Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX Review
For several years now, Bang & Olufsen has been extending the good reputation of its name to the world of headphones. Similar to Apple with their AirPods Max, B&O continues to rely on well-known values with their new Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX: an immediately assignable design language, good usability, and of course, great sound. You can find out to what extent the headphones keep what the Danish design professionals promise in our test.
- The sound is vivid and energetic.
- Feel, look, and even smell like a high-end item.
- Control software with a lot of features.
- It’s priced like an uber-premium item.
- There’s plenty of capable (and less expensive) competitors.
- Noise cancellation can be improved.
B&O HX lure with clean sound
Before starting the actual sound test of the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX, it must be said that the following descriptions are based on the “optimal” listening mode in which the headphones are delivered. You can use the app to switch from several pre-installed listening modes or adjust and save your hearing profile. This results in a great variety of sounds. The test, therefore, tries to limit itself to the general characteristics of the headphones.
If it were a question of describing the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX in one word, then it would be “ready.” No matter what music he is accused of, he always seems to be in the starting blocks, impatiently waiting to be able to prove himself. However, he is not too much in love with effects. What is happening in your ears in terms of sound is very close to you. The imaginary space in which the music spreads out in front of you is divided into left and right, but it does not become particularly large. Everything plays right on and next to you.
But that also has advantages. The bass that the B&O HX teases out of its 40 mm titanium driver is impressive. Wherever he lacks the lowest notes, he creates the balance with crisp precision. So the bass doesn’t swirl around you but rather sets well-timed impulses. With the piece Undisclosed Desires by the British icon Muse, the bass gets its money’s worth.
At the same time, the headphones seem to want to prove how they can reproduce highs. At least that’s what the mix in “optimal” mode suggests. As I said, this can be easily adjusted via the app. Even without adjustment, the B&O HX can play everything back without any problems, whether it’s classic or Eminem’s Lose Yourself. The only flaw he showed across the board was a slight tendency towards analytics that went beyond too much treble or too little bass. So every song sounded a bit harsh. So if you like your music a little warmer and more open, the HX might not suit your taste. But if you are a fan of a wealth of details and crisp bass, you can’t go wrong with the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX.
Test: The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX is a runtime miracle
With a maximum runtime of 35 hours advertised by the manufacturer with the ANC switched on or in the transparency mode, the HX from B&O is one of the cordless cross-country runners. If you switch off both functions, it even lasts up to 40 hours. It should also be fully charged after just three hours. The test showed that these values were not just taken out of thin air. But, of course, loud volumes and phone calls shorten the battery life.
Telephoning is uncomplicated and easy to understand, thanks to the four designated microphones. As a result, your voice is transmitted clearly without sounding too sharp. However, this intelligibility backfires if you put your clothes on the headphones in transparency mode. If material rubs against your listeners, the rustling will be uncomfortably amplified.
Intuitive operation with a great app
Both three buttons and a touch field on the right auricle are responsible for the operation of the device itself. Use the button on the right to switch the B&O HX on and off or switch to pairing mode. The button on the left is a multifunctional button with which you can wake up your voice assistant or mute yourself during a call. Finally, with the larger button, you can toggle between ANC and transparency mode or deactivate both.
Using swiping gestures and touches, you can also change the volume on the control panel on the right auricle, skip or pause tracks, and accept and end phone calls. Adjusting the volume works particularly well here. To do this, you have to run your finger clockwise or counterclockwise over the marked ring. But, again, the groove of the slightly roughened surface intuitively guides you in the right direction.
However, it is precisely this groove, which runs concentrically like tree rings, that makes skipping songs a bit of a challenge. Since this requires a straight swiping gesture from back to front, your fingers move against the grain. They quickly get caught in the grooves and are distracted. If you don’t pay attention, you change the volume again.
The Beoplay app
If you want to get the most out of your speakers, B&O offers you its app for iOS and Android operating systems. Similar to the app that Huawei gives its FreeBuds Studio along with, you can use it to control not just your headphones but many other Bang & Olufsen products. Once you have installed the app, the headphones connect to it almost by themselves. From here, B&O has thought of just about everything.
In addition to the control elements play/pause, skip and volume, you can also choose from five preset sound modes. Depending on the situation you are in, the best possible listening experience should always be offered. If none of the presets are satisfactory, you can compose your sound in the manual equalizer. This works amazingly easily and begs why not many more manufacturers provide their headphone app with a customizable EQ function.
Practically, the personalized settings are saved on the device on which the app is installed and in the headphones themselves. If you connect the headphones to another device, the sound remains exactly as you did it adapted to you. Since you can connect the B&O HX to two sources simultaneously, you can even play music from one source and adjust the sound in real-time via the app on another device. The headphones don’t care whether both devices run on the same operating system. Hats off, B&O!
While you can only select the highest level of ANC and transparency mode with the listening mode button on the headphones, you can also adjust their respective intensity in the app. Here you can choose between high, medium, and low. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a problem with playing music at low ANC or transparency mode. While you won’t notice a noticeable difference in sound with medium or high intensity, the headphones’ sound is barely recognizable, especially with the lowest possible intensity. The music suddenly sounds dull and thumping.
This is probably a software error that will be fixed with the next update. So we will keep you up to date. You could also want a title display for such an update, as Sonos does, for example. Because unfortunately, you cannot see in the app which song is currently playing.
Suppose you hold down the small multifunctional button on the underside of the left auricle. In that case, you activate the voice assistant of your smartphone without having to address it with “Hey Siri” or “Okay, Google. ” The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX then transmits your questions and commands to your smartphone and the voice of your assistant clearly to your ear. However, if you interrupt Siri with “Hey Siri, stop!”, There may be brief background noise.
Strong Bluetooth connection with Apple devices
It’s always nice when headphones get on well with your smartphone right away. It doesn’t matter if it’s the latest iPhone or an Android device. In both cases, the B&O HX connected to the sources without grumbling and kept the connection stable even over long distances. However, he seemed to prefer Apple products: Accepting a package in the hallway while your cell phone is on the desk was possible with both, but the extreme test in the stairwell won the AAC connection from Apple and HX. If the iPhone was on the desk, you could go one landing further away with the headphones.
In general, the headphones support AAC, SBC, and aptX Adaptive as codec and Bluetooth version 5.1. So you are flexible with selecting your sources and can ensure the best possible sound quality in every situation. What is particularly impressive is the ability to connect the HX to your iPhone via AAC and an Android phone via a different codec simultaneously. However, your music may get stuck when you add a second codec.
ANC without sound loss
Pneumatic hammers, car noise: traffic is building up again at the construction site two streets away. The window is open, but with the noise suppression activated, the deep humming is canceled out. Responsible for this are four microphones that pick up the ambient noise, which is then neutralized inside the auricle. The noise that often occurs with the ANC is still within limits when testing the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX but occurs more concisely in the transparency mode.
In it, the microphones amplify ambient noises and, above all, spoken words so that in the best-case scenario, you forget that you have headphones on. Here the B&O HX means it is a little too good and particularly likes to amplify high notes. Interlocutors or clinking keys sound a bit sharp, so quickly, you understand every word. It is all the better that the listening test did not reveal any discoloration of the music. No matter if ANC, transparency mode, or neutral tone setting: the music always sounded the same.
Typical B&O: stylish design “Made in Denmark.”
How do you know when a brand’s design team has done a good job? The fact is that you can immediately assign every product to the brand without having to see a logo or lettering. Bang & Olufsen has succeeded in this with their design language. The B&O HX is no exception. The metal suspension of the ear cups and their shape and quality testify to the close relationship with other B&O headphones.
The ear pads made of real lamb leather are outrageously soft and adapt perfectly to the shape of your head. In contrast, the headband with its imitation leather looks almost loveless. Even if its size can be continuously adjusted, the fabric upholstery could have been a little softer. In connection with the relatively narrow contact surface, this can lead to slight pressure after a while. It’s a shame because the sound, design, and operation are inviting for longer listening sessions.
You get your B&O HX in a sturdy case in which the headphones are protected from environmental influences. Under the integrated flap, you will also find a jack cable and a USB-C to USB-A cable for charging. Both are 1.25 meters long.
A test result of the B&O HX: powerful sound and user-friendly
A chic, elegant design that immediately reveals where the headphones are coming from is paired with the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX with direct, effective sound and great operation via the app. There are still a few teething troubles, but you can certainly count on a solution in the next few weeks. So if you are looking for a chic companion who reliably shields you from outside noise on train journeys and in the office, lists every detail in your music, and can be perfectly adapted to your listening habits via the app, the B&O HX is exactly the right thing for you.