Bang & Olufsen H6 headphone reviews

 

I was part of the development team, and one of the two persons who decided on the final sound design (aka tonal balance) of the B&O H6 headphones. So, I’m happy to share some of the blame for some of the comments (at least on the sound quality) from the reviews.

 

 

 

Audio.de reviewed the H6 paired with an Astell & Kern portable player. They said:

“Tatsächlich aber ertönte der H6 mit dem AK Junior erstaunlich präzise, extrem sauber und stabil und vor allem ungeahnt luftig. Das Zusammenspiel des speziell angefertigten Treibers mit dem ausgeklügelten Bassport stellte nicht etwa – wie oft üblich bei geschlossenen Hörern – die tiefen Frequenzen wummernd und brummend in den Vordergrund. Nein, besonders Stimmen und feine Details profitierten vom knochentrockenen und nicht zu gewaltigen Bass.

“Susanne Sundfos glockenhelle Stimme beispielsweise stand fest gemeißelt im erstaunlich großen Raum, umgeben von jederzeit verfolgbaren Bassdrum-Beats, echten Streichern und Synthesizer-Harmonien. Der kurze Probelauf mit H6 und AK Junior wurde zur ausführlichen Hörsession, die erste Begeisterung zur echten Liebe. Eben true love.”

Correction: That review stated that I said that the H6’s were tuned using the Grado’s as the reference. This is not really true. While we were tuning them, we listened to many different headphones. The Grado’s are one of the many hanging in the listening room…

 

Gramophone Magazine reviewed the H6 in the April 2014 edition. They said some very nice things about the headphones:

“…excellent clarity and weight, well-defined bass and a sense of openness and space unusual in closed-back headphones. The sound is rich, attractive and ever-so-easy to enjoy.”

and

“… by no means are these headphones designed only for those wanting a pounding bass-line and an exciting overall balance: as already mentioned the bass extension is impressive, but it’s matched with low-end definition and control that’s just as striking, while a smooth midband and airy, but sweet, treble complete the sonic picture.”

and

“As I may have made clear in the past, I haven’t been the greatest fan of headphone listening, much preferring a pair of small speakers on the desk. But with the arrival of fine headphones such as the BeoPlay H6, I’m having to do some re-thinking.”

 

Bobby Solomon wrote this review at thefoxisblack.com.

“The sound is refined, with the midrange coming through clearly, and the bass and treble are balanced perfectly.”

 

Kenneth Roberts wrote this review at head-if.org.

“I’d describe B&O’s “house sound” as natural and neutral, with a brilliant, feathery-light high-end that resolves a lot of detail. This describes the H6’s sound perfectly. It delivers a staggering amount of detail in its price-class. In fact, the H6 delivers an impressive amount of detail when compared to headphones well above its price-class! Cymbals, triangles, snares, and hi-hats all sound crisp and light, with nary a hint of sibilance or stridence. I’m guessing this deftly executed high-end lends much to the headphone’s spectacular imaging, which I’ll describe later.”

 

T3’s website has a review here

“Which rather handily leads us onto how they actually sound. The answer can be summed up with the word ‘balanced’. By this we mean that almost all ranges perform excellently, but never does one take precedence over the other.”

 

pocketlint.com has their review here

from the middle of the text: “As you might expect, audio quality is top-notch. While we can’t say it competes with some of the other stay-at-home audiophile grade kit, for a set of headphones you can listen to daily, they certainly deliver. Sound is nicely balanced with plenty of detail and not an overly punchy bass. The set of 40mm drivers and the internal bass port just keep everything as clean and simple as possible.”

 

Tim Gideon and PCMag.com has their review here

The concluding words state: “In the age of big, booming bass, it’s doing its own thing. This is by no means an anemic-sounding headphone pair, it just favors lows, mids, and highs over a wildly boosted sub-bass range. If a more refined, crisp mids-focused sound is what you seek, the H6 will not disappoint, and it’s refreshing to see such a unique sound signature in this field.”

 

Bang & Olufsen Finally Got It Right” at head-fi.org

“The sound is surprisingly flat, but a little bit on the warm side. The sound is not as airy as the open back cans, but the soundstage is very good for a portable closed back.”

 

whathifi.com has a thorough review here

“Based on my favorable impressions of the H6 with the first series of tracks which are heavy on electronic sounds, and also on the second group which feature more conventional bands and acoustic sounds, I’d say the H6 bridges these different genres very well. There are very few headphones that have a decent deep bass response and reasonable impact but don’t have any upper bass emphasis or bloat, and the B&O H6 is one of those few.”

 

soundandvision.com has a review here

“This is no head-banger headphone, but the bass goes low and it’s nicely articulated. The frequency response is remarkably smooth, without a hint of the rolled highs and boosted bottom common to more mainstream ’phones; the downside to this clarity is that the headphone won’t do anything to blunt the harshness of overcompressed MP3s.”

 

beforeitsnews.com has a review here

“The sound, however, is near flat and crisp. You’ll be able to hear the fine details of a song or a recording. There’s also no distortion at top volumes, while the midrange is great. Bass is balanced rather than strong, preferring accuracy and refinement to simple power. Think of these headphones as fine wine and other headphones as beers. When you start appreciating its beauty and fine sound, oh boy, where have you been all my life?”

 

 

Customer Comments at beoworld.org

There is a long user discussion on the forum here. Persons looking for real-world opinions will certainly get their fill at that site.

“I did not really like the H6 when it was released, a bit thin on an iPhone and a big headphone. And expensive. So I bought the B&W P5 instead. Quite good comfort and good sound. But.. I just had to give the H6 a try so I bought a pair a few days ago (the black model – after a lot of pondering). I now have a completely different feeling about the H6. They sound very natural and good. I like how detailed and precise the sound is.  You can hear so many details very well and how acoustic noises changes in frequencies in a wonderful way.”

“My wife has a pair of H6’s in tan, and I am consistently impressed by them.”

“Soundwise, also nice to hear your opinion (and Chris´s). I can’t remember hearing a pair of headphones with a more true sound.”

“I’ve now got a tan pair of my own (240£ for a new pair via eBay) and use them every day.  I’ve been listening to some of my favourite music which I’ve listened to for over 40 years on CD, vinyl, digital via an ipod and A8’s and can now pick out musical detail that up to now has eluded me.  The separation of instruments on some of my live recordings is incredible, so much so that I’ve found that even Steve Hackett playing live does make some mistakes!  None of the music is muddied and I have to say that I don’t find the volume when using an ipod too low.  If I want loud music I’ll play it at home on a bigger amp set-up with some bigger speakers.  When using the headphones I want the isolation of me and my music.”

  1. Looks like this headphone is scoring high in terms of aesthetics which is important. I was wondering if it has good quality and technical performance. I would love to see spec such as noise cancellation, sensitivity etc.

  2. Well,I guess it means by what, exactly, you mean by “good quality” and “technical performance”. They aren’t noise cancelling headphones, although we were concerned about the noise isolation while we were in development. As for the sensitivity, I can probably find this out if you’re interested. Personally, I find that a “frequency response” (more accurately termed a “magnitude response”) measurement of a headphone is so variable (due to the measurement system used (i.e. artificial ear? HATS? ear cup placement? etc.)) that it’s basically worthless. It’s akin to measuring a loudspeaker in a room. If you can’t isolate the DUT (device under test) and the exact thing that you’re measuring, then there’s no point in looking at a graph.

    Cheers
    -geoff

  3. My Bang & Olufsen H6 arrived this morning. Am going through lots of tracks and I must say I’m very very impressed!!
    I’m a music teacher, music producer and I film music videos so generally am in a studio environment a lot. I love the flat studio sound that these headphones exhibit. They exude luxury and I am hearing things I don’t usually hear from other headphones. I’ve also got the P5′s and Dre Studio beats but I do like these more as they are clinically precise and they have exquisite clarity.
    My ONLY negative comment – if I’m going to be picky, is that I wish they were as comfortable as the Bose qc15. The B&O are definitely more comfortable than the beats and the P5 but for this price I was expecting as good as the Bose qc15′s. The qc15 are good headphones but the cheap tacky wire really lets it down and its not long before you start losing sound in one side. Build and sound wise, The B&O H6 are Rolls Royce clearly. I just wish that the comfort factor could have been somewhat better.
    Despite that – well done Geoff and well done Bang & Olufsen!!!!!!

  4. I gave them a try last night, they sound exactly what I want, I’m focused on noise cancellation and not reduction because most of my flights are long hours, I also have another rival’s set that I moved to recently with their recent edition, and they have a single problem for me, base, I found the H6 what I really need for a true sound and noise cancellation. What I would recommend for trying them is to cancel the eq setting. B&O store have the setting on base booster for commercial purposes I assume, I had to ask for an Ipad and set the eq to flat to feel how real the sound is, else wouldn’t get them.

  5. After reading many, many reviews, I finally purchased the H6 and I love them so far. In particular, I love the fact that there sound isn’t too warm and there’s not too much bass and lower-mids like many other headphones. Strangely, they actually were one of the least favorite pairs I listened to in the Apple Store, probably because for the very reason that I ended up liking them better in the end — they don’t seem to enhance the “impressive first listen” frequencies. I had purchased a B&W P5 that had impressed me most on first listen in the store, but I came back the next day and got the H6. After comparing the two at home for a few days, I returned the P5, which seemed far too warm next to the H6. If I had a criticism of the H6, I might say that I think the bass is perhaps *slightly* too light as some online reviewers have noticed, at least when driven with my MacBook Air or iPhone 5s without EQ tweaking. I listen to everything from Bach to metal to dubstep to pop, and while several reviewers explicitly say that these headphones are not for metal or dubstep, I totally disagree — they provide a much clearer listening experience for these genres and I was able to pick out sounds I’d never heard before. I suppose you won’t get the big physical bass impact that some people seem to enjoy with such music, but you can certainly appreciate the details of the music and musicianship better. Anyway, enough rambling, I just wanted to compliment your work on the H6 and give some feedback from a guy who doesn’t claim to be an audiophile but does have a B.A. in Music & Technology.

  6. Bought a pair of H6;s two weeks ago to replace another pair of headphones – no names, but they have gained a significant momentum recently… I find the H&;s very easy on the ears, meaning that I can listen for half a day without any signs of listening fatigue. My first response when listening to them was a big smile, which is positive. They engage with the music, are well detailed and smooth, have a good tonal balance – albeit slightly on the warmer side. If I should wish fr something it would be a slightly more elegant and extended treble, and more of “air” around instruments maybe also an ever so slight tightening of bass. But as a whole I am very satisfied, and I find it good to see that B&O finally are delivering good sound at reasonable price points again…

  7. Millemissen says:

    Hi Geoff,
    i did not come across this post untill someone in a thread on Beoworld mentioned it.
    You wrote above: “I was part of the development team, and one of the two persons who decided on the final sound design (aka tonal balance) of the B&O H6 headphones.”
    Would it be possible to say a bit about ‘how’ you do sound design on a headphone (or rather on the H6)?
    I am well aware, that you use music that you know well – but what did you use to ‘drive’ the phones?
    Must be difficult to ‘tune’ a headphone, that people afterwards use with different ‘drivers’ (iPhone, headphone-out of a BeoMaster or of a laptop, dedicated headphone-amp…….). Much more difficult than tuning a speaker with a built-in amp/dsp.
    By the way – I like the H6. You and the others involved did a good job on that!

  8. Hi Geoff,
    i own the H6 for a few days now and just to say it in short terms, i love them too! ;-)
    But there are some statements of H6 owner that they need some time (some say up to two weeks/several hours) to “develop” their full “sound potential”. Especially in terms of the bass. So what´s your comment about this? Complete nonsense or …!?

  9. Hi,

    Great to hear that you are happy with your H6’s!

    The short answer to your question is “maybe”. The long answer is:

    1. Of course, the “business end” of a headphone driver is the diaphragm and the surround that supports it (just like a “normal” loudspeaker driver, basically). In theory, the diaphragm acts as a rigid piston and the surround acts as a hinge. However, the reality is that neither of these is ever true. So, when you move the diaphragm of your headphone (by playing sound through it) you cause the “hinge” to flex (which is what it should do). This may change its properties over time – bend a wire enough times and you’ll find that it becomes easier to bend. Eventually, the wire will break – but that’s because you’re bending something that really wasn’t built to be bent – so don’t just to conclusions about your headphones. In addition, just like a loudspeaker driver, when you play sound through a headphone driver, things get warmer than if you don’t play sound. That heat may also cause the properties of the “hinge” to change – possibly temporarily, possibly permanently. It is certainly true that we have seen cases where we take a brand new pair of headphones or a loudspeaker driver, measure the acoustic response – then play sound for a long time (24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for months…), measure them again, and we can see a difference in the measurements. However, whether or not that difference would be audible is unknown – largely because of the answers that follow, below. (Remember as well, that, just because someTHING has changed about the acoustic response, that doesn’t necessarily mean it got better…)

    2. The sound of a pair of headphones is dependent on many issues. The response of the driver itself is only one of those issues. For example, if you press your headphones into your head, you’ll notice that you hear more bass. This is because the cavity inside your headphones is better sealed to your head – you reduce the leaks. Now, think about how your headphones feel when you’re wearing them without pressing them into your head. With over-ear headphones like the H6’s there is probably a leak in the sealing, just under your ear, where your jawbone meets your neck. The softer the cushioning in the headphones, the better that leak will be sealed – however, the software the cushioning, the more likely it is to change properties over time – so some decisions have to be made about cushion softness and longevity. However, the REAL moral of the story here is that your bass response is really dependent on how leaky the coupling is between the headphones and your ear. Unfortunately, every time you put on your headphones, you place them slightly differently on your head – and each difference results in a different amount of leakiness – which will result in a different bass response. Maybe, as you get used to putting on your headphones, you become more consistent in how you place them – and maybe the cushions mould better to the shape of your head (in the same way that your feet stretch new shoes to a better fit over the first week or two after you’ve bought them) – thus sealing the leaks a little better.

    3. We humans are very malleable with respect to what we think is “normal”. Walk into someone’s house, and it smells “funny” – 20 minutes later, you don’t notice the smell because it is now normal. The same is true for loudspeakers and headphones. Buy a new pair of loudspeakers and they’ll sound like they have more bass or a “sweeter top end” (whatever that means) – but within a month or two, all you know is that they sound good – you got used to them. The same is true for headphones. When a certain brand of headphones flooded the market, people said “they have LOTS of (maybe even too much…) bass!!!” Nowadays, people hear other headphones and say “they don’t have enough bass!” Nothing has changed other than peoples’ opinions – their version of “normal” has shifted.

    So, as I said, the answer is “maybe” – but I personally, would say that the second and third answers (and probably more that I don’t know about) are more likely to be the reason for headphones sounding “better” over time than the first one.

    Cheers
    -geoff

  10. Dear Geoff
    Some people recommend using a headphones amplifier to get the most or even better sound from H6.
    Would you recommend using a headphones amplifier for H6?
    I’m mainly listening my music from my iPhone.
    If yes, do you have any recommendations?
    Kind regards
    Damir

  11. Hi Damir,

    It’s interesting reading some comments that say that the H6’s “need” a headphone amplifier in order to sound good. I’m curious as to why people jump to the conclusion that the problem is the headphones – and not the possibility that, when you listen to a lower-quality output (like an amplifier) using a fairly reliable device (like a decent pair of headphones), it will sound like it has a lower quality.

    I would certainly say that an iPhone’s headphone amplifier is not as good as a “real” headphone amplifier – and, when this is the weakest link in the chain, the difference will be audible. :-)

    Personally (and regardless of what headphones I use – I use many types…), when I’m just commuting, I use the headphone output on my iPhone (4S). When I’m travelling, I usually bring along my Fiio E17 Alpine, which also doubles as a USB DAC and headphone amp for my Mac. When I’m sitting at my desk, lately, I’ve been using the “O2” headphone amp designed by “NWAVGUY” – specifically, I use the one made by Head ‘n HiFi.

    Cheers
    -Geoff

  12. Hi Geoff

    I apsolutley agree on your explanation in first two “sections “. It could not been said better.

    Thank you for sharing of your amplifier usage.

    I must admit that B&O sound is very addictive.
    Good job!

    Thanks again and kind regards
    Damir

  13. Hi Geoff,
    I really love the sound of beoplay H6. Great job!!!
    There is a second generation of H6 available. Some revviews say they have more bass and the mid range are lot smoother when compared to the 1st generation. Is the second generation tuned differently?
    Thanks
    Dhivakar

  14. Hi,

    Only slightly. The reviews are correct enough to not argue with them – however, remember that the response of any closed headphone will change over time as the cushion softens and provides a better seal against the side of your head (particularly along the jaw line and, if you wear glasses, around the arms of the glasses). This improvement on the sealing will have the biggest effect on the low end.

    Cheers
    – geoff

  15. Hello Geoff ,

    I had some questions about the H6 :

    1) Earlier you said that the second generation were tuned slightly differently. Could you please elaborate on what exactly the changes are in the second generation ? Were some parts of the frequency spectrum (eg. lower end) prioritized more than the previous generation ? Are there any internal changes in the drivers themselves?

    2) There are a lot of users who are saying that the sound signatures(or whatever you want to call it) of the H6 , the H6 Special Edition and the DJ Khaled version all seem different. Is it true that there are variations regarding the sound among these versions?

    3) The first generation definitely needed a good source to perform its best. Has the second generation been optimized more in this regard ? Has its impedance changed ? What has the design team done to accommodate for less than optimal sources ? (like an iPhone for example)

    Looking forward to your answers ! They will certainly help folks out there wondering about the second generation of the H6.

    Thank you and have a great day !

    Cheers !

  16. Hi Dhivakar,

    The cable in your link should work fine. I normally just use a minijack-to-1/4″ adapter – usually the first one I find (I have a bunch of them lying around, both at work and at home). I don’t worry too much about things like cables and adapters (as long as a decent electrical connection is made) – but I’m not a very religious person…

    Cheers
    -geoff

  17. Hello Geoff ,

    I had some questions about the H6 :

    Earlier you said that the second generation were tuned slightly differently. Could you please elaborate on what exactly the changes are in the second generation ? Were some parts of the frequency spectrum (eg. lower end) prioritized more than the previous generation ? Are there any internal changes in the drivers themselves? Are there any differences in soundstage? Some reviewers said that the mids are recessed in the second generation. Is it true?

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