I was given these headphones free of charge in exchange for my honest review. They were provided to me by MusicTeck.com.
The H9 goes for $500. To learn more about it, check out the following links:
First, I should probably come clean and admit to having zero prior experience with Bluetooth headphones. The very idea of them raises Pinky’s hackles, and I begin to snarl at passersby. I spend too much money on source gear to bypass all that goodness and use whatever crap in shoved into the ear cups of these kinds of devices. Is the H9 the best? How does it compare to others? I can’t say. I am going to compare them to wired headphones. Real headphones. If that’s not fair, tough cookies. There is no point to a thing like this if it can’t compete with the real deal. The Bang&Olufsen H9 will either be tempered in fire, or burned to cinders.
I don’t feel this will be a very long review. Since it’s a Bluetooth headphone, there’s little point taking about how it pairs with different devices. Well, I mean… how it “sounds” on difference devices, not, you know, BT Pairing… which is important!
I contacted Andrew over at MusicTeck.com and told him I needed a set of Bluetooth headphones because I currently had no means by which to test said function on any of the DAPs I review. This could not continue. I needed a BT solution, and he was the man to see. Sweet Jesus! Andrew was far more eager than any respectable shop-owner ought to be to give away such a high-ticket item. And to the likes of such a shifty bastard. That boy needs stern oversight, I tell you.
The H9 arrived in a box. Inside the box was stuff. There is an audio cable, just in case you come to your goddamn senses and want to hear these headphones powered by a proper player. You’ll also find a travel bag, an airplane adapter, and a USB cable for charging. But any micro-USB will do.
Aesthetic design is high. These are handsome cans. Modern, but very nice. I told Andrew to send me an open-box pair, though the mad goon tried to push a new unit on me. As a result, I didn’t get to choose the color option. The H9 comes in Black and Agrilla. Did you know that was a color? I didn’t. Agrilla!
As far as comfort goes, I have no complaints. They are light, yet sturdy. With sheepskin and steel, the BEOPlay feels luxurious. The pads are big enough for my anatomy and just the right balance of firm and soft to keep the hard parts away from your ears.
There are touch-sensitive controls on the ear cups, which are too finicky to rely on. The documentation swears there is a motion you can perform that will adjust the volume level, but this is simply not true. There is nothing you can do to those ear cups to make it play louder or softer. You must rely on your mobile device to make such changes. I was able to get the track to skip forward or backwards, but as I said… unreliable. I do not recommend using the headphone’s controls, unless you’re a masochist, or hunger for the strife and drama of high adventure.
Bluetooth, as I’ve come to find, is a mottled endeavor. There are skips and dropouts on nearly every device. So for I’ve tested the B&O H9 on the FiiO X5-3, Cayin i5, and the Opus#2. None of them gave me perfectly uninterrupted audio for very long. The best I found was my Galaxy S6, which gave me relatively stable experience. Signal range is different for each DAP. Some being humorously short, like the i5, and some, like the X5-3, startling in just how far you can go before the music cuts out. Volume is another variable. On the Opus#2 I could not get these things loud enough to enjoy. For a digital signal, there can be no justification. But that’s probably an issue with the DAP, and not the headphone.
On top of BT, this is also my first experience with Active Noise Cancelation. Forgive good Pinky if he’s wrong, but I don’t believe there’s any way to turn ANC off without switching the headphone off, thus turning them into passive transducers. When the headphone is powered on, ANC kicks in… and it’s goddamn weird. My mother noticed right away, before I told her anything about ANC. It is like a void in reality, a vacuum in which all is silent. It’s creepy. As if a mighty alien presence descends upon you, and stills the Earth for your privet communion.
Fine, alright! It’s not that quiet. But it’s an odd sensation, all the same. When music is not playing it just feels wrong. Which I guess means it’s working right?
Ok, enough of all that. Let us put aside hyperbole and aliens and rents in existence, and discover how these headphones perform as products meant to be listened to.