The B&O Form 2i are a pair of on-ear headphones that typically showcase the Danish manufacturer’s love for making attractive-looking audio products. With a look inspired by the 30-year old Form 2 headphones, the Form 2i are significantly cheaper than the £300-plus B&O BeoPlay H6 over-ears. While they can't match the H6 for sound quality they still muster up decent audio from its slim, colourful frame.
The Form 2i are not your typical-looking headphones. Available in black, white, red, green, blue, grey, and limited edition blue, these are as distinctive and stylish pair of on-ears you are going to find. That also means they are not going to be for everyone. Especially in lime green — shrinking violets need not apply. It's a loud look to try and pull off but the retro chic design has really grown on us.
What’s more of a concern is the far from reassuring build quality. The headband is made from plastic with a thin metal interior to extend and adjust for different head sizes. If you are planning to wear these around the neck then you won’t have any problems, but you’ll be putting them at risk throwing into the bottom of your bag. Despite the already slender frame, it’s a shame there’s not an option to fold them into a more compact form as well.
B&O keeps things streamlined and lightweight elsewhere. They weigh just 90g and the rectangular adjustable ear cushions are well concealed within the frame to keep up that minimalist look. There’s no Bluetooth or NFC with the only modern touches reserved for the in-line microphone and 3-button remote built into the tangle-resistant 1.2m headphone cable. These controls are iPhone friendly, but giving it a try with the HTC One M8 and Samsung Galaxy S5 proved the Form 2i also plays nice with Android smartphones.
When you first put them on, they are so light at times it doesn’t feel like you are wearing a pair of headphones. They don’t hug the head but they don’t by any means feel like they are going to fall off. What’s more irritating is that the extending metal interior can slip out of position on occasions. which does mean it needs re-adjusting. What they lack in robustness they certainly make up for in style and and a far from cumbersome fit.
It’s difficult not to take one look at the B&O Form 2i headphones and think that these £100 on-ears are not going to be up scratch and actually they surprise in a good way.
B&O doesn’t go into great amount of detail on the drivers packed into the svelte frame and it doesn’t take long to realise that power is not its forte. It’s not weedy, but it’s by no means the standout quality. Clarity is the key characteristic here with enough bass to add the warmth and offer well-rounded sound which can have the odd flat moment. Mids and lows are well defined and in the confines of your own home the soundstage is perfectly acceptable for watching a film on a laptop or tablet.
It’s when you get outside onto the tube or walking around where some of its weaknesses are more apparent. The ear cushions don’t exactly cup the ears so there’s not much hope of noise isolation here and that exterior sound will invade your music. Similarly it suffers from sound leaking, so be wary of turning the volume all the way up.
Serious audiophiles won’t be blown away by the Form 2i’s sound quality, but in spite of that they offer reasonably satisfying results.
If your main concerns for buying a pair of on-ear headphones are something that has a distinctive look and you value clarity over roaring bass, then the Form 2i could be a good fit.
But those looking for decent noise cancelling will want to look elsewhere. The emphasis on keeping the design as true to the original Form 2 headphones means there’s more comfortable alternatives as well.
The AKG K451 cost half the price of the Form 2i headphones and offer a more powerful sound and more impressive overall audio performance. They might not be as slim or colourful, but are still a very stylish pair of headphones.
The B&O Form 2i are not simply a case of style over substance and you won’t feel like you are massively overspending if you go for them.
The B&O Form 2i headphones are light, stylish and deliver detailed sound. It's just a shame they can't cope with loud environments.
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