This week, we’re testing the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H8 headphones, a model with built-in amplification. As well as having a wired option, this model can also operate wirelessly and features a Bluetooth receiver. Not forgetting of course its superb leather and anodised aluminium finish, these are plush-looking headphones, aimed at smartphone, tablet or computer owners.
What things can you do with these headphones?
You can obviously listen to music, either in connected mode or wirelessly, with or without the noise cancelling option and you can even make calls thanks to the integrated electret microphone. The built-in battery is an 800 mAh model reserved for powering the Bluetooth receiver, the active noise cancelling system and the built-in stereo amplifier. In Bluetooth and noise cancelling mode, battery life is longer than twelve hours. This is tripled when Bluetooth is deactivated but noise cancelling remains active. Three hours is the required time to charge the battery. The battery is obviously not needed if Bluetooth and noise cancelling are inactive or when the source’s headphone amp is being used. The headphones feature a range of touch control buttons to operate audio playback from a smartphone (or tablet).
We carried out two types of listening test ? one using a smartphone with a Bluetooth connection and the other using a headphone amp and Sennheiser HDVD800 DAC. These tests used the same file format each time, i.e. FLAC (16/44).
Impressions regarding the active noise cancelling option
Results are very good and potential interference is significantly reduced. A built-in processor uses the integrated microphone to measure the surrounding noise and reverses the audio signal phase in certain frequencies to cancel them. The efficient support of the ear cups on the ears is such that listeners are immersed in the music. It’s worth noting that active noise cancelling is particularly useful in public transport and that passive isolation is adequate in a busy street or working environment (open space for example).
Impressions on listening with Bluetooth
The B&O is so well calibrated that it can make Barbara’s ?Aigle Noir? sound like a disco hit. Surprisingly, the bass level at approximately 60 Hz is quite simply astounding. The tester who likes to think and say that a speaker never produces too much bass acknowledges the fact that these headphones are an exception. This clearly isn’t a fluke but the manufacturer’s wish to offer an impressive listening package. The medium range is toned down with an increase in the upper medium, producing an extremely varied listening experience.
These headphones are both visually appealing and comfortable. As for overall listening performance, they’re less impressive. The B&O H8 might not please everyone. These headphones are well suited to listening to modern, energetic music. Classical and jazz enthusiasts, be expected to have some surprises when listening to your favourite tracks. One thing we can say is that you’ll never get bored of listening when using these headphones nor grow tired of their convenient nature and exemplary finish.