Bang and Olufsen has brought its signature sleek style to audio on-the-go with its Play range of headphones. We find out if the BeoPlay H6 premium headphones sound as good as they look.
Look and feel
Over the past year, headphones have become more of a status item than an accessory afterthought and, when it comes to the high-cost models, form is as important as function. While the packaging of the H6 headphones isn’t as flash as its chief competitor, Beats, the understated elegance is the perfect prelude to the product inside.
B&O is known for its use of high-quality materials and this applies even to its accessories. The H6 cans are surrounded by super-soft cowhide leather (important to note, vegetarians and vegans) that feels nothing short of luxurious on your ears. Inside the black model are lime-green coverings for the speakers, emblazoned with unmistakable markings for left and right. This shock of bright colouring adds a bit of an edge to the design without getting so trendy that it will look dated when fashion changes.
The H6’s hard structure is made from anodised aluminium, which keeps them light but also durable and robust. There’s certainly nothing flimsy about the design and the H6 feel like they should survive all manner of travel – and there’s even a slinky carry pouch to bring them in.
B&O also claims the metal casing will patinate “beautifully” over time, which is what you want to hear for a product in which you’re expected to invest a substantial sum.
One feature that some might divide users is the short cord. In my opinion, this is a good thing. While professionals working in sound studios may need a long cord to allow freedom and movement, I generally have my headphones plugged into a device I’m keeping close to, and extra cord just means tangles and encumbrance.
A benefit for all users, though, is the fact that you can plug the cord into either the left or right-hand side, as you prefer – a simple touch, but it shows that the user has been considered throughout the design. What’s more, once plugged in, the cord emerges seamlessly from the headset, maintaining that sense of fluid design.
There are volume control buttons included on the cord, and you can choose to have this closer to your head or your device, depending on how you plug it in.
With the Play range, B&O claims every user will be able to obtain the optimum look, fit and comfort. While pleasing everyone is never easy, I’d be confident in saying that the H6 ’phones should sit comfortably on most craniums.
Though the headband doesn’t look adjustable, it is. The clever design makes it appear like a solid, single piece, but it easily extends to fit whatever head it’s placed on. The cans themselves can rotate individually, ensuring the ideal fit around your ears.
Though not quite as comfortable as the ‘are these even on?’ Beats Solo HDs, the H6 headphones would rank a close second. The fit around the ears is perfectly enclosed for immersive listening, while the soft feel of the leather means long-lasting comfort.
But enough about how they look; above all, the H6 headphones have to sound good enough to justify the price. The great news (for your ears, not your wallet) is, they do.
The buzz through bass scales is truly kept to a minimum, giving you pure sound and not sharpness as much as possible. In-built audio management ensures that you can listen loud without the sensation that your eardrums are being hammered.
The audio from the H6 set is extremely well-balanced, and you can really clearly hear the details.
What’s more, those well-insulated cans let you keep your listening to yourself and leakage is kept to a bare minimum.
B&O believes the H6 headphones are optimised for life on the move, but, if you want to travel with these bad boys, you need to have the space to carry them – or you can wear them as a fashion statement around your neck, because they certainly look good enough.
As you may have guessed from my comments throughout, the H6 headphones are an investment piece that will set you back €399. While many can’t justify this price for a glorified accessory, premium headphones are set to be a top item for consumers this coming holiday season. So, if you’re in the market for a pair and have the cash, and perhaps want something more mature-looking than the Beats range, you won’t be disappointed by the BeoPlay H6.
All images shot using the Nokia Lumia 1020