BeoPlay H9 3rd gen represents the Danish's high-end acoustic device. The third generation of its Bluetooth noise-isolating active headphones offering a subtle upgrade over the 2nd gen that will likely appeal to the current fans of B&O. As high-end as ever, the noise-canceling wireless headset has been enhanced with voice assistant management and a few other subtle improvements.
When it comes to sound engineering, perfection is almost always out of reach. The development of such high-fidelity noise cancelling headphone is the result of engineers and high-end designers of Bang & Olufsen.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 3rd gen Headphones Review
Type: Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones | Bluetooth: 4.2 | Battery: 25 Hours with ANC (32 hours in Bluetooth & 33 hours with ANC only) | Charging: 2.5 Hours | Drivers: Dynamic | Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 22.000 Hz Impedance: 24 Ohms | Sensitivity: 93 dB | Drivers-Size: 40 mm | Weight: 285g
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 3rd Generation (2019) is the third generation of the flagship Beoplay H9 active noise cancelling wireless headphones. New features include extended battery life, Google Assistant, a voice assistant call button, an updated touch control interface, and an improved ear cushion and headband design for added comfort.
B&O’s flagship headphones, Beoplay H9 3rd generation, comes in a large, sturdy cardboard box. The H9 headphones, along with a bundle of accessories, are neatly organized. The package includes a cloth case, an airplane adapter, a 3.5 cable for wired connection, a Type-C charging cable through which an audio signal can also be transmitted simultaneously. Quite unusual, given the model’s high price, we didn’t find a solid carrying case as it’s usually provided by most companies of premium noise-canceling headphones.
In terms of design, the Beoplay H9 is an excellent example of the Scandinavian minimalist establishment. H9’s design’s initial impression might deceive the observer a bit, as the headphones don’t appear better than mediocre. A closer look then reveals some interesting things. The headband and ear cushions are made of neatly stitched genuine leather, using delicate sheepskin and cowhide. The filler is a shape-retaining adaptive foam.
The earpads are replaceable if necessary, just remove them and replace them with new ones. Polished aluminum body, hinges made of metal, rather than plastic. All parts are well fitted to each other carefully so as to avoid squeaks and wear and tear. It’s this meticulous approach that has become Beoplay’s hallmark. And the result is an elegant craft with no fancy or flashy elements.
On the outside, the H9 is almost identical to the H7 model, retaining, among other things, the regular size round cups. But this shape is not suitable for all. Someone who prefers Bose headphones with elliptical shaped cups may find the H9 somewhat awkward to wear.
In terms of controls, we expected them to be more intuitive and provide a better user experience. Unlike B&O Beoplay H9 2nd gen (Beoplay H9i), the headset features a new discreet button dedicated to the use of voice assistants on the left earcup. Besides the newly integrated voice assistant control pad, the H9 3rd gen has only one mechanical button that powers on/off the device—the touch panel on the right cup is responsible for B&O Beopaly H9′ audio management.
The touch panel allows you to adjust the volume, playback, enable ANC active noise cancellation, and Transparency Mode. It works like all touchpads and has a normal sensitivity. But when you need to switch something quickly, there may be gaps or erroneous responses. But you can interact with gloves. To increase the volume, motion a clockwise gesture on the sensor; simple left and right swipes play next or previous track; a single touch pauses the music. To activate the “Transparency” mode – swipe up; for active noise cancellation – swipe down; repeated swipe in the same direction turns everything off. It appears futuristic, but it’s not pleasurable to make numerous gestures.
The issue with touch controls is that the sensors can interpret gestures the wrong way or be affected by cold/wet hands. What’s worse, though, is the short input delay of about 300-400 ms each time you make an action.
The model has Bluetooth version 4.2 and supports AAC and aptX LL codecs. The headphones can simultaneously connect to two sources and can also be used wire-free with a 3.5mm cable.
B&O Beoplay H9i headphones work in wireless mode, with or without ANC reduction, but also by connecting the headphones with a cable.
The stated operating time and nuances are as follows:
- Bluetooth and ANC: 25 hours.
- Bluetooth on, ANC off: 32 hours.
- Bluetooth off, ANC on: 33 hours.
- Charging time 2.5 hours.
- When connected to iPhone, the headphone charge indicator is displayed.
Some people complain about the not so big battery life of Boeplay H9 models, though that’s not the case with the H9. The headphones are now more practical as you can use them for a longer period, but the battery life increase also came with some shortcomings. The battery of Beoplay H9 (3rd gen) is not removable, as with the previous models; thus, owners of previous generations of H9 should take this into account. A cool thing about Beoplay H9 is that you can listen to music while charging.
The new generation of H9 has made some clear improvements. However, the most significant advantage is the practice of “noise reduction” with a cable connection. After all, you can use the multimedia system on an airplane by connecting headphones with a cable and turning on ANC.
The proprietary Bang & Olufsen App can be used for settings, equalization, charge control, and firmware updates. Thanks to Beoplay’s mobile application’s small number of functions and well-thought-out operation, the application is a success. B&O focused on simplicity and provided users with everything they required, with no unnecessary features that most users don’t use anyway. As for the quality of voice transmission, BeoPlay H9i is good enough for most people. In quiet places, it is quite possible to communicate without taking off the headphones. On the street, background sounds may interfere, making your smartphone a better alternative for outdoor chatting.
BeoPlay H9 wireless headphones use a conventional noise cancellation system, microphones. The technology of active noise reduction, formerly foreign to us until recently, finds its way into headphones with increasing frequency today. The engineers at Bang & Olufsen introduced Active Noise Reduction to the Beoplay H8 and later transferred it to the H9.
A hybrid system with two microphones, an external and an internal one, is used to monitor disturbing noise. The microphones are used to record the environment’s sound, process the data, and then feed negative frequency waves to those captured, sound waves called antiphase. The external microphone captures the noise, while the internal is responsible for eliminating it. These microphones can also be used to talk on the phone.
The H9’s work is noticeable when there is a strong noise nearby. It instantly softens the noise but does not cut it completely. On the subway, the noise of an arriving train cannot be completely drowned out by the H9, but it is much more comfortable than without noise reduction.
Relative to similar noise-canceling headphones from other manufacturers, noise levels are not as aggressively lowered as they are with Bose QuietComfort 35 II, Sony WH-1000XM4, Bose 700. Those ANC headphones handle noise suppression much more effectively. H9, however, feels more natural and performs virtually unnoticed. This means there is no change in the quality of the music itself throughout the process of suppressing noise.
In addition to the active noise cancellation system, well-made cups also deserve some appreciation. The passive noise reduction dampens noise well. In most public places, it’s a pleasure to listen to music with H9; very few things can distract or interfere with your activity.
The flagship headphones have Bluetooth 4.2 technology and support for aptX LL, SBC, AAC codecs. The latter is more important for working with the iPhone. Without improving on the recipe of its elder Beoplay H9i, the Beoplay H9 3rd gen headphone follows practically the same principle but without refining it.
BeoPlay H9 (3rd gen) has an openly warm signature, strongly characterized by the low notes but with some more gentle high notes. It displays a neutral character with most songs, meaning the frequency response is balanced, quite dull, without much emotion. In case you’re not satisfied with H9i’s audio response, install the Beoplay application, and try adjusting the equalizer. It can achieve some exciting effects. In other instances, the dense, excellent detailed low frequencies are highly pleasurable. The bass reproduction has no flaws, no artifacts, or overtones.
B&O flagship’s sound reproduction is comfortable, detailed, calm, and adequately pronounced. The somewhat dark sound signature displays the highlighted basses, which are also textured, energetic, with fast attack and slow decay. Beoplay H9 doesn’t have the most controlled sound response in the low-end; though, the mid-range is warm, relaxed, and emotional. Depending on the music you listen to, the quality of the recording makes or breaks the musical experience. With a prominent and voluminous sound stage, the instruments’ arrangement in space is adequate, causing minimal blurring.
H9i headphones can be used for all kinds of music – but keep in mind that high-quality music files are extremely demanding in size. Nonetheless, you should consider FLAC audio files if you want the best listening experience from the B&O BeoPlay H9i wireless headphones. Although FLAC files occupy a more significant memory in your audio player or smartphone, the music’s quality will be improved. Impressive results can be achieved with Android devices as they benefit from aptX and will successfully play hi-res tracks.
Beoplay H9 (3rd gen) is not for monitoring the subtlest details, but it plays harmoniously. The high frequencies are set back to avoid resonance and play too harshly, but still not cut off completely. It has good dynamics, speed, are reproduced with enough quantity. The best results were achieved when listening to FLAC audio files, so don’t hesitate to upload some good-quality high-resolution tracks on your phone.
Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay H9 3rd gen is a headphone that costs around $500, which is close to the price of popular hi-fi headphones. Can we say that these wireless headphones with noise-canceling technology can behave like audiophile headphones? Not really. For the price, you could have done better. However, the H9 is still pleasant to listen to, engages easily with the music, does not overwhelm with harsh frequency overtones or poorly reproduced sound notes. They also provide a large and wide soundstage.
These headphones fit perfectly, sound great, maintain a quiet environment and will delight you on a daily basis. They know how to play music for those who want to notice many details and distinguish the different instruments in the composition.
I would especially recommend the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H9 to those who travel frequently, work a lot on the go, and want their music to sound authentic and natural. What makes B&O BeoPlay H9 3rd gen a fantastic headset for travelers is the ability to watch movies wirelessly with the lowest possible latency, as it is equipped with aptX Low-Latency technology unlike many other noise-canceling travel headphones. And for Apple users, the H9i 3rd gen works perfectly with Apple technology (Apple Watch, iMac, iPhone, iPad) thanks to the AAC encoder.