B&O Play by Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H5 Wireless Bluetooth Earbud Headphones
B&O Play by Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H5 Wireless Bluetooth Earbud Headphones
B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen Price: CDN$ 299.00
Like taking your home theatre jogging, camping, the nephews recital… But better
These headphones come well packed and cushioned. All of the accessories indicated in the manual were included, charger with attached 4 foot 4 inch (nice length)USB cable, cloth cinch pouch to hold all the accessories you don’t need today, three different sets of gel and foam ear pieces – the headset came loaded with a medium gel set.
The app BeoPlay is available for both Android and IOS
First thing, make sure the battery is fully charged. For those who want to know, the charge rate was about 10ma. The indicator light on the charger is small but bright enough to view what state it’s in, red charging – green charged. The earphones themselves fit a little lose in the charger slots but this isn’t an issue as magnets hold them into position. There is a single contact on each earphone and both ends must be connected to complete the circuit so charging can take place.
# Techy note. Even with lithium batteries, make sure you completely cycle the batteries (fully charge and then discharge) before charging them again, do this for the first three charges. If you don’t most lithium batteries will never reach 100% of their charge potential. They will “fully” charge to say 90% but not 100% but show fully charged.
Devices that I used to test with:
BlackBerry PRIV running Android Marshmallow 6.0.100 = Best audio quality
Windows Lumia 650 running Windows 10 Mobile = Good audio quality
ASUS G752 laptop running Windows 10 Pro = Horrible, just horrible
I had preinstalled the app in the PRIV and had it set up as far as it would let me without the headset paired with my phone. The app, why is it that app writers think they need to access your GPS location, contacts and phone history with their app? I would expect that this practice would have gone away as people become more and more conscious of how their demographic information is used to target them. Once powered pairing was painless and upon opening the app, set my preferences for things like colour and giving the headset a name it took a few seconds before the app showed there was a firmware update for the headphones. I set it up to download and install which it did while I was being blown away at how good these things sound with no equalizer changes listening to some Tina Turner without any interference. The app indicated it would take about 22 minutes to update the firmware, in reality it took about 16 minutes all the time the app was showing a circular progress bar. While updating and listening to music I got an audible alert which muted the music every time an email came in. So far this headset is doing everything I want it to do. Once the firmware update was completed I did have to re-pair the device with my phone. I can understand this as updating firmware is not a simple thing and some information can get scrambled or lost in the process. Thankfully the B&O firmware update went without issue, not every device works this well when updating.
Setting your equalizer preferences within the app is easy enough through their “Tone Touch” (see image). This display is parsed out into four sections, Warm, Excited, Relaxed, and Bright. In the middle is a white dot that you tap, hold and slide around to adjust till you find what sounds best for you. While not exactly a full blown equalizer it does make for quick and easy changes. There are also some pre-sets, Commute, Clear, Workout, Podcast, and Off. At this stage, while writing this review, a phone call came in. The music was muted and the call came through. Audio was acceptable (this is a challenge I have with my phone, calls tend to sound tinny) and clear, in fact better than using the phones built in speaker. One thing about the app, if you stay in the app while music is playing it continually shows that it’s looking for the H5, in my case it never lost connection and the music doesn’t get interrupted but there a tone periodically which causes the music to fade momentarily. Closing the app or going into a different app eliminates this completely, even though the app is still open elsewhere.
Ok so let’s spend a few hours and to find what it does with some different music choices:
Tina, Prism, Stevey Ray Vaughn, Moby, Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Vaughn, The Jam, Orbital, Bee Gee’s (ya baby disco lives), Moodswings, Paul Hardcastle, Peter White, Touch & Go, ZZTOP, War, Glen Miller, George Strait, Lemon Jelly, Deep Forest, Pavarotti, Handel’s Messiah, listening to Celine Dion’s near pure tones (I don’t do metal)… There hasn’t been anything I’ve put through this headset so far that does not simply sounds better than any other headset I’ve tried, better than the home stereo! Booming bass, clear trebles, subtle under tones, electronic riffs, it’s all there layer upon beautiful layer. It never sounded as though the speakers were over worked, the range was everything I would expect from a headset that sells at this price point. Now YEWV (your experience will vary) as everyone has a preference, what equalization works for me most likely won’t work for you. Thankfully we have software that give us options.
Notable item. I have not yet with any other Bluetooth headset heard the distortion caused by compression used for the mp3’s we put on our phones and computers. This headset’s audio quality allowed me for the first time to actually here the distortion even when listening to very high sampling rate compression. Two thumbs up… err’ not sure since now I will always be hearing the distortion.
I did find that audio quality was very different between the PRIV and 650 and I will attribute this to the fact that B&O does not have an app for Windows Phones. On the Windows phone the audio wasn’t as robust and typically I like the 650 audio more than the PRIV. Of note though, the H5 paired with no hitches to the Windows device. It also paired with no issues to the laptop but here’s the kicker: I was expecting the laptop to sound the best between the three devices and in fact it was horrible. I use a Plantronics GAMECON headset with the laptop and they are incredible for the price, I was expecting the H5 to sound better. It didn’t make any difference what player or equalizer setting I used on the LT, it sounded like crud. One thing to note here. When you go to use the headset on a different device and then go back to the previous one you will need to re-pair. It’s odd that it doesn’t remember the previous connection like other BT headsets. While annoying at least it’s limited to those of us who will use it on different audio devices. While adjusting the volume on the PRIV I found that it wasn’t linear, there would be 50% drops while only moving the slider mere millimetres. On the 650 this was not an issue so if this happens to you it could be localised to your phone, not a H5 app issue.
I found that the gel ear pieces that it came loaded with gave better bass response than the nice soft version (think of those yellow/orange squishy hearing protectors) and while I’m no audiologist I suspect it’s because the gel pieces conduct more vibrations to your ear canal then the above soft fit version.
Turing the headset off is easy, simply place them together where you see the charging port connection (metal dot) and the internal magnets pull and hold the pieces together, this causes them to simply shut down in a few seconds.
The cable could be at least 4 inches longer as it currently sits, the volume control is very close to your check or back of your neck and rubs when moving your head which because of the braided cord makes for some noise in your ear but it also keeps the cord from tangling. This is not an issue that would stop me from buying this headset.
Fit and finish. B&O have paid attention to details, these are well put together, they look great, and mechanically the cord earpiece connection is as good as you can get. The volume/power switch is smooth, there are ridges on the backside at the three points showing on the front allowing you to feel that you’re on the right spot so press and adjust. Range between devices for me was the same as any other BT headset I have used in our home. The three different ear piece gel sizes is pretty standard and makes for easily finding a comfortable fit. The ear pieces are a little on the large side when compared to headsets like the Jaybird options but in the Jaybird sets have the battery contained inside the volume control which makes it heavy and cause some serious flopping around when moving or running. With the H5 the batteries are in the ear piece which accounts for the larger size, everything is a trade-off.
This is a high end product that looks, sounds, and so far after a full day has worked far better than I expected. It is a pricy headset option that comes with the B&O quality you expect when you see the name on anything. The company has done a stand up job with taking their legendary audio quality and moving it into a Bluetooth headset that allows you to enjoy high end audio quality while away from the home sound system, while running or camping.