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Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 3rd Gen Review

B&O's latest wireless earbuds aim to merge style and performance in a compact form

Verdict

The Beoplay E8 3rd Gen are excellent true wireless earbuds offering top-notch audio quality, a decent fit and a wonderfully premium design. However, considering their price, the lack of ANC is a significant omission

Pros

  • Decent fit
  • Premium design
  • Great audio
  • Lengthy battery life

Cons

  • No Active noise cancellation
  • Expensive

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £300
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • 35hr battery life
  • Wireless charging
  • USB-C
  • 4 x Silicone Ear Tips (XS, S, M L), 1 x ComplyTM tips (M)
  • Electrodynamic, 5.7 mm drivers

The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 3rd Gen are the third set of true wireless earbuds from the Danish audio brand.

They aim to fix the niggling design flaws of the first two generations of the model, while retaining the same premium design and top-quality audio that made the original Beoplay E8 and Beoplay E8 2.0 great.

The £300 price means they’re an expensive luxury, however; even compared to the Apple AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM3 – which are two of Trusted Reviews favoured true wireless earbuds.

For the most part, the BeoPlay E8 3rd Gen manage to justify their heavy cost by getting all the basics right. But the most notable issue is the lack of ANC (active noise cancellation), which at this price is an odd omission.

Related: Best true-wireless earbuds

B&O Beoplay E8 3rd Gen design – A more comfortable fit

At first glance the E8 3rd Gen have much in common with their predecessors. All three models sport a pebble shape, leather-finish cases and circular earbuds with touch controls sitting on the outer edge. Place them side by side, however, and you’ll notice a few key changes.

B&O claims that the changes it’s made to the earbuds is in response to user feedback and consumer testing. While these earbuds will fit a larger variety of ear shapes and sizes, the 3rd Gen are a lot smaller than previous E8s – 17% to be precise. B&O has also reduced their weight: the earbuds come in at a modest 5.8g.

Beoplay E8 3rd Gen

That change may not sound terribly significant, but I found the 3rd Gen E8s far more comfortable to wear than previous efforts, which felt a little chunky.

Picking the right-sized silicon tips, I was able to get a solid seal and comfortable fit – although, like most true wireless sets I test, the lack of wing or clip options mean they’re not suitable for serious gym sessions. However, the E8s are more lifestyle orientated than made for gym wear.

B&O Beoplay E8 3rd Gen features – A few welcome improvements

The IP54 water-resistance rating means the E8s could be worn whilst running, but you won’t necessarily want to. The review sample regularly dislodged during more heated workouts, making them unsuitable for those types of activities.

This is a shame, since the touch controls work surprisingly well, even in difficult conditions. The controls work in the same way as they do on the original E8s – slide your finger up the right bud’s flat front to raise volume; tap it to play/pause what you’re listening to.

Beoplay E8 3rd Gen buds in case

What separates these earbuds from equivalent setups, such as those on the Amps Air Plus, is that they’re wonderfully responsive. Using the buds around London, the E8 3rd Gen always recognised my commands, even when it was raining.

The E8 3rd Gen come loaded with four mics – double the number on the previous models. This, plus the use of beamforming technology, means the E8 3rd Gen’s mics offer excellent clarity with phone calls. People on the other end of the line were able to hear me even when I was walking outside in very windy conditions.

Related: Best wireless headphones

B&O Beoplay E8 3rd Gen

The other big change relates to the E8’s battery. B&O claims the battery is 119% better than previous models. Odd specifics aside, this means the buds should offer up to seven hours of playback from a single charge, with the case carrying enough juice for a further four charges. With regular listening I found the quoted battery life accurate, and I generally managed to get a work day’s worth of listening out of them.

Qi wireless charging support also makes it easy to top up the Beoplay E8 3rd Gen’s battery on the fly, if you have a compatible pad. Be warned, though: if you’re in a rush you’ll want to charge them using the USB-C port, since it takes a full two hours to top up the case wirelessly.

B&O Beoplay E8 3rd Gen features – Great audio, but no sign of ANC

So far, so good. However, there’s one glaring omission in the E8’s arsenal, especially at this price: there’s no active noise cancellation.

A few years ago, this would have been forgivable; Sony was the only big company putting ANC into its true-wireless earbuds. But in 2020, the tech is commonplace on buds much cheaper than the E8. It means that background noise can creep in when you’re in even moderately noisy environments. Technically, this puts the E8 3rd Gen a step behind the Sony WF-1000XM3.

That aside, the E8 3rd Gen offer excellent audio quality out of the box. Listening to classical music and complex jazz arrangements, the sound was wonderfully detailed. Piano parts display a wonderful twinkle, while the rumbling double bass tapped along in the background nicely.

The low end is precise, with it feeling controlled enough to never drown out other sections – even when listening to bass-heavy blues and J-pop tracks.

Aggressive punk and rock tracks sound great – furious guitar parts have bite, but never sound acidic. In addition, I never noticed any sibilance or distortion using the E8 3rd Gen, even with the volume cranked. The sound is also wonderfully dynamic, with crescendos and breakdowns universally feeling weighty and suitably impactful.

Tonal balance is excellent. Lows, mids and highs all felt suitably separated when listening to complex, layered classical and post-rock arrangements. Using the E8s as my primary headphones, I never struggled to pick out specific parts of the sound, which can be an issue with true-wireless sets.

On the off-chance you don’t like the default sound, the Bang & Olufsen app’s preset profiles and ToneTouch visual equaliser make it easy to tweak the audio.

The signal strength also ensured there weren’t any serious signal dropouts outside of incredibly busy areas, such as Waterloo station.

Should you buy the Beoplay E8 3rd Gen?

The B&O Beoplay E8 3rd Gen are excellent true wireless earbuds and an ideal purchase for any avid music listener or fashion-conscious wearer with cash to burn. They offer one the most attractive designs on a true wireless set of earbuds, plus wonderfully balanced audio quality.

The downside is they don’t feature ANC. This feels like a glaring omission considering their hefty price tag, and puts them behind the likes of Apple’s AirPods Pro and Sony’s WF-1000XM3.

Trusted Score


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