As far as design is concerned, Bang & Olufsen (or B&O) products are unlike any other on the market. The quality construction of the B&O Play Earset is completely original. In fact, the manufacturer uses a design by Anders Hermansen from the nineties for this model, reviving it for use in the modern age in the form of a wireless model.
Design and Feel
The design of the graphite brown and white model is equal parts decorative and functional and offers stability and immaculate power. In particular, the adjustable and rotating hinged aluminium ear hook with a rubber coating is simply ingenious—it allows for a flexible adaptation to a wide variety of ear shapes. At the same time, such a construction is not necessarily for everyone and is not always ideal for those who wear eyeglasses.
The two handsets themselves are connected by a cable. Below the left earpiece is a remote control with three buttons. In addition to fast pairing, music playback can be controlled, started and stopped here. A voice assistant can be enabled here too and you can also jump between titles by pressing several times. According to the manufacturer, the built-in lithium-ion battery offers a playback time of up to five hours and about two hours for a full charge. Not the best values, but in the case of non-operation, a power saving circuit starts. There’s also a 20-minute fast-charge feature which allows for about 1 hour of music playback.
In addition, the free B&O Play App (iOS, Android, watchOS) provides a simple tool that can also control track selection and volume. Added to this is an intuitive sound control via an X / Y field, in which tuning by finger changes between of one of the four sound fields “Warm”, “Excited”, “Relaxed” and “Bright”.
The fit of the design, despite its versatile adjustability, is clearly taste-dependent. This is mainly due to the rather large ear moulds that are not pushed into the ear canal (in-ear) but rather placed in front of it (earbuds). Like the Apple AirPods or the Google Pixel Buds, they may take a bit of getting used to and may not suit everyone. With a bit of patience, the B&O Play Earset, thanks to the ingenious construction, usually find the right position, which also sits securely thanks to the foldable stirrups. For long-term use, the handset was personally not comfortable enough for me because of the wide ear moulds.
With support for Bluetooth 4.2 and the AAC codec, the Earset provides a good technical base. Ventilated, dynamic drivers with a diameter of 14.2 mm and a neodymium drive work in both hands. Sonically, B&O Play follows an “open” listening experience. At the same time, you should be able to interact with the environment, at least at low and moderate levels. This is indeed possible and makes sense both on the road and in short conversations.
If you have the listener placed appropriately, the sound is quite appealing and balanced. The construction provides a breezy and rich listening experience, punchy and rich in nuances. The basses are contoured, warm and neither over-stressed nor “strained”. Nevertheless, they have a deficit in the low bass due to the unclosed auditory canal.
In the mid-range, the playback is equally warm, detailed and coherent, so that a pleasing representation of instruments and voices can be heard across genres, which are also clearly demarcated. In the area of high frequencies, stereoscopic and spatial imaging, the listener is open, precise and free of annoying disturbances. This also results in a stable stereo image, comprehensible panoramic movements and a passable mapping of spatial information.
Rock, for example, is depicted powerfully and coherently—quiet genres and classical music are too. The listener does not score much in bass-heavy Hip-Hop or R’n’B productions, but there is also a slight difference in terms of pitch and dynamics in acoustic jazz with its accented double bass.
Apart from the deep bass, the “open” concept also has conceptual disadvantages: The degree of isolation is reduced compared to typical in-ear constructions, making the listening experience less intimate and even degraded in a noisy environment. The Earset, therefore, plays out its full sound quality in quieter listening environments—after all, the shielding to the outside is good. Speech intelligibility when making a call is also good and clear.
Externally, the timeless, tastefully designed Earset goes its own way. The B&O Play is a design gem and offers harmonious sound, albeit without bass. The price is not cheap at about 300 euros, however, but is justified by the elaborate construction. However, both the hanger bracket, the wide earpieces and the deliberately open construction are a matter of taste, so I recommend a trial run before purchasing.
- Ear couplingEarbus
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance32 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)105 dB
- Weight with cable30 g
What's in the box
- 3 pairs of foam pads
- USB-C charging cable
- Carrying pouch
- available in black, graphite brown, limestone and white
- BT version: 4.2
- BT codec: AAC
- Charging time: 2 hours (full charging); 20 minutes for 1 hour playback time