Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX Review

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As a long-time fan of Bang & Olufsen products, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the brand’s latest true wireless ANC earbuds, the Beoplay EX. After spending the past few weeks with them, I’m happy to report these live up to the Danish brand’s reputation for high-end headphones, and a big thanks to B&O for sending these out for review.

Design

Bang & Olufsen has always put an emphasis on design and sound quality with its audio products, a legacy that continues with the Beoplay EX. From the moment you first touch the aluminum case it’s obvious that the Beoplay EX is a premium product. There’s no plastic here, only an aluminum shell with a rubberized bottom to allow for wireless charging.

Once inside of the case, B&O does make use of plastic for the earbuds in an effort to make them lightweight and durable. Although, there is a touch of luxury by utilizing glass on the buds for the touch-sensitive controls. Furthermore, the earbuds have an IP57 waterproof rating allowing them to stand up to a little rain and sweat.

Comfort

Without a doubt, the Beoplay EX are the most comfortable earbuds I’ve used in years. I have smaller ear canals that most brands overlook and require me to resort to third-party ear tips just to get a comfortable fit.

Not so with the Beoplay EX, where I was pleasantly surprised to find that the smallest ear tips fit perfectly. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s been years since that has happened—and not only did it make the Beoplay EX comfortable to wear for hours—but it also improved the active noise cancellation as well.

User experience

The comfortable fit and precise touch controls go a long way towards making the Beoplay EX pleasant to use, but that’s not all they have to offer. There’s also a wear sensor that automatically pauses music if you remove a bud from your ears and beam forming mics for clearer calls. I suspect placing the mics at the end of the stems helped a lot here by getting them closer to your mouth. Whatever it is, I received positive feedback over the quality when making calls.

Plus, B&O also has a great app that provides you with a convenient way to toggle ANC or transparency mode on or off, as well as a way to check the battery level of the buds and case or adjust the equalizer.

Sound quality

The Beoplay EX utilizes Qualcomm’s latest aptX Adaptive audio technology for transferring audio from your phone to the earbuds. It can reach bit rates nearly as high as aptX HD but still far lower than high res codecs such as LDAC. The real benefit of aptX Adaptive is that it can dynamically change the bit rate to reduce latency that often results in audio lag when watching videos or playing games. This also makes it better for battery life than higher bit-rate codecs. While I would have really liked to have seen LDAC as an option at this price point, aptX Adaptive is a good compromise given its benefits.

Bang & Olufsen has a reputation for premium sound quality which is well deserved. I’ve been a fan of B&O’s products for years now and the Beoplay EX is the latest to impress me with its warm, clean, and balanced signature sound.

Out of the box, the Beoplay EX has an open sound stage with full-bodied bass that round off the highs for a mellow sound that makes it easy to listen to for hours without fatigue. I found there was plenty of separation in tracks, however, I prefer a little more brightness than the default tuning provides.

Fortunately, the Bang & Olufsen app provides a unique equalizer that allows you to tweak the sound to your liking. I call it unique because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, and while it’s effective, audiophiles may not be a fan because it’s difficult to make accurate changes and requires some guesswork when adjusting.

Overall, I think most music fans will be more than pleased with the audio quality from the Beoplay EX earbuds, unless you prefer a bright crisp sound signature.

ANC

The active noise cancellation on the Beoplay EX works wonderfully. I wouldn’t say they reach the levels of Sony or Bose, but they get very close. Of course, some of this is probably aided by the fantastic fit, as the comfortable ear tips go a long way toward passively blocking noise.

Either way, you won’t have any complaints about the noise cancellation capabilities of the Beoplay EX earbuds, as it nearly matches what you’d get from the leaders in this category.

Additionally, the Beoplay EX also offers a transparency mode to make it easy to have a quick conversation without removing the buds, and there are settings to reduce wind noise for all of you runners and cyclists out there.

Battery life

The Beoplay EX earbuds are rated for up to six hours with ANC enabled or eight hours with ANC disabled. Along with the charging case, that adds up to 20 hours total with ANC or 28 hours without ANC.

In my usage, I was seeing a little over five hours with ANC enabled and that was a little disappointing. There are earbuds out there with much more listening time that cost far less. Regardless, besides some battery anxiety and charging more frequently than I’d like, the Beoplay EX will last long enough for most people unless you’re on a long flight.

Thankfully, the buds can be used independently if you’re making a lot of calls and want to split time between them to extend the battery life.

Final thoughts

There’s a lot to love about the Beoplay EX earbuds. Between the high-end wireless charging case, rich sound quality, adaptive noise cancellation, and fully featured app—there’s not much more to ask for. The only caveats are that the battery life is a little lacking if you want to use ANC regularly and the $400 price tag. Otherwise, the Beoplay EX is a premium pair of true wireless ANC earbuds with a price to match.

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