When it comes to Bang & Olufsen, one comes to expect a certain level of premium quality associated with the brand. As such, the Beoplay H8i definitely offers this along with a rich, premium sound to go with the aesthetic.
Design and build
At first glance, Beoplay H8i headphones look stylish and luxurious. From the ear pads and bands, we can immediately see that there are different types of leather, metal and canvas-like cloth used on them. I’m a fan of over-ear headphones as compared to on-ear headphones but I must say that the comfort on these is actually really agreeable with my ears. While there is some discomfort over a period of time, it still sits better than most other on-ear pads.
The ear pads are soft and nicely cushioned with memory foam, while the headband sits nicely on your head. They block out quite a bit of room noise immediately, which is a great passive feature and when turned on, manage to create a decent immersive experience. We’ll get into that in a bit.
One really important addition to the Beoplay H8i is the USB type-C cable for charging, which means I don’t have to carry a separate cable to charge them anymore. Also, the carrying case it comes with is nice, soft and easy to carry, despite the fact that these headphones do not bend or collapse to become more portable.
Coming to functionality, there are three buttons at the bottom of the right ear pad. A central button controls media playback, call features and voice assistance. There are dedicated up and down buttons on either side of the middle buttons for volume. The central button is also responsible for Bluetooth pairing mode when held for about five seconds.
The left ear pad does the rest of the grunt work in terms of noise cancellation and audio transparency. It houses a power button that also doubles as a NC and transparency button. The 3.5mm jack and the USB-C port are also part of the right ear pad. There is a mic integrated into the right ear pad as well, and from what basic testing I did, it appeared quite legible to whoever was on the other end of the call.
There is also a feature where the sound turns off automatically when you take the headphones off, and turns it back on when you put them back on your head. While this feature is gimmicky, I can imagine it won’t play well with a lot of users.
We’re here for the sound
You’ve spent quite a bit on these headphones and you expect them to sound as priced. Fear not, as the Beoplay H8i performs very well in this department.
I put it through a variety of music, from Max Cooper to Moderat, Childish Gambino and a host of artists in between, and the headphones are quite balanced. While the bass isn’t thumping in your head, it delivers a decent punch and the high notes are reasonably audible. If the treble could be tuned a little higher, you’ve got yourself some really good sound.
There is a slight variance with the NC turned off. Bass levels drop for sure, but still don’t disappoint. The highs still play well with the other notes, maintaining a nice even balance. Vocals are very nicely represented on these on-ear cans, and sound crisp and clear.
Noise cancellation is pretty decent, though still not at Sony or Bose levels. Also these are on-ear headphones, so they don’t cancel as well as over-ear headphones do. Transparency mode also works as advertised and allows you to quickly pause and play the audio to listen to someone and switch back as required.
Battery life is pretty decent on these headphones as well. Like the Sony, these come with about 30 plus hours of playback life. I’ve read you can push these to almost 2 days, but that must be under different settings and conditions. Charging is easy thanks to the USB-C cable. Points for that.
Cop or drop?
As on-ear headphones go, the B&O Beoplay H8i is really really good. While the set is expensive, it does offer what the brand itself is famous for, premium feel. They’re also quite comfortable to wear for long periods of time as on-ear headphones go and come with some solid battery life.
For me personally, the audio was great, but then again sound quality is subjective to its user. If you’re someone who listens to a broad spectrum of music, these offer balanced sounds to cover most genres, but these also perform well for bass junkies to a certain extent.
Noise cancellation as discussed is pretty good, but still far off the mark from Sony or Bose. Especially for its price point. I’ve faced some issues with audio drops because of Bluetooth connectivity, but that’s forgiven because it still hasn’t been perfected by anyone.
All in all, the Beoplay H8i are a must cop, but they are pricey at Dh1,699. While I had the full black ones to try, they are also available in silver and beige.