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 quality and value. With the Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H2, we have no such worries.
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 $299 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.
Despite the warm climate here in Singapore, the H2s performed admirably in the comfort department. The earpads didn't get too warm, even when using them outdoors. We didn't try running with them or anything, but for general commuting, these should keep you happy for hours.
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.
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.
The in-line remote didn't work when we used it with a Sony Xperia Z3+, not even allowing us to change the volume, let alone pause and play. The compatibility varies from phone to phone, with some models letting you adjust the volume, but you're probably better off sticking to an iPhone or iPad with the H2.
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.