By – John Williamson

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H6 Review

The audio reproduction from gaming headsets has improved exponentially in recent years but they still struggle to rival dedicated headphones. Headsets offer a more convenient package due to an integrated microphone and dominate sales in the mainstream gaming sector. However, there is a growing demand amongst high-end customers for audiophile grade equipment through a DAC or premium sound card. Budgeting for a set of headphones requires careful consideration as a clip-on mic or desktop condenser adds to the overall expense. In my experience, the sweet spot for luxurious headphones is under £350. In this price range, there are a wide array of options including the AKG K712 PRO, Sennheiser HD650, Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H6 and more! Today, we are taking a critical look at the Beoplay H6 headphones from Bang & Olufsen which currently retail for £329.99 and feature a 3 year basic warranty with an additional year upon registration. Bang & Olufsen’s heritage in creating elegant audio/visual products is astounding and 2015 marks their 90th year as a iconic designer.

In terms of presentation, the Beoplay H6 is impeccable and evokes a sophisticated feel. The headphones are packaged in a hardened cardboard box with an outer cover which slides upwards. This section contains a number of beautiful macro images which emphasizes the gorgeous and sleek aesthetic. On the undertray, there is an ample supply of soft supporting foam to eliminate the possibility of scratches on the aluminium side earcups. After removing the top flap, the headphones are unveiled in a soft, thick mould. This is quite a tight fit but keeps the headphones secure and leaves a very striking first impression. The foam mould employs a luscious finish and features two fabric tabs to lift the unit out and access the bundled accessories. In addition to the device itself, there is a cable with 3 button remote and embossed B & O insignia.

Unfortunately, the cable isn’t braided, only 1.2m long and quite thin. As a result, this makes it a suitable choice for portable devices due to the small footprint without trailing wires becoming entangled. The problem lies with professional use in a studio or desktop environment as the cable is easily snagged and doesn’t reach external devices. Subsequently, I subconsciously kept moving my head closer towards the audio source in an attempt use the headphones with monitoring equipment. At least the cable is a standard 3.5mm jack and isn’t soldered into the unit. I cannot emphasize how important this as the most common cause of failure is through a damaged cable and the RMA process is more efficient in requesting a replacement instead of sending the whole product back for repair. Furthermore, the cable can be connected to the left or right ear cup and even daisy chained with another Beoplay H6 to share the audio content.

Another grievance I have centers on the volume remote which is constructed from plastic and feels rather cheap. This is a bizarre design choice given the exemplary materials used throughout the headphones. I would have preferred a brushed aluminium finish in chrome or black even if it bumped up the retail price to £350. The buttons themselves require a small actuation force which allows for quick volume alterations on-the-fly. To summarize, I implore Bang & Olufsen to look beyond the handset market, and offer a longer cable for home use alongside the standard compact variant.  On a more positive note, the Beoplay H6 includes a magnificent carry case which opts for a velvet appearance and circular B & O aluminum tag. This extra oozes quality and encourages you to use the protective bag whilst traveling. Even the user guide and warranty information are neatly concealed in a protective envelope to emphasize the product’s attention-to-detail.

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Bang & Olufsen’s raison d’etre revolves around a minimalistic design philosophy. This focus relies on subtle solid colour contrasts which adds a signature character to each product. The Beoplay H6 headphones are available in a wide range of styles including both black and natural leather as well as other special editions which utilize a more ostentatious theme. Bang & Olufsen kindly provided a sample of the Blue Stone model for review which features a grey headband and light blue side earcups. It didn’t take long before I became completely enamored with the unique colour scheme as they took pride of place on my work desk. Each version of the H6 is sublime, extremely distinctive and produced to suit a wide range of tastes. Beauty is always determined by subjective opinion, but I honestly believe the Beoplay H6 are the best looking headphones on the market.

The Beoplay H6 incorporates a dynamic, closed back construction with an operational frequency range of 20-22,000Hz. Bang & Olufsen selected the highest quality components after careful consideration to improve comfort and longevity. For example. the headband is made from premium cow leather which alters colour in a natural manner over time. This material is also quite resilient and provides the cushioning required when applying pressure to support your head. I’m a huge advocate of using high-grade cow leather since the finish after a few years makes every headset maintain special characteristics. Additionally, the earpads are sensational and it’s very easy to forget you’re wearing a pair of headphones. This is achieved via a lambskin coating and memory foam internals which surrounds your ears without making them perspire too much. Bang & Olufsen constantly strives for perfection and this results in a product virtually devoid of cheap plastic with aluminum used as a higher quality substitute. As a result, the unit only weighs 230g and measures a total of 197mmx194mmx40mm. Other benefits from an aluminum frame include the adjustable headband which seems almost indestructible.

When it comes to sound quality, the Beoplay H6 headphones are very impressive especially when you take the portable size into consideration. Technically, the device is powered by a 40mm custom driver with a neodymium magnet. There is also a bass port designed to accentuate heavier sounds and the drivers are positioned at an angle to maximize audio contact with your ears. The Beoplay H6 general mix is suited to connoisseurs of classical, jazz, blues and other music with a focus on a crisp mid-range. These headphones aren’t bass heavy and fans of heavier music might consider the output to be sterile or overly flat. However, the bass is set at a reasonable level which forms a beautifully balanced set of headphones. Far too often, manufacturers fixate on emphasizing the bass output at the expense of crystal clear audio. Thankfully Bang & Olufsen didn’t engage this recent trend and opted for a sophisticated piece of sound equipment. Please note that I used a combination of SACDs, Vinyl, and FLAC files to judge the audio quality and any lossy format was disregarded.

One major caveat about the Beoplay H6 is that the dynamic audio quality heavily relies on a DAC or headphone amplifier. With a standard source like a tablet or cheap audio chipset, the sound is excellent and quite vibrant but using a high quality source takes the audio to another level. I coupled the headphones with a Creative Soundblaster Z to see the effect a cheap soundcard would make to the tonal range. The end result was nothing short of mesmerizing with background instruments and lead vocals infusing in such a magical way. The Beoplay H6 requires an amplifier to use their full potential and I would add this to your total budget as a necessity.

I also tested the headphones in a number of different scenarios ranging from PC Gaming to music creation. The audio resonates so seamlessly in various genres of games and the device’s comfort allows for long gaming sessions. I will say though that the bass might deter some customers who enjoy sudden and harsh noises from chaotic moments of gameplay. Other hobbies like movie watching feature a pronounced vocal response and equal mix. Finally, I was shocked how accurate the headphones were when using a Fender Stratocaster with EMG DG20 pickups, Hiwatt DR103 head and 1×12 WEM cabinet. I could easily use these headphones for jamming even in a complex rig with multiple pedals.

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Conclusion – Is It Worth The Money?

Bang & Olufsen are a brand synonymous with timeless designs and stunning craftsmanship which makes every product they create come under great scrutiny. The Beoplay H6, barring the cable issues, is flawless making it the best pair of headphones I have tested. While they are expensive, you do get a extensive warranty period, extraordinary quality of materials and superb, balanced sound.  Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend the Beoplay H6 even at £329.99/$399.99 and feel the investment will provide years of enjoyment across a wide range of entertainment mediums.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H6 Headphones Summary:

TPG Hardware

  • Time Used – 12 Days
  • Acquisition Method – Review Unit
  • Warranty – 3 Years + 1 (Registration Required)
  • Availability – Official Site, Amazon
  • Software Used – VLC, Adobe Audition, Cubase, Sibelius
  • System Specs – Intel I7 4770K, 16GB RAM, Gigabyte GTX 980 4GB
  • Model Received – Blue Stone Limited Edition

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