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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.)