I don’t consider myself an audiophile but I seem to have accumulated a fair number of premium earphones over time. My most recent purchase is Bang & Olufsen’s first wireless earphones, the Beoplay H5. Here’s my review, after about four months of almost daily use.
DESIGN 4.0 / 5.0
Two things about these earbuds clinched the deal for me: gorgeous looks and great audio quality. Conceptualized by the award-winning Danish designer Jakob Wagner, the earpieces are made of textured rubber and polymer with a polished aluminum plate bearing the B&O marking on top. A braided textile cord connects the earpieces, with the in-line remote located near the left end. Each earbud contains a magnet, so you can connect both ends and wear the Beoplay H5 like a necklace when it’s not in use.
Another unique design feature is the charging cube with grooves for docking the earbuds. Also included in the box are silicon tips in four sizes, premium Comply Sport tips in three sizes, three cable clips, a carrying pouch, and a user guide.
HARDWARE 4.0 / 5.0
Each bud is built with a 6.4 mm electro-dynamic driver with a frequency range between 20 to 20,000 Hz. Also contained in the earpiece housing are two rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries (one on each side), with a capacity of 50 mAh for up to 5 hours of play time. Latching the two magnetized earbuds automatically turns off the device.
The charging cube also contains magnets to charge the earbuds. A small indicator light blinks orange while charging and green when the batteries are fully charged, a process that takes about 2 hours.
Featuring the Bluetooth 4.2 technology, the Beoplay H5 supports aptX, aptX-LL, and AAC codecs for high-resolution audio output. The in-line remote houses an omni-directional mic, a multifunction power button in the center, and volume up/down buttons on either end.
USER EXPERIENCE 3.5 / 5.0
If I were evaluating the Beoplay H5 on audio quality alone, it would merit at least a 4.5-star rating, as this is probably one of the best pairs of Bluetooth headsets I have ever used. Out of the box, it delivers clear, crisp, balanced, and natural audio reproduction with sparkling highs and warm lows. Perhaps a function of age, I find that my tastes have moved away from heavy thumping bass to more well-defined trebles and mid-tones. The Beoplay H5 delivers, with distinctive clarity and separation, as is only to be expected from a Bang & Olufsen audio device.
The accompanying app allows you to customize the audio output to your taste. Using the ToneTouch function, you can adjust the tonality by dragging a white dot through quadrants labeled warm, excited, relaxed, and bright. It also allows you to increase the spaciousness of the sound stage. The app is an essential component of the entire Beoplay H5 experience as it lets you control how you want your music to sound, depending on your activity or mood. Preset profiles include Commute, Clear, Workout, and Podcast.
Several irritants detract from the audio excellence of these earphones. First, the odd shape of the buds make it difficult to find a perfect fit inside the ear. Perhaps because of the added weight of the remote on the left side, the left earpiece has a tendency to fall out. Not a major shortcoming, but irritating when you have to keep pushing it back into your ear.
One of my major considerations in choosing a Bluetooth headset is that it should be multi-point, for simultaneous pairing with two phones. I wrongly assumed that the Beoplay H5 would have this feature, only to discover that while it could be paired with several devices, it can connect only with one device at a time.
There are also a couple of reasons why the Beoplay H5 is not my go-to Bluetooth earpiece when I’m on the go and need constant access to my phone. For one, since it turns off automatically after 15-minutes of non-use or when you latch the magnetic ends together, you will need to physically turn it on then give it a few seconds to connect to your phone before you can answer an incoming call. Also, since battery life lasts only about 5 hours of play time, it won’t see you through an entire day.
VALUE 3.0 / 5.0
The Beoplay H5 retails for around PHP 14,990—almost double the price of two other brands of Bluetooth stereo earphones I was quite happy with in the past. For pure listening pleasure, this is definitely a best-in-class contender. However, it lacks features and functionalities offered by other, lower-priced competitors, thus detracting from its overall value package.
For audiophiles willing to pay the price, the Beoplay H5’s sound quality should more than make up for its other shortcomings.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE May 2017 issue
Words by Maribelle Alba