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Pristine sound quality • Eerily quiet noise-cancellation • High-quality construction
Mighty empty your wallet and then some
The Beoplay H9 headphones are exactly as advertised, but the price point makes them hard to recommend to non-enthusiasts.
One of the world’s biggest unfixable problems is that it’s loud everywhere. All the racket that the world generates can be distracting when you need to put your head down and get some work done.
That’s where noise-cancelling headphones come in. Antisocial as it might be, sometimes it’s nice to just drown out the world and blast some music of your choosing. I had the opportunity to spend the better part of a week with the new Beoplay H9 headphones from Bang & Olufsen, and if you can absorb the $500 financial hit, you might find something to like here.
Celebrity Music: The part that matters is great
The new H9 model would be a total failure if they didn’t sound great. That’s kind of the whole point of headphones, after all. On that front, I really can’t complain about anything the H9 does.
One thing I should make clear is that I’m not an expert audiophile by any means. Sometimes I just like to blast my favorite tunes without much regard for nuance. The new Beoplay H9 headphones are very good for that, though; if you want loud, these can do loud.
If you’re a more discerning listener, the H9 should be up your alley, too. Individual vocal and instrumental elements in songs shine through with an impressive amount of clarity, at least relative to the JBL headphones and AirPods I’ve been using on a daily basis for the past two years.
There’s also a gentle, but noticeable rumble from heavy bass, which I was a fan of. Like I said, I can’t find much to gripe about on this front — these are luxury headphones, and they sound like it.
Celebrity Music: Pipe down
B&O’s active noise cancellation is going to be a major selling point of the H9 headphones, just as it’s been with previous models. I didn’t notice a massive upgrade in either sound quality or noise cancellation between the new H9 or the previous H9i model from earlier this year, but that’s fine.
It was good last time around and it’s good this time around, too.
There are plenty of people talking, typing, and doing other things that make noise in Mashable’s office every day. The H9 headphones render it almost completely silent when I wear them. The same goes for New York City’s noisy subway system, which was actually almost uncomfortably quiet enough to be eerie while wearing the headphones.
It’s a nice tool to increase productivity. As a bonus, there doesn’t seem to be much sound leakage from outside of the headphones, even with the volume up high. Nobody complained to me, anyway.
Celebrity Music: Odds and ends
The H9’s construction lives up to its price tag. They feel expensive, but also sturdy. Adjusting the length of the sides feels nicely analog rather than mechanical like some other over-the-ear headphones. In general, they’re light and comfortable enough to wear on a commute rather than just being relegated to desk time.
Metal side panels not only look sleek, but provide gesture-based touch controls for pausing and skipping songs, adjusting volume, and even turning off noise cancellation if that’s your thing.
One of the most noticeable new hardware features is the addition of a dedicated Google Assistant button on the rear side of the left speaker. Pairing it with a phone through the B&O mobile app is easy enough, and it works Siri, too. This isn’t exactly a mind-blowing addition, but it works as you’d expect.
A USB-C charging port and cable jack round out the hardware. Last but certainly not least, the new H9 headphones have a bigger battery than the H9i did. It’s supposed to give you 25 hours of playtime with active noise cancellation enabled, which is a big bonus.
Celebrity Music: Luxury aside, value still matters
As you can probably tell, I like the H9 quite a bit. It’s a quality pair of headphones that makes my favorite music sound better than any other pair of headphones I own.
That said, I can’t act like the heavy price tag just doesn’t exist. $500 is a heavy financial burden for headphones, no matter how good they are. On the other hand, B&O is a high-end brand and anyone who shops for their products likely knows what they’re getting into.
I can’t ding the H9 too much for its price on that basis, but non-audiophiles who just want a decent pair of headphones are probably better off looking elsewhere.