After using my Bose QC35’s and Sony WH1000x, I’m looking for the next pair of high-end ANC headphones. =D
Hey everyone, Jimmy with JimsReviewRoom. I love my Bose QC35ii and Sony WH1000x . I’ll admit, I was let down by the Bowers and Wilkins P5… so with another pair of high-end ANC headphones, the B&O H8i and H9i, I’m freaking excited! The first is on-ear and the other is an over-ear style respectively. Coming in at 399 and 499 respectively, they’re a pretty penny. As always, being transparent, B&O sent these over to review, but watch my entire video for both pros and cons. Be sure to click my cards above to get the most updated prices in real time.
You can be the judge on how these look. In the comment section, let me know what you think. The Danish has always impressed me with their design, and these are up there with other modern and minimalist styles. Cowhide up top with frayed edging to give these a little character.
The solid brushed aluminum arm gives the headphones much class, and not to mention the retractable arms smoothly slides out with such an elegant feel.
The ear cups are plastic with the closed back front facing areas… made of aluminum, and on the Over-ear H9i models, they have touch controls while the H8i’s don’t. More on that later. But, touching base on build quality. I’m not trying to break these, but just to hear any chatter or creeks, listening for areas that are loose.. both the H8i and 9i are built with absolute high quality details and craftsmanship.
Going over comfort, on paper the On-Ear H8i’s are the lightest pair of ANC headphones I’ve tested. The H8i’s felt great from my experience. But those who prefer the all encompassing, fully enclosed over-ear style, the H9i’s were money.
They’re not the lightest on paper compared to the competition, but the weight distribution, the subtle clamping force and the headband design never gave me wearing fatigue, even wearing these for several hours straight at the office while testing music, both headphones never felt bothersome.
LAMP SKIN EARPADS!
Before going over the controls, I gotta mention the removable earpads. Unlike most other earpads that needs to be stretched and pulled to remove, the B&O’s simply twist off for replacement. They’re the best that I’ve felt on any pair of headphones. Baby lambskin against your face feels ever so subtle, smooth, and soft. These things are plush and if focusing on the little details, these earpads adds that finishing touch on the overall build, looks and comfort. They’re one of the best.
CONTROLS & CONNECTIONS (USB C!)
Moving on to controls, going over the H8i first, power button is in the middle, pulling down turns on and off Active Noise Cancelling, and swiping up activates Transparency mode.
Transparency mode stops your music and pumps in your environmental noises so you can hear what’s around you without taking off your headphones. For the H8i’s, this is the most disappointing feature and aspect of the headphones. Yes, I’m able to hear my environment, but, the feature does not allow me to hear my environment and music at the same time. And if I ever activate transparency mode, I have to now go to the right ear-cup or my phone and press Play to resume my music. Turning off Transparency mode does not reactivate the song I had previously playing.
Getting back to the physical features. The left earcup has a 3.5mm port for physical connections and last, I’m very glad to see B&O placing a USB Type C port for charging. Looking at the H9i’s, physical controls are on/off and pairing. USB Type C, and the 3.5mm port. To control the features, there’s a touch sensitive area that is common on most high-end headphones these days.
Swiping up and down toggles Transparency mode… thankfully music does resume on this model, but you can’t have both Transparency and Music going on at the same time. Swiping forward and back skips or goes back on your music, swiping down turns on and off ANC, and last, you can spin your finger around the ear cup to adjust volume. Some features simply missing that some other competitors have, there’s no voice prompts for when ANC is on/or off. There’s no voice prompts indicating battery level, and no indication when I reached maximum volume. Pairing is indicated by a simple beep.
Moving on, Bluetooth Connection is version 4.2. I was able to achieve 92 linear feet and 102 feet with the H8i and H9i respectively.
Regarding battery life, we did the same test that we perform on all of our ANC headphones… basically 50% volume with ANC on. The H8i claims up 30hrs of use, we got 33hrs and foudn there was still another 50% battery remaining. The H8i’s seems to last forever. As for the H9i, B&O are claiming only upto 18hrs… we ended up with 21hrs and 30minutes until the battery died on those…
PHONE CALL TEST
Last but not least, phone call tests were extremely clear. My voice felt to be amplified extremely well while reducing a good bit of my surroundings. The only thing that is really picked up that the other person on the other end noticed, was wind noise on a breezy day… but that’s most headphones for you.
ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLING
One thing I wanted to point out, these did have a moderate amount of air cabin pressure feeling when I first put them on. For those with sensitive ears, take warning. For some, the feeling might go away as within several hours of me using them, I was perfectly fine.
The H9i’s do better at blocking most environmental noises because they’re over ears while the H8i did good but didn’t seal my ears entirely. With my experience, the H9i removed as much environmental noise, practically identical to my QC35ii’s. However, up against my Sony WH1000x’s, those did slightly better.
Active Noise Cancelling is not meant to make your office virtually silent, but like the Bose QC35ii and Sony WH-1000x, they all have blocked out the most noise possible noise of all ANC headphones I’ve tested on the market. All ambient air, such as air conditioners, breezes, air in general are gone. Most voices around the office are reduced, including music played from the ceiling speakers in Starbucks.
Overall, I rank the H9i’s and QC35ii’s tied, with only the Sony WH-1000x beating them my a hair.
Alright folks, next up is my audio test. Here we go!
Alright folks, so both headphones do get loud. I’m able to listen comfortably at 70 to 80 percent.
Starting with BAss, both B&O’s are very clean here with zero distortion. Slightly above neutral bass with a slight punch on certain songs.
It’s VERY similar to the Bose QC35ii’s, and comparing to the Sony WH-1000x, Sony has a little more bass, provides slightly more resonance, deeper and lower frequencies, but, the Sony does slightly sound recessed in the mid-range. An emphasis on slight…. It’s minimal, but there is a difference. Either or, the B&O’s will sound good across all genres of music and if you want a little more bass, utilize your equalizer.
The H8i, the H9i sounds crystal clear, high resolution and offers high fidelity with offering not necessarily a bright audio signature, but surely enough in the forefront to make them stand out and for you to hear all the details. You can distinctly hear audio on the sides, in the forefront, behind you… you can perceive different height in your audio on quality audio files. This is where I noticed a slight difference between the on-ear vs over-ear, the H8i does not offer as wide of a sound stage as the H9i. Nonetheless, for on-ears, they’re still one of the best for ANC headphones while still giving clear and accurate audio from my experience.
Last, the high frequencies I noticed on some songs were able to hit higher and just ever so slightly be on the verge of becoming sharp over some of the competitors. Both B*O’s never gave me listening fatigue and never had any of those ear screeching or ear piercing moments.
THE SPARSE APP
As far as an app experience, the B&O app is quite sparse. There’s some presents and modifications. The tuning is called, “Tone Touch” and it functions as an equalizer for your headset. You choose a quadrant from four sound styles – warm, relaxed, excited, and bright, and the sound is altered to fit those moods. The tuning was ok, but the headphones worked great right out the box in my opinion. Other than that, sound presets, and battery life, there’s not much more the app can do.
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