Sound controls

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX review: Sleek sound and style

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Specifications

Price: $499

Type: Closed back, earloop

Height and weight : 7.7 x 7.9 x 2 inches; 10 ounces

Battery life (nominal): 35 hours (ANC on); 40 hours (ANC off)

Bluetooth range: Unspecified

ANC: Yes

Colors: Charcoal black; dark brown; sand; framework

Water resistance: Unspecified

Somehow the Beoplay HX manages to be a typical Bang & Olufsen product while still being quite different from a B&O product. Yes, they are expensive and more than justify their price by using luxurious, tactile and (in some cases) quite aromatic materials in their construction. But they don’t prioritize design over performance, and while they’re expensive, they’re not as far from the mainstream as many B&O products.

So if you don’t mind spending what is undeniably overpriced, you can be the owner of a highly coveted pair of wireless active noise canceling headphones that are competitively correctly spec’d and perform very nicely. . If you value ‘pride in owning’ a lot, it’s much easier to justify spending on a pair of Beoplay HX cans than on most other Bang & Olufsen products.

B&O Beoplay HX Carrying Case

(Image credit: future)

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX review: Price and availability

The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX in-ear headphones are now on sale for $499 (£449 and AU$839) direct from the company’s website, although they can also be found discounted through several retailers online, including Amazon in various territories.

It almost goes without saying that this positions the HX well above any number of hugely popular alternatives from any number of hugely popular brands. In fact, we can name rivals from Bose, Bowers & Wilkins, Sennheiser and Sony (specifically Sony, actually) that match the on-paper specs of B&O’s HX headphones but cost a lot less. Mind you, this has always been the case with Bang & Olufsen, and the last thing the company seems willing to do is compete on price.

Close up of B&O Beoplay HX ear pads

(Image credit: future)

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX review: Design

  • Luxury materials and finishing
  • Sensible styling

The corner Bang & Olufsen has retreated into is obvious. The company has built its reputation on a unique and opulent design vocabulary – which is the last thing you want in its wireless on-ear headphones. Function absolutely dictates form with products like this, and who among us wants an overworked or otherwise odd pair of headphones? Exactly.

So, in a move not easily associated with Bang & Olufsen, the company did the right thing and delivered a recognizable pair of headphones. Yes, they are made from a selection of luxurious and expensive materials, but these materials are deployed to serve (rather than dictate) a design. And the end result is that Beoplay HX looks like a reasonably high-end pair of wireless on-ear headphones, regardless of the available finish (“dark brown”, “sand”, “charcoal black” or “wood”). that you decide to use. to go with.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Soft Earpads

(Image credit: future)

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX review: Comfort and fit

  • Feeling of lightness
  • Well-measured clamping force
  • Great long-term comfort

Of course, all those expensive materials aren’t just for show (although they’re pretty good for that, too). Bang & Olufsen have combined lambskin, aluminum, memory foam and high quality plastics to produce a pair of headphones that are simple to put on comfortably and stay that way for hours (a 10-ounce weight doesn’t hurt here). Clamping force is well judged, and unlike many alternative designs, the HX won’t overwhelm the littlest among us. The earbuds are slow to absorb heat from your body and even slower to return it to you, which is by no means a given when it comes to over-ear headphones.

B&O Beoplay HX on-ear controls

(Image credit: future)

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX review: Controls

  • Reliable touch controls
  • Useful control app

The headline here goes: if you can’t get Beoplay HX to do exactly what you want, quickly and predictably, well… the problem is almost certainly you rather than the headphones.

There are physical controls on the headphones themselves. A touch-sensitive surface on the outside of the right ear cup lets you take over ‘volume up/down’, ‘play/pause’ and ‘skip forward/back’, while the same side also features a push button /push button taking care of ‘on/off/Bluetooth pairing’. On the left there’s a button to let you cycle through your active noise cancellation options (“on”/”off”/”transparency”) and another that lets you summon your favorite voice assistant.

Each earbud has a few mics dealing with voice assistant interaction, active noise cancellation, and telephony. And when it comes to making yourself understood by Siri or Google Assistant, they are quite suitable.

“Fit for purpose” is a bit too light a description of the Bang & Olufsen control app (for iOs and Android). It’s stable, clean, beautiful and responsive – and it’s here that you can set the level of noise cancellation you want, choose between EQ presets (or create your own using the sleek ‘Beosonic’ graphical interface), decide the sensitivity of the accelerometers that pause the music when you remove the HX from your head, and more.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Open Earbuds

(Image credit: future)

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX review: Sound quality

  • Overall balanced and natural sound
  • Spacious and open soundstage
  • A hint of average wealth

Like most rivals, the HX gives the user plenty of leeway to tweak the way it sounds. But like most rivals, the HX sound is best left alone – the engineers and Bang & Olufsen have decided on a sonic signature here, and you won’t improve on it no matter how hard you play with the settings. ‘equalization.

With a nice big MQA powered Tidal Masters file of Jack White’s “Lazaretto” Playing from a recent iPhone, the HXs are basically unmistakable. They’re a lively listen, stupendously detailed and thoroughly entertaining.

Bass is punchy and substantial, yet properly controlled so rhythms and tempos don’t suffer. The edges of the bass sounds are nice and straight, there’s no drone or overhang – instead, the B&Os have proper momentum and rhythm. The loading pace speaks with real confidence, and everything above the bottom rests on the solidity of those foundations.

There’s bite and shine in the treble at the opposite end of the frequency range, but – again – it’s well managed. Some designs can get a little garish or harsh when you turn up the volume, but the HXs handle better than that. They are never less than controlled, but that does not mean they are inhibited in any way.

Between these two extremes, the mid-range is spacious and simply loaded with detail. There’s never any questioning of a singer’s character, motivation or emotion, as the HX serves up every shred of information in a natural, unforced way. It’s about the only area of ​​the frequency range that doesn’t feel entirely neutral – there’s a small hint of warmth and richness. But in context, and given the expertise of the 40mm full-range dynamic driver in each earcup, it’s easy to overlook that.

B&) mark on the Beoplay HX headset

(Image credit: future)

In truth, it’s not the biggest sound ever from a pair of over-ear headphones, but again, it’s not rounded or confined – and the soundstage is easy to understand. There’s a coherence and unity to the way the HX presents music, and more than enough breathing room for soloists to express themselves. Large dynamic changes are sent out with confidence, and more opaque harmonic variations are not overlooked either.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX review: noise cancellation

  • Mediocre noise cancellation at the price

It’s not the way the HX presents music that is to be excused, but the active noise cancellation is a little less successful. These headphones will deal with a lot of external sounds effectively – and without adding a sinus pressure sensation or counter-signal like some less accomplished designs can – but there are more effective (and cheaper) noise cancellers out there. Want a blanket of ink silence on this flight? You’ll want to check out our best noise canceling headphones before you jump into these headphones.

B&O branding on headphone carrying case

(Image credit: future)

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX review: Battery life

As long as you don’t turn the volume down, Beoplay HX should last you around 35 hours (with noise cancellation on) or 40 hours (with noise cancellation). There’s a USB-C input on the right earcup, and if the worst should happen you can charge the headphones from ‘flat’ to ‘full’ in around three hours.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX: Call quality and connectivity

Beoplay HX uses Bluetooth 5.1 for wireless connectivity, with compatibility with SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive codecs. The latter means the headphones always balance connection stability with streaming quality to ensure you get the best possible performance.

Call quality is equally acceptable. Either way, voices are clear and intelligible, and the Bang & Olufsen does a good job of minimizing wind noise.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX headphones in an open case on a picnic bench

(Image credit: future)

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Review: Verdict

It’s almost possible to visualize Bang & Olufsen praising themselves for being so pragmatic and sensible with Beoplay HX. And that’s fair enough: by taming their design-driven instincts a bit, the company has produced a deeply satisfying pair of headphones. An expensive pair, yes, but satisfying nonetheless.