Bang & Olufsen Showcases Luxurious New Headphones

Bang & Olufsen had a small, intimate showing of their latest ideas, projects and products at CES.  A new seasonal color palette and hints about Google Assistant and other voice assistant products were showcased, but right here, right now are the new H8i and H9i headphones.

The Beoplay H9i ($499) has the clean, pure sound that one expects from B&O with the addition of active noise cancellation. The H9i is a wireless over-ear headphone with many clever features, including a removable, replaceable 18-hour battery. The noise cancellation has been tuned to help remove more within the vocal frequencies from 300 - 800 Hz. However, there is a transparency mode that with one quick swipe on the touch control on the earcup, music and ANC can be turned off so you can hear outside sound, such as a PA announcement on a train, or the flight attendant on an airplane. The H9i also has a proximity sensor that will detect when the headphone has been removed and will automatically pause the music or video stream.

The H9i also has dual connectivity so it can be wirelessly paired to two different devices to make switching back and forth incredibly easy. Making calls with the H9i is improved by the addition of a second microphone - this is also how B&O has improved the ANC features.

The newly redesigned H8i ($399) is more streamlined and sleeker than its predecessor, the H8. It can play up to 30 hours with Bluetooth and ANC on, and up to an astounding 45 hours without ANC. Like the H9i, there is a transparency mode that lets you hear more outside ambience, and it also has the proximity sensors that turn off the sound when the headphone is removed.

Both headphones can be personalized by using the Beoplay App for either Android or iPhone. The app lets users customize the tonal balance and sound stage of the headphones, and even set up multiple sound profiles for different situations.  One set up could be ideal for a workout, while another is for listening to Hi-Res audio without any processing.

Bang & Olufsen has some other exciting products coming down the line, and it was interesting to see a pilot version of a their Google Assistant in a Beosound 1. The biggest challenge facing B&O is that the voice assistants seem to have a problem when used in a speaker with full-range sound, such as the Beosound lineup.  Who knew sounding good was going to be a problem?