Reviewed on Mar 29, 2018

B&O PLAY Beoplay H9 Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.3
6.9
Mixed Usage
7.0
Neutral Listening
7.1
Commute/Travel
7.0
Sports/Fitness
6.8
Office
5.7
Wireless Gaming
7.3
Wired Gaming
6.2
Phone Call
These headphones were replaced by the B&O PLAY Beoplay H9i Wireless

Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Beoplay H9 are decent mixed-usage headphones with a great premium design and a comfortable over-ear fit. They look and feel very durable, and they're relatively lightweight for an over-ear headset. They also sound decent and pack a lot of bass but it can sometimes be a little overpowering which won't be for everyone. Unfortunately, they do not block as much noise as some of the other wireless noise-canceling models we've tested and they're a little leaky.

Test Results
Design 7.3
Isolation 6.1
Microphone 6.1
Active Features 7.9
Connectivity 6.6
Pros
  • Great design and build quality
  • Comfortable fit
Cons
  • Mediocre-at-best noise isolation
  • Leaky at higher volumes
  1. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  2. Update 4/26/2019: We've updated the latency score to fix an error in the orginal review and to add support for aptx and aptx-LL.

Check Price

7.3

Design

The B&O Play H9 are well-crafted, high-end looking headphones. They're comfortable and have a premium build quality on par with the Oppo PM-3 and Parrot Zik 3.0. They're also relatively lightweight for their size, with a decent control scheme that's fairly easy to use but takes a bit of time get familiar with. Unfortunately, though comfortable, the ear cups have a circular shape which won't fit as well for every user and they're not the most portable headphones since they do not fold into a more compact format. Also, they come with a cheap pouch that doesn't offer much protection, especially considering the price of these headphones, which is a little disappointing.

Style

The Beoplay H9 look almost identical to the H6 but with a wireless design. They're great-looking headphones that feel premium and make use of a lot of high-end materials like aluminum, leather, and memory foam. They have a low profile headband and large circular, flat ear cups that do not protrude much. This makes the whole look design eye-catching yet understated, especially if you get the all-black color variant like in this review. They also come in a Tan/Argilla grey color scheme that's a bit more flashy but overall they're one of the better-looking over-ears that we've tested so far.

8.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.6 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0.8 lbs

The Beoplay H9 are very comfortable headphones but the circular ear cups can feel a bit small for some listeners. They're slightly heavier than the H6 but have pretty much the same fit and design overall. They have thick and soft leather pads on the ear cups and the overall build is fairly lightweight for an over-ear design. However, since the ear cups are a little small they may cause a slight pinch on the top of your ears depending on the user. On the upside, they're not too tight and you can wear them for hours without feeling any fatigue.

7.0 Controls
OS Compatibility
:
iOS
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Mediocre
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : Yes
Talk-Through
:
No
Additional Buttons : Voice enabled controls

The Beoplay H9 by Bang & Olufsen have a unique touch-sensitive control scheme that's relatively easy to use once you get familiar with it. You turn up the volume by swiping your finger along the circular touchpad (clockwise for volume up and counter-clockwise for volume down). Tapping on the right ear cup plays and pauses tracks and also manages calls. You can disable noise canceling by swiping downwards, and skipping tracks is done by swiping left and right. Unfortunately, the touch-sensitive control scheme is not as responsive as physical buttons, and you do not get a lot of auditory feedback when changing tracks or disabling noise canceling, which is a little disappointing. Also tapping twice on the touch-sensitive surface redials your last called number which can be quite frustrating since it is easy to trigger accidentally. On the upside, they have an actual switch for power and Bluetooth pairing which makes connecting to Bluetooth sources a bit easier, like the QuietComfort 35 II.

6.3 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 6.2 C

Like most closed back over-ear designs, the H9 are not the most breathable headphones. Once you get the right fit they seal off the ear fairly well which prevents a good amount of airflow. They're not much worse than most over-ear headphones but won't be ideal for strenuous physical activity since they will make you sweat a bit more than usual under those conditions.

6.2 Portability
L : 7.6 "
W : 8 "
H : 1.4 "
Volume : 85 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The Beoplay H9 are decently compact for over-ear headphones but unfortunately do not fold to save space. The ear cups lay flat which may come in handy in some situations but they're still a bit too cumbersome to comfortably carry around on your person without a bag.

5.5 Case
Type : Pouch
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

The Beoplay H9 come with a simple pouch that should protect the headphones from scratches and scuffs when in your bag but won't shield them from impacts or water damage. Also, considering the price of these headphones, a simple pouch instead of a hard or even a soft case, feels really cheap.

8.0 Build Quality

The B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 are one of the better-built headphones that we've tested so far. They have a sturdy yet lightweight build quality made from high-end aluminum and coated in a luxurious leather. The headband feels durable and flexible and the ear cups are dense without being too heavy, although they do weigh a little more than the H6. They're easily on par with the Oppo PM-3 and Parrot Zik 3.0 although the hinges are a little thin and probably the weakest part of their design. Overall they're durable headphones that feel very high-end.

6.5 Stability

The B&O Play H9, like the H6, are decently stable headphones but won't be ideal for working out. They stay put during casual listening sessions but sway a bit when jogging or running since they're not as tight on the head as some of the other headphones we've tested. On the upside, they're wireless so they won't get yanked off your head because the audio cable got hooked by something.

Headshots 1
Headshots 2
Top

Sound

They have a consistent, deep, punchy, and very thumpy bass, without sounding muddy or cluttered. Their mid-range, however, is quite recessed and doesn't give enough emphasis to vocals and lead instruments. Their treble range lacks some detail and brightness, but could also sound a bit piercing on S and Ts with overly bright tracks. Overall, the H9 is better suited for bass-heavy genres and may not be the best choice for fans of clear and present vocals, common to folk, indie, and classical genres. Additionally, they have good imaging although our test unit showed some mismatch between the L/R drivers, and like most other headphones, they don't have a large and speaker-like soundstage.

Sound Profile
Neutral
:
7.3
Bass-Heavy
:
9.5
Warm
:
3.2
Bright
:
8.5
6.3 Peaks/Dips
Peaks
:
2.37 db
Dips
:
2.37 db
8.1 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.37 dB

The Beoplay H9 has great freqnecy response consistency. The bass delivery is very consistent across our 5 human subjects from 40Hz and up. The maximum deviation is at around 20Hz and about 6dB, but only over a narrow range, which makes it less noticeable. In the treble range, the maximum deviation is about 15dB, which is quite significant, but again, only over a very narrow range so won't be very audible.

7.7 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.31
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.58
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
2.1
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
18.43

The imaging is good. The weighted group delay is at 0.31, which is also good. The GD graph shows that entire group delay response is below or at the audibility threshold. Indicating a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were very well-matched in amplitude and frequency response, but showed significant mismatch in phase response. This wouldn't affect the accuracy of the placement of objects (like voices, instruments, and video game sound effects), but could skew the stereo image and cohesion a bit.

5.8 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
3.63 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
5.29 dB
PRTF Distance
:
8.88 dB
Openness
:
3.8
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
4.8

The soundstage performance of the Beoplay H9 is sub-par. The PRTF graph shows excessive amount of activation, which could be either due to resonances in the enclosure when the pinna is removed, or pinching the pinna. Also, there is no "10KHz notch" present either, and instead there is unusual activation in that region. The result would probably be a soundstage that is perceived to be relatively large, but unnatural and located inside the head as opposed to in-front.

6.4 Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
:
0.538
WHD @ 100
:
0.736
6.1

Isolation

The Beoplay H9 cancel an average amount of noise with their ANC but do not always create the best seal around your ears. They're mediocre at blocking low-frequency noise, and you will hear the ambient chatter on a bus or train ride if you can't get a good seal with the circular ear cups. This also makes them a little leaky so you may distract the people around you at higher volumes, but on the upside, getting the right fit will improve both the leakage and noise isolation performance.

6.2 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-15.37 dB
Bass
:
-6.43 dB
Mid
:
-13.13 dB
Treble
:
-27.09 dB

The isolation performance is about average. With their ANC (active noise cancelling) enabled, they achieved about 6dB of isolation in the bass range, which is mediocre. This means they won't be able to cancel out the rumble of bus and airplane engines quite effectively. In the mid-range, which is important for blocking out speech, the Beoplay H9 achieved about 13dB of isolation, which is above-average. In the treble range, we had difficulty getting a perfect seal on our dummy head, and the H9 only achieved 27dB of isolation. This is an above-average result, but with a better seal their performance could be improved by 3-4dB in treble.

5.9 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
45.62 dB

The leakage performance is sub-par. The significant portion of the leakage is spread between 400Hz and 12KHz, which is a broad range. This means the leakage will sound rather full-bodied. The overall level of leakage, however, not very loud. With the music 100dB SPL, the leakage peaks at 60dB SPL at a foot away, which is just above the noise floor of most offices.

6.1

Microphone

Integrated
:
Yes
In-line
:
No
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
N/A

The microphone of the Beoplay H9 is mediocre. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with it will sound relatively thin. It will also sound noticeably muffled and lacking in detail, but will still be easy to understand. In noisy environments, they will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise even in moderately loud places like a busy street or a loud office.

6.3 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
269.09 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
4.03 dB
HFE
:
3517.32 Hz
Weighted THD
:
27.912
Gain
:
32.07 dB

The integrated microphone is mediocre. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 269Hz means that speech recorded/transmitted with this mic will sound relatively thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.5KHz indicates a speech transmission that is somewhat muffled and lacking in detail. However, it'll still be decently intelligible. Lastly, the bump around 700Hz could make speech a bit honky sounding.

6.0 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
11.22 dB

The mic is mediocre at noise handling. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of about 11dB, indicating it is best suited for quiet environments, as the Beoplay H9 may struggle to separate speech from background noise even in moderately loud places.

7.9

Active Features

The Beoplay H9 have a decent battery life and a moderately customizable app. They lasted up to 13.5 hours with ANC enabled, so you can squeeze a bit more battery life if you don't need as much noise canceling on your commutes. However, they do take quite a while to charge and do not have a quick charge feature like the Beats Studio3 Wireless, which makes them a bit less convenient if you forget to plug them in overnight. On the upside, the Beoplay app has a preset/graphic equalizer that lets you customize the sound profile as well as enable/disable noise canceling. Unfortunately, it doesn't give you as many options as the Sennheiser Captune app with the PXC 550 Wireless.

8.0 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
:
13.5 hrs
Additional Charges
:
0
Total Battery Life
:
13.5 hrs
Charge Time
:
2.9 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
Standby mode
Audio while charging
:
Yes
Passive Playback
:
Yes
Charging Port : micro-USB

These headphones have a decent battery life that should last you throughout a day of moderate-to-heavy use but take quite long to charge. Unfortunately, they do not switch off automically when they are paired to a Bluetooth source so the power will continue to drain unless you switch off the headphones. On the upside, you can also use them while they're charging and passively if battery completely runs out which is pretty convenient. For a similar headset, but with better battery life, take a look at the H9i.

Update: 11/03/2019: The BeoPlay H9 does have a stand by mode that puts the headphones into low power after 15 mins of inactivity. The headset will disconnect from your device but will not be completely switched off. We've updated the battery test score to reflect this.

6.5 App Support
App Name : Beoplay
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
Presets
ANC control
:
Yes
Mic Control : No
Room effects
:
No
Playback control
:
Yes
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

The H9 support the Beoplay app which offers moderate customization options but does not feel as feature packed as some of the other apps that we've tested for similarly designed headphones. They provide an in-app player, battery data, and a preset EQ that lets you chose between different intensities of 4 set sound profiles; Warm, excited, relaxed and bright. This lets you somewhat personalize the sound profile of the headphones but not like the PXC 550 Wireless or the Parrot Zik 3.

6.6

Connectivity

Update: 04/26/2019: While testing the H9i we noticed the missing codec support for the original H9. We've since updated the available codecs and latency numbers for the H9. 

The Beoplay H9 cannot pair simultaneously with multiple devices and do not supports NFC but come with a regular audio cable as a secondary connection option. They have a good wireless range and they're fairly easy to pair thanks to their dedicated power/Bluetooth sync switch. Unfortunately, like most Bluetooth headphones they have a bit too much latency when used wirelessly,  so they won't be the best headphones for watching a lot of video content and gaming unless you have a Bluetooth dongle with aptX or aptX LL.

7.0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
:
No
NFC Pairing
:
No
Line of Sight Range
:
117 ft
Default Latency
:
193 ms
aptX Latency
:
183 ms
aptX(LL) Latency
:
34 ms

The H9 do not support NFC or multi-device paring. On the upside, they have a dedicated Bluetooth pairing switch like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II which makes pairing to new devices fairly easy.

Update: 04/26/2019: While testing the H9i we noticed the missing codec support for the original H9. We've since updated the available codecs and latency numbers for the H9.

The H9 have 193ms of SBC latency. While this is about average for most Bluetooth headphones with no additional low latency codecs, it's not ideal for watching videos and gaming. If you need to watch a lot of video content then it's better to use them wired or get a dongle that supports aptx or aptX-LL for a better latency perfromance.

0 Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
Non-BT Latency
:
N/A
9.5 Wired
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
Detachable : Yes
Length : 3.5 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS
Wired Latency
:
0 ms

These headphones come with a simple audio cable with no in-line remote or USB adapter. They do not have a mic that is compatible with consoles or PC when using them wired.

PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
:
Audio Only
PC / PS4 Wired USB
:
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
:
No
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox Analog
:
Audio Only
Xbox Wired USB
:
No
Xbox Wireless
:
No
0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A

These headphones do not have a base/dock. If you want a good sounding headphone with a dock/base for watching movies and gaming, check out the Astro A50.

In the box

  • B&O Play H9 headphones
  • Audio cable
  • Airline adapter
  • Carrying case
  • USB charging cable
  • Manuals

Compared to other Headphones

The Beoplay H9 are high-end headphones with a great build quality that feels durable while staying relatively lightweight. They have a decent sound quality that packs a lot of bass, they're comfortable and they're easy to use with a unique touch-sensitive control scheme. Unfortunately, they do not have the best noise isolation which won't be ideal for daily commuters and frequent flyers. They're also quite pricey for an overall performance that's on par if not lower than most of the headphones compared below. See our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones, and the best closed-back headphones.

B&O PLAY Beoplay H9i Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The B&O PLAY H9 and B&O PLAY H9i are very similar headphones in practically every category. They are built the same way and are made out of the same high-end materials. However, the H9i has a much better battery life, which gives you about twice the amount you get on the regular H9 model. Also, their sound profile is a bit more exciting, and you can also enable a talk-through mode. If you don’t feel like having more than 14 hours of battery with the H9 is necessary, then the H9i might not be worth the upgrade.

Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bowers & Wilkins PX are a slightly better headset than the B&O PLAY H9. The PX have stronger noise isolation, which makes them a bit more suitable for both loud and quieter conditions like commuting or being at the office. They also have a slightly more premium-looking build quality. On the upside, the B&O H9 have an easier to use and a more casual design than the PX. They also pack more bass and have a customizable sound profile, which feels lacking in the PX's app support.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are better headphones than the B&O PLAY H9 in pretty much every way. They are more versatile thanks to their amazing ANC feature, and their sound is noticeably more neutral. The QC 35 II are one of the most comfortable headphones we’ve reviewed so far and are well-built, but aren’t quite on par with the premium design and build quality of the B&O PLAY H9. The H9 also has slightly less battery life, but it can be used while charging, which you can’t do with the Bose.

6.9 Mixed Usage

Decent for mixed usage. The Beoplay H9 have a premium design and a high-end build quality that's comfortable and easy-to-use. They have a decent sound quality that doesn't quite sound as good as the H6 but they support the Beoplay app so you can EQ them to reduce some of the overpowering bass. However, this means they won't be the ideal headphones for more critical listeners and their weak isolation does not block a lot of noise so they won't be the best headphones for loud environments or commuting. They're also a bit too unstable for sports and have a lot of latency when used wirelessly.

7.0 Neutral Listening

Decent for neutral listening. They have an exciting bass-heavy sound that may be right for some listeners but won't be ideal for more neutral listening. On the upside, you can somewhat EQ them with their provided app, but they do not sound as balanced as the H6 out of the box. Also, since they're closed-back headphones, their soundstage is a bit limited. Overall they should sound good enough for most listeners but if you consider yourself an audiophile then the excess bass and recessed mid and treble ranges will be an issue.

7.1 Commute/Travel

Decent for commuting. The noise cancellation is strong enough to use on public transit, but the circular ear pads do not always create the best seal, so you will hear whats going on around you on loud, noisy commutes. They're also a bit bulky to carry around since they do not fold. On the upside, they're easy to use and comfortable.

7.0 Sports/Fitness

Average for sports. They're comfortable and easy to use with a decent control scheme. They're also wireless and relatively lightweight for an over-ear. However, they're not the most stable headphones for more intense exercises and they will make your ears fairly warm and sweaty after a good 30 minutes of working out.

6.8 Office

Above-average for office use. They're comfortable and have a decent noise isolation performance. However, the ear cups do not always seal the ear properly so you will hear a bit of ambient chatter in a lively office and they leak which may be distracting to your colleagues especially in a quiet environment.

5.7 Wireless Gaming

Below-average for gaming. These headphones are comfortable, have they a good wireless range, and they're easy to use. Unfortunately, they have a mediocre mic that is not compatible with consoles, they're not as customizable as most gaming headsets, and the high latency will be a deal breaker for gaming.

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