What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Pay­ing £200 for a pair of in-ear head­phones is no small ask, but then B&O isn’t ex­actly a com­pany that con­cerns it­self with bud­get. Like many B&O prod­ucts, the H3s cer­tainly don’t scrimp in the de­sign stakes. Each ear­bud fea­tures a brushed alu­minium outer cas­ing with 29 pre­ci­sion-drilled holes that B&O says work as air vents for a more nat­u­ral sound re­pro­duc­tion.

They feel pretty sturdy too, but not heavy. In fact they weigh just 40g and never feel cum­ber­some in your ears. The big diƒer­ence be­tween the H3 ANC and the orig­i­nal H3s is the ac­tive noise can­cel­la­tion, with a cir­cu­lar con­trol unit built into the cable close to the jack. It’s a pretty chunky unit, but can eas­ily be tucked away in a bag or pocket along with your de­vice.

Fully charged, it will pro­vide a quoted 20 hours of noise can­cel­la­tion but it is very sub­tle in­deed, dulling the noise around you rather than block­ing it out.

More bite

We put the H3 ANCS through their paces with a blast of Dead Ed­i­tors by Mas­sive At­tack. It’s a rich, full-bod­ied sound, the puls­ing bassline packed with weight and au­thor­ity that ex­tends its so­lid­ity through­out the fre­quency range. The H3s are ac­tu­ally pretty well bal­anced, serv­ing up a good level of de­tail and in­sight into the midrange that en­sures in­stru­ments sound nat­u­ral and life­like.

Lenny Kravitz’s Franken­stein helps to em­pha­sise the H3’s rm grip on tim­ing and or­gan­i­sa­tion too. Vo­cals could have a touch more ex­pres­sion to them, and drums could kick with more force. In fact, the whole pre­sen­ta­tion could do with more punch and ar­tic­u­la­tion – it’s a touch too easy-go­ing. With ANC on, there’s more ex­cite­ment thanks to a boosted tre­ble, but this does make for a less com­fort­able lis­ten over long pe­ri­ods.

While the B&O H3s don’t quite get the bal­ance be­tween ex­cite­ment and easy lis­ten­ing right, they do a ne job at giv­ing enough in the way of de­tail, tim­ing, weight and au­thor­ity to make up for it. We’d like a bit more at­tack to their char­ac­ter, but it’s oth­er­wise a com­mend­able bal­ance that works su­perbly across diƒer­ent tracks and gen­res, and well worth con­sid­er­ing.

“Each ear­bud has 29 pre­ci­sion-drilled holes, work­ing as air vents for more nat­u­ral sound re­pro­duc­tion”

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