The Beoplay E8 are Bang & Olufsen’s first “Truly Wireless” earphones. They are intended to be a more premium competitor to the Apple AirPods, and it shows in the price.
The industrial design on these headphones is the same as almost everything else Bang and Olufsen produce in that it’s exquisite. The leather carrying case they come in, also acts as the charging dock and includes a battery that can charge the E8s twice. The ‘charcoal sand’ colour looks absolutely stunning.
B&O claims to value industrial design and sound quality equally. With the majority of other companies, it appears it’s a decision between one or the other. The sound quality from these earphones is simply excellent for a pair of truly wireless earphones. The sound is crisp and detailed with highs and mids sounding clear. The sound out-of-the-box may be too lacking in bass for some people (myself included). I’m not a huge fan of overly bass heavy headphones, but I do like a little bit of punch and by tweaking the sound profile in the Beoplay app (more on that later) I managed to perfect it by simply just picking the ‘Commuter’ preset.
Also worth noting is that the passive noise cancelling properties of the Beoplay E8 are excellent (especially when these earphones don’t have Active Noise Cancellation!) to the point where they sometimes sound like they cut more noise out than the ANC on the Beoplay H9.
As mentioned above, you can control the headphones from the Beoplay app (available for iOS and Android from their respective app stores). The Beoplay app lets you tweak the sound profile of all of your wireless Beoplay headphones and speakers using both the presets and the ToneTouch panel which lets you drag a circle around and place it in the perfect place on the grid (you can also make the circle larger by using pinch-to-zoom).
The Beoplay app can also be used for picking a transparency mode, which allows you to use the microphones on the each earpiece to let noise in from the outside.
Using them day-to-day:
The initial setting up and pairing of the Beoplay E8 earphones is a little complicated. I had to follow the instructions in the manual rather than the instructions on the printed label on the foam section that holds the headphones in the box. You essentially need to charge the earphones until the light goes green on the case, then turn on the right earpiece by tapping down on the B&O logo, then hold down the B&O logos on both earpieces for 5 seconds and then you can pair them using the Settings app on your phone. You can then open the Beoplay app later. The Bluetooth connection to my iPhone 7 Plus has been excellent with no drop-outs.
In regards to comfort, they’re very light weight and fit very comfortably in the ear and don’t fall out even if you shake your head around (you’ll need to pick the right eartips though! Good job there are 5 pairs included).
Actually using the earphones relies on the touch panels on the B&O logo on each earpiece too. Below are the key things:
- Turn them on: hold down on the B&O logo on the rightearpiece for a second or two until it makes a noise
- Pause/skip track: tap B&O logo on rightearpiece once for pause and twice for skipping a track
- Turn on Transparency: tap B&O logo on leftearpiece
- Volume up/down:hold down B&O logo on leftearpiece for volume down, and hold down on B&O logo on rightearpiece for volume up
- Siri/Google Assistant: say “Hey Siri”or “OK Google” to talk to the virtual assistant on your phone. You may even be able to use this on a Windows PC/device running Windows Phone to talk to Cortana by saying “Hey Cortana”but I don’t have any devices to try this out on.
The battery life on these earphones is fairly average. B&O claim you can get 4 hours of use on the initial charge + a further 8 hours (2x additional full charges) when you charge them up with the included battery carry case. These aren’t as good as the AirPods when it comes to battery life, but they sound (and look) orders of magnitude better.
As mentioned above, better battery life would be nice. The touch panels on the side of the earphones are a little annoying to use and I find myself just reaching for my phone instead – I’m sure it’ll be fine once I get used to them though. USB-C would be preferable over MicroUSB too.
Some have also mentioned problems regarding one earphone being quieter than the other, but these are likely to be manufacturing defects on individual sets of E8s rather than a flaw with the entire product.
The last thing would be the included eartips; the Beoplay H5 earphones included 4x sizes of silicone tips + 3x Comply memory foam ones (S/M/L). The E8s only include 4x sizes of silicone tips and 1 pair of medium/M Comply memory foam tips. While medium is perfect for me, small and large would have been very useful for other people. It would also be nice if B&O took a similar approach to Sony/RHA and included double-flanged eartips (but you can buy all of these separately from Amazon/RHA/Sony’s websites of course).