Review Price £329.99
Manufacturer: Bang & Olufsen
The BeoPlay H6 are B&O’s latest headphones. At £329.99, they’re clearly aiming to compete with headphones like the B&W P7, the Sennheiser Momentum and the Bose QuietComfort 15. They’re classy headphones for those who want good sound quality on the go. They provide it too, marking a healthy start to a new range of headphones for Bang and Olufsen.
The B&O BeoPlay H6 are over-ears headphones that fully encompass your ears with big round pads. This is the largest kind of portable headphone, but B&O has done its best to make them work, both visually and practically.
One of our favourite elements of the BeoPlay H6 is the look. They stick out from your head a good deal less than the B&W P7, and the headband too is discreet. Pick the right colour and these are some of the best-looking portable headphones money can buy – although admittedly they do look a lot like a slightly larger version of the Philips Fidelio M1 (which now cost £100).
The back of each earcup is made of aluminium, and finished in a shiny pattern of concentric circles. At the time of writing, you can get the headphones in black, dark green and silver/tan finishes. Only the latter requires consideration as to whether you can pull the look off or not.
The more practical side of the BeoPlay H6’s portable considerations is about headband tension. These headphones have a pretty solid grip on your head, and it ensures their first impression isn’t one of immediate, luxurious comfort - although it does give them a tight enough grip for runners.
Padding on the headband is pretty slight and as these are not super-lightweight headphones, there’s little chance you’ll forget you’re wearing them (like the Bose AE2). However, the actual padding on the cups is great. It’s memory foam topped with real leather.
This helps to ensure that while the BeoPlay H6 aren’t staggeringly luxurious-feeling, they’re not headphones that become uncomfortable after a certain amount of time either. We grew to appreciate their style more and more with each day of use.
Another good design move is the removable cable. You get a cable with a 3-button iPhone remote in the box, and as it uses a standard 3.5mm jack it’s easy to replace. More unusual in a ‘high-end’ headphone, there’s also a 3.5mm port on the other earcup, to let you plug in another set of headphones and share your tune with another person.
As you might expect from a pair of headphones costing northwards of £300, there’s not a great deal to criticise about the sound of the B&O BeoPlay H6 headphones. They use 40mm custom drivers that deliver fairly well-balanced sound.
The areas in which the H6 headphones stray from a flat response lead us to compare them to the B&W P-series headphones, which this set is quite clearly inspired by. The BeoPlay H6 are warm-sounding, with a fairly thick mid-range that helps gives the headphones an accessible and luxurious-sounding chunkiness that Bowers & Wilkins has popularised in recent years.
However, we also think it is the one thing that real headphones nuts may not completely appreciate. It slightly limits the airiness of the sound, although the effect is pretty minor here and closed headphones never compete with the best open-back sets in this respect anyway.
Aside from this mid-range warmth, we have very few complaints. Bass is punchy and well-controlled – although low and sub-bass isn’t the most powerful in this class, beaten by the Sennheiser Momentum.
Treble is well resolved, clear and detailed without risking any harshness.
Like the B&W P7, the BeoLab H6’s tuning is designed to make the most of the headphones’ soundstage. The presentation ‘leans back’ slightly to make the sound appear a little wider, more expansive. We did find – like the B&W P7 – that the presentation does sideline the vocal/central channel somewhat, but the bass/treble interplay and control is such that vocals never get swamped. They just don’t appear to command the arrangement as they would with some other sets of headphones.
That said, other than this control and coherence across arrangements is otherwise great.
With a name like B&O attached, there was never any question about the BeoPlay H6 price – these headphones were always going to be expensive. For that money, you don’t get any of the clever technology of the Bose QuietComfort 15, and we’re not convinced these are any higher-end sounding than the £60-cheaper Sennheiser Momentum.
Because of price considerations, the B&O BeoPlay H6 miss out on our recommended award. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not great headphones. They’re well-made, look great and sound better than we expected – B&O may be a big name in consumer hi-fi, but that doesn’t mean it’s a company of headphone geniuses. It could have dropped the ball. It hasn’t.
You do need to love the look and sound signature to make the BeoPlay H6 worthwhile, though. And if you want a pair of headphones that’ll stay at home, there are better-sounding, more comfortable open-back options at the price.
The B&O BeoPlay H6 are classy, great-looking, good-sounding headphones that are likely to prove a smash at high-end department stores and airport electronics shops. They sit happily alongside the top Bose and B&W pairs in terms of sound quality and build. However, for the more cost-conscious there are better options out there.
Next, read our best headphones round-up
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