Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Headphone
AT A GLANCE
Real lambskin ear pads
Oodles of detail and resolution
Not vegan friendly
A beautifully balanced headphone that’s beautiful to look at.
Bang & Olufsen isn’t just another high-end audio company. Far from it. The Danish firm started making TVs in 1952, and their 1970s turntables were the best looking of the era. I’m not alone in admiring the industrial design; the Museum of Modern Art in NYC has 18 B&O products in its permanent collection. B&O is no Johnny come lately to headphones, either; they’ve been making outstanding ones as far back as the late 1970s!
B&O keeps things fresh by collaborating with outside designers, and for the BeoPlay H6, they reached out to Danish mechanical engineer Jakob Wagner. His elegant design calls for real lambskin cushions and a headband covered in lovely New Zealand calfskin, so the BeoPlay H6 should wear well over time. While most leather padded ’phones can make your ears sweat in the summer, the BeoPlay H6 remains comfy in the hottest weather.
It weighs 8.1 ounces. That’s a little lighter than average for an over-the-ear headphone. It features 40mm drivers, but the ear cups have bass ports, discretely located next to the drivers, hidden inside the ear cups. You have to remove the ear pads to see the driver and ports, and when I took a peek, I noticed the drivers were angled to match the contour of the ears and optimize stereo soundstaging. B&O is justifiably proud of their work on researching head and ear shapes to maximize comfort. I was happy to discover the BeoPlay H6’s head-clamping pressure is commendably low, and its overall fit is excellent.
The mike and three-button control on the cable is compatible with Apple iDevices; the cable has 3.5mm plugs at both ends, and it goes into either the left or right ear cup. The unused connection is available for sharing tunes with your partner’s headphone.
The BeoPlay H6 is available in two finishes, with black and natural tan ear cushions and headband. The ear cups fold flat, and the included soft carry pouch coddles the headphones.
This is no head-banger headphone, but the bass goes low and it’s nicely articulated. The frequency response is remarkably smooth, without a hint of the rolled highs and boosted bottom common to more mainstream ’phones; the downside to this clarity is that the headphone won’t do anything to blunt the harshness of overcompressed MP3s. The BeoPlay H6 is clearer and more open sounding than the fuller and softer Sennheiser Momentum ($349), and I definitely felt the BeoPlay H6 was the more comfortable of the two.
Hans Zimmer’s Man of Steel soundtrack on CD is a thing of wonder. It’s the sheer density of sound, rip-roaring dynamics, and massive orchestral score, and there’s a phalanx of drummers pounding out the beat across the full width and depth of the soundscape. The BeoPlay H6 put me inside the music. Oh, and there’s bass—lots and lots of low-end fury. The only similarly priced headphone in my collection that gave the BeoPlay H6 a run for the money was the Hifiman HE-400 ($400). It’s a bigger, bulkier design, but the HE-400 delivered more low-end oomph with Jurassic Park’s dinosaur hijinks, and the soundstage was more expansive. Then again, the HE-400 is an open-back design, so it can’t match the closed-back BeoPlay H6’s more private listening experience. That’s a biggie if you ever want to listen to loud music or watch movies in bed or on a plane.
All in all, the BeoPlay H6’s stunning design is easy on the eyes and ears.
Type: Closed-back, circumaural (over the ear) Weight: 8.1 ounces Price: $399