B&O PLAY Beoplay H9i Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.3.1
7.0
Mixed Usage
6.6
Neutral Sound
7.5
Commute/Travel
6.9
Sports/Fitness
7.4
Office
5.7
Wireless Gaming
7.3
Wired Gaming
6.7
Phone Call
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The B&O PLAY H9i are decent noise cancelling over-ear headphones that can be used for a variety of daily use cases. They have an exciting V-shaped sound profile, which will be better suited for bass-heavy genres. They are quite similar to the B&O PLAY H9, with better wireless range and about twice the battery life, which is very convenient. However, their ANC is slightly better than the previous model but not as good as comparable headsets. On the upside, the H9i kept the same high-end design as the H9 and feel like premium headphones.

Test Results
Design 7.2
Isolation 7.5
Microphone 6.4
Active Features 8.8
Connectivity 7.1
Pros
  • Great design and build quality.
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Good battery life.
Cons
  • Worse ANC than comparable headphones.
  • May be too bass-heavy for some.
  1. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Update 11/6/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  3. Update 5/2/2019: We've updated the multi-device pairing score to reflect the latest update.

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7.2

Design

The B&O PLAY H9i are similarly designed to the Beoplay H9 model, but with slightly thicker ear cups. They are very well-built and feel like premium headphones made with high-end materials. Their design is lightweight without feeling flimsy. While they are comfortable, some may find the cups a bit small, which could pinch the top of your ears. On the upside, they have a unique touch-sensitive control scheme that is easy to use once you're used to it, though getting adjusted to it might take some time. You can also remove the battery, which is pretty convenient.

Style

The H9i are practically identical to the Beoplay H9 model, which are a wired variant of the Beoplay H6. They look like very high-end headphones with premium materials used. The cups are fairly shallow, and the padding isn’t the thickest, so they don’t protrude too much. Their overall design feels sleek. While their all-black colorway is a bit low-profile, they come in a few other color schemes that stand out a bit more, like the model we've tested.

8.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.64 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0.8 lbs

The B&O PLAY H9i are comfortable headphones. They feel lightweight and aren’t too tight on the head. However, while the cups are well-padded, their small circular design won’t be ideal for everyone. People with larger-sized ears may feel a slight pinch on the top of the ears. On the upside, if you can find a good fit with them, they’ll be comfortable to wear for a long time without feeling any fatigue.

7.5 Controls
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
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
:
Yes
Additional Buttons : N/A

The H9i have a unique touch-sensitive control scheme that might be a bit hard to use right out-of-the-box, but it gets fairly easy to use with some time. You turn up the volume by swiping your finger along the circular touchpad (clockwise for volume up and counter-clockwise for volume down) on the right ear cup. Tapping on the cup plays and pauses tracks and also manages calls. You can disable noise cancelling by swiping upwards and enable their transparency mode by swiping downward, which wasn't available on the H9. You can also skip tracks by swiping left and right.

Unfortunately, the touch-sensitive control scheme is not as responsive as physical buttons, but on the upside, you now get auditory feedback when disabling noise cancelling, which the H9 were lacking. They also rid of the "double tap to redial" command, which was quite easy to trigger accidentally. Additionally, they have a smart pause feature thanks to the new proximity sensor that pauses/plays your music when you take off/put on the headphones.

6.0 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 7.1 C

The H9i are over-ear headphones and will trap heat under the ear cups. They are not the most breathable headphones and won't be ideal for physical activity. Using these headphones during a workout or a run will make you sweat more than usual, and you will notice a difference in temperature.

5.7 Portability
L : 8.6 "
W : 8.1 "
H : 2.0 "
Volume : 139 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The H9i are not the biggest over-ear headphones, like the similar Beoplay H9. They can’t be folded in a more compact format, but you can at least swivel the cups to lay them flat, which makes it easier to slide inside a bag or to travel with them around your neck.

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

The B&O PLAY H9i come with a simple pouch that could protect the headphones from scratches and scuffs when in your bag but won't shield them from impacts or water damage. A nice hard, or even soft, case would have been nice, considering that other competing headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM3 or the Bose QuietComfort 35 II include one in the box.

8.0 Build Quality

The H9i are built the exact same way the regular H9 are. Their lightweight design is also very sturdy thanks to premium materials like aluminum and leather. The metal frame of the headphones feels solid yet flexible. They should also survive a few accidental drops without suffering too much damage. They are high-end headphones that are on par with the Dolby Dimension.

6.5 Stability

These headphones are not very stable and won’t be suited for physical activity. They sway around a lot with head movement so they shouldn’t be an option for running. They stay put during casual listening sessions and their wireless design gets rid of the risk of the headphones being yanked by a cable being hooked on something.

Headshots 1
Headshots 2
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Sound

Their bass is good, but is overly thumpy, which bass fans may appreciate. The mid-range is also good, but their treble is overemphasized and fairly uneven. Overall, vocals and lead instruments sound thin and a bit pushed back in the mix. Due to their exciting sound profile, these won’t be ideal for vocal-centric music and should be better-suited for bass-heavy genres.

Sound Profile
Bass Amount
:
1.24 db
Treble Amount
:
1.52 db
8.2 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.35 dB

The H9i have a great frequency response consistency. They perform similarly in the bass range on our different human test subjects. These headphones seems to be using their ANC system to make the delivery of low-end frequencies more consistent. However, we measured a maximum deviation of about 7dB around 3.5kHz. On the upside, this is over a narrow range, so it might not be as audible for everyone.

7.5 Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
:
3.53 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
4.73 dB
Mid-Bass
:
-2.61 dB
High-Bass
:
-3.94 dB

The bass performance of the H9i is good. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent. Also, low-bass is hyped by about 5dB, indicating that the bass of these headphones is deep and very thumpy, which should be pleasing to fans of bass-heavy genres. However, mid-bass, responsible for the body of bass guitars and kick drums, and high-bass, responsible for warmth, are under our target curve by 3 and 4dB respectively. This will result in a high-bass that may feel light and thin sounding.

7.6 Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
:
3.25 dB
Low-Mid
:
-3.86 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-1.69 dB
High-Mid
:
2.5 dB

The mid range performance of the H9i is good. The response throughout the range is decently-balanced, but there is a 10dB tilt favoring higher frequencies, which may make them sound a bit intense. The 4db underemphasis in low-mid will make vocals and lead instruments sound thin, and they may also be nudged to the back of the mix. The bump in high-mid will affect the intensity and projection of vocals/leads.

5.7 Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
:
5.35 dB
Low-Treble
:
1.63 dB
Mid-Treble
:
1.48 dB
High-Treble
:
-1.49 dB

The H9i have a sub-par treble performance. The response throughout the range is fairly uneven. The dip centered around 6kHz will negatively affect the brightness and detail of some sibilants, but the very high and broad peak around 9-10kHz will make those frequencies sound overly sharp and piercing, specially on already bright tracks. However, not everyone hears treble frequencies the same way, so your experience may differ.

6.1 Peaks/Dips
Peaks
:
2.69 db
Dips
:
2.06 db
6.9 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.32
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
2.95
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
2.87
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
9.0

The imaging is good. The weighted group delay is at 0.32, which is also good. The GD graph shows that entire group delay response is almost below the audibility threshold, before 40Hz. This indicates a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in phase, but showed significant mismatch in amplitude and frequency. This affects the accuracy of the placement of objects (like voices, instruments, and video game sound effects) and could skew the stereo image a bit.

3.7 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
5.08 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
6.26 dB
PRTF Distance
:
2.61 dB
Openness
:
2.6
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
2.8

The soundstage performance of the B&O PLAY H9i is poor. 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.

7.6 Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
:
0.231
WHD @ 100
:
0.157
7.5

Isolation

The B&O PLAY H9i have an acceptable isolation performance that's slightly better than the original H9. These headphones are ANC and they do a decent job at blocking low-end frequencies like the engine rumble of a plane or bus engine. This means they'll be a decent option for your daily commute but might not be as great as some other high-end ANC headphones that we've tested. On the upside, they're pretty good for blocking out work environment noises. Also, they don’t leak too much, so you’ll be able to raise your listening volume without disturbing people surrounding you.

7.4 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-19.23 dB
Bass
:
-11.89 dB
Mid
:
-20.9 dB
Treble
:
-25.85 dB

The noise isolation performance of the H9i is acceptable. With their ANC (active noise cancelling) enabled, they achieved about 12dB of isolation in the bass range, which is decent. This means they'll be able to cancel out some of the rumbles of bus and airplane engines. In the mid-range, which is important for blocking out speech, the H9i achieved about 21dB of isolation, which is very good. In the treble range, where sharp S and T sounds and noise from A/C systems sit, they achieved 26dB of isolation, which is decent.

7.6 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
36.07 dB

The leakage performance is good. The significant portion of the leakage is spread between 2Hz and 10kHz, which is a broad range. This means the leakage will sound rather full-bodied. On the upside, the overall level of leakage is not very loud. With the music 100dB SPL, the leakage averages 36db SPL and peaks at 64dB SPL at a foot away, which is just about the noise floor of most offices.

6.4

Microphone

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

The integrated microphone of the B&O PLAY H9i is okay. 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. However, it will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in moderately loud places like a busy street or a loud office.

6.8 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
182.21 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
2.69 dB
HFE
:
3466.89 Hz
Weighted THD
:
12.575
Gain
:
25.49 dB

The integrated microphone is okay. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 182Hz means that speech recorded/transmitted with this mic will sound slightly thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.5kHz indicates a speech transmission that is somewhat muffled and lacking in detail, but it will still be decently intelligible. However, this is a limitation of the Bluetooth protocol.

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

The mic is mediocre at noise handling. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of about 12dB, indicating it is best suited for quiet environments, as the H9i’s mic may struggle to separate speech from background noise in moderately loud places.

8.8

Active Features

The B&O H9i have a great battery life and a companion app that lets you slightly customize the sound of the headphones to your liking. We got about 24 hours of battery life with the ANC on, which is noticeably longer than the advertised 18 hours and a good upgrade from the original Beoplay H9. They can be used passively, even if the battery is dead, and while they are charging, which is very convenient. Their app feels a bit lackluster, but you can slightly EQ them with a preset quadrant EQ.

9.0 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
:
24 hrs
Additional Charges
:
0
Total Battery Life
:
24 hrs
Charge Time
:
2.3 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
Auto-Off Timer
Audio while charging
:
Yes
Passive Playback
:
Yes
Charging Port : USB-C

The main difference between the H9 and H9i models is the battery life. The H9i model has about twice the battery life of the regular model. With 24 hours of continuous playback, these headphones will last you a full workday or very long flights without a problem. They also turn automatically off after being idle for 15 minutes, to save power, which is noticeably better Auto-Off/Standby Mode of the previous model. However, you can’t set that timer to what you want in their app. They can also be used passively, even if the battery is dead, which is convenient. You can also use them while they are charging over their USB-C cable. You can switch out the battery by twisting the backplate of the left ear cup.

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

The new Bang & Olufsen app looks nice but it still lacks a few features. You have access to the ToneTouch EQ which acts as a quadrant EQ where you can move your selector between the warm, excited, relaxed, and bright quadrants. Since you don’t have control over specific frequencies, we don’t consider this to be an actual EQ since it functions more like presets. You also get an in-app player, battery information, and you can enable or disable the ANC. While they don’t support full multi-device pairing, we had them connected to a PC and could still EQ them on the mobile app.

7.1

Connectivity

The B&O H9i are Bluetooth compatible headphones that can also be used wired with their 1/8” TRS cable, even if the battery is dead. They don’t support multi-device pairing, but we still managed to EQ them on their mobile app while they were connected to an audio source on PC. Their wireless range is better than the regular H9 model, and they have slightly lower latency than most Bluetooth headphones, but some may still notice a delay.

8.3 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
4.2
Multi-Device Pairing
:
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
:
No
Line of Sight Range
:
136 ft
Default Latency
:
188 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

Update: 02/05/2019: We've updated the text to show that the H9i do support multi-device pairing, as pointed out by a user.

The H9i are Bluetooth compatible and can be simultaneously connected to two devices at the same time, but don't support NFC for a quicker and easier pairing procedure. However, they have a Bluetooth switch which makes it easy to put them in pairing mode.

These headphones have slightly lower than average latency for Bluetooth headphones. With 188ms of delay, some may still notice the delay between audio and video. However, some devices and apps offer some sort of compensation, so some people may not notice the delay as much.

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 : 4.1 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS
Wired Latency
:
0 ms

You can use the H9i with their 1/8” TRS cable on pretty much every platform that has the appropriate audio jack. However, there’s no in-line remote with a microphone, so you will only have audio.

PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC / PS4 Analog
:
Audio Only
PC / PS4 Wired USB
:
No
PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless
:
No
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
:
No
Xbox One 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 dock.

In the box

  • B&O PLAY H9i headphones
  • 1/8” TRS audio cable
  • USB-C charging cable
  • Airplane adapter
  • Carrying pouch
  • Manuals

Compared to other Headphones

The B&O PLAY H9i are high-end headphones that are very comfortable and set themselves apart by their great design and build quality with premium materials. Unfortunately, their ANC feature isn’t the best and doesn’t isolate much ambient noise. For better headphones for your commute, see our suggestions for the best noise cancelling headphones and the best travel headphones.

B&O PLAY Beoplay H9 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.

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 H9i. Their ANC blocks way more ambient noise and their ear cups are more comfortable than the H9i’s. Also, the sound quality of the Bose QC 35 II is very good and follows our target curve better. However, they can get a bit leaky at high volumes. Also, the high-end metal build quality of the H9i surpasses the QC 35 II. You also get a few hours more of battery life on the B&O headphones. The H9i’s app allows for better customization, too.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are more versatile headphones than the B&O PLAY H9i. Their noise isolation performance is better and they will be better-suited for commuting. Also, the Sony companion app is great and offers tons of controls and customization options. Additionally, the cups of the XM3 are wider and should suit more ear sizes and shapes. On the other hand, the H9i has lower latency and feel like more high-end headphones.

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless/HD1 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The B&O PLAY H9i won’t have a good isolation performance like the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless, but they are definitely more comfortable and offer more controls. Their sound profile is also more exciting to listen to right out of the box, but you can’t EQ them as precisely as you can inside the Sennheiser Captune app. Also, the HD1 Wireless can connect to two devices, which is convenient. They also have an in-line microphone, which the H9i lacks, and have pretty low latency for Bluetooth headphones, which will be decent for watching video content.

Jabra Elite 85h Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Jabra Elite 85h are more versatile than the B&O PLAY Beoplay H9i Wireless. Their control scheme is great, complete, and easy to use, and their default sound quality is noticeably better than the H9i’s. Additionally, they have better wireless range and their app offers more customization options. On the other hand, the H9i are better-built, and look and feel like more premium headphones. You’ll get noticeably more battery life on the Elite 85h and their microphone recording quality will sound fuller and more clear.

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7.0 Mixed Usage

Acceptable for mixed usage. These headphones have an exciting sound profile that will be better suited for bass-heavy genres. They're also ANC, but they don’t block that much noise. They’ll still be a decent option for commuting and to use at the office, but aren’t the best performing ANC headphones. Their high-end over-ear design isn't designed for sports. They also aren’t very stable, so running or doing any physical activity with these headphones is not recommended. Also, due to their Bluetooth latency, they’ll be sub-par for gaming and watching TV content.

6.6 Neutral Sound

Okay for neutral listening. These headphones have a V-shaped frequency response that is exciting to listen to. Their bass is good, but is overly thumpy, which bass fans may appreciate. The mid-range is also good, but their treble is overemphasized and fairly uneven. Overall, vocals and lead instruments sound thin and a bit pushed back in the mix. Due to their exciting sound profile, these won’t be ideal for vocal-centric music and should be better suited for bass-heavy genres.

7.5 Commute/Travel

Decent for commuting. Their ANC isn’t the best, but they still isolate more than non-ANC headphones. They also don’t leak much so you’ll be able to block out more noise by listening to higher volumes. Unfortunately, their design is quite bulky and won’t be the easiest to carry around, but they do lay flat for you to carry them around your neck. On the upside, they’ll be comfortable to wear for hours and their battery will last you for long rides or flights.

6.9 Sports/Fitness

Okay for sports. These headphones can keep you pumped during sports with their exciting sound profile, but they aren’t designed as sports headphones. Their design isn’t very stable, and they trap heat inside their ear cups, which could make you sweat more than usual. These high-end headphones won’t be the ideal choice for running or any physical activity.

7.4 Office

Decent for the office. They isolate well against a good amount of ambient chatter and A/C system noise. They are comfortable to wear for a while and their battery will last you for a full workday without a problem. They also don’t leak too much so if you don’t blast your music, you shouldn’t disturb surrounding colleagues. Unfortunately, they can’t connect to multiple devices like your work PC and phone.

5.7 Wireless Gaming

Sub-par for gaming. These headphones won’t be great for gaming as their wireless latency will be too high for this use case. Also, their microphone won’t be good for online games. They have a companion app, but aren’t as customizable as gaming headsets we’ve reviewed so far. On the upside, you can get rid of the latency by using their included audio cable.

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