Anyone looking for a reliable pair of in-ears to work into a busy lifestyle should definitely give the Beoplay E4 from B&O Play a keen look. Why? Because these in-ears provide handy solutions to listening issues you never even realised needed fixing before.
B&O Play opt for a different approach to their competitors with these Beoplay E4 in-ear headphones. Materials and processing both take a different path than other models that might show shortfalls due to cost-saving tactics. The E4 are instead beautifully designed, with a reassuring weight and useful features like Active Noise Cancellation that will come in handy time and again. Busy public transport journeys fade away to a silence with ANC activated, while the slick aesthetics of these in-ears score top marks in the style stakes.
Four pairs of silicone earmolds are included for you to choose from, along with a pair of memory foam buds to boot. There’s also a USB charging cable, the obligatory transport case, plus a double plug flight adapter. That’s a pretty solid selection of accessories.
Once you pick up the E4, you’ll feel the cool touch of the metal used in its construction, giving you the feeling these are a robust and rugged option. The thick cable ends in a rubberised battery block, behind which there’s a short cable extension that features an angled plug for connecting devices.
Impressive Active Noise Cancellation
A first listen promises a lot in the way of sound, but I first focus on the tiny slider on the battery pack. This switches on the Active Noise Cancellation function of these headphones. Even when off, the E4 shields against external noise thanks to the snug earmolds. When the ANC is turned on, however, most external noises are shut out. Above all, low frequencies like the rumbling of vehicles vanish. At the same time, I did notice a strange pressure in my ears that’s typical of my listening when using ANC. However, this feeling is limited with the E4. Over-ears with ANC are much more unpleasant in this respect. There is a third position on the slider which allows you to use the external microphones for semi-noise cancellation, allowing you to half tune back into the outside world when picking up a conversation with a friend passing by.
The noise cancellation function of these headphones works very well, but I found the sound performance of the E4 a little more problematic. It’s not bad, but in order to assign a glowing review to this model, the highs would need to be more brilliant than they are. The bass and mids come across well, but where it should be sparkling and shimmering, things mumble along. There’s a certain muddled quality to things, no matter whether the ANC is switched on or off. The EQ function adjusts settings slightly for the better, but it’s not enough to overcome the shortcomings completely.
There’s a few other criticisms worth mentioning, although these are more on the minor side. For one, the E4 is very stiff and hard. The cable pulls at the earpieces with some force due to its mass, resulting in a feeling that the earpieces were being pulled free of the ear canal at times. An easy fix would be a small cable clip, which would provide adequate strain relief. Having a cheap and cheerful accessory like this thrown into the mix would have been great, but alas, there’s none to be found in the accessories.
The remote, which masters all Apple commands to perfection, is so minimalist in its design that I had to count the three identical buttons by touching them individually to ensure I had exactly the one I needed.
The battery is forever stuffed into the bag along with the playback device, which brings me back to the ANC slider. It’s great and all, but how exactly can I operate it when there’s a battery bundled in alongside the slider in my bag? In the end, I simply plucked the earpieces out whenever a conversation looked like it was pending. No great hassle though, plus it’s more polite that way.
The B&O Play Beoplay E4 is impressive in execution, with a slick design that exudes quality down to the finest detail. Good looks aside, the E4 also sounds great, so much so the few imperfections would be just about bearable if it wasn’t for the considerably high price that will have many consumers expecting a little bit more for their money. If you want to have the Beoplay E4 in your collection because of its aesthetics and wearability, it’s a clear recommendation. But, with the overall package lacking a little in the sound department, the more discerning audiophiles out there might want to mull this one over a little bit longer.
- Ear couplingIn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 16.000 Hz
- Impedance18,55 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)112,85 dB
- Weight with cable50 g
- Cable length135 cm
What's in the box
- Silicone Ear Tips (XS/S/M/L)
- T-200 Comply Ear Tips in size M
- USB charging cable
- Airplane adapter
- Carrying pouch
- Up to 20 hours of battery power with noise cancelling switched on