Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones : Beautiful sound, good noise cancellation, sometimes fiddly control

I’m not a demanding user but this b&o headphone is the best, by far, that i’ve owned. Being a long distance rail commuter i’ve worked my way through most of the available nr options over the years (bose, sennheiser etc) never the b&w ones though which was my alternative to this purchase. The nr works as well if not better on the train than any of the alternatives i tried and the build quality if just outstanding. The bose qcs being particularly badly made, only lasting a couple of years. Anyway the b&o are wonderfully engineered with leather earcups that look like they’ll last the distance. It works unpowered with a 3. 5mm jack if the battery does exhaust. Which it hasn’t yet in my experience. The battery is user replaceable if it ever needs to be replaced (or a spare carried) some users have commented on the erratic proximity detection circuit (which can be defeated) but i’ve had not trouble at all with it.

Whilst a fantastic sounding product without enhancement features activated, once these are turned on the sound deteriorates dramatically for a product that costs in excess of its rivals. The beoplay app is patchy and fails to work numerous times and combined with an anc function which exerts pressure within the earcup noticeable to use these are then disappointing for what should be wireless noise cancelling headphones. Finally the proximity sensors which should detect when to pause and resume music was found to be unreliable and activating whilst wearing and walking in normal conditions leading to me having to switch it off to enjoy continued use which again from b&o should have been better.

The most important aspect of any piece of audio equipment is the sound quality and these b&o headphones certainly live up to their reputable company’s name: crystal clear audio with good bass depth mark these headphones out from the crowd. Classical music in particular benefits from the clarity of sound as the orchestra sections are superbly rendered, but equally, the thumping bass of the likes of the prodigy and screaming guitar of system of a down are picked out in detail. The quality of construction is excellent, the headband has a padded cotton inner with a thick stitched leather band over the top. The frame is solidly constructed dark metal and the ear cups are squashily padded and covered in a soft leather. The cup backs are b&o logoed metal discs – the left one removable for battery replacement. The padded leather ear cups are also removable, presumably for cleaning or replacement. The headphones are also considerably lighter than my other over-ear phones, which, coupled with the nice soft padding, means they are wearable for prolonged stretches. There is a fair amount of interesting technology built-in too. The right ear cup doubles as the touch controls for the headphones allowing you to play/pause tracks (single tap toggle), skip forward/back (swipe accordingly), volume up/down (swirl your finger clockwise/anti-clockwise), anc on/off (swipe down to toggle) and voice pass-through on/off (swipe up to toggle). For the most part these work really well, but i’m still finding the volume control a little difficult to master – it seems inaccurate and half the time ends up pausing or skipping the track, this is a shame as the play/pause and skip controls are a great feature.

Over the years i have owned, used and auditioned many headphones, most of which have been high-end devices. Of them all, these b&o h9i’s have been the most striking in terms of the performance on offer at the price being asked. They offer an audiophile level of performance and truly are exceptional, which is a very rare statement indeed from a critical reviewer like mesonically, these headphones have an astonishing frequency range, and are crystal clear right across it. They have the best bass response of any headphone i have ever auditioned, yet are not bass-heavy. Nor do they exhibit the common fault of an over-bright and headache inducing top end. The balance really is very good indeed, with depth, punch and crystal-like clarity. My best description would be that they offer huge power and punch, yet delicate control and creamy tones. I often listen to a track or two then become lost in a three or four hour feast of music, not wanting to stop. That’s a real sign of a great pair of headphonesit has been quite revelatory listening again to some recordings. Top end classical recordings and opera are truly immersive when listened to through my h9i’s.

Hi, i bought my set of h9i in black 5 weeks ago, knowing the potential issues of the proximity sensor & touch controls being problematic. Like many, i too had the issues but are now totally resolved and wanted to share how. There has been 3 software updates since launch which make the touch controls easy enough to use. Hardest part is remember which movement/ motion does what. No problems with connectivity to the app either to report now. Regarding the proximity sensor, well that nearly had me returning them as it really really annoyed me. I fly weekly & simple things of take off, sleeping/ resting against seat head rest had the h9i stopping and starting music with a mind of its own. A helpful customer service call & latest software update provided the solution i was looking for & it works fine now. When turing headphones on ensure they are held horizontal (flat) until flashing blue light stops flashing from connecting wirelessly.

Seriously, the price is the only thing i really don’t like about these headphones. They have a good battery life and excellent noise cancellation that makes train and tube journeys so much quieter that when it turns off you’re surprised by how loud everything seems. The sound quality is rich, warm and reasonably neutral, although as with most headphones of this price point you’re expected to use their proprietary app to get a connection – while a minor annoyance you can then apply sound profiles to achieve the balance you want. Charging is by usb-c, with no odd extra connectors required. They’re comfortable and expensive-looking, so you might want to be careful wandering the street with such clearly expensive headgear. For calls they’re not excellent – the other person seems to be able to hear me but not as well on some more call-oriented headsets. Given you’re not really buying these for voice calls they haven’t shaped things to prioritise this, which is fair enough, just bear in mind the listening experience is the priority. Achingly expensive, they look just as expensive and generally perform just as well as you’d expect.

On first appearance the headphones have a fabulously classic and simple design. They are very easy to use and i had them working within seconds of opening the box, paired with my iphone x. I’ve never owned headphones claiming to be ‘noise cancelling’ before so the first thing i noticed when placing them on my ears was how much sound they block out. It’s not a case that you can literally hear nothing while wearing them but they are suitably designed so that when you are listening to music you are very immersed and will not pick up on other noises around you. With that in mind, this feature does not make these the headphones you’ll want to use walking to the shops or at the gym. When i tried the headphones outdoors every step i took on the pavement resonated in my ears due to the noise cancelling feature. This headphones are clearly designed for studio work or relaxing at home, not for active purposes. Sound quality i can not fault. I have also recently reviewed another pair of high end headphones which had phenomenal sound quality and these are on par with those and even slightly better. I tested with a variety of genres and you really hear ‘the mix’ as it was intended.

Ultimately it’s sound quality that knocks a good star and a half from this review. I love the design aesthetic, these are insanely well engineered headphones and all materials premium but they just don’t sound good enough and certainly not in such a fiercely competitive category such as premium wireless noise cancelling headphones. I should say from the start that i was desperate to love the h9i headphones; they look so wonderful, they have that delightful premium brand feel and presence that makes such things a real pleasure to own and use. So the sound; it’s a profile that favours crisp mids over bass, which is usually okay for me but here the bass is so weak that it damages the overall presentation, notes drop off far too abruptly. Treble is poor in terms of control and there’s even a little compression-style crunch in it, suggesting a materials issue. It adds up to a rather ‘mean’ soundstage, though instrument definition on that sound stage is very good. There’s none of that pace and excitement that great headphones unlock from the music either, it’s just not there. Build quality is exceptional but software and control are not. The phone app is silly, serving really only to enable firmware updates. I’m a big fan of the touch controls on sony’s whm1000m2/3 headphones but here the implementation is frustrating and niggly.

  • Studio or home based use only
  • Great sound but accompanied with poor app, ANC and Proximity Sensors
  • Great sounding headphones just disable the proximity sensor

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency Mode and Microphone – Natural

Buy on Amazon

I am a bit of a b & o fan but i have tried other headphones such as the qc 35ii and sony wh1000 and for me these are the best sounding headphone of the 3. I will start with the pros, i’m not an audio expert so i won’t go in to too much detail about sound quality but i’m very impressed with the highs, mids, lows and very wide sound stage. The soundstage does tighten up slightly with anc on. The build qaulity is the best in class with real. Leather and memory foam earpads i never feel uncomfortable after hours of use. The anc is very effective but not quite as clever or effective as sony or bose but good enough to be used in noisy environments such as the london underground. The battery life is fairly reasonable and the battery is replaceable which costs £30 from amazon. Cons: there is very very slight cabin pressure feel with anc, you do not notice it with the music playing. As mentioned above the audio is slightly better in passive mode but this does not stop me from using anc. The beoplay app is basic, i couldn’t figure out how to update the firmware with it and had to do it from the pc.

These headphones are the best i’ve ever owned (admittedly they’re also by far the most expensive). The sound is great and the additional features compared to the h9 are very impactful. I get through two days of work listening to these headphones all day (and commuting time) absolutely fine before. That being said, the headphones don’t come boxed with the latest firmware and you will need to update them using the beoplay app, or you will notice the touch controls being laggy and the proximity sensor bugging (stopping the music) as the other reviewers have mentioned. It’s a pretty simple fix, although for some reason it took me three attempts to get it installed, just head onto their app and it should be pretty straight forward.

  • Studio or home based use only
  • Great sound but accompanied with poor app, ANC and Proximity Sensors
  • Great sounding headphones just disable the proximity sensor

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones with Active Noise Cancellation, Transparency Mode and Microphone – Natural

Features and Spesification