B&O Beoplay HX Review: Premium Sound
June 21, 2021
If you are an audiophile, I am sure you have heard of the brand Bang & Olufsen. Founded by Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen in 1925, B&O is a Danish company specializing in high-end audio products. If you are looking for audio electronics that have premium construction and sound, B&O is one company to consider. The B&O Beoplay HX is their latest offering in the premium wireless ANC headphone space. Let us take a look at how it stacks up.
Disclaimer: I purchased all devices reviewed in this article. I did not receive any review units from Bang & Olufsen. I am NOT sponsored or affiliated with Bang & Olufsen in any way. I do not accept copy approval from Bang & Olufsen or any other organization. All opinions are mine and mine alone.
- 🔋 Up to 35hrs with ANC on
- 🎨 Black Anthracite, Timber, Sand
- 🎵 SBC, AAC, aptX™ Adaptive
- 🎁 Active noise canceling, Fast Pair
- 🔌 USB-C
- ⚖ 285 g headphones, 360 g carrying case
- 💸 $500
- 📅 2021.03.25
What has changed?
The B&O Beoplay HX are the direct successors to the Beoplay H9. With the HX, there have been several things that have been upgraded:
- Bluetooth connectivity has been upgraded from Bluetooth 4.2 to Bluetooth 5.1
- ANC has been upgraded as well from the previous generation
- Two additional microphones have been added for voice calls
- The battery life has been increased from 25 hrs to 35 hrs
- Instead of a fabric sleeve, the HX comes with a carrying case
- An additional year of warranty has been included
- The headphones now support all manners of fast pairing as well
- The button layout has also slightly changed on the Beoplay HX. The slider that is used to control pairing, on and off is replaced by a single button (long press to enter pairing mode).
Build Quality: Premium Materials
Part of what you pay for when buying the B&O Beoplay HX is the premium construction and materials. The Beoplay HX uses a mixture of aluminum, leather, fabric, polymer plastic, and rubber. The ear cushions and headband are made with smooth cowhide, soft lambskin, and knitted fabric. The earcup and arms are made of polymer-painted plastic. Finally, the touch-sensitive ear plates are made of pearl-blastic recycled aluminum.
Audio: Clear wide sound stage
The audio quality of the Beoplay HX is fantastic. Tracks with strong vocals are crystal clear. The sound stage is wide and makes you feel like you are listening to a live performance. The bass isn't overwhelmingly strong but crisp and tight. The separation of instruments is quite distinct here as well. I think the sound quality of the Beoplay HX would be the number one reason to get these headphones over others.
Comfort and Fit
During my time with the Beoplay HX, the headphones were relatively comfortable. The clamping pressure of the earpieces was on the lighter side. I never felt like my head was being squashed in any way.
The downward pressure from the headband, on the other hand, did hurt my head after extended use (4+ hrs). I did notice that if I adjusted the arms to a certain length where the clamping pressure helps with supporting the weight of the headphones, the pressure, on the top of my head, is greatly reduced. Coupled by the fact that the headband adjustments do extend and shorten smoothly to any length, it was quite easy to make them comfortable.
Software: Buggy App
The headphones do come with their own Android and iOS app. The one on Android is rather buggy. The headphones are often not detected by the app, despite being connected to the phone. The settings take a couple of seconds to show up when you launch. The biggest downside is perhaps the need for an account with your email to use the app at all. I am not a big fan of this approach and much prefer the account to be optional.
For a full look at all the settings available for the Beoplay HX, check out the video below.
Battery and Charging: 35 hrs is pretty great
Battery life on the Beoplay HX is notably great. I have only needed to charge the headphones once every couple of days when using them for 10+ hours a day with ANC on all the time.
Charging is done via a USB-C port on the right earcup. A full charge from 0 to 100% takes about 3 hrs.
Active Noise Cancellation is on the weaker side but still decent
The Beoplay HX does not cancel noise as much as the Sony WH-1000XM4 or WF-1000XM4. I would give these a solid B in the ANC. The rumbling of a washing machine and dryer is reduced to a low whisper (by comparison, the sound is almost non-existent with the Sony WF-1000XM4). The lack of any ANC pressure on the ears is a welcome surprise. People who are sensitive to ANC pressures will find this refreshing.
The Experience: On the Plane
Using the Beoplay HX on the plane is a pleasant experience. The noise-canceling does a satisfactory job at making movies and music enjoyable on the plane. I did notice that the noise of the plane was louder when I had the headphones on with ANC off compared to not having them on at all. I found that to be rather odd but I am unsure if that is expected for all headphones. Compared to the WF-1000XM4, the ANC achieves a quiet cafe noise level rather than a quiet library.
Ambient Sound is quite natural
The ambient sound feature on the Beoplay HX is the most natural-sounding I have used so far. Sound from the environment isn't overly loud. Sharp noises aren't picked up louder than others. You can have an enjoyable conversation with another human being (minus the awkwardness of having headphones on your head)
Warranty: 3 Years
These come with a 3-year warranty. That is the highest I have seen on any ANC headphones on the market. The Apple Airpod Max and the Sony WH-1000XM4, by comparison, only come with one. You can get a sense of just how confident B&O is about its build quality.
Unique touch scroll wheel
The volume controls on the Beoplay HX are unique. Instead of a physical scroll wheel, it has a touch-sensitive circle with grooves. Drawing a circle around the touch-sensitive panel makes it feel like you are moving a dial when you are, in fact, not. I think these controls work well. My only complaint is the delay between the gesture and initiation. I assume this is to reduce the number of accidental gestures, but I would have liked to adjust the delay in the app.
No voice prompts, only audio tones
The Beoplay HX relies on using various audio tones to communicate the status of the headphones. This can get a bit confusing. The audio tones are a bit too similar to tell apart. I would much rather have a voice prompt for the battery status, device on or off, and pairing.
Very premium price
The Beoplay HX cost $500. That is $150 more than the Sony WH-1000XM4 at MSRP. I don't expect most people to pay this much for ANC headphones especially given how great the Sony WH-1000XM4s are. What you do get here for the extra cost is the more premium build, superior sound quality, better battery, longer warranty, but weaker ANC. It is $50 cheaper than the Apple Airpod Max though. It also is vastly superior in terms of features like a useful carrying case, a 3.5mm cable, and a 3-year warranty.
Is the $500 price worth it? For most people, I would say no. But if you care a lot about sound quality and build quality or if you were thinking about buying the Apple Airpod Max, these are worth checking out.