Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Review

Welcome to my review today on the Bang and Olufsen H6 wired headphones. These are a premium headphone that are designed to appeal to someone who appreciates not only great sound but also great style.  

Now the H6 is a neutral and clean sounding headphone that’s light wearing and easy to take with you. But even though it’s a fairly portable headphone, proper amplification is important to getting a good listening experience. So I’ll be talking about that, as well as the comfort, sound quality and a few other considerations to help you decide if these headphones will be right for you.

Now Currently this first generation H6 is about $250-300 depending on the particular style you choose.  

Accessories, Design & Features

 Included with the headphones is a carrying cloth pouch, and a detachable 3.5mm cable with in-line mic and controls. The mic quality is excellent and people can hear your very clearly. So it’s easy to have conversations on these headphones with no problems whatsoever.    

Design, Features & Build Quality  

Now regarding the design, the H6 is a simple but well-crafted design. The headband is covered in New Zealand calfskin and is very durable as you can bend it back and forth without any problems. 

What’s nice is this allows you to adjust the clamping force a bit by either adjusting them to have a more loose or more firm fit, depending on your preference. The slide adjustments are very smooth and refined to use as you’re adjusting the headphones to be larger or smaller. And once you have them adjusted, they stay firmly in place while you’re wearing these.  

The earcups are round and pretty much fully encompass your ears. But even though the top and bottom part of my ears touch the earpads, it’s not really noticeable and certainly not bothersome in the slightest. The earpads are made of real lambskin leather and very comfortable to wear.    

The earcups do provide a little bit of horizontal and vertical tilt to them. And they also swivel so that you can lay them flat. On the backside of each earcup you have a shiny aluminum cover. The headphone cable can be attached to either earcup but there isn’t any locking mechanism for the cable.  

Still, the connection is quite secure and I didn’t have any issues with the cable coming loose. Also, the H6 even allows you to daisy chain these but unfortunately this does degrade the sound quality a bit, so keep this in mind if you’re planning on using this feature. So overall, the H6 isn’t so much a luxurious feeling headphone, but it does offer a well executed design, that’s simple, attractive and durable. 


Comfort wise, these are a rather light-wearing headphone as they only weight 8.1oz or 230 grams. This definitely contributes to the overall comfort while wearing these. Overall, the comfort feels nice. It’s not an ultra luxurious experience, but still very comfortable. While some headphones really make their presence known by their weight or heft, these get out of the way a little more so that you almost don’t notice them because of how light and unobtrusive they are while wearing them.  

The earcup size is large enough to accommodate your ears and the padding is very comfortable as well.  You also won’t have any problems with your ears sweating while wearing these, even in warmer weather. Clamping force is minimal but they still stay on your head just fine. What’s nice is that you can adjust the clamping force a bit by bending the headband in or stretching it out to loosen or tighten the fit.  

The headband has a bit of padding underneath and weight distribution is quite good, so that you can wear these for hour after hour without any discomfort. However, for all day type listening I found I did need to adjust the positioning of the headband just a bit, my moving if forward or backward a bit to give the top of my head a break. Bottom line is these provide a very light-wearing, comfortable and unobtrusive listening experience.  

Noise Isolation  

Then regarding noise isolation, these do an ok job of passive noise isolation. Meaning they block a moderate amount of any environmental noise around you. And there is a minor bit of sound leakage as you start listening at higher volumes.  

Sound Quality  

Sound Quality wise, these sound awesome as long as they have proper amplification. The overall sound signature is neutral, natural, detailed and airy. It’s a very clear and rather open presentation, especially for a closed headphone.  

The bass is textured, clean, tight and fast. But, the key to really enjoying the low end is having good amplification. Because without it, the bass will struggle to come alive. Also, if you’re used to or prefer an elevated bass, the low end can feel like it lacks a bit of body, and for some, the bass may seem just a tad on the light side, especially if you enjoy listening to more modern music. The mid-bass is also reigned in just a bit which can make some songs sound a bit hollow. However, this also results in a more focused presentation. There’s nothing flabby or boomy about the bass. Instrument separation and texture is remarkably good. It’s accurate, lively and sounds exceptional with classical, jazz and folk type music.  

Then with the mids, you’ll find they’re clean, clear, natural and well detailed. Vocals likewise sound very clear and natural. For example, if you enjoy female vocals, they sound exquisite on the H6. There are a few inconsistencies though, so the overall presentation isn’t liquid-smooth. Snare drums don’t quite come through with a lot of strength but they are tight, fast and sharp. Also, piano, strings and guitars sound very clean. There’s nothing muddy sounding here. Overall the presentation of the mids is very musical and neutral with great clarity, detail and instrument separation.  

Highs are also clear, detailed and for the most part quite accurate. There’s a good amount of air, but this airiness can add a slight metallic texture to some vocals. Also, the treble can be a bit uneven at times though it’s never strident.  Still the detail is quite good and will more than likely reveal new details in your music, particularly if these are an upgrade from what you’re currently using. What’s unique about the highs is that they’re fully extended, as opposed to being rolled off. Triangles, cymbals and snares sound very crisp and light.  Although these don’t quite have the sharpness and precise sound of a good planar magnetic headphone, they’re still very impressive.  

The soundstage is also quite large, especially for a closed headphone.  Now it’s not particularly deep, but you get a surprising amount of height and It’s one of the strengths of these headphones that makes sound them very engaging. Imaging is also exceptional and extremely accurate. You get a very nice sense of where everything sits.  

Now although these can still sound good without an amp, they definitely sound their best with an amp. So if you’re planning on using the H6 with just your smartphone, these will still sound nice, but you just won’t be experiencing their full potential and may come across as being a bit lackluster.  

Also, the downside of this sound signature is that it doesn’t do anything to soften the harsh sound of mp3’s that are overly compressed. So although the H6 sounds great with high quality music files, it can be distracting to use with lower quality music.  

Now as an all-rounder, these will certainly work fine with all genres of music. However, they sound best with classical, jazz and acoustic style music. For more modern music such as pop, rap, edm, hip-hop and so on, it can feel like they’re lacking some warmth and body.    

But overall, if you appreciate a clean, clear and more neutral sound with a well extended treble, incredible sound stage and accurate imaging, then you’ll probably really enjoy the sound of these.

Comparison to other headphones  

Now comparing these to the Master & Dynamic MH40. The MH40 is more dynamic sounding with better bass extension and presence in the low end. The H6 though is more neutral, clean and natural sounding with better treble extension. So while the MH40 sounds better with more modern music, the H6 sounds better with more classical and jazz type genres. Also, the H6 is much lighter-wearing and easier to wear for longer listening sessions compared to the MH40.  

Then compared to the B&W P7, the P7 has a little more bass presence, but the mids on the H6 are more smooth and vocals as an example really shine as they’re more up front and intimate compared to the P7. 


Now even though the H6 is a great option for anyone interested in a clean and natural sounding headphone that’s also stylish and easy to wear, there are some things to consider before deciding whether these might be the best choice for you. 

  First, if you mainly listen to more contemporary genres of music or if you prefer the bass to be elevated a bit, then you might find the low end doesn't quite satisfy.  Although, the bass is still present and it shows up when it’s needed, the low end might feel a bit anemic to those who prefer a little more feeling and thump in the lower end frequencies.  

Next, if you prefer wearing headphones that feel substantial while you’re wearing them, then these might not work. Although these are very comfortable, they are more of a light-wearing and light-feeling headphone. So if prefer a headphone that feels more weighty white wearing it, then these might not be for you.  

Finally, the H6 is a bit harder to drive as a portable headphone. Although they still sound good with a smartphone, they sound better and actually at their best with a good amp. Now if you like everything else about these, but would still prefer something that could be powered just fine from a smartphone, then consider upgrading to the 2nd generation H6, as this version is easier to drive.  

But otherwise, what’s great about the H6 is that it blends great design, with a light wearing headphone that produces a very clean, clear and natural sound.  

So if you appreciate a carefully designed headphone with an incredibly detailed sound that’s easy to wear and take with you. And if you prefer a neutral sound signature with exceptional sound stage, that's blended with superb design, comfort and style then the H6 could be just right for you. 

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