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Test of the much-anticipated new BeoPlay H8 headphones with Bluetooth and noise reduction

After the success of the BeoPlay H6, tested by us, the Danish manufacturer launches its first headphones with external noise reduction. The H8 is a sumptuous effort across the board and is selling for the not-too-outlandish price of around €499. Has BeoPlay overrated their latest? PP Garcia put the headphone set to the test in-flight for the Qobuz Hi-Fi Guide!

Door Harry Chancellor | Hi-Fi | 20 februari 2015

We've been waiting a while for this one. Qobuz is more than happy to present the test of the new BeoPlay H8 headphones, the first of its kind to incorporate noise reduction from the manufacturer who took everyone by surprise with their H6 headphones (tested by Qobuz) and portable speakers; both impeccable.

Now. Is the €499 price-tag attached to this set a random choice or is it actually deserved?

The answer is unequivocally yes; yes, it is very much deserved.

The H8 is a marvel of refinement in terms of the choice of materials, the way it's put together, the padding of the headband, the softness of the earphones...Everything about the H8 is great. Everything taken into account, it seems like BeoPlay are targeting the on-the-go audiophile market who are fortunate to have the means to put this great product on their heads.

We will start off by saying that the H8 is soft all over (notably on the ear covers) such that with smaller (or perhaps bald) heads it finds it hard to get purchase; when you tilt your head forward, it often falls towards the floor. It's essentially too soft, it falls off so easily.

Weighing in at 255g, the H8 has 2 dynamic headphones with a diameter of 40mm, responding to frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hz. Being a little miserly with the technical details (as is always the case), BeoPlay has not communicated the impedance, the sensitivity or other technical details.

Noise reduction and Bluetooth are the keys to good sound quality! As announced in the intro of this article, the H8 is, to our knowledge, the first home headset to offer a "disengaged" option for noise reduction. You need only push a button to see in action, both when connected via wires and Bluetooth. In fact, the H8 works with wires (with an HD-player or others) and Bluetooth aptX (in "CD quality" at 16 bits/44.1kHz). The headset recharges via USB (with a battery life of between 14 abd 35 hours depending on use).

One ear has touch-sensitive controls for volume settings, noise reduction or taking a phone call. We really are dealing with a luxury product in every sense of the word. Its all-round quality is flawless.

OK: so does it deserve 5 stars?

First things first: it does not go in for subtleties! With BeoPlay, you almost expect a Hi-Fi sound of measured softness...but with the H8, we can't really say it was soft - in fact, far from it. Our tests began with a wired Astell & Kern AK120 player + 16- and 24-bit files known to our services.

It must be recognized that the H8 has worked hard for us to fill their Eustache tubes. The most surprising is the rendering of the lower registers, which is ample, giving a good foundation to the soundscape in exactly the right places. It was able to give life to all types of music.

The rendering of the medium register is not lazy, as the H8 is capable of holding back - too much sometimes - as it is (gently) put to the fore (gently) to the "detriment" of the higher register. Whilst it is defined and assured, sometimes finds it hard to hold off the bass and the midrange.

Our tests with Bluetooth via the HTC Desire EYE were conclusive with a clear and clean sound, even if they were less impressive than those done with the Astell AK120 player with wires. We of course tested the noise-reducer and, whilst it is not quie as good as that found in Parrot's ZIK 2.0, it gets the job done on the underground, train or plane - without affecting the audio texture. Some deeper sounds find their way through, but generally the system works pretty well.

So, what's the verdict? It's pretty simple...the H8 is a good and attractive set of headphones. It has an expansive sound and does not hold back in the low- and mid-ranges. The optional noise reduction is good but - yes, but - we think that this model is just a tiny bit overpriced. It's still at the front of the pack with the Parrot ZIK 2.0, the AKG K496 and the great Sennheiser PXC-450. All that being said, BeoPlay are catering more for their Hi-Fi customers than traditional on-the-go listeners.

Pros: It is a really nice object; luxury in all aspects Materials, assembly, comfort Dynamic rendering of low and medium ranges Bluetooth aptX OK noise reducing Touch-sensitive and hands-free controls Expansive soundscape

Cons: Price....ouch. Rendering of the upper register can be a little muddled Doesn't fit well on all heads (just don't lean forwards!)

Manufacturing Closed model, headphones measuring 40mm, bandwidth between 20 and 20,000Hz, Bluetooth aptX, hands-free, battery life between 14 and 35 hours, 255g.

Price: €499.

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PP Garcia for Qobuz
Twitter @ppgarcia75

Original article by PATRICK-PIERRE GARCIA
Translation by RACHEL HARPOLE

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