We took the office, the commute, the gym and the home as completely separate entities and now that has all changed. Everything is upside down and backwards. We now work from home and even work out from home. It is not easy and it comes with its own distractions so being able to take control of your time and space is the key
As soon as you put on your earphones or headphones the world becomes your own music video, you disappear into a live story of your making. This brings us to look at what Bang and Olufsen can offer in this area and we will look at the discreet water and sweat-proof E8 ear phones to the 95 year anniversary H95’s in all their spectacular lambskin leather, memory foam, titanium drivers and polished aluminum glory.
Arguably the most trending audio device next to the soundbar revolution in ear or earbuds have brought adaptive noise canceling, sweat and water-proofing to the party with long battery life and charging cases. So how do the E8’s stack up?
Take the E8’s out of the box and pop them into the charging case, close the lid and it feels smaller than any other we have encountered. The Bang & Olufsen logo is imprinted into the top of the black leather case with a USB C charge socket on the back. Already the feel is of a luxury item. A small LED on the front middle lets you know if your E8’s are charging by flashing an orange red colour then green when they are ready to go.
The smaller units of any audio brand are a trying test, but immediately we hear a striking difference in a well-worn album from Plan B’s ‘The Defamation Of Strickland Banks’. The album is a testing mix of rock, rap, soft blue-eyed soul and even a dash of thrash metal.
There is a large sense of space in the sound stage and E8’s ride out the entire work with toe tapping pleasure. Not once was there a need to ride the volume between the hugely varying genres that all live in the one album. This normally exposes the inability to control sharp notes and sudden breaks to soft chorus. With the E8’s you can hear all the details at all levels. The E8’s timing is on point and never gets caught out between the rapid change in pitch and speed of Plan B’s delivery. Bass is controlled, even and where other devices struggle to keep pace, the E8’s march on with confidence.
A gentle touch and you drop in and out of transparency mode which is exceptionally good for in earphones. All of this is easy to do while running and after selecting the correct size ear-adapter we never felt them trying to pop out or need re-adjusting. From podcasts to You Tube, Spotify and our own recordings, the E8’s proved to be a charming companion. Taking a call is as simple as a small tap and dialogue is clear and stable, finish your call and go straight back to the music.
Wearing them for a few hours is easy and after a while you can forget they are actually there. The E8’s from start to finish are a class act – the ability to hear depth and detail yet reign in unwanted shrill notes that would normally have you monitoring the volume is delightful. This allows you to get on with just listening to the music. Add in superb noise cancellation which we would normally attribute to larger over ear headphones and E8’s are proof that Bang and Olufsen can produce their signature sound in the smallest audio device of all.
The H95’s come in a textured box, silver embossed which reveal another silver strong-box impervious to damage of any reasonable kind. Once open the H95’s sit flat, cups down with a little compartment for wires and adapters for flights all nicely wrapped in leather straps. Bang & Olufsen have done a fine job of letting you know this is their 95th year anniversary and the H95’s are an occasion every time you use them, which is not lost on us
The H95’s have a re-assuring heft to them immediately confirming that they have lots of talent to come. We are struck by just how soft the cups are and to our delight they can just pop off and be replaced as they are magnetic, a nice touch.
Move the H95’s around and the build quality emerges as second to none. A radial dial is located on each driver and provides a brilliant analogue feel to adjusting the noise cancelling on the left. The volume is controlled on the right, a classic yet modern design.
Noise canceling is mostly on or off, or at best in selected modes or stages. Fear not, that is not the Bang & Olufsen way. From the lightest of touches, you can have a complete sweep of noise cancelling from the tiniest of effects to declaring war on all external noise sources. Go for the full tilt and you will be greeted by little pips of sound that let you know where you are on the noise cancelling ladder.
Notably all of these features are controlled by a super slick app for a visual aid although we prefer to equalize with our ears and leave our eyes out of it. Try it both ways and you will be surprised what your ears tell you they want compared to your eyes. The H95’s prove that noise cancelling can be enjoyable and involving. There is no suction cup syndrome here.
The H95’s are designed to be used for long periods of time with no fatigue. As a challenge we choose the digitally remastered Blu-ray Superman anthology for the simple reason that 1970’s sound effects such as gun shots sound like dynamite explosions and car crashes like breaking sheets of glass. It’s harsh, shrill and is magnified by a new digital format. The H95’s have us enthralled with Marlon Brando’s performance as he discusses with the council of Krypton the punishment for the general Zod and his deputies. His delivery is captivating. The clarity and space in the dialogue compels us to see the whole film. The H95’s further seduces us into watching the entire anthology with Bang & Olufsen’s signature.
sound, re-mastering the audio in its own way like a steam iron to a crumpled shirt leaving nothing to chance.
Sam Cookes album ‘Aint That Good News’ rolls through the H95’s with pace and emotion like the day it was recorded
The H95’s sound bigger than they physically are. The sound space and the positioning of instruments provide an exciting experience yet remained faithful and intimate
All of the instruments had their own identifiable places and locations within the space and came forward quite clearly especially in the mid-range.
The H95’s deal with compressed music well. The Bang and Olufsen signature audio style gives a pleasing and defined performance. Allow hi-resolution audio formats to garnish the H95’s and the transformation is remarkable yet still refined.
Although not required using a separate headphone amplifier is common to extract more performance. We found the H95’s went past what you would expect and without any equalization fell perfectly within a mix of great sound stage, pleasing highs, mids and lows. The titanium custom headphone drivers were able to flourish in a totally different direction, offering incredible insight normally reserved for models further up the scale.
The finest accolade for speakers is to have them disappear into the room and we have only experienced it on a few occasions. When that happens, it is total immersion. With headphones you are always aware of the fit and feel from the headband to the cups. Yet with the H95’s each hour that went past they seemed to get lighter to the point they vanished, and we were left wrapped within the experience. In the world of over-ear headphones investment can eclipse entire systems and the H95’s not only deserve their place but also deliver over and above.