- Style meets great features and good sound in B&O’s flagship on-ears
- Effective noise-cancelling
- Balanced, full-bodied listen
- Good dynamics and detail
- Replaceable battery
- Bass a little fat
- Slight thud when walking
Decent-sounding wireless headphones no longer have to cost the earth – just look at the Award-winning AKG Y50BTs (£150/$225).
But when they serve up noise-cancelling and premium material trimmings too, you should expect to pay top whack – as you do for the Award-winning Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless.
But out to rival them are B&O’s BeoPlay H8s.
Build and comfort
If first impressions out of the box are indicative of their overall quality, the omens look good for the Danish brand’s flagship wireless on-ears.
‘Plush’ may as well be B&O’s middle name with some of the eye-pleasing designs it fashions, and it doesn’t rest on its laurels when it comes to headphones either.
A fusion of leather, aluminium and plastic, the H8s don’t have you screwing up your face at their big-ticket asking price. Our off-nude Agrilla Bright sample looks classy, but there’s also a Gray Hazel (grey and dark brown) finish too.
The memory foam lambskin-coated earpads sit just right – not too tight, not too baggy – and are plump enough to keep their shape and comfort level for long periods of wear.
A good few centimetres of padding underneath the leather headband makes sure the H8s are as kind to your head as they are your ears.
A circular metal plate on each ear cup fits the premium design brief to a tee, with the right one packing a headphone jack for wired use, a microUSB slot for charging and a toggle switch for on/off/Bluetooth pairing.
Blind to the eye are touch-sensitive playback controls too: run your finger in a circular motion to adjust volume; swipe left/right to change tracks; swipe up/down to turn noise cancelling on/off; and tap once to play/pause a song.
An annotated sticker helps quicken the learning curve, and once memorised actions become second nature. Operations are intuitive and swift, and we are never made to repeat ourselves.
The controls are redundant during wired use, although noise cancelling is still good – and for up to 35 hours on a single charge. A full three-hour charge should get you 14 hours of playback with Bluetooth and noise-cancelling activated, or 16 hours using Bluetooth alone.
Over to the left ear cup and you’ll see a compartment for the rechargeable battery, which is handily replaceable (£34/$51 seems to be the going online rate). Having a spare could see the end of your weekend camping woes, keeping you listening twice as long when you’re away from a power outlet.
You certainly won’t want the H8s mingling with the crumbs at the bottom of your bag or being entangled in your sweaty gym kit, so we’d take advantage of the supplied soft drawstring bag.
As accessories go, there’s also a flight adapter and two lengths of cable for listening through a wire.
B&O can be hit-and-miss when it comes to getting you enough sound for your pound, but we’re happy to report this time it’s a hit.
Putting their mouth where their money is, the H8s are clear, balanced and full-bodied with not a hint of hiss to give away their ‘wirelessness’. From detail to dynamics, it’s a good all-round performance and one we enjoy whittling away an afternoon in the office with.
It only takes one play of Mercury Rev’s Holes to appreciate how impressively solid and detailed mids are. Every vocal croon is communicated, while breathy woodwinds, whining musical saws and soaring trumpets are lathered in clarity and texture.
They hand decent timing and dynamics to the stepping keyboard rhythm too, and while the H8s can’t layer the opening ethereal orchestration as well as the more transparent Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wirelesses, nor manage to sound quite as cohesive or precise, there is generous insight to enjoy.
Treble doesn’t let the side down, with shakers and cymbal strikes biting and defined. It’s bass that proves their weak spot: though confidently deep, it’s a little on the tubby side in comparison with the Sennheisers and B&W P5 Wirelesses, not quite as taut or punchy as we’d like.
Listening through the wire brings a touch of refinement and precision but frankly there’s not much in it, which if anything is a credit to its cord-cutting performance.
Noise cancelling is so effective (it did the job silencing descending planes and office chit-chat) we find ourselves reaching for it on nearly every occasion. However, the ear cups provide a good enough seal to keep outside noise to a minimum for general use in quiet places.
It does help reduce the thudding sound of your footsteps that unfortunately come through the H8s when you walk too, so bear that in mind if it’s primarily hiking partners you’re after.
The asking price may be a little steep, but if you deem both Bluetooth and noise-cancelling as must-have features, the B&O BeoPlay H8s are ones to consider.
While the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless’ more open, transparent sound stop the B&Os from topping our wishlist, they certainly get a good shoo-in for second.