The future of headphone technology is true wireless innovation. At least that’s how premium brands like Bang & Olufsen picture it. This article will compare two of their headphones at luxury price points: the Beoplay H9 and H9i. However, if you’re looking for budget wireless headphones, check these out instead:
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 and H9i, released in the same year, are built with the same materials and are very similar in every category, with some differences that can make or break the buyer’s decision. The Beoplay H9i has a better battery life and has a more exciting sound profile, though if you’re not quickly speeding through more than 14 hours of battery life, then upgrading from the Beoplay H9 might not be practical.
- The H9i has longer battery life.
- The H9i has a slightly better sound performance.
- The H9i has Bluetooth aptX.
- The H9i has a talk-through mode with voice prompts and commands.
Because Bang & Olufsen uses high-end materials that make its headphones feel luxurious, the Beoplay H9 and H9i are designed to fit around the ears for optimal comfort instead of being on top. The look and feel of the stitched leather, canvas, and metal give great value to headphone enthusiasts who hate most headphones’ plastic build.
Both models come in black and gray-and-tan colors with a minimalist Scandinavian feel to evoke luxury. While the underside of the band isn’t as heavily cushioned with memory foam pads, they still feel incredibly comfortable on top of the head. The earcups also swivel at the base.
The earpads and battery pack are also replaceable, which is excellent news, considering most Bluetooth headphones have sealed battery packs that render them unusable once the battery starts malfunctioning.
There are no external buttons on both the Beoplay H9 and H9i, and the playback and volume buttons are located on the right ear’s touchpad. The user will need to tap to play/pause music and swipe to skip a track. Sliding your finger clockwise and counterclockwise around the outer edge of the pad will control the volume. To activate noise cancellation, you need to swipe downward.
Both headphones’ right earcup also houses the USB-C port for charging, an audio cable jack, pinhole mics, and status LEDs. While this may seem practical, it actually makes the whole user interface a bit fussy, especially since there are no external buttons. However, the touch and swipe-based controls are easy to learn and are easy to do.
Unlike the Beoplay H9, the Beoplay H9i has a talk-through mode. This lets the user use voice prompts and commands to move around the headphones’ functions and switch from music to news and weather.
Check here the Guides, Manuals & Software for Beoplay H9.
The Beoplay H9’s sound performance has mixed reviews from audiophiles, depending on whether they’re particular about the bass quality. The bass might be a bit exaggerated, which is not bad in itself, though in this case, it doesn’t make up for it with the highs and mids either. The bass impact, however, makes billboard songs more exciting with boosted bass and some serious thump.
The Beoplay H9i has a similar sound performance with intense sub-bass content. It also encounters similar problems with balancing the higher frequency presence with the deep bass. If you listen to music with less deep bass, you can get a sense of the overall sound signature. Percussion doesn’t sound too thunderous, and baritone vocals have the perfect mix of rich low-mids and crispy high-mids.
While the Beoplay H9i can do a better job reproducing Bang & Olufsen’s signature sound, there’s no significant difference when they can both do a fine job at creating a detailed sound stage, reproducing vocals, and emphasizing accompanying instruments.
The Beoplay H9 comes with a 14-hour battery life, which is already suitable for wireless headphones. It can go up to 23 hours with passive use and without active noise cancellation. It only takes about 2.5 hours to charge fully.
The Beoplay H9i takes about 3 hours to charge, though it has an additional 4 hours of battery life. It can give up to 18 hours of Bluetooth playtime from a single charge with noise cancellation activated and up to 25 hours without noise cancellation.
Both headphones have removable batteries, and you can replace them with an additional Bang & Olufsen battery that you can purchase as an add-on.
Compare Bang & Olufsen's headphones and find the perfect match for you.
The Beoplay H9 has excellent active noise cancellation that can rival Sony and Bose headphones and drown out most of the noise from the street. However, when you turn on the noise cancellation, you’ll feel a slight pressure on your ears, which might be a bit bothersome.
Both the Beoplay H9 and H9i don’t have adjustable noise cancellation levels. With the H9i, however, turning on the active noise cancellation can affect the audio, and some users have reported hearing a high-pitched hissing sound.
Bang & Olufsen’s active noise cancellation for both headphones is arguably their best feature because they were highly effective at mitigating ambient noise and drowning out the noise from different kinds of crowded environments. They’ll do well in crowded airports, subways, and busy streets.
Despite being wireless headphones, the Beoplay H9 and H9i don’t come with a convenient multipoint Bluetooth pairing. This means you’ll have to pair and unpair the headphones with each device manually.
Both headphones support Bluetooth 4.2 and the AAC codec with a 10-meter range, but the H9 doesn’t support the more advanced aptX or LDAC. The Beoplay H9i, however, beats out the Beoplay H9 and supports Bluetooth aptX.
You may also check the Guides, Manuals & Software for Beoplay H9i.
Because the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 and H9i were released in the same year as part of an exclusive line of Bluetooth headphones, there’s not much difference that will really weigh in on your decision. With differences such as a 2-3 hour battery life gap and the use of voice commands, it will all come down to whether you’re willing to pay more for these added perks.
Here is a summary of our comparison:
- Design: Draw
- User Interface: Beoplay H9i because of the talk-through mode.
- Sound performance: Beoplay H9i by a hairline
- Battery life: Beoplay H9i
- Active noise cancellation: Draw
- Multi-pairing: Beoplay H9i
- Price: Beoplay H9