Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H8 review: A swanky Bluetooth headphone with a price to match

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The Good The Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H8 has a sleek, sturdy design, with a metal/leather headband and plush earcups, and very good sound for Bluetooth. It also features active noise canceling, touch controls in the right earcup and a replaceable rechargeable battery that delivers an ample 14 hours of battery life with Bluetooth and noise canceling turned on.

The Bad It's expensive; the on-ear design isn't as comfortable as some over-ear designs and the sound isn't quite as open as we would have liked.

The Bottom Line The $500 Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H8 wireless on-ear headphone looks great, sounds very good and is loaded with features, including noise canceling, but a few small flaws take away some of its luster.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Sound 7
  • Value 7

The Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H8 is a wireless Bluetooth headphone that also features noise canceling. As you might expect from a B&O product, the H8 is beautifully designed with a sturdy metal and leather headband and plush sheepskin earcups that are equipped with memory foam. It's also expensive, costing $500 (£400 UK, AU $679), which is definitely at the high-end of the Bluetooth headphone spectrum, particularly for an on-ear model.

There's a lot to like about the H8, but it also has a few small flaws that take away some of its luster.

The BeoPlay H8 comes in two colors: gray hazel (pictured) and argilla bright. Sarah Tew/CNET

Let's start with the good. It's relatively compact, weighing 255 grams, looks good on your head, and is also comfortable for an on-ear model. I also appreciated that the rechargeable battery, which is rated for an ample 14 hours of music playback with Bluetooth and noise canceling on, is removable and replaceable.

The earcups are built from anodised aluminium with a sheepskin pad that's ultrasoft but will steam up your ears in warmer environments. The outside of the right cup is a touch interface, with simple gesture controls to to answer calls, adjust volume and change songs. The touch controls work well, though you can end up accidentally pausing or playing your music when removing the headphones.

Additional features include AptX, a technology that's available in certain smartphones (Samsung Galaxy models, for example, but not iPhones) and is designed to improve the sound quality of Bluetooth streaming. There's some debate over how much of a difference it makes, but some people swear it does improve sound quality.

What you get in the box. Sarah Tew/CNET

As for accessories, you get a thick cloth carrying pouch (it's decent enough, but you'd think a $500 headphone might come with a true carrying case) and a cable for listening to the headphone in wired mode. That cable may come in handy should a flight attendant inform you that you can't use Bluetooth headphones while in the air. And it's worth noting that you can chose to activate or deactivate the noise canceling whether you're in Bluetooth mode or wired mode.

Battery life improves dramatically if you turn Bluetooth off (you can get up to 35 hours with noise canceling on in wired mode). Using Bluetooth without noise canceling bumps the battery life rating up to 16 hours.