B&O Play by Bang & Olufsen has a new entry-level model in its expanding line of premium Bluetooth wireless headphones. At $300 (£249, $AU 399), I wouldn’t call the Beoplay H4 a bargain, but it did surprise me with how good it sounded. I think it matches up well with the competition at this price — both in terms of design and performance.
This is an over-ear headphone that has a clean look, a sturdy metal headband (it’s covered in cloth on one side and leather on the other), and soft, plush ear pads. For a full-size model, it’s fairly light, weighing 8.32 ounces or 236 grams, and is quite comfortable to wear.
The ear cups swivel and fold flat, so the headphone sits comfortably around your neck when you’re not wearing it on your ears. However, the headphone doesn’t fold up or come with any sort of carrying case, which is a bit disappointing considering the $300 price tag.
Battery life is decent at 19 hours, and I had no trouble pairing and repairing the headphone with an iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I was also able to maintain a reliable wireless connection.
Unlike the step-up, which costs $100 more and features touch controls, the H4’s integrated three-button “remote” is located on the right ear cup along with a microphone for making calls. The , an on-ear model, and the over-ear BeoPlay H9 both add active noise cancelling and have touch controls.
There’s no sidetone feature (dual mics) that allows you to hear your voice inside the headphone when you make a call, but call quality was decent and you access Siri and Google voice assistants by holding down the center multifunction button — more on that in a minute.
That said, headphones such as Bose’s, Plantronics’ and , are a step up in terms of microphone performance (translation: callers will hear you better with those headphones, especially if there’s some external noise in the mix).
As I said, I was impressed by the sound. This is a dynamic headphone with a lot of energy in the bass, good detail and clarity (for a Bluetooth headphone anyway), and natural mids. I didn’t notice a significant difference listening to it in wired mode with the included cord plugged in. Ultimately, the H4’s right there with the top wireless headphones and it does offer good passive noise-isolation — the plush ear cups do a good job of sealing out the outside world.