Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 headphone review
Worth every cent
- Clear, loud and layered sound
- Comfortable design with premium materials
- Premium pricing
- Satchel for a carry case
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
Often headphones negate comfort in an effort to be attractive. Other times they lean too far the other way, prioritising function alone over aesthetics. Bang & Olufsen’s over-ear headphones strike a fine balance between the two as method shines through the styling.
The design is an assortment of misfit shapes that somehow come together eloquently. The circular headband and earcups take the rounded circle and add some angles. Consistently applying this design language is one reason why the H6 headphones resonate; the other boils down to the use of fine materials.
Dressing the headband is cow leather, which — according to Bang & Olufsen — will only look better with age. Inside it is a taut brace softened by pockets of memory foam. Then there’s shaved aluminium arms, which look as though they were milled by an artisan.
The leather used on the cups differ to that on the headband. Bang & Olufsen has used lambskin leather instead because it is soft and supple. The material will mould in shape for a tailored fit. Doing so serves a purpose other than comfort.
Not much noise interrupts the music experience. The leather, circular cups are large and almost completely encase ear lobes, essentially creating a spacious sound-stage that keeps extraneous noises out and music sessions private.
An afternoon can be easily spent wearing these headphones in comfort. The spacious nature of the cups means heat and sweat is minimal, while the design, build quality and light 230 gram weight cause little discomfort.
Further aiding comfort are two 3.5mm headphone inputs; one in each cup. The audio cable can be connected to either cup, while plugging a secondary set of headphones into the spare port makes it possible to share music.
Only one cable is provided with the BeoPlay H6, and although it’s a 1.2-metre cable complete with an inline microphone and Apple smartphone controls, it competes in a space where rivals are either cheaper or better equipped. The carry case too is best described as an underwhelming satchel.
The premium paid for these Bang & Olufsen headphones rests on its sound quality. Inside the cups are 40mm drivers that have an impedance of 30 ohms and a frequency response of 20Hz to 22,000Hz. The drivers have been tuned to be transparent like a studio monitor and remain truthful to the intentions of composers and artists.
Music is played back with warmth and dimension. The gaping circular cups and the sophisticated drivers convince that sound is emanating from multiple speakers and not the two channels of a stereo system. Listening to Ludovico Einaudi’s Experience, a classical piece, creates the illusion you are standing in the middle of the orchestra, among the pianos, clarinets and violins.
The headphones are skilled in their layering of sound. Each instrument can be heard in clarity and listening to a favourite song on the H6 will reveal details that were previously unknown. We must have listened to Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls a hundred times, and up until now, we never appreciated its complexity.
Inching the volume toggle towards max will not overwhelm these headphones. They seem to be always in control, producing clear, voluminous audio. Tenishia’s A new dream, which is a trance track featuring vocalist Jonathan Mendelsohn, simply shined on maximum volume. Plucking guitar strings, precise electronic notes and Mendelsohn’s haunting falsetto weaved in and out of the foreground like a sophisticated tapestry.
Bass is hearty and rounded; its presence is noticeable without requiring it to be exaggerated. Eminem’s Stan has bodied, rounded bass, clear enough to discern the slow tremble of the woofer’s cone. It is prominent and clear, deep and unembellished.
Bang and Olufsen’s BeoPlay H6 headphones are expensive at $549, come with few accessories and lack intelligent features, such as wireless connectivity or an adjustable equaliser.
They are, however, exceptionally designed and among the best sounding headphones we’ve come across. Audiophiles won’t mind paying the premium because the H6 headphones deliver something most of its rivals cannot; they play music true to the vision and emotion of an artist, loudly, clearly and with spectacle.
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