Beoplay E8

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  1. IpodHappy
    The BeoPlay E8 at V5.4.0 has lots of Codec artifacts:

    I purchased the BeoPlay E8 from Amazon to compare to my one day old Sony WF1000x set that I find a bit muddy in the low mid to upper bass regions. My goal is to find a truly wireless set that can compete with at least my UE700s or Klipsch x10s. To date, the E8 is the fifth set of wireless IEMs I’ve picked up. The others are:
    - Bragi Dash: Too many drop-outs, too mid centric audio presentation
    - SOL Republic Amps Air: Too harsh a high end, too physically heavy
    - Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless: I couldn’t fit them in my ears
    - Sony WF1000x: Somewhat muddy low mids, drop-outs, a bit concerned with battery life.

    I spent the first two hours with the BeoPlay E8s just listening to various songs and was quite impressed with the sub bass and high extension. I took them for a walk outside and found a fair amount of drop-outs when turning my head to the right, iPhone 7+ in my left pants pocket, so I decided to update to version 5.4.0 of the operating system and tried out some other songs. (V5.4.0 improved but didn’t eliminate the drop-out issue.)

    Then I started noticing tons of Codec artifacts. First was a song that makes extensive use of the Korg Kronos II stock sound, “Thriller,” which is basically a pulse width modulated square wave with chorusing and reverb. The artifact sounded like a flat tire going down the road mixed in with the music. More listening revealed the sound of frying bacon mixed into soft piano music on the right earbud. Frying bacon shows up when listening to soft electric piano sounds from the DX7 and acoustic guitar music. I verified these artifacts weren’t present on my other wireless IEMs, a Bose QC35, a Sennheiser Momentum 2, as well as with the Shure SE846 and Westone W4. My source gear is an iPhone 7+ at version 11.1.2 of IOS. It’s also present with the BeoPlay E8 paired to a Macbook Air. Of course, I kicked myself for not listening to a wider range of music before updating; I don’t know if V5.2.0 was having this problem.

    Here are some tracks that demonstrate the issues:

    “Shards of Heart” by Daniel Ketchum on Spotify (frying bacon in the right bud)
    (frying bacon during the beginning guitar and Rhodes piano sound at 1:00)

    At least one other reviewer on Amazon mentioned these artifacts. He got his first set in the first batch, returned them, then ordered a second pair in late November. The problem was still there. (The flat tire sound isn't reproduced on the Spotify MP3 track, only on the iTunes AAC ripped at 196 kbs VBR.)

    I hope B&O straightens out their Codec before my return window with Amazon starts to close. It's quite possible the flat tire effect and sizzling bacon issues are two separate problems.
  2. nc8000 Contributor
    To me the drop outs seem to have become much more frequent with fw 5.4.0
  3. Jazzi
    For the "Shards of Heart" track, the problem is the source, not the E8. I found the same "artifacts" when listening via the E8s, and then switched to my Empire Ears Apollo connected via Plussound BT and heard the same thing. Either it's part of the recording or something in the transmission from Spotify.
  4. IpodHappy
    To remove Spotify from the discussion, I found "Shards of Heart" on Daniel Ketchum's SoundCloud page. You can hear the same right bud issue in the SoundCloud version. This distortion is not present on the Sony WF1000x, the Bragi Dash, the Sennheiser Momentum 2 wireless, the Shure SE846 or the 1-More Quad Driver.

  5. tinyman392
    I don't think these are codec artifacts. I think the driver may possibly be distorting or the lossy to lossy conversion may be having issues. Note that I'm listening to the linked recording through Sound Cloud right now and do not hear that "frying bacon" sound at the 1 minute mark. However, on the Daniel Ketchum track, I do hear static in the right bud. It's very light, but is audible. I think this may be a distortion of the driver trying to play something that is near silent. When I use my Lear LUF-4, I can hear a very faint sound in the right ear when playing the same track. I can't discern it as static, but I do hear something faint (I admit I wouldn't notice it with the LUF-4 as I do with the E8). I also tried using an Etymotic HF5 and do hear the sound as well in the right bud, again, not static though, but very low dB, but existent (to the extent of the LUF-4). I'm unable to hear it in the UE900 (it's possible that microphonics are covering it up as I get lots with the UE900). It's a little more audible using the HiFiMan RE-1000 compared to the LUF-4 or Etymotic, but again, not to the level of the E8; I wouldn't notice it unless I knew it was there. I have a feeling that the E8 is trying to play some very low decibel noise that is in the recording itself and distorting. Without measurements, however, it's not possible to know.

    With the "flat tire" sound, it looks like a compression issue if it's present in the Spotify MP3 track (which is at 320kbs) vs the AAC at 196. Try re-ripping the track at 256kbs (iTunes Plus). Also, since you're on iOS, you may also be introducing some issues when you convert lossy to lossy as well as MP3 needs to be converted to AAC as the iPhone has no support for APT-X. At times it may not be an issue, others it will be.

    That said, I also do get static sounds with the E8 that intermittently occur as well at random intervals with random songs (unrepeatable though). This issue is most likely the internal amp having issues (though this may be separate from what you're hearing).
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  6. Omegamma
    I also had several drop outs outside during my runnings either on 5.2.0 or 5.4.0. Then I put my phone on my right hand to get it closer to the master side of the E8 and didn't have any single skip since then. I think it should work flawlessly with my phone on both hands like other BT earphones do but forgive this thanks to the nice sound compare to other BT devices.
  7. IpodHappy
    Thanks for your feedback.

    To take out the question of the IOS BT hardware/software, I listened to the SoundCloud track on a Samsung Tab S2. The crackling was still there in the E8 right bud.

    Next, I listened to the "Shards of Heart" with my Etymotic ER4S IEMs. There is a noticeable hiss with rumble (rapid minor variations in amplitude) in the background like you'd get from a tape master. It's gated, meaning when the piano decays, the hiss decays as well. The hiss is far less noticeable in the ER4S than the crackling in the E8.

    Unfortunately, my problem is that I have probably 200-300 solo piano CDs in my collection. Many pieces from my favorite artist, Marc Andre Hamelin, exhibit this defect on the E8 (Hyperion recordings). The audio defect is not present in my other equipment. Therefore, I consider the audio defect to be related to the B&O E8 and hope they fix the software. The sound and balance from the E8 is otherwise lovely.

    (The "flat tire" distortion may well be the E8 not handling the AAC VBR rip in my library on a very harmonically complex sound. I don't think SoundCloud version at 320kbs is VBR.)
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  8. tinyman392
    What I'm trying to say is that the issue with the crackling/static/hiss is the fact that it's in the track, but moreso that the E8 is distorting it which makes it go from a hiss to more of a crackle/static sound rather than just the light not-so-noticable hiss. This is most likely an issue with the hardware than it is software (I personally don't think it's a software issue and most likely a hardware issue whether its the driver, DAC, or AMP). On other other hand, if the E8 is digitally processing the sound, it could be software, but it's unlikely. That said, the best you can probably do is mask it using the EQ settings in the app.
  9. IpodHappy
    You may be right. The distortion may well be the in the E8 hardware and how it interacts with tracks (though I hope there’s a software fix). Unfortunately, the crackling is happening on lots of tracks, mostly on soft piano music or other percussive pitched instruments (harp, DX7 electric piano, etc.). The two samples I linked in the original post were just exemplary. Here are more:
    - "Eyes Closing" from Two Steps from Hell's album Miracles (both iTunes rip and Spotify)
    - "Toccata in G-Flat Major, Op. 13" on The Composer-Piaanists, performed by Marc Andre Hamelin (Hyperion).
    - "Danseuses De Delphes" Jean-Efflam Bavouzet on "Debussy Complete Works for Piano" Chandos
    - "En Bateau," Yolanda Kondonassis, on the album "Debussy's Harp"
    - "Sweet Remembrance of You" by William Joseph on the album "Beyond" produced by David Foster

    The issue is endemic to the E8 and the way it is processing these tracks (hardware or software), not to the tracks. (I personally think it’s an imbalance in amplitude from decoded frame to frame causing the clicks.)
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  10. wilberforce55
    So I am wondering, should I upgrade to 5.4 from 5.2? I have occasional drop outs, just for a milli second or so, bigger issue is once I a while I get a dropout and then get a really weird stereo effect where the vocal moves predominantly to the left channel
  11. tinyman392
    I'm starting it hear it in some other tracks as well. More acoustic songs, and not just pianos, acoustic guitars as well. Distortion can get amplified quite bad.

    Edit: it seems that the distortion in the song I was just listening to (Jamie McDell - Rewind, in the chorus) was actually there. Definitely very audible using my Leer LUF-4C.

    It's possible, and highly likely, that in many of these cases, the distortion is actually in the track itself and the E8 is amplifying it. I know with some very resolving IEMs like an Etymotic, it ends up playing exactly what it's fed; typically called unforgiving IEMs. The E8 may be the same way.

    I'm listening to other songs now...
    • Eyes Closing: I don't hear anything with the E8, nor my Etymotics.
    • Could not find Toccata on Apple Music (skipping)
    • Danseuses De Delphes: I don't quite hear anything as well.
    • En Bateau: I heard something about 50-ish seconds in. Very light, wouldn't have noticed if not listening for it. Also audible (at the same level) on the Etymotic.
    • Sweet Remembrance of You: Couldn't find it on Apple Music.
    Edit 2: one final note. I would easily regard the E8 as being extremely unforgiving in nature. That was probably one of the first things I noticed about it, especially in the treble. I'm doing a writeup of a bunch of truly wireless buds right now and do describe the treble as "borderline harsh" and "quite fatiguing". These headphones seem to amplify distortion in tracks quite heavily, even moreso than the Etymotics (which is a challenge in itself). I do try to undo this quite a bit by warming up the tone and upping the sound stage.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  12. IpodHappy
    Out of curiosity, what version of software do you have on your E8?

    Perhaps I have a bad copy of the E8, or perhaps my ears are just preternaturally attuned to listening for buzzes, crackles, and hums after having spent thousands of hours in studios and churches tracking down such issues. Anyway, if not fixed by a software update before my return window closes, this pair will be going back because it's driving me crazy, so to speak. :)
  13. tinyman392
    I updated my firmware Saturday. So 5.4 I think.
  14. FieldingMellish
    My first instantaneous left ear bud drop-out happened last night while switching off a fluorescent closet light. Caught me off-guard while doing some house cleaning. It was repeatable.

    Resolution: Don't clean the house. :wink:
  15. tinyman392
    I actually managed to lose a bud... Seems odd as I keep them in the case when not in use at all times which means that somehow the case got cracked open and a bud came out without me knowing. I keep the case on my body, attached with a carabiner at all times... Kind of upset, but kind of understand how it can happen. The case takes little to no force to open up and a soft brush of the buds will have them flying out.
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