Saturday, 30 November 2019 11:49

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 3rd Gen noise cancelling headphones review

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Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay noise-cancelling, wireless headphones have been a company flagship for some years now. The latest ‘H9’ refresh sees battery-life pushed up to 25 hours, Google Assistant built in plus boosted bass performance.

At 285g they’re relatively light for powerful and sturdy headphones. That’s largely thanks to the polished, anodised aluminium body. They’re very comfortable thanks to the lambskin-encased memory foam pads which will contain all but the biggest ears. One of the best things about these premium headphones is that, while the lambskin will degrade over time, it will look seasoned and worn without messily-disintegrating like cheap, leatherette competitors.

Controls are all touch based on the exposed-metal side and generally work well. A quick swipe up and down can turn noise cancelling on or off or even quickly switch into “Transparency Mode” where you can hear someone talking to you (it’s not fully transparent but it’s fast-acting and functional). The only thing we couldn’t get our head round was the volume-adjustment gesture – we ended up resorting to our phone for that.

Tapping the Google Assistant button was responsive and unexpectedly useful, although we did knock it accidentally a few times.

The battery life generally lived up to the 25-hour promise although it felt a little less than that sometimes. However, if the battery does go then the included 3.5mm audio cable can rescue you – assuming that your device supports it.

Audio quality is as excellent as you’d expect with great audio fidelity and good bass response. Handsfree calls were also handled very well.

At $840 they’re crazy expensive, but that’s the B&O cachet for you. Eagle-eyed buyers will find the previous versions for less-than half that which eschew a few features for similar audio performance. Elsewhere, Bowers & Wilkins PX7’s also offer superlative audio performance but for $250 less and may suit you better if you want something lower key because you’re not keen on B&O’s Peony-and-Chestnut-based style statements. Either way, we love them and if money is no object, they’re well worth a look.

Specs

Frequency
20 – 22,000 Hz

Microphone
2 digital MEMS Voice mic
4 Dedicated Electret Mic for ANC function (2 Electret Mic in each earcup)

Active noise cancellation
Features hybrid Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) technology. Two microphones, one placed on the outside of the ear cushion and one placed on the inside, just in front of the speaker, turn the surrounding noise around – effectively cancelling out unwanted elements.

Speakers
Electro-dynamic driver, 40 mm diameter

Impedance
24 Ohm +/- 15%

Sound Codecs
AptX LL
CvC
AAC
SBC

Related: VIDEO Interview: Plantronics' Peter Petrides proffers powerful, practical new range of wireless headphones and earbuds

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Nick Ross

Nick Ross is a veteran technology journalist who has contributed to many of Australia's top technology titles and edited several of them. He was the launch editor of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation online Technology section.

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