Is Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Worth It? (Full Review!)

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Bang & Olufsen’s H9 series has been a favorite in the market for a long time, with excellent sound, great design, and eventually, quite capable noise cancelling. The Danish manufacturer recently launched the fourth generation H9, but the name has now become Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX. But is it worth buying the new generation?

The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX is widely regarded as one of the best true wireless headphones you can get thanks to a unique design, great sound quality, long battery life, and decent noise-cancelling technology. Compared to the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Apple Airpods Max, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX have slightly weaker noise cancellation. The sound quality doesn’t compensate enough for them to be at the same overall level.

But if you like the unique design and sound quality is more important than the noise cancellation technology, these headphones might be perfect for you.

Please keep reading if you want my honest review of the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX.

Pros

  • Airy and large sound image
  • Nice balance between bass range and sharpness in the treble
  • Expensive materials, excellent design, comfortable to wear
  • Good battery life
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Finally added a carrying case

Cons

  • Active Noise Cancelling is not as good as the best
  • Heavy steps can propagate into the sound when the noise cancellation is active
  • Not collapsible headphones
  • High price range

“Spectacular sound, but not as impressive active noise cancellation as the best brands.”

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX vs H9 – What Are The Improvements?

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Worth It
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX

The major upgrade is perhaps on the battery side, which has been increased from 25 to 35 hours with noise cancelling active (and 40 hours without). It brings the HX up to par with some of the best on the market in terms of battery life, such as the Sony WH-1000XM3 and -XM4 and the Jabra Elite 85h.

In addition, B&O has installed two new microphones, which will provide better call quality, and the noise cancelling is also upgraded compared to the H9.

One of the improvements is already evident in the unpacking of the HX. Bang & Olufsen has, in fact, finally made sense and included a good carrying case.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Carrying Case
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Carrying Case

The case is nice and has a separate room with a magnetic lid for cables, but it suffers a bit because you can’t fold the headphones. No matter how nice it is, it was definitely about time to get a solid carrying case for a headset with a price above $400.

Maybe it was the criticism Apple got after their minor design flaw with the “case” for AirPods Max that made B&O finally make a good case?

The headphones themselves still look very much like a Bang & Olufsen product, and the differences from the previous generation are not very prominent. The small dent on the outside of the headphones has been removed and replaced with a ragged field where you drag your finger to adjust the volume.

The slider that functioned as an on/off button and to activate Bluetooth pairing in the past has also been changed to a single button, which you quickly press to turn on and off or hold down to activate pairing. The headphones connect instantly, so you can barely put them on your head before they are ready for use.

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In addition, you get a button to switch between noise cancellation modes and a button to activate the voice assistant on your phone. The former is new and definitely an upgrade from having these commands on the touch panel on the right earpiece.

Is Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Sound Quality Any Good?

As before, the sound is also one of the highlights with Beoplay HX. Bang & Olufsen’s large and concert-like sound lives on, with a stereo perspective and an airiness that very few other headphones on the market can deliver.

The treble reproduction on the first generation H9 was a little too laid back, the second generation (H9i) turned the lever a little too far in the opposite direction, with the result that they could be a little tiring to listen to. With the 3rd Gen, B&O was again a little too soft in appearance.

With HX, the Danes are approaching the right level – the treble is adjusted a little closer to what I like, and it gives a better impression than the H9 3rd Gen did, although I still think the vocals are placed a little far back in the soundscape in some songs.

The result is a sound that almost feels like a privilege to listen to. It’s very well balanced, with a bass reproduction that is engaging without being excessive and the airiness as the finishing touch.

Beoplay HX does not have the “physical” bass reproduction that Apple’s AirPods Max has, nor do they have the rawness of the treble you get from Shure Aonic 50. The combination of the level of detail, commitment, and airiness is still unsurpassed here.

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If I were to choose wireless headphones only for the sound, I would probably land on these – at least if we disregard the almost ridiculously expensive big brother H95.

Lastly, about sound, I must mention that HX supports both AAC and Aptx Adaptive, so you should have good conditions no matter what you are listening to.

Is The Design of Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Any Good?

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX - Inside
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX – Inside

Comfort, design, and choice of materials are as excellent as before. The earpads are in soft leather, the band in aluminum and are covered with leather above and cloth underneath. I would like a little more padding under the headband because it can sometimes gnaw a little after using it for a very long time. This is usually not a problem, but something to be aware of.

The design may not be optimal for running and workouts, partly because you have leather around your ears and partly because they tend to be a little loose on your head. But if you’re not going to engage in very intense activity, it should work well with HX as well.

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When doing workouts, you might want to deactivate the active noise cancellation. The HX has a bit of the same problem as other headphones, and that the sound of your feet propagates into the sound through the noise cancellation.

Is Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Noise Cancelling Any Good?

The active noise cancelling has previously not been the best feature of Bang & Olufsen, at least until the H95 model came on the market. B&O took a long step forward with the H95, and now Beoplay HX, but not enough to bring B&O to the same level as Sony and Apple.

The Beoplay HX is noticeably weaker than both the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Apple AirPods Max in a simulated aircraft noise test. HX is all right on the lowest frequencies, but the difference is quite significant from there on up. AirPods Max is still the best at removing the “rumble” of the aircraft engine, but otherwise, there is little difference between Apple and the WH-1000XM4.

The HX probably suffers slightly because they squeeze the ear a little more than the Apple headphones, making the passive attenuation weaker.

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You can also experience it outdoors, where the HX lets through more noise than the others. For example, when cars drive by. They are also susceptible to the wind, which is not uncommon on headphones with noise cancellation.

The ambient mode is perfectly fine here. However, Sony’s version of the ambient mode is far more comfortable, especially in noisy environments.

Is Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Call Quality Any Good?

The call quality is reasonably decent indoors and in quiet surroundings, and I did not have any problems using them for video and telephone calls in the home office. However, B&O’s microphones struggle more when they get surrounding noise to work with.

When cars drive past you, the noise reduction algorithms apparently work in high gear because the noise reduction is experienced by the other party as if it goes up and down a lot.

You still manage to make yourself understood, but the probability that there will be the occasional “Excuse me?” from the person at the other end increases considerably. All in all, I will say the call quality is approved when it’s quiet around, medium otherwise.

Other Features

Multipoint Connection

Beoplay HX also supports a so-called multipoint connection. This means that you can be connected to both a PC and your mobile simultaneously. It works mainly as it should, with largely seamless switching if you listen to something on your PC and the phone rings, for example.

However, I did experience the headphones as a bit inconsistent in what kind of source they prioritize. Sometimes the media sound from the phone is interrupted by Slack notifications on the PC, to name a few – sometimes not.

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This would not have been a problem if the Spotify playback had started again immediately, but it does not. The headphones often take quite a long time before they focus back on the mobile again, even if you manually request playback to start.

Sometimes the playback from the PC also cuts out for a second if you are connected to the mobile simultaneously. This is probably not only Bang & Olufsen’s fault, and I have the same issue with other headphones, but I would like to see that the multipoint feature worked a little more smoothly.

App

You can also activate so-called “wear detection” in the app, which pauses playback when you take the headphones off your ears. Here you can choose between standard and reduced sensitivity, but I did not experience any problems with the standard setting, and this function has worked smoothly during the test period.

Otherwise, you will find several predefined listening modes, in addition to an option to activate the “adaptive ANC”, that enables the headphones themselves to decide how much noise reduction they should have. Considering that the maximum level is not higher than it is, I chose to keep this turned off.

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FAQ

Is Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Waterproof?

These headphones are not IP-rated which means they are not water-resistant or sweat resistant. So please do yourself a favor and keep them out of water range.

How long is the battery life of Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX?

The battery life is 35 hours with noise cancelling active (and 40 hours without). It brings the HX up to par with some of the best on the market in terms of battery life, such as the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Jabra Elite 85h.

Conclusion

Bang & Olufsen continues making minor generational upgrades on the H9 series, even though it has been renamed to HX.

First and foremost, it’s the battery life that has been improved in this round, in addition to small adjustments in the sound quality, which I think is definitely for the better. Where I previously felt like adjusting the treble levels in the accompanying app, I didn’t feel like touching them at all this time.

Regarding the sound quality, few others make a wireless sound as good as Bang & Olufsen. However, the competition has been significantly tougher in the last couple of years than when they first launched the H9 series.

HX combines commitment at the bottom with resolution and treble finesse in an excellent way, and the result is a sound that feels like a privilege to listen to.

I kind of wish that the noise cancellation was better. The competitors’ improvements on the sound quality make the overall package of the HX not as impressive as its predecessors once did.

Compared to the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Apple Airpods Max, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX is ending up on a level slightly below. This doesn’t mean that the HX is a bad pair of headphones, on the contrary. It’s just that the sound quality, in my opinion, doesn’t compensate enough for the noise cancellation to the same extent as it once did.

Pros

  • Airy and large sound image
  • Nice balance between bass range and sharpness in the treble
  • Expensive materials, excellent design, comfortable to wear
  • Good battery life
  • Active noise cancellation
  • Finally added a carrying case

Cons

  • Active Noise Cancelling is not as good as the best
  • Heavy steps can propagate into the sound when the noise cancellation is active
  • Not collapsible headphones
  • High price range

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