The name Bang & Olufsen may ring a bell to you as I did a review on their Beoplay H7 headset last year. This Danish company used to only create products for Denmark royalty, but now they produce handmade electronics for everyone. They have been industry leaders in audio for years. I still remember being at a CES and experiencing their TV speakers for the first time. It was my first time experiencing 8 channels of sound. Nothing short of magical.
This is how John Mollanger, CEO at B&O PLAY describes the company and it's vision:
“At Bang & Olufsen we not only explore new standards of high-end sound and picture from a technological aspect, we also engage in extensive field work to understand how people live with technology. Our vision is to combine inner performance with outer beauty in a product that fits naturally into relevant contexts of the home and the life of real people”
CES 2018 had many announcements from B&O Play, including support of Google Assistant and Apple's Airplay 2, a special edition E8 earphones, and the new and improved H8i and H9i wireless headphones. I was keen to see what was new about the H8i and H9i after reviewing the H7 last year. Physically, all of the headphones look almost the same. They added a bit more room for the drivers to move, creating a cleaner bass in deep frequencies. The overall design has been fine tuned. Little improvements to the ear cushions and build quality has definitely added to the premium feel of the product.
These headphones are not intended for gamers or gaming, but after I bought a 3.5mm audio cable with a boom-arm mic, they are my go-to headphones. One piece of feedback I provided on the H7 was to allow the consumer to utilize the built in mic with a 3-ringed 3.5mm audio cable. They took the feedback and confirmed that the new H8i and H9i will indeed allow the user to use the built-in mic this way.
The H8i are on-ear headphones, where as the H9i are over-ear headphones. Outside of the improved audio and build, there will be additional improvements. They will have a huge improvement on battery life: Up to 30hrs with Bluetooth and ANC (Active Noise Cancellation) on, more than double than the H8. The H9i will see a 4hr increase to 18 hours total. This is because of the circuit design. They do not want to sacrifice any audio quality to increase battery life. They also improved the ANC on the H9i, as it will perform better between 300-800Hz to better remove human voices.
All other improvements can be found on both devices. New features include a transparency mode, proximity sensor, dual device connectivity, and better call quality. The transparency mode will turn off music and ANC with one click. This is for times when someone comes up to speak with you, or you need to hear what is going on around you.
The proximity sensor will actively pause your music or video when you take them off. It will then begin playing it again, when you put them back on. Pretty snazzy. The dual device connectivity will let you connect to two devices so that you don't have to go through the process of switching from the phone to your laptop. Lastly, an additional mic has been added that should improve the call quality.
Hopefully, I'll be able to review these new products. The H7 ended up being a brilliant headset for gaming. I'm excited to see how these work as well. Bang & Olufsen has no current plans to create a gaming specific headset, but the idea has been poking around their office.
The Beoplay H8i and H9i go on sale January 25, 2018. The H8i will be priced at $399.99, where as the H9i will be priced at $499.99.
What do you think? Should they take their expertise and create a headset for the high-end gamer? I personally think they should. Would be a good push for high-end companies to step up their game.