With the Beoplay H9i, B&O Play introduce an upgraded version of their premium model, the H9, with features that hold up well to heavyweights like Sony, Wilkins, Beats and Bose. In fact, it’s a highly competitive option, right down to the price.
The B&O Play genes are fully on show here, with this headphone design proving a feast for the eyes, with the good lucks never compromising on technical capability and performance. Materials used and technology applied are both of top quality, although the Danish manufacturer has opted against the use of Qualcomm tech and the aptX codec with this latest generation of headphones. As previously, the manufacturer has claimed it simply doesn’t need to rely on this tech to deliver premier headphone products.
Materials & Workmanship
These headphones score highly when it comes to comfort. The finest lamb leather is combined with memory foam padding to ensure these feel great on, while a lightweight 285 grams makes these ideal for mobile use. The headband itself is adjustable, while the fabric-covered padding on the underside of the headband ensures enhanced grip and a better fit, while also adding to overall comfort levels. The Beoplay H9i is operated by a switch and via gesture controls, with control buttons found on the right-hand side of the headset. The outer material is clearly marked with L and R, ensuring you’ll have no trouble finding your way around.
The H9i comes with a soft fabric bag, a USB charging cable, plus a mini jack cable and flight adapter. All’s well and good, even though the cable was a little short for my liking. Having said that, it’s always handy having the option to operate these headphones in analogue mode.
Technology & Operation
The H9i operates at a similar technical level as other headphones from competitors in this class. Bluetooth 4.2, AAC codec, integrated microphones for speech transmission and a revised Adaptive Noise Cancellation (ANC) function can be found as standard here. A transparency mode has also been introduced to this enhanced version of the H9, allowing for the transmission of external noise through the earpieces with surprisingly effective results. There’s also a sensor that gives the player or smartphone you’re attached to a handy pause function. The battery is replaceable like the predecessor model, with a generous battery life of 18 hours to be expected. That’s with Bluetooth and ANC enabled, by the way. Charging time is a pleasantly brief 2.5 hours.
The Beoplay H9i is almost exclusively controlled via gestures or touching the right earpiece. It might take a little practice to begin with, but things become easy to handle in no time. However, I did notice some confusion between gestures given and commands responded with. Due to this, I sometimes opted to defer control to the smartphone connected to these headphones. The Beoplay app, which is offered free of charge for iOS and Android, offers a very useful tool for sound adjustment thanks to the use of a matrix and pointer, allowing you to perfect preferences and save them for different genres.
The two drivers have a diameter of 40mm, operating in the frequency range 20 Hz to 22 kHz. The H9i needs to convince with practical results, rather than quoted values however. And thankfully, that’s exactly what it does. This headphone model offers a detailed sound texture, with acoustic instruments and studio recordings in particular reproduced with fine levels of detail. Pat Metheny’s “The Way Up” sounded sensational via these headphones, for example, with the acoustic profile perfectly captured. The H9i reproduces chimes, as well as the often challenging hi-hats. Spatial depth is instantly noticeable here, with the finer character of the sound a signature that the engineers behind these headphones have put some real thought into things, particularly the bass. The H9i convinces with its sound performance, with an almost analytical character that’s a slight improvement on its predecessor model.
Noise Cancelling und Transparency Mode
The ANC can be switched on with a simple gesture and deactivated again with the same movement. The sound difference, in all honesty, is marginal. When switched off, the Beoplay H9i sounds slightly more open, which is in part due to the fact ambient sounds are perceived naturally. Turning on the ANC gives a typical open/closed effect, with the function working very well in shutting out the sound of the city, for example. Unexpected noises with enough volume will occasionally penetrate, but this is hardly noticeable depending on the music playing. The snooze mode is another handy feature, with headphones operating Bluetooth mode shutting down to standby mode after 15 minutes of inactivity. The ANC will also shut down at the same time, preserving battery life.
The transparent mode is activated by an upward swiping gesture, with quality transmission of external noise siphoned in through the integrated microphones. It’s ideal for picking up a quick conversation with someone you’re passing by, or perhaps listening out for announcements at the station platform. When the mode is activated, music pauses and starts again when it is deactivated.
All in all, the B&O Play Beoplay H9i scores well. It’s a superbly tuned headphone with accurate noise cancellation functionality, an impressive battery life and reliable Bluetooth connectivity. Aesthetics are first-rate, while usability gets another applause. In the high end price bracket, the H9i will likely perform well thanks to its sound reproduction values, effective noise cancellation and reliable gesture control. It’s a much better option for an everyday listening companion than its predecessor model
Measurement ResultsMore measurement results
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 22.000 Hz
- Weight with cable295 g
- Weight without cable285 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- 1.2 m audio cable with mini jack
- 1.25 m USB A to USB C cable
- Airplane adapter
- Carrying pouch
- also available in the color variant "Natural"
- BT version: 4.2
- BT codecs: AAC
- 2 digital MEMS microphones
- 4 electret microphones for ANC (2 electret microphones in each ear cup)
- Compatible with Beoplay App
- Up to 18 hrs. runtime with Bluetooth and ANC
- up to 23 hours only with Bluetooth
- up to 24 hours wired with ANC + control
- charging time approx. 2.5 hours Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator