BO Play  - B&O Play Beoplay H9i

BO Play

Nomadic helmet B&O Play Beoplay H9i: splendor and furious

Aprox. 324€ - see price -

More than a year after an H9 which had left us quite skeptical, B&O Play replaces its flagship models H8 and H9 with new versions. Called H9i, this portable headset with active noise reduction promises many improvements, both ergonomic (better autonomy, more efficient hands-free kit ...) and sound (active noise reduction more efficient on voices, more powerful bass ...). Are the Danish manufacturer's promises verified in practice?

Our review


B&O Play has indeed changed its approach in terms of sound reproduction on this version, but not necessarily for the better. This model still retains significant disparities in rendering between listening without and with active noise reduction. The least we can say is that the Beoplay H9i still does not do in finesse.

Frequency response measurement. Left: wired connection without active noise reduction (black) and with active noise reduction (red). Right: wireless connection without active noise reduction (blue) and with active noise reduction (black).

The differences between Beoplay H9 and H9i are played out over the first part of the spectrum. A different acoustic setting and the presence of a dedicated bass vent on each headset are certainly behind this change. However, the approach is still not subtle and the behavior of the membranes remains far from perfect. With active noise reduction on, the H9i offers a very deep response in the low frequencies, but puts too much emphasis on the bass. What is more, the very localized peak around 40 Hz strengthens the feeling of depth, pressure and bass impact too significantly.

The result is certainly very flattering, but leads to masking effects because of the lack of reactivity of the membranes on attacks: very fast and close hits of the bass drum are very good examples to note this, because they really test the membranes; the legibility of the elements operating in this area suffers. In addition, this behavior causes some hearing fatigue over long listening sessions. Without active noise reduction, this zone drops drastically, so that it ends up a little too far behind the rest of the audible spectrum. In this case, but only in Bluetooth, the EQ of the application can compensate for this drop. On the other hand, there is nothing that can be done on the reactivity side of the membranes.

Frequency response measurement. Left: EQ correction (green) on sound rendering without active noise reduction (black). Right: EQ correction (green) on sound rendering with active noise reduction (black).

Sound coloring is also required on the second part of the spectrum. With the active noise reduction engaged, we obtain a signature in W with a small fairly localized highlighting of the mids and a very marked and extremely localized boost (our measure tends to boost this last peak a little, but it is clearly audible here). This combination leads to both a significant increase in the presence and impact of many sources (presence and intelligibility of the voice, attack of percussion, pinching or friction on string instruments, etc.), as well as the appearance brilliant, metallic treble (harmonics of saturated guitars, cymbals, whistling voices).

This coloring is less important, softer and ultimately less tiring when the noise reduction is not engaged. Unfortunately, the dull mediums and some sources seem more dull. In wireless, whether with or without RBA, the EQ cannot save furniture. The only thing you can do is to come to calm the bass and soften the mid / treble by moving the slider in the “Relaxed” part when the active noise reduction is engaged.

What about stereophony? In this look, the Beoplay H9i behaves like its predecessor. The scene unfolds quite widely and, if not the compactness of the bass, we can identify without too much difficulty the different elements that compose it.

On the side of active noise reduction, the improvement promised between 300 Hz and 800 Hz is significant, but it is there. We have dedicated a complete news to this subject, which we invite you to consult if you want to know more.

The Beoplay H9i made a small leap forward in the field of distortion. Without active noise reduction, the distortion is calm across the entire audible spectrum. This is less the case when activating noise reduction, especially in midrange. You can especially feel it when you turn up the listening volume to a fairly sustained level, which can cause a bit of aggressiveness in high mids. In all cases, the distortion in the extreme low / low has disappeared, and fortunately given the sound reproduction reserved for this zone.

The H9i has also gained in sensitivity. You will still have no problem propelling it with a portable device since it only requires 135 mVrms to reach 94 dB SPL in wired connection without active noise reduction and 95 mVrms to reach the same threshold in wired connection with reduction of active noise.

Regarding the latency of wireless communication, these headphones are in the middle of what can be found on the market. The result is not as impressive as with the previous model, but it is still suitable for watching video content without being too disturbed by the sound / image lag. If your reading allows, however, do not hesitate to compensate.



Even with its evolutions, it is difficult for the H9i to establish itself in the closed circle of wireless headsets with active noise reduction. Direct competition is very tough, especially with such an introductory price (€ 499). We clearly prefer the Sony WH-1000XM2, the QC 35 or even the QC 35 II, whether for comfort or sound performance. In addition, these models are more really more accessible in terms of price. There is therefore no reason to hesitate.