1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

BEOPlay H9 - Wireless Noise-Cancelling Over-Ear Headpone

Rating:
3.5/5,
  • A high-end Bluetooth wireless headphone from the luxury brand Bang&Olufsen

Recent Reviews

  1. PinkyPowers
    The Two Faces of Innovation - A Review of the B&O H9
    Written by PinkyPowers
    Published Mar 30, 2017
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Enjoyable, fun sound. Comfortable. Elegant design. High-grade materials.
    Cons - Wireless sound quality still not up to my standards. Controls rarely work right.
    EarCup.jpg


    ~::I originally published this review on The Headphone List. Now I wish to share it with my Head-Fi fellows::~


    ::Disclaimer::
    I was given these headphones free of charge in exchange for my honest review. They were provided to me by MusicTeck.com.

    The H9 goes for $500. To learn more about it, check out the following links:

    BEOPlay.com
    B&O H9 on Amazon
    MusicTeck.com

    --------------

    First, I should probably come clean and admit to having zero prior experience with Bluetooth headphones. The very idea of them raises Pinky’s hackles, and I begin to snarl at passersby. I spend too much money on source gear to bypass all that goodness and use whatever crap in shoved into the ear cups of these kinds of devices. Is the H9 the best? How does it compare to others? I can’t say. I am going to compare them to wired headphones. Real headphones. If that’s not fair, tough cookies. There is no point to a thing like this if it can’t compete with the real deal. The Bang&Olufsen H9 will either be tempered in fire, or burned to cinders.

    I don’t feel this will be a very long review. Since it’s a Bluetooth headphone, there’s little point taking about how it pairs with different devices. Well, I mean… how it “sounds” on difference devices, not, you know, BT Pairing… which is important!

    I contacted Andrew over at MusicTeck.com and told him I needed a set of Bluetooth headphones because I currently had no means by which to test said function on any of the DAPs I review. This could not continue. I needed a BT solution, and he was the man to see. Sweet Jesus! Andrew was far more eager than any respectable shop-owner ought to be to give away such a high-ticket item. And to the likes of such a shifty bastard. That boy needs stern oversight, I tell you.

    The H9 arrived in a box. Inside the box was stuff. There is an audio cable, just in case you come to your ******* senses and want to hear these headphones powered by a proper player. You’ll also find a travel bag, an airplane adapter, and a USB cable for charging. But any micro-USB will do.

    H9Bag.jpg

    Headband.jpg

    Aesthetic design is high. These are handsome cans. Modern, but very nice. I told Andrew to send me an open-box pair, though the mad goon tried to push a new unit on me. As a result, I didn’t get to choose the color option. The H9 comes in Black and Agrilla. Did you know that was a color? I didn’t. Agrilla!

    As far as comfort goes, I have no complaints. They are light, yet sturdy. With sheepskin and steel, the BEOPlay feels luxurious. The pads are big enough for my anatomy and just the right balance of firm and soft to keep the hard parts away from your ears.

    There are touch-sensitive controls on the ear cups, which are too finicky to rely on. The documentation swears there is a motion you can perform that will adjust the volume level, but this is simply not true. There is nothing you can do to those ear cups to make it play louder or softer. You must rely on your mobile device to make such changes. I was able to get the track to skip forward or backwards, but as I said… unreliable. I do not recommend using the headphone’s controls, unless you’re a masochist, or hunger for the strife and drama of high adventure.

    Bluetooth, as I’ve come to find, is a mottled endeavor. There are skips and dropouts on nearly every device. So for I’ve tested the B&O H9 on the FiiO X5-3, Cayin i5, and the Opus#2. None of them gave me perfectly uninterrupted audio for very long. The best I found was my Galaxy S6, which gave me relatively stable experience. Signal range is different for each DAP. Some being humorously short, like the i5, and some, like the X5-3, startling in just how far you can go before the music cuts out. Volume is another variable. On the Opus#2 I could not get these things loud enough to enjoy. For a digital signal, there can be no justification. But that’s probably an issue with the DAP, and not the headphone.

    Controls.jpg

    On top of BT, this is also my first experience with Active Noise Cancelation. Forgive good Pinky if he’s wrong, but I don’t believe there’s any way to turn ANC off without switching the headphone off, thus turning them into passive transducers. When the headphone is powered on, ANC kicks in… and it’s ******* weird. My mother noticed right away, before I told her anything about ANC. It is like a void in reality, a vacuum in which all is silent. It’s creepy. As if a mighty alien presence descends upon you, and stills the Earth for your privet communion.

    Fine, alright! It’s not that quiet. But it’s an odd sensation, all the same. When music is not playing it just feels wrong. Which I guess means it’s working right?

    Ok, enough of all that. Let us put aside hyperbole and aliens and rents in existence, and discover how these headphones perform as products meant to be listened to.

    H9i501.jpg

    The Bang&Olufsen BEOPlay H9 possesses a fun signature. V-Shaped, for sure. Yet not so terribly V-Shaped as to bury the vocals. It’s warm and energetic, with articulate detailing and sharp, sparkly treble. There is a rich quality to the tone, though not exceedingly refined, with notable grain and grime to the rendering.

    The bass is big and booming, yet kind of cheap in character. It doesn’t go very deep, and lacks texture and resolution. It colors the whole presentation, adding a layer of “less than awesome” to everything. But only if you’re really being critical. The quantity is sufficient to distract you from nitpicking, most of the time. I get pulled in to the beat and lose myself in the music. As I said, they are “fun” headphones, and seldom will you not have fun while they hug your brains.

    Vocals are fairly clear and detailed. Not the most clear, or the most detailed, yet enough to give you a great listen. They are back a step or two on the stage, but come through the mix quite well. While the mid section is sort of thin and flat, they do manage a natural tonality with nice crispness.

    To my ears, the treble is nearly equal to the bass in dB. A true V-Shape. It is bright, but never fatiguing. Sharp and detailed. However, it is a little metallic, and comes off artificial. Where the highs succeed is in bringing light and air to an otherwise warm and closed-in sound. I should like the treble more organic in quality, but it does its job, and the result works pretty well in a pinch.

    The soundstage is small. The smallest I’ve heard in over-ears. Width is narrow, and there’s almost no depth. Not claustrophobic in size, but still… they could do better. Imaging is okay. Kind of indistinct, but not overly. Separation and layering are disappointing.

    H9i502.jpg

    When taken on their own, as I keep saying, these are rather fun headphones. I found myself enjoying the music, which is, after all, the most important thing. However, when compared to other, wired, mobile cans, the enjoyment-factor drops measurably.

    The closest comparison I have on-hand is the NON-BT Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Over-Ear. Immediately you hear a far grander soundstage. A cleaner, smoother, even richer timbre. The treble feels more natural and the bass isn’t trying to murder you for no reason. It’s a balanced, less exaggerated production. And yet, the vocals sound slightly veiled on the Senn, compared to the H9. Imaging on the Momentum is wonderful, and separation is well above average.

    Moving on to my current fave, the Meze 99 Classics, and we blow the H9 clean out of the water. And for only $309. These things are like a still pond, the clarity is so profound. The bass is everything you’d want in quantity, and feels liquid, smooth, and wholesome. The vocals have a transparency and naturalness that shames the H9. On the high end of the spectrum, the treble is pure, sweet, and oh so right. Meze’s staging is the biggest I’ve heard in closed-back cans. Separation is top-notch, and imaging is without fault. These headphones are not to be trifled with, and the B&O H9 doesn’t even come close.

    Righty’O. So the H9 in Bluetooh does poorly compared to real headphones. How, then, does it perform when wired into a God-King DAP like the Opus#2?

    My first impression is, “WOW! This headphone is making that sound? How?”

    Apparently Bang&Olufsen put some proper **** inside the H9. These drivers are capable f**kers. Everything sounds considerably nicer. The soundstage is… well, big. It’s actually big. Delightfully large, in width and depth. Tonality is warm, refined, and organic. That strange, awkward treble now has softer, friendlier edges. Most of the metallic character has gone… even when listening to Metallica. The vocals kept everything I like about them before, while adding a smoother nature. We still suffer from over-blown bass, but it no longer sounds cheap. In fact it possesses a fine, chocolaty tone. Separation shot up ten-fold when using the H9 as a wired headphone. There is excellent definition, and all the elements are easily found on the soundstage.

    In short, they become whole new headphones when wired. They become good headphones. REALLY good headphones. Their only stumbling block is a low-end that is so over-done it can hurt on very bassy songs.

    There you have it! I actually like these headphones for what they are. I like all my other headphones—not to mention IEMs—more than these, but none of those are designed to do what these do. As Bluetooth wireless contraptions they sound good enough not to make me cringe. WITH a wire the BEOPlay puts a big fat smile on my face. Perhaps with something as simple as a strong EQ, these could be well suited for the discerning audiophile. Right now, they are meant for the ignorant masses, who believe all music is meant to sound like Beats. This is a shame, because Bang&Olufsen clearly went above and beyond in their creation. The H9 is superior to Beats in so many ways, and shouldn’t try so hard to pretend it isn’t.

    -~::Pinky_Powers::~-

    H901.jpg

Comments

To view comments, simply sign up and become a member!