 23, 2015

    Nickjan Glas

    congratulations with the upcoming marriage. great review. I am always fan of B&O. Surprising to read the difference in tuning; as you stated that it performed best with popular (dance) and R&B. I ll just stick to the nice H6 for my classical (listening rogier van otterlo’s ‘ soldier of orange’ soundtrack right now). Very anxious for canjam to try out all the new stuff.

  • Reply June 14, 2015

    Domain Rider

    Good review – I’ve had a pair for a couple of months and agree with you about the sound and the ANC. I find them extremely comfortable for lengthy listening sessions, despite being on-ear, although they get quite warm.

    I really like them, but I’d agree they’re more fun than hifi – the bass is a bit forward (tho good) and the treble a wee bit bright.

    The only gripes I have are that they don’t stay put very well if you’re moving around; the APT-X Bluetooth is a bit harsh/grainy; and too many BT connections drop out too often; when it’s good, it’s very good, but when it’s dropping out, it’s very aggravating.

    • Reply June 14, 2015

      dalethorn

      The Audioengine B1 BT receiver I have does a good job of receiving music and feeding my headphone amps. It uses AptX, and I’ve never noticed any grain or harshness, although there’s a quality/resolution loss across BT. Still, since it’s a hi-fi sound more or less, it makes me wonder if the fault in the H8 may be the implementation rather than AptX itself.

      • Reply June 15, 2015

        Domain Rider

        I think the H8 sound very good when wired, so it may be the BT implementation, but I had the impression that the implementation of codecs like AptX was standardised… I don’t know, but I hear the difference (though AptX is clearly better than basic BT). And though I like them, I wouldn’t say the H8 was true hi-fi in either mode. Individual ears and preferences probably make the difference there.

  • Reply April 9, 2016

    Viet

    Dear awesome Headfonia, I’m a long time reader here, however, due to work and life getting in the way, I’m not following the scene recently. Now I’m back to the market for a new headphone so I would like to get a recommendation from you guys.

    – Scenario: my working place is very noisy so I need a good closed back head phone with good sealing to concentrate on my work.

    – Type of music: I mostly listen to rap, R&B and some general mainstream stuff but for working place I would settle for more easy relaxing stuff like Enya, Regina Spektor and the like. I do like headphone that has more emphasis on bass (not the boomy kind but the well controlled, tight bass aka Sennheiser HD-25 type).

    – Requirement:

    * Good sealing: noise cancelling is not a must.

    * Comfortable: I expect to wear it during my 8 hour work day so it need to be comfortable. The longest I can do with the HD-25 is around 3 hours.

    * Relative easy to drive: I won’t be able to buy an amp or a good DAP anytime soon so I would like something that can perform decently straight out of the iPod.

    – Budget: 300-500$

    – Current headphone: Sennheiser HD-595 & HD-25 (It’s lovely to get something that can compliment these two but it’s not necessarily a requirement).

    – What I’m looking at: this B&O BEOPLAY H8, Sennheiser Momentum, Sony Z1000.

    Thank you so much for your time. 🙂

    • Reply April 9, 2016

      Headfonia_L.

      I would go for the H6 or the Beyer dt770 32

      • Reply April 9, 2016

        Viet

        Wow, lightning fast response. That’s why you guys are awesome 😀

        Is it the normal Dt770 or the Anniversary one?

  • Reply April 17, 2016

    Headfonia_L.

    DT770 AE and 32 are exactly the same sounding. Just a different badge, Beyer confirmed me this personally.

  • Reply September 13, 2016

    Shreeraj

    I am considering to buy Beoplay H7 or H8… Which one is more comfortable ? Is H8 comfortable to wear for 4- 5 hours at a stretch ? Plus which one sounds better H7 or H8 ?

    • Reply September 13, 2016

      dale thorn

      I cannot find even one audiophile review of the H7, but of the reviews I read, several said that the Bluetooth sound was worse than the wired sound.

  • Reply September 15, 2016

    Ben

    They are very similar in design to the S6s which are extremely comfortable for hours on end (I know they are wired) but they sound excellent, albeit they show up a lot of poor recordings.

  • Reply December 30, 2016

    David

    I have read your post about Beoplay H8. I am really interested in buying a pair of headphones B&O but i can´t take a decision that maybe, you can help me.
    For you, which model is better? Beoplay H7 or H8? I want a wireless headphone, to travel, good sound quality and also easy to transport.

    Thank you very much in advance!

  • Reply June 25, 2017

    Lapadula

    Hi, i am also facing a dilemma between h7 and h8. Any help?

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