Bang & Olufsen are not resting on their laurels. On the contrary, one year after the release of the second-generation model, they are launching a revised third version of their premium E8 model. Here we take a look at what they are capable of.
Comparison with their predecessors
How does this new model differ from the previous one? Well, the two in-ears are a little bit slimmer, and the charging case has also got a facelift, because it looks a bit more elegant due to the rounder sides. Bang & Olufsen have also made some changes to the battery life: the new E8 lasts about seven hours, and the charging case (via USB-C or Qi charging mat) can charge the headphones four more times. In comparison: the E8 2 ran for about four hours, while the case only allowed three recharges. The quick charging function is also deserving of praise: while the manufacturer states 1.5 hours of playback time with a twenty-minute charge, the model we tested only ran out of power after nearly two hours and fifteen minutes at full volume.
However, some merits remain from the earlier model, the materials and build: the leather and aluminium are neatly finished and look high quality. It’s obvious that B&O want you to put a well-designed piece of premium technology into your ears.
In the stylish box you will find four pairs of silicone earpieces in sizes XS, S, M and L, as well as compatible foam earpieces in size M. This earns a thumbs up, as you’ll rarely find these types of memory earplugs as a feature from other manufacturers. Also included are a USB-A to USB-C charging cable (120 cm) and a Quick Start Guide in 15 languages.
Also in terms of wearing comfort there is nothing to complain about. Once you’ve found the right ear moulds, you’ll get a secure fit, and at only six grams per earpiece, they’re virtually weightless. The IP54 certification also deserves praise as these small earphones are suitable for sporting activities. They are resistant to dust, being splashed with water and sweat. In addition, this makes cleaning the headphones easier.
The initial pairing of these Bluetooth 5.1 wireless earpieces is carried out by removing them from the case or by pressing for five seconds on both of the touch surfaces on the headphones. These third generation of E8 are neither multipoint capable nor do they pause automatically when the earpieces are removed, but they do use the codecs SBC, AAC and aptX.
In the outdoors we heard the first drop-outs after about 35 metres, so for range, the E8 are on par with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2; inside a building the first drop-outs could be heard after about 10 metres. Here, the Sennheisers have the advantage.
A single press on the left earpiece activates transparent mode or accepts a call (analogue on the right earpiece), pressing twice lets you jump back one track or end a call (analogue on the right earpiece). Pressing and holding the left surface reduces the volume, and a half-second press rejects calls (analogue on the right earpiece). On the right, a single press plays and pauses the music, while a double press skips a track. If you want to use your voice assistant, press three times, and increase the volume with Touch & Hold.
This always worked reliably in our test, even if the commands are executed with a delay of about 1.4 seconds.
More configuration options are available in the free Bang & Olufsen app for iOS and Android: here you can also control playback, an equalizer provides five presets from “work-out” (less highs) to “podcast” (less basses), which you can also tweak and save. Below that you can control the transparency mode, which is available in four levels: from “Off” to “Level 4” it works with different intensity, whereas on the highest level the music pauses automatically. A good thing about this is that the settings are transferred to the headphones, so if you change the player, your desired EQ curve and transparency level remain unchanged. In addition, the app also offers an “automatic standby” function, which switches off the headphones after 15 minutes without a signal.
Less pleasing, however, is the fact that the app can only be used if you log in with either a Google, Facebook, Microsoft or B&O account. We also had sporadic connection problems with the app during our test: while Spotify was happily blaring out on our smartphone, the app had problems finding the E8.
As the sound of the E8 had already been inspiring us for two generations, we were, of course, curious to hear how version 3 sounded.
The bad news first: after Bang & Olufsen kindly provided us with a previous model for this test, it was unfortunately not possible to get it to play due to a battery defect. So, unfortunately, we couldn’t make a direct sound comparison, but since the driver type and size (5.7 millimetres), as well as the frequency range and sensitivity, are identical for both models according to the manufacturer, the sound of both generations should hardly differ or not at all.
But the sound from the new E8 was still very exciting: the overall performance was rich in detail and facets, all frequency ranges were clearly displayed and interlocked harmoniously. And it never sounded washed-out, as even during overloaded live performances these True-Wireless headphones were always able to reproduce the individual instruments cleanly in width and depth.
The bass range sounded defined, had the necessary pressure without ever getting out of hand, and had a slight tendency to warmth. However, the E8 lacks really low bass, so properly deep sub-basses can’t develop as much pressure as some people might require. But we don’t consider this a shortcoming, because if you want, you could always take care of this yourself using the equalizer.
In the midrange it continued just as well, expertly continuing the slight warmth of the bass range. The nuances of acoustic instruments are represented and fine details are highlighted: typically, the E8 doesn’t swallow up the twanging of a guitar and the details can be clearly recognised. In direct comparison to the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, however, the E8 seems to sound a little more velvety and smooth. Sennheiser’s model brings out fine nuances a little more distinctively.
But also in the high frequencies the B&O didn’t show any weaknesses; here, nothing hisses and nothing sounds exaggerated. However, we would have wished for a somewhat finer resolution in the upper registers of some of the songs. But that’s splitting hairs, because we had the feeling that the E8 would not have been overstrained with any genre.
It can be conclusively stated: Bang & Olufsen have done everything right with the sonic tuning and have successfully (re)born an all-rounder, which is truly familiar with all musical styles.
In all our test calls, we only had positive feedback from the other person. Our voice was clear and very easy to understand, sometimes as if we were standing right next to them. Even with wind in the background, speech intelligibility was always present.
With the E8 3.0, Bang & Olufsen once again prove how good True-Wireless headphones can sound, and we’re pretty sure that this model will find many new friends. A good battery life, high-quality workmanship and the extremely functional transparency mode skilfully round off the feature set.
As the premium headphones of a premium brand, you also have to pay a premium price, currently 350 Euros. But you have to make do without noise-cancelling or an auto-pause function. But the former is easy to get over because of the excellent passive damping characteristics of these headphones. All in all, you can only congratulate Bang & Olufsen on the success of their third generation.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance16 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)107 dB ± 3 dB
- Weight without cable2x 5,8g, Case: 55 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- 4 pairs of earmoulds in XS, S, M, L
- 1 pair of Comply earpieces in M
- USB-C charging cable
- Charging case
- available in black and grey
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX
- BT version: 5.1