Forget everything you know about earphones, B&O just released the Beoplay EX series…
Just when we thought the level of sound you can produce from an earbud was near the limit, B&O comes along and flexes their 97 years of heritage
It was some time ago we last had a bundle of B&O toys to play with and we miss them all dearly. The previous earbuds we had were good in every sense of audiophile requirements however, a little light in the bass department for mass market tastes.
So, what’s new with the Beoplay EX? Well, high desirability factor, comfort, style, sweat, dust and water-proof to 100 cm all come as standard as you might expect from B&O. Pocket-size charging case, wireless compatibility and great stamina at 6 hours (20h + case) complete the package.
The key difference here is the new 9.2 mm speaker driver; it is the largest that B&O fitted to an earphone. Casually we connected them with no fuss and let youtube suggest a track. Often we start the process with the worst platform to stream music from and youtube is the best at being the worst.
“The attack and vibrancy, let alone the space inbetween the instruments is extraordinary”
The classic dance track ‘Energy 52 Cafe Del Mar’ pops up and we go back to our task. Immediately, the thumping kick drum that should sound woolly, fuzzy and awful and all things considered from such a source, just didn’t. Shockingly, the deepest bass emerged, the kick drum hits perfectly in the mid bass notes before rolling off into the deeper frequencies, all expertly controlled. The new 9.2mm driver effortlessly makes easy work of it all.
The rest of the track explodes with percussion and the main synthesiser comes in with the globally recognised loop. This track was an accidental play and I’m experienced enough to have heard it in clubland, on the radio and on numerous CD’s, but this sounds more like a studio master reproduction. The attack and vibrancy, let alone the space inbetween the instruments is extraordinary.
“Is there any over-coloring from the new larger driver – none we could hear. The trademark B&O signature sound is there, just larger with more impact and none of the clarity has been sacrificed”
Back to the music and we spin up Plan B’s album, ‘Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose’. His blue eyed soul vocals wrap themselves around ‘Stranger’ leaving an insight into the torn artist that seems to have at last found peace. This album is a mix between uptempo borderline speed garage, Ska and his signature blue eyed soul jumping tempos not sticking to any type of genre and the EX just handles it all with ease.
‘Queue Jumping’ stirs an emotional side to the EX that we were not sure they were capable of, yet the desire in the lyrics is felt directly with excellent timing to make the whole album a toe-tapping affair, which is a difficult task. A lesser earphone can sometimes be tricked into being too harsh and the higher notes sound too nasal but the EX just lets you enjoy the entire album with ease. Is there any over-colouring? from the new larger driver – no, none at all. The trademark signature sound is there, just larger with more impact and none of the clarity has been sacrificed.
Earphones have two main areas of responsibility, incoming content and outgoing speech. The Beoplay EX has 6 microphones and our conversations were interrupted on more than one occasion, when a recipient would stop and ask if that was a bird, car or something else they could clearly hear by the microphones in the Beoplay EX … from inside the office with all windows closed. The most useful of all features was being able to select noise cancelling, transparency or the passive option in a call which most manufacturers do not cater for and automatically select the mode they think best.
The Beoplay EX are remarkable and have advanced the earphone game dramatically. Calls are handled with an uncanny precision; music no matter what the source is reproduced faithfully yet deeper and more exciting than should be possible from such dimensions. Comfort and style are in considerable measure and noise cancelling is up with the best.
We haven’t heard of a set of earbuds that carry such a rhythmically intoxicating signature normally reserved for larger over-ear headphones before now. The Beoplay EX are deservedly so, in a league of their own.