- High-quality wireless headphones connect easily, allow your music or podcasts to come through crystal clear while blocking out ambient noise, and they have a long battery life.
- I like the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i Headphones because the active noise cancelling helps me focus wherever I am, the padding around the ears remains comfortable for hours on end, and the battery lasts for 18 hours.
- Though they are expensive (currently starting at $327 on Amazon), the headphones come with a 24-month limited warranty, are packed full of high-end features, and have a durable construction that survived my household, where headphones tend not to last long.
Ambulance sirens are designed to take your attention away from what you are doing so that you get out of their way. Living a block away from a major hospital means there is a constant stream of ambulances whizzing by my home office. Add in the daily deliveries that are part of a product reviewer’s life and my preschooler’s difficulties with noise modulation, and it’s easy to lose my focus while trying to do thought-heavy work. This is where headphones with good active noise cancelling (ANC) come in handy.
One of the top makers of ANC headphones is Bang & Olufsen. Based in Denmark and founded in 1925, B&O specializes in high-end consumer electronics. You can find B&O speakers in HP computers and premium vehicles, such as some Audi, BMW, and Mercedes models.
When it comes to headphones, the Beoplay H9i is B&O’s top-of-the-line option.
Below are my experiences with it.
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i Headphones feature ear cushions made of memory foam and covered with lambskin. They are designed to go over the entire ear of the listener. My giant ears didn’t fit entirely, but the cushioning did an excellent job of ensuring I never felt discomfort. This coupled with the light weight (10.5 ounces) makes it easy to wear the headphones for several hours at a time.
The headband is made of leather, and the headphones are offered in two colors: natural and black. I received the natural style to test. The headphones and all of their accouterments fit nicely in the light gray drawstring storage bag that comes with the H9i.
The set-up process
It took about 10 minutes from the moment I opened the box until I had the H9i paired with my phone and playing music. The headphones come with pictorial instructions that are marginally helpful. There’s a user manual with written directions, but the layout isn’t user-friendly. Rather than different sections for different languages, each bit of information has an image and a description in 14 different languages below it. So, each short step involves flipping through several pages. Overall, the manual has 37 pages and very little actual information. Fortunately, the setup was quite intuitive.
The instructions are particularly necessary for figuring out how to use the on-headphone controls. I rarely used these because, with my sausage fingers, adjusting the volume on my phone or through the free Beoplay App was just easier. Yet, the right headphone has touch controls that allow you to play, pause, change tracks forward or backward, adjust the volume, and turn the ANC on or off.
Included accessories and battery life
Included with the headphones are a 4-foot-long USB-C charging cord, a 3.5-millimeter mini jack, and an airplane adapter. I exclusively connected via Bluetooth to my computer, laptop, and phone. So, the jack and adapter were unnecessary.
B&O advertises a battery life of 18 hours, which is accurate from my experiences. I typically listen for about an hour or two per day, and I only seem to need to charge the headphones every couple of weeks. Charging takes two to three hours. And, the Beoplay App (a free app for Android, iOS and watchOS) keeps you apprised of how much juice your headphones have.
What makes the headphones stand out
I mainly used the headphones to listen to podcasts while on long walks and music while working. I did make a few phone calls using the headphones, and I was told I came through crystal clear thanks to the two dedicated microphones. I also wore the headphones while recording a podcast, and they worked well for that purpose as well.
On long walks, the headphones performed double duty as earmuffs keeping my colossal ears cozy in the frigid Midwest winter.
The active noise cancelling is phenomenal.
It’s most noticeable when you first turn the headphones on when they’re already in place. It goes from muffled ambient nose to virtual silence. In my home, where the floors creak so much that a cat is easily mistaken for a full-grown human, my family members can now sneak up on me when I’m using these headphones.
B&O advertises the Bluetooth range for the H9i as 121 feet.
These numbers are typically based on unobstructed measurements. So, to test this, I went outside, set my phone down on the sidewalk and started walking. At around the 120-foot spot, the music started to cut out. At about 160, the music was gone.
Additionally, I was able to walk around the house without carrying my phone with me. If my phone was in a far corner of the house, the music would go in and out when I was on a different floor and far away. But, when I positioned the phone centrally, the Bluetooth didn’t cut out anywhere in the three-story, 4,000-square-foot house.
On all levels – bass, treble, mids – the sound quality was excellent.
There are “ToneTouch” settings in the Beoplay App that allow you to change the tonality. Essentially, the tonality is separated into quadrants: Warm, Excited, Relaxed, and Bright. This was helpful because I like podcasts to sound clear, which corresponded with more Relaxed and Bright. But, when I was rocking out and wanted the bass to be more pronounced, Warm was the best quadrant.
Cons to consider
If you can’t connect to the headphones, what good are they? Unfortunately, I did have trouble connecting on a couple of occasions. The user manual was unhelpful and doesn’t have a troubleshooting section. And, I couldn’t find any helpful tips online. One time, after 10 minutes of trying, I gave up. To be fair, though, 90% of the time I didn’t have any trouble at all.
One of the features I really like about the H9i is a proximity sensor that can tell when you take the headphones off and automatically pause whatever you’re listening to. When you put the headphones back on, the music picks up right where you left off. Unfortunately, this did not always work as designed, and I’d sometimes have to backtrack to figure where I was in a podcast episode when I took the headphones off. Though it could use a little work, I still appreciate the proximity sensor feature.
The bottom line
Overall, the Beoplay H9i is the best pair of headphones I’ve ever used. The long battery life ensured I was never left without power for my tunes. The ANC helped block out attention thieves. And, the sound quality is extraordinary.
This is a big-ticket item, but if you have the budget and are looking for exceptional ANC wireless headphones, I strongly recommend picking these up.
Pros: 18-hour battery life, great active noise cancellation, good Bluetooth range, impressive sound quality
Cons: Expensive, some Bluetooth connection difficulties