Bang & Olufsen is a brand we sometimes struggle with here at What Hi-Fi? The Danish company usually produces beautiful products that sound good, but we worry that, on occasion, people are paying a little too much for the style, rather than for the sound quality, on offer.
So the star rating can suffer a bit – after all, we’re all about sound per pound. With the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H2, we have no such worries. These are fine headphones that easily compete on sound terms with the likes of the Philips Fidelio M1MKIIs.
Design and build
That feeling of quality hits us as soon as we open the flap on the box. Inside, there’s another box and a ribbon tab with a sign that says “Pull me” in an Alice In Wonderland kind of way. Follow that advice, and a cardboard cover with teasing holes in strategic places has a “Lift up” instruction.
And so it goes, until finally the BeoPlay H2 headphones are revealed, lying in a plush, cloth-covered, contoured tray. It’s an impressive start for these £170 headphones – and that feeling of pride of ownership only grows as we take the H2s in our hands.
These are headphones for wearing out and about, and they are suitably robust, made from a strong, flexible plastic and partly covered in durable cloth. There are five colours available – deep red, pink, blue, silver and green.
At 150g, these headphones are light and the earcups fold so that, B&O says, when you’re not listening, the H2s can be worn around your neck comfortably, with the earpieces following the shape of your body.
When we first put the H2s on, we’re worried they may be too tight – a problem the spectacle-wearers among the team have suffered with some other cans.
However, the headband is made from a clever ‘adaptive’ composite material, and while the fit is reassuringly snug, it never becomes uncomfortable, even during longer listening sessions. This impressive comfort is helped by the beautifully finished lambskin leather-covered earpads.
The sound of the H2s meets all the impressive standards the build-quality has set. The 40mm driver and bass port in each earcup provide an easily accessible sound, as is appropriate for headphones intended to be worn outdoors.
It’s warm without being overbearing, and the presentation is even across the frequency range, so no one area stands out as prominent. Treble is clear without being too sharp or bright, and the midrange is a strength, with vocals coming across warm and intimate.
The bass is a touch tubby, but only compared with our current class favourites, the Award-winning Philips M1 MkIIs (indeed the H2s’ bass is reminiscent of the original M1s’).
It’s not overblown, though, and that character trait certainly doesn’t hurt in a pair of headphones designed to be worn in the open. Those padded earcups cut out quite a lot of external noise – which is useful on a crowded train – but they don’t prevent you from perceiving what is going on around you, so road safety shouldn’t be an issue.
The cable has an inline mic and three-button remote to answer and end calls, change songs and alter the volume. It works well with an iPhone, but may not be quite as effective for Android users (with our Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, for example, it will pause and play, but not change tracks).
There is no noticeable noise transferred from the plastic-sheathed cable when we’re out and about, leaving us free to concentrate on the music.
We like the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H2s. They do a fine job of music reproduction and – importantly at this price – they are also top-quality headphones that give a pride of ownership which some other brands just can’t match.