Bang and Olufsen just launched their first ever wireless earphones. For years, B&O made wired headphones and I was wondering when they will start to make wireless headphones. One year after launching their first wireless over-ear headphones (Beoplay H8), the earphones variant is finally out, and I am elated to get hold of a loan unit for review.
Of all the wireless earphones I have tested, the Beoplay H5 is one of the more original designs I have come across. The earphones do not have a physical charging port: you charge by docking magnetically onto the proprietary cube charger. Each bud contains a 50mAh battery and you have to put both on the dock to initiate charge. A full 2-hour charge lets you enjoy 5 hours of audio streaming.
Once the earphones is on, you power down by clicking the earphones together magnetically. Although the Jabra ROX is the first headset to have this feature, the H5 is one of the few (if not the OTHER) headset to also use this feature. Unlike ROX where I can wake up the headset instantly once I pull the earphones apart, the H5 remains turned off. However, I can turn on the H5 by pressing the middle button promptly instead of long-press. You cannot power down the H5 by long-pressing the button: it only turns off by clicking the magnets together. The H5 will also power down automatically after 15 minutes of inactive connection. Hence, if you want to keep the H5 on to pick up any incoming calls, don’t click the magnets together.
The H5 is built to the sweatproof, which means you can wear it for your workouts. The Dusty Rost (Pink) looks so pretty, it would pain me to soil it, since the cord is made of braided textile, and I can imagine it turning dull and dark over time, like shoelaces. The earbuds are supposed to be rugged, as the housing is crafted out of textured rubber and polymer designed to resist sweat and moisture, wear and tear. Still, if you are going to use it often for workouts, the black colour would be a better choice. And it would be great if Beoplay designed removable ear fins to better hold the earbuds on my ears like other sport headsets. The ear buds didn’t quite stay in my ears during my runs.
The H5 will delight listeners who desire clarity, brilliance, and transparency. B&O seems to have imparted the characteristic of my favourite Beoplay H6 into the H5. While the low bass is quite prominent – not mega – it would be perfect if the mid- and upper-bass have more presence. On some tracks, the lows lack the boom compared to the bright highs. Oddly though, I seem to find the 24-bit Hi-Res audio files churn out pretty detailed full bass and rounded treble. Perhaps the H5 will sound better after burning in.
If you find some tones lacking, you can tune the sound using the Beoplay app in iOS and Android. Instead of the usual equalizer look, the app offers a consumer-friendly way to adjust the balance between bass and treble, warmth and clarity. B&O calls it ToneTouch interface.
Even my wife who prefers bassy earphones is totally into H5. Her initial comments were “clarity is very distinctive”, “design and functionality is great”, “downside is less bassy”.
Two days later, she posted her longest Facebook post ever, describing the H5 as “the best earphones she has experienced so far”. She loved the “exceptional clarity”, that vocals and music are equally balanced, immersive audio. I still recalled how she disliked in-ear headphones and slowly got used to it. For the H5, she claimed that the earbuds are “absolutely comfortable” because the buds do not go too deep into her ear canals.
To summarise some of her comments, she finds the treble really detailed and not harsh, great sound-staging. I too find the sibilance is absolutely well-controlled, but I cannot listen to it for long hours at high volume due to its brightness.
Most importantly, the choice of colour by B&O seals the deal for her, and similarly for some of my female peers. It helps when the price is unbelievably reasonable for a B&O product comparable to other premium-brand wireless earphones.
One feature that irks my user experience is that when the power drops below 10% (LED on left ear bud turns solid red), the volume +- buttons stop working. I cannot adjust volume nor change tracks, but can still play-pause with the middle button. The H5 volume is reset to mid-level which I have to manually adjust via the Beoplay app.
Beoplay H5 is a gorgeous earphone, uniquely designed for the chic and the casual. It is an excellent gift for your loved ones who squeal at pink-colour merchandise, and love their music in clear treble. The black variant does not look as appealing: the Jaybird X2 is a better sport headset for rugged handling. It has longer-lasting battery, with ear fins to keep the ear buds in your ears, and a sound tuning similarly for treble lovers, though I prefer Beoplay H5 as it is slightly less harsh.
Retailing at S$379 with 2-year warranty, it is available in Singapore at Airport Duty Free, Apple Premium Resellers, Bang & Olufsen Grand Hyatt, Challenger, Newstead and leading independent retailers. You can also order directly from Ban Leong estore.
Cable length: 52cm
Speaker: 6.4mm diameter
Frequency: 20 – 20000 Hz
Battery: 2x 50mAh batteries, one on each ear
Charging time: 2 hours
Play time: 5 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, aptX, aptX-LL (low latency), AAC codecs
Included: USB charging cube, Comply Sport ear tips with SweatGuard (S,M,L), Silicone ear tips (XS,S,M,L), Cable clip (3 pcs), Carrying pouch, Quick start guide