I know what your thinking? I couldn’t possibly be doing another Bang & Olufsen Headphone review. Well, yes, actually, I am, and the B&O H8 just happens to be my favorite ones yet.
Today we are looking at the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8, the companies entry-level wireless noise-canceling headphone aimed at the luxury consumer market. B&O offers a lot of similar-looking headphones, but this is really the only one I would consider buying, and if you want to know why, you will have to read on to find out.
That old familiar style
As I mentioned in the Beoplay H7 headphone review, Bang & Olufsen, a company famed for their dedication to design, has managed to form their headphone line’s identity through continuity. They all kind of look like each other, and that is a perfect thing because the H8 is a mighty fine-looking set of headphones. The H8 has sleek, clean lines and discrete tasteful branding. They are made from a combination of metal and leather and look high-end and luxurious whether you are holding them in your hand or standing across the street.
They catch the eye, and with their low profile design, they sit beautifully on the head.
Build Quality is Top Notch
Few headphones on the market feel as well made or as luxurious as the Beoplay H8. The use of materials gives it a premium feel, and it’s either metal or leather everywhere you look. Despite this, they still don’t feel heavy or cumbersome. Yes, they are no whippets like the Bose 700, but the added weight feels more like quality shining through than intrusive, unnecessary bulk.
The headband slider is beautifully smooth, as are the swivel and pivot points on the earcups. Even the switches are a step above what you see from other companies, but I think it’s the pads that deserve the most praise. I believe they are made from lambs leather (a nice step up from protein leather other manufacturers offer). Despite them being an on-ear instead of an over-ear headphone, they remained comfortable throughout the many hours of testing we did for this review.
Comfort and isolation.
The comfort is top-notch. I may even go as far as saying that these are among the most comfortable on-ear headphones I have even used.
Your head’s contact points are all dripping with that luxurious leather that is equally soft and breathable. The only gripe I have is that there are lighter wireless headphones on the market. However, for me, the extra heft was paired with the build quality being so good, so I can certainly live with it for that reason.
Isolation is top draw. the combination of closed-back design helps block or dampen most external noise. Still, then you throw on some excellent ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) on top of that, and you are transported to a world where only the most jarring sounds can penetrate your ear space.
In speaking on the noise-canceling itself, I rate it pretty highly. It is a touch below what you find on the class-leading Bose QC35 II and Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, but it is certainly nothing to be sniffed at. The quantity of the noise that they reduce is significant in quantity but what you will notice is a touch more of that pressure build-up feeling when you turn the ANC.
The sound quality is excellent, and the Beoplay H8 works well with most genres of music. They have a slightly warm and smooth twang to them that I really like, and this obviously makes them play well with rock and pop genres and some classical and EDM. The treble spiking issue we detected on bang & Olufsen’s non-noise-canceling H7 headphone is completely gone, and the top end is a bit more subdued but still not without sparkle.
The Low end has some impact on it, and it produces a nice midbass and some hard-hitting sub-bass when required but at times lack the pace of the Sony WH. The H8 aren’t bass-centric headphones but can easily produce a satisfying quantity when it’s asked of them.
Soundstage is really affected when the ANC is turned on, which is how I suspect most of you will be using them. It comes across as more closed in than when used without the noise cancellation but all things considered, it is not too much of a sacrifice when you weigh up the benefits that you can have from using such a technology.
Price and Competition
This is where Bang & Olufsen fail…yet again and is once again the reason not to buy them. The competition is just simply better, and yet they insist on charging more.
The B&O H8 is steep, but then it is a quality product and more luxurious in hand than the Bose or Sony options. Is this trade-off worth it? The QC35 and WH1000 perform to a technically better level, but at the same time, the Beoplay is stronger in the styling and build departments.
While the B&O H8 are great headphones, the problem is that their competition is truly top draw and handily outperforms them. Bang and Olufsen might try and sell you on the fact that their headphones are for the “classier” buyer or premium market, but the H8 are set to retail at $500 and the Sony at $350? IF you’re looking for a set of noise-canceling headphones, I really think this is a no-brainer.
Conclusion – A stylish and feature-rich headphone let down by its price tag.
The Beoplay H8 ticks so many boxes for what we want in a set of portable wireless headphones. It’s well made, it feels great on the head, and performs well with regards to sound.
As is the case with pretty much all Bang & Olufsen headphones, the big problem is that they represent terrible value for money.
Sony and Bose own this segment of the market, and if B&O were to lower the price by about $100 and improve the ANC just a touch, they would have a real winner on their hands.
As it is, though, I like the H8, I really like them, but I would (and have) still chose the competition not just because they are cheaper but because they are both cheaper and perform better. That said, the B&O H8 is still a gorgeous pair of headphones that sound very, very good.