B&O

H9 Head­phones Put Style First

SmartHouse - - CONTENTS - Writ­ten by Fer­gus Hal­l­i­day

Boast­ing both style and ele­gance, there’s a gor­geous hand­made qual­ity to the H9 that’s both vis­ually elo­quent and sur­pris­ingly er­gonomic. Ev­ery com­po­nent here is as lav­ish as con­sumer-grade head­phones get: the lamb­skin-coated mem­ory foam ear cush­ions feels puffy and weight­less on your ears, the clean stain­less alu­minium-capped ear cups are smooth to the touch and the faux-cowhide leather and alu­minium frame holds ev­ery­thing to­gether with swag­ger and stur­di­ness in al­most-equal mea­sure.

How­ever, while it’s gor­geous to be­hold, these ex­ter­nal at­tributes do come sad­dled with some fine print. The leather head­band soaks up grease with ease and there’s not a lot of flex­i­bil­ity al­lowed by the frame.

Un­like sim­i­larly-priced of­fer­ings by com­pa­nies like Sennheiser, the H9s don’t fold up into a con­ve­nient bun­dle for travel. It comes with a small carry pouch but un­less your bag has a head­phone-shaped hole in it, it’s go­ing to be a poor fit.

If that’s not enough, the tech­ni­cal side of things also works to im­press. The H9s fea­ture B&O’s Ac­tive Noise Can­cel­la­tion tech and – ac­cord­ing to the com­pany – carry a prom­ise to de­liver “un­com­pro­mis­ing sound”.

In re­al­ity, this fea­ture proved it­self aboveav­er­age. It wasn’t the best or most comprehensive form of wire­less noise­can­celling I’d ever ex­pe­ri­enced, nor was it the worst. If you’re look­ing to es­cape the bus­tle of your daily com­mute, they’ll do the job. If you’re look­ing for si­lence on a jet plane, you might be out of luck.

B&O say that the H9s are pack­ing ap­prox­i­mately 14 hours of bat­tery life and our ex­pe­ri­ence lived up to that ex­pec­ta­tion (though you might have some trou­ble get­ting a smart­phone bat­tery to last that long).

The H9’s other sig­na­ture fea­ture is its touch/ges­ture­based fin­ger­tip con­trol. Sim­i­lar to the Sennheiser PXC550s or Samsung’s IconX ear­buds, you can swipe your fin­ger along the earcup to pause or change music, al­ter the vol­ume and en­able/dis­able the noise can­celling.

This fea­ture proved very finicky dur­ing our time with it. Paus­ing and play­ing was easy enough but al­ter­ing the vol­ume proved try­ing at the best of times. There wasn’t enough feed­back to know if the sen­sors in the frame were even pick­ing up your ges­ture and it of­ten felt like it wasn’t pick­ing up move­ments at all.

In terms of re­li­a­bil­ity, the Blue­tooth con­nec­tion au­dio the H9 re­lies on is privy to the usual is­sues. Au­dio hitch­ing isn’t too fre­quent, but it’s present. That said, it does de­liver a rea­son­ably good con­nec­tion at sur­pris­ingly large range. Af­ter a lit­tle bit of reg­u­lar use, I felt con­fi­dent putting my phone down and walk­ing around the house with the head­phones on their own, con­fi­dent that they wouldn’t drop out on me.

Con­clu­sion

Ul­ti­mately, the aes­thet­ics of the H9 stuck with me far longer than its tech­ni­cal mer­its. If you’re look­ing for a pair of lux­ury head­phones that look the part, these might be the right fit. How­ever, if you’re in the mar­ket for su­pe­rior sound, you might want to look fur­ther afield.

3.5/5.0

B&O PLAY’s Beo­play H9 will be avail­able from Bang & Olufsen stores, beo­play.com/h9 and se­lected third party re­tail­ers for RRP $799.

The Beo­play H9 is avail­able in two colours, Black and Argilla Grey for RRP $799, and in­cludes a car­ry­ing bag, charg­ing ca­ble and au­dio ca­ble.

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