Regular readers of The Verge will know that my — and, by extension, the world’s — favorite portable over-ear headphones are the $299 Beoplay H6 from Bang & Olufsen’s B&O Play sub-brand. They are wonderfully musical, fun, and enjoyable to listen to with any genre of music. Plus they have the brilliant B&O design and materials that make me envious of anyone else wearing them even when I have my own pair. But they’re not wireless.
The hot new thing in headphones these days is the turn toward wireless convenience, and I’ve spent the months since reviewing the H6s looking for an equally good wireless model. Not even the flagship Beoplay H9 could topple the sound quality and pleasure of the H6s, in my judgment, so I had to ask B&O about what’s stopping it from releasing a wireless H6 pair. The answer, it turns out, is nothing technical.
Speaking with B&O Tonmeister Geoff Martin (who’s responsible for tuning everything right up to the company’s $80-something-thousand BeoLab 90 speakers) this week, I asked directly if the company could produce a wireless H6. And he answered, just as directly: “yes.” The actual reason for why B&O Play doesn’t offer a wireless headphone tuned like the H6 is that its sound signature is too light on bass to be used in the noisy environments of an underground commute or a long flight. That’s why the wireless models that B&O Play does offer — the H7, H8, and H9 — have an extra slice of low-end rumble, with the intention being that they’ll sound their best when circumstances around the listener are less than ideal.
I’ve used the Beoplay H6 while making my way around the interminably noisy London, and I can’t say I strictly agree with B&O’s position, but I can see the sense in that thinking. I did find competitor Bowers & WIlkins’ wireless P7 headphones were at their best when out in a noisy environment. Having said that, though, I think B&O and Bowers & Wilkins are both ignoring the audience that wants uncompromised sound quality and wireless ease of use without necessarily needing to have a pair of commuter headphones. I’m thinking of the high-fidelity enthusiasts that need a nice pair of cans for the office or anyone with a distaste for disconnecting from their music anytime they have to leave their desk. Okay, it’s very much a me scenario, but I believe my desires are shared by more people than B&O thinks.
So help me out, guys. If you haven’t yet tried the Beoplay H6, do, and when you get a grasp of their excellence, let Bang & Olufsen know that you too would fancy a pair without the cord. Those might be the sweetest and loveliest over-ear headphones that most of us can afford — if only B&O would go to the trouble of building them.