Bang & Olufsen H-3: An elegant in-ear headphone from Denmark
B&O designs some of the world's most stylish audio products, but the Audiophiliac was knocked out by the sound of their new in-ear headphones.
I remember the very first Bang & Olufsen product I ever saw, a Beogram 4000 turntable. It was lightyears ahead of the competition's look and feel in the early 1970s. The design hasn't dated one bit -- no wonder it's on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
It's been ages since I checked out a B&O, so I decided to start small with their brand new BeoPlay H3 in-ear headphone ($249). It's a handsome enough design, but nowhere as striking as B&O's ultrasleek speaker systems. Unlike most of the brands that have recently jumped into the headphone game to make a quick buck, B&O has been making headphones since 1978. That makes a difference.
The BeoPlay H3 features a custom-designed 10.8mm driver and Micro Bass Ports to enhance bass response. Each earpiece is milled from a single block of high-grade aluminum, and that adds a luxury feel to the design. Weighing just 13 grams, the BeoPlay H3 is incredibly light, comes with four sizes of silicone ear tips, and is available in black, aluminum, or red. No phone mic or inline controls are included, but the quality of the handsome carry case is a big step up from what you get with most in-ear headphones.
The first thing I noticed about the H3's sound was that it was wide-open, not confined to my head "space." Electronica from Aphex Twin's "Richard D. James Album" projected sounds that appeared to come from off in the distance. The H3's bass-midrange-treble balance was smooth, and detailing was excellent, but if you crave a bass-heavy sound, the H3 probably won't make you happy. The bass was full enough for me, and the definition was superb. Comfort was also well above par.
BeoPlay H3 headphones are sold through B&O's brick-and-mortar dealers, the B&O online store, Apple stores, and Apple Online.