BeoPlay H9 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 Play H9 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.

Because they were sound designed primarily for portable use, the H9’s have a intentional emphasis on the lower frequency band in their tuning – although a little less than would be done on a passive pair of headphones due to the noise cancelling.

 

WhistleOut

“As you’d expect with a pair of $799 headphones, the Beoplay H9s sound amazing. In short, they offer a balanced, warm, detailed sound that isn’t quite as bass driven as what you might get from a pair of Bose or Beats. That’s not to say bass is missing, just more of a healthy medium between a more sterile studio pair of headphones and big bass alternatives. As a result, you end up with a nuanced profile that helps bring your music to life without compromising a song’s mix.”

 

headphonereview.com

“Of course, a great design and high comfort level don’t really matter if they’re let down by a bad sound quality. Thankfully, on the closed-back B&O Beoplay H9’s, the sound quality is pretty damn great.

Now, let’s make something clear before we talk about the sound — these headphones are not built for the studio. They’re consumer headphones, and as such they aren’t aimed at providing the flattes (sic.) frequency response possible, but rather at coloring the music in a way that fits most of today’s music. And that’s something they do very well.”

 

Lyd & Billede

“Særligt musik optaget i flere lag demonstrerer præcis hvor godt H9 spiller. I billigere hovedtelefoner vil denne type musik ofte resultere i et mudret lydbillede. Med et sæt af høj kvalitet som H9, kan du hele vejen igennem adskille instrumenter og stemmer fra hinanden.”

(Music recorded in multiple layers demonstrates exactly how well the H9’s play. In cheaper headphones, this type of music often result in a muddy sound. With a set with high quality like the H9’s, you can easily separate instruments and voices from each other.)

 

 

  1. Great comments Geoff and congratulations! in your opinion, which of the current range of BeoPlay headphones comes closest to the most authentic sound possible for critical (dare I use the word audiophile!) listening – and particularly with classical music.

    I would love to see B&O develop a headphone to rival the likes of the Sennheiser HD 800’s – an statement piece re sound quality for dynamic headphones.

    A headphone ‘equivalent’ in sound quality to the wonderful Beolab 90’s… :-)

    Kind regards

    John

  2. Hi John,

    Sorry it took so long to respond to you. To be honest, I just noticed your posting today…

    I don’t know if I can fairly answer your question, since I am “too close” to the BeoPlay headphones to give an unbiased opinion. However, it might be worth considering that the sound design of the H6’s was intended for quieter surroundings. Typically, when we do a sound design for a headphone that is intended for primarily portable use, we tend to increase the bass level slightly to compensate for interference by background noise.

    So, if you are intending to use the headphones at home, or in quiet surroundings generally, then the H6’s would be a good place to start.

    Of course, if you are like me, then weight and comfort are almost as important as sound quality – particularly for long listening sessions… So, I would strongly suggest that you audition any headphone for more than 20 seconds before buying them…

    Cheers
    -geoff

  3. Can anyone help me? I’m in a difficult situation. I own a Bose QC15, but want to upgrade that; B&O is an incredible brand, but I don’t live in USA, therefore I can’t try them. Some people say that the H6 mark II has a better sound, some people say that the H9 has the best sound, and I don’t know if it is worth to spend $500 on those headphones, or buy the QC35 that people say it has better ANC. Since I don’t know what to choose, I would like you to give me an advise, if the H9 is worth its cost, or I should look other brand or the H6 mark II or the new H4? Sorry to write such a long message, but I need to know please

  4. Hi Daniel,

    I’m afraid that I can’t answer your question for obvious reasons. However, I would suggest that you ask the same question to the forum at http://www.beoworld.org. The users there will certainly have opinions that may give you some indications that can help.
    Cheers
    -geoff

  5. Really helpful to see this background information. I work for a company that partners with B&O.
    Question about H9 volume … does BT limit the max volume?

  6. Hi,

    In order to answer your question about Bluetooth, I need to know what you are really asking…

    However, the answer might be here.

    Cheers
    – geoff

  7. Hi Geoff, That writeup, generous and help in detail was informative. My question, better worded, is about my experiencing that the max volume for my H9’s being lower through BT vs wired (through phone). I think your writeup was explaining how one hear differences in max volume in wired mode depending on the source and if a source is relatively low powered, the max volume could be lower than in BT?

    I was wondering if the lower volume through BT is a result of a design tradeoff associated with ANC, battery life, etc.

    Thanks for your blog. Really great testimony to the engineering at B&O.

  8. Hi again Peekay,

    Ah – now I understand the question a little more.

    It’s difficult to predict the relative levels of a Bluetooth signal and an analogue signal in a pair of devices (for example, a smartphone transmitting to a pair of headphones). There are many reasons for this – one of which is the analogue output level of the source (which varies greatly from device to device) as I described in that article that I referenced above.

    Another unknown in the equation is the fact that the Bluetooth path, due to a limited bandwidth, employs some kind of lossy CODEC. The exact CODEC that is used is dependent on the capabilities of the two devices. The SBC CODEC is mandatory for all devices, but other CODEC’s are widely available (for more information about this, there is a quick list available here). As a result, a Bluetooth connection to one pair of headphones from two different source devices (say two different brands of smartphone, or a smartphone and a computer from the same manufacturer) may employ two different CODEC’s – and are therefore not directly comparable.

    On top of this, the audio path inside the two devices may employ some gain either feeding the input of the transmitter’s encoder, or the output of the receiver’s decoder, according to each manufacturer’s architecture. As a result, a 0 dB FS signal entering the Tx encoder may not necessarily exit the Rx decoder at the same level – but it may. Since the analogue path via a wire is parallel to this, a 0 dB FS signal at the source may (or may not) result in a different level when that signal “meets” the output of the Rx output.

    Basically, there are too many variables in the signal path to make a generalised statement – even about one product. However, as you suggested, different manufacturers will also employ different strategies to improve battery life (and this may be dependent on the battery level), which may make any conclusions about relative levels different under different conditions. The requirements of headroom associated with ANC add an extra variable, although I do not know of a case where this gain management is dynamic over changing conditions (e.g. background noise level).

    So, this was a really long way of saying “it depends”… However, unfortunately, without doing a detailed analysis of the two signals paths for the two specific devices you are using for the test (the source and the headphones), it’s really impossible to have an answer to your question…

    Hope this helps…

    Cheers
    -geoff

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