Headphones have become somewhat of a style and fashion accessory of late, with many a set designed for outwardly aesthetics and almost disregarding the usefulness. In efforts to look attractive, they have also become rather uncomfortable for continuous use, if they’re worth their salt in producing good quality audio in the first place. But why is there an apparent disconnect between something that looks good, feels good, and, ultimately, sounds good too? Step in Bang & Olufsen’s BeoPlay H6 with DJ Khaled.
In the mirky waters of the current crop of headphones manufacturers, there are a few names that stand out amongst the rest, including B&W, Sennheiser and Bose. B&O, although well respected in the audio community, are not particularly well known for the range of headphones, despite having released a few over the years. With the good looks category ticked off from the start, a few weeks with the BeoPlay H6 (effectively the 2nd generation) will surely make a case for ticking off the remaining categories.
Build and Design
The DJ Khaled partnership has not done much to change the design core of the BeoPlay H6, and many would argue against that decision. The original design by Jakob Wagner was excellent, a premium blend of a quality look and simplicity, so often overlooked in an attempt to stand out. But, the minimalist approach only adds to the intrigue of the unit. The only real difference between the original H6 (the 2nd generation, that is) and the DJ Khaled version is the introduction of 3 new colour themes, which includes red/gold, black/red and black/gold. I received the black/gold version; my choice of palette.
Describing the design of the headphones is that it’s an assortment of random shapes, put together in an articulated manner that just feels right. The gold aluminium highlights stand out against the dark, black canvas on the rest of the headphones. The rounded circular earcups wouldn’t appear to be suitable to do the job, but, in all honesty, are spot on. Immediately after cupping around your ears it feels soft and unobtrusive. The headband is covered in cow leather, with two sectionalised padding areas, the sides being slightly harder than the cushioned top. On the contrary, the cups are made of lambskin leather, providing a softer feel and more comfort around the ears, which B&O suggest will mould the shape of your ears when worn. This moulding makes for great noise cancellation, especially if your ears are larger than the cup openings themselves. Thankfully, mine aren’t.
There are no fancy interfaces on the unit, instead you’re left only with a removable auxiliary cable to connect to your device. What is worth noting, however, is that both cups have a 3.5mm jack, so the cable can be connect to the left of right earcup for convenience and extension. This feature allows you to pair a second pair of headphones to your BeoPlay H6, without it needing to be the same model.
While the looks do play a large role with modern headphones, its true worth is still measured by the quality of sound it produces. At the heart of the H6 are x2 197x194x40mm drivers with an impedance of 30ohms and a frequency response of 20 – 22,000Hz, which provide a well-balanced sound. The drivers
are tuned as would a studio monitor, specifically for use by composers and producers. The sounds are clear, and bass is deep, almost as if you’re in an enclosed room filled with quality speakers. The drivers produce a full range of sound, which span across multiple music genres, from classical to rock. Each instrument can be heard, as if isolated and played back on its own before being stitched together during playback.
It is said that the collaboration with DJ Khaled produced a set of headphones with deeper bass, which I tested extensively. Without fail, it produced quality and levels of bass that gave me new appreciation for each song I listened to, as if I was hearing it for the first time. The quality of sound, from highs to lows, turned into somewhat of an addiction, attempting to listen to faintest of sounds, previously undiscovered.
Being a gamer, it’s a no-brainer for me to have tested the set running through a few games as well. And, again, it did not fail to produce good quality audio. The only real downside here is that it doesn’t produce the full surround sound experience, but was still balanced enough for me to know, more or less, where each sound was originating from. The bass assisted in bringing the experience to life once again, and if you’re thinking that I’m hyping it up a tad, I can only wish you to experience it before passing judgment. While the H6 produces deep bass one wishes for, the only missing factor between it and a set of speakers of equal quality is the feeling of bass passing through your body and vibrating into your chair, something I’m sure your neighbours won’t be pleased about. And if you’d really, I mean really, wanted to be overcritical in passing judgement, the sound production does favour bass and other midrange sounds over vocals, but there aren’t many that would be so critical.
I loved the simplicity of the BeoPlay H6 with DJ Khaled. While the minimalistic design speaks volumes, the simplicity in plug-and-play and producing quality sound is extremely pleasing. Often times you can forget that the headphones are still on your head long after you’ve completed an album playback or even a movie. Be careful, then, when leaving your seat and not removing the headphones. The BeoPlay H6 doesn’t quite fit in with the normal B&O design and traditional buyer, but it’s a step in a direction to provide mass appeal. And with the performance to boot, your typical buyer may just be interested in spending one or two moments with the set of headphones in preference to their surround sound setup.
The unit will set you back an approximate R8,000, the price of a good laptop. There may also be a good few brands competing in the same space as the BeoPlay H6, with varying prices and audio quality. But, at the end of the day, there’s very little to fault about this pair of headphones.