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Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Headphone Review

bang and olufsen h6 review

TL;DR:

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 review. The H6 luxury headphones are comfortable and offer brilliant bass with clear detailed sound thanks to premium materials and powerful neodynium magnet drivers.


Review Preface:

Fusing exquisite design with exceptional function and extraordinary performance is an encapsulated process that effortlessly defines the premium Dutch born Bang and Olufsen brand. Having recently reviewed their quirky looking H3 earphones, it came as second nature to now turn our attention to their bigger BeoPlay brother, Bang and Olufsen’s flagship over-ear headphones; the H6s.


Unboxing, Features, and Build Quality:

Similar in presentation to the Bang and Olufsen H3s, you know that when the H6’s arrive they are something special. After you remove the first part of the box the H6s are presented within a high-density foam capsule. Following removal of both the headphones and the foam you will enter two compartments, one houses the iDevice cylindrical rubberised 1.3m 3.5mm jack to jack cable and plush short-pile velvet drawstring carry case with an etched aluminium BeoPlay pull toggle, whilst the other contains operating instructions and warranty information. All components feel of premium quality, however it would have made a better package if the drawstring carry case was switched at least for a soft carry case or hard case to protect the headphones better considering as they are a significant investment and oppositions include this as standard. Likewise the inclusion of a simple 3.5mm to ¼” adapter would have also made a warm welcome for those intending to use the H6s with various amplifier systems instead of the included, rather dated, flight adapter. With this said though I do have to give Bang and Olufsen credit for a very nice matt black iDevice remote which feels pleasant in the hand and feels as if it could survive many years of use.


Designed by Jakob Wagner, the Bang and Olufsen H6 headphones are a sheer work of art and just so beautiful to look at on and off the head. Weighing only 230 grams the H6s are a lightweight and clearly feature super high quality materials. If we begin with the construction of the driver housings, they are primarily made with an matt ABS plastic shell with an branded anterior machine turned aluminium faceplate featuring the ‘B&O’ logo. On both driver housings there are a 6mm recessed 3.5mm stereo input/output connector moulded into the plastic without any connections. Clearly the message that Bang and Olufsen want to broadcast is that the H6s are a pair of headphones that are to be enjoyed with friends as they have allowed an extra 3.5mm input/output connector so that a friend or partner can tap into the music that you are listening to. Disappointingly this system is hit and miss due to the fact that this female headphone input/output jack port is recessed by 6mm into the shell and its diameter is 8mm so only slim non-elongated headphone jacks will fit.


Now turning to the interior region of the driver housings you immediately notice both left and right headphones are clearly marked and presumably this is to clean up the design so there is no need for the markers on the anterior and eliminates that fiddliness with trying to find which one goes where. Again on the interior there are two beautiful lambskin supple ear cups, which perfectly compliment the soft skin of the outer ear and we have no problems with them at all. Behind these materials you will notice that Bang and Olufsen’s attention to detail continues with a driver that is slightly angled to give better acoustic transmission from the driver and into the ear canal. The drivers that B&O have gone for are a custom 40mm design that utilises the latest powerful neodymium magnets for improved articulation and frequency response. Although the H6s are typically classified as closed back, something you certainly will experience when worn, it is notable to mention that the H6s utilise a tiny bass reflex port to add more depth and punch to the lower frequencies. However, this is a structure that is embedded deep and is not visible at all, although it does make an audible difference.


Having made our way to the headband we shall discuss structure, fit, and comfort. On the top of the headband H6s are clad in thick premium cow leather with a flexible lower aluminium structure, which will, over time, develop a stunning patina. This is an inevitable natural process that happens to leather and should be both accepted and appreciated. Underneath the headband Bang and Olufsen have used a slightly rougher thick textile to gently grip to hair and stand up to much rubbing over time that can thin the material, likewise the structure of this material suggests that it is porous enough to alleviate perspiration issues if worn for a longer period of time.


Having made our way to the headband we shall discuss structure, fit, and comfort. On the top of the headband H6s are clad in thick premium cow leather with a flexible lower aluminium structure, which will, over time, develop a stunning patina. This is an inevitable natural process that happens to leather and should be both accepted and appreciated. Underneath the headband Bang and Olufsen have used a slightly rougher thick textile to gently grip to hair and stand up to much rubbing over time that can thin the material, likewise the structure of this material suggests that it is porous enough to alleviate perspiration issues if worn for a longer period of time.On topside of the headband there are four 20mm divided sections with standard low-density foam for comfort. Unfortunately I do not feel that this padding is enough to retain comfort over longer periods of listening, let alone thirty minutes of use. Consequently, if you have a larger head, this comfort disappointment continues further down the anterior left and right sides of the headband by the use of a rock solid plastic that pinches the scalp and temple. If only these internal materials were switched for a high-density memory foam pad then you might not be able to fault the H6 for comfort. However for aesthetic reasons and structural damage protection the H6’s feature a hidden cable within the single aluminium arm. This arm in question extends a good three inches to accommodate larger and smaller heads without exposing the crucial cable structure that supplies signal to either of the two drivers. Additionally this extending aluminium arm is finished to an impeccable quality with an anodised finish. The cherry on the cake is that as the driver meets the arm there is a limited bidirectional movement to allow the driver cups to align with the users head for increased comfort whilst making use of the slightly tilted drivers to inject sound without any obstruction into the inner ear. Furthermore when the user has finished listening to the H6’s the driver cups are able to tilt 90° to allow for the headphones to lay on their front of a table or bench.


Performance and Sound Quality:

In every sense of the word the Bang and Olufsen H6’s are a very capable pair of over-ear headphones. I think that the first thing that I want to discuss here is the H6s ability to reject external ambient noise, it is nothing short of remarkable for the physical size of the headphones. Actually, this excellent quality helps to deny the common commuter from entering you musical ‘circle of trust’… Ie. No matter how embarrassing your guilty pleasure may be, you can rest assured that no one will ever be unable to unveil the true extent. Well, unless you’re listening above the European Union limit guidelines [imagine: winky face]. However, noting the above point, I can say that the H6’s are adequately driven from a Smartphone or music player, although they seem to have a better presentation when used in conjunction with a headphone amp, or indeed played through a hi-fi system. This difference is minor, yet still notable.


With regards to the overall sonic performance, I believe that the H6s are a fun pair of headphones that have a litany of positive qualities that will easily make the average consumer happy with their purchase. However I do have one major qualm, this is that their dynamic presentation within the direct mid-range feels quite limited and recessed. Over extended periods of music playback this is something that has a detrimental effect upon the listening experience as the life slowly drips away from a performance leaving an insipid character that does lead to premature listening fatigue and, for some odd reason, a closing of the soundstage. But even though I have outlined these imperfections, I still seem to love the H6s. Out of a rather large headphone collection, time and time again I will happily pick up the H6’s to listen to an album and will always bring them on a train journey. My main reason is that they have excellent isolation and their performance is predictable.


In terms of the bass frequency performance the H6s are on to a winner. The H6s offer a transparent bass frequency response that is precise, detailed, and respectful to the original instrumentation. I would go as far to say that the presentation of bass is unified, unbloated, and texture rich. Having already discussed the performance of the mids above I would also like to add that even though they appear as recessed or dynamically weak the signature is still smooth across the range. Extending into a descriptive for the treble frequencies now, this is the end of the frequency spectrum that I have a great deal of respect for because they present the instrumentation clearly. Likewise I will extend this descriptive by mentioning that they have a crystalline like quality that allows the finer nuances to be displayed without having too much sharpness that could lead to sounding brittle. All in all the sonic signature does have a minor element of what I would describe as ‘Happy Equalisation’ being that the lows and tops are ever so slightly hyped. With headphones that fundamentally rely on this method of attack I would be concerned, but not with the H6s because it is not over the top and is addictive (for a few tracks at least). When this is combined with an ever so slightly wide soundstage, apart from a closing in the mids, everything feels quite lively and fun no matter what genre of music you happen to be playing. With all their faults I still really like the H6s.


Review Conclusion:

Bang and Olufsen have produced a brilliant product here. Regardless of their faults I still find the H6’s to be a really fun and flattering pair of headphones that I would be more than happy to pick up at any point. The Pro Audio Web Blog awards the Bang and Olufsen BeoPlay H6 over-ear headphones with a four out of five rating.


Edd Harris

Edd Harris - 4th April 2014

 US RRP: $399.00 | UK RRP: £329.00

Four Star Award
Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6
4/5 stars
Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 review. The H6 luxury headphones are comfortable and offer brilliant bass with clear detailed sound thanks to premium materials and powerful neodynium magnets.

Editors Rating: