The B&O Play Beoplay H8i convinces with a precise, pleasant sound profile that’s a signature of the manufacturer, delivering a pair of headphones that are ideal for everyday use, but should also meet more demanding requirements. The arrangement of the control elements can lead to some operational hassle, but this isn’t a chief gripe and shouldn’t impair listening enjoyment too much. The RRP of around 400 Euros seems fair for a pair of premium headphones like these, especially when you consider the lightweight and comfortable result that B&O Play has managed to realise with the H8i.
Fans of B&O Play headphones usually pay keen attention to two things: how they look and how they sound. Rightly so. The Danish audio-visual company has worked these elements into its design philosophy for some time now, with said philosophy proving a recipe for success. The fact that the Beoplays have been set at a higher price point than the usual offerings from the manufacturer doesn’t seem to bother many consumers who look to the brand as a favourite.
Unlike the previous generation of products, the H8i lacks the aptX codec from Qualcomm in what is most likely a cost-saving effort on the part of the manufacturer. However, the manufacturer is also keen to stress that there is no real difference between that codec and the AAC codec anyway.
This model has an RRP of 399 Euros, with the manufacturer laying down that asking price with confidence. However, what something costs and how much it is actually worth is not always easy to discern. To help you make a better judgement of whether or not this asking price is worth it for you, read on.
The H8i provided to us for testing purposes arrived in a discreet cardboard box, with the model itself presented simply inside. At first glance, the stylish design of this headphone model is reassuring, and much in keeping with what you’d expect from an item in this product class. Accessories are arranged in folded paper cases. On that note, it’s worth pointing out the included 120cm jack cable seemed a little short. It serves its purpose when combined with the supplied flight adapter, for example, but beyond that seems a little redundant and might be best saved as an emergency spare. However, the wireless H8i doesn’t really require this cable for everyday operation.
The materials used are both lightweight and slick in appearance. The headband is made of quality aluminium, with the sliding mechanism also made of the same material. The polymer earpieces are pleasant to the touch, while the ear cushions are made of soft leather, creating a comfortable solution that’s equally elegant in appearance. The underside of the earpiece is upholstered with soft fabric, with a faux leather trim adding a stylish accent.
Handling & Operation
The Beoplay H8i is an adjustable headphone design that’s easy to handle and incredibly comfortable to wear, thanks in part to its lightweight 215 gram construction. External noise dampening is immediately achieved, to a point, thanks to the closed design of these headphones, while the more enhanced functions can be triggered with controls on the left side of the headset. On the left, you’ll find a control to initiate active noise cancellation in all its glory, while there’s also the option to activate the so-called ‘transparency’ mode. With this, the integrated microphones are put to good use in order for external noise to be drawn in and reproduced through the earpieces themselves. This is ideal if you bump into someone in the street and need to exchange pleasantries. If you need to pull the headphones off completely, the track you’re playing will be paused in place, before picking up from this stop point when you’re good to listen again. However, this promising feature doesn’t always deliver practical results. With the Spotify app, things went well. However, with Apple’s podcast app, the pause function didn’t kick in as expected. During telephone calls, calls are accepted and cancelled by pressing the central button on the right side of the device. Call quality at both ends is good with no noticeable audio defects.
However, the sensor reacted very sensitively. Music was interrupted after the slightest of movements, with the pause command being triggered all too easily.
Unfortunately, the sensitivity of the sensor isn’t adjustable, but can at least be turned off by pressing the control button for five seconds. This can’t be done via the Beoplay app, however. Other than that drawback, the app is recommended, however. The app allows you to individualise further settings and personalise playback. You will also find a PDF manual within the app folders, however only a single edition is available, which is quite frustrating if you’re seeking one in a specific language.
Besides the disappointing sensor performance, which caused me to turn the function off in the end, the Beoplay H8i has another drawback. However, this may be only noticeable in the winter months. When my jacket collar was raised, I noticed operating errors during playback, with this part of my clothing causing the pause function to occasionally be triggered, the transparency feature to activate, or the device turn off altogether. This is more to do with clothing choice than technical limitations, but it deserves a mention all the same.
With the centre button, clicking the centre button once and holding down will trigger Bluetooth pairing. A short tap pauses a track, while a double click skips to the next track. A triple trick skips back a track, while there are separate buttons to handle volume control.
The Beoplay H8i recognises paired devices once the pairing process has been carried out, allowing for quick connections for future enjoyment. Before we move on and talk about sound, it’s worth making a note of the battery life credentials of this headphone model. It’s good news all round. The manufacturer states that 30 hours of operation can be expected after a single charge. Certainly, a fully charged battery lasted for around a week of relatively frequent use during our test.
The Beoplay H8i has an improved noise cancellation function compared to its predecessors, with the enclosed fit alone providing more than enough noise cancelling performance than you’d ever need. In most instances, you won’t need to trigger electronic noise cancellation at all.
As soon as you turn on the ANC, the background of everyday life is largely eliminated. Even traffic noises and everyday chatter vanishes more or less completely when the music starts playing. Only on train journeys or when stuffed into busy trams and buses will external noise penetrate. On the positive side, there is almost no discernible difference when ANC is switched on, demonstrating how good the fit of these enclosed headphones really is.
The transparency function of these headphones is extremely practical if you want to make a brief reconnection with the outside world, such as when you want to listen in for platform announcements at the station or departure hall, without having to take off the headphones.
As with other Beoplay headphones, the H8i sounds balanced with a clear trendy to meet demanding requirements. Classical music, jazz, acoustic instruments, choirs, piano recordings and more all sound incredibly clear when played via the H8i. Thanks to the enclosed construction of these headphones and the use of the active noise cancellation, the H8i helps create immersive listening sessions. Current chart recordings and energetic basses are also clearly reproduced with these headphones. It’s always great to see such a level of technical success in sound with wireless headphones. To be honest, the absence of the aptX codec was not an issue during the week-long testing phase. I extensively tested the H8i during designated listening sessions and everyday use, without missing anything due to the codec issue. The combination of good looks, effective noise cancellation and first-rate mobility makes the H8i a real winner from B&O Play.
- Ear couplingOn-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Weight with cable225 g
- Weight without cable215 g
- Cable length120 cm
What's in the box
- Mini jack cable
- USB charging cable
- Airplane adapter
- Carrying pouch
- also available in black
- 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 30 hours running time with Bluetooth and ANC
- Up to 45 hours with Bluetooth only
- Up to 42 hours wired with ANC + controller
- Charging time approx. 3.5 hrs