B&O PLAY Earset Review
B&O PLAY Earset
- Great sound
- Great looks
- High quality materials
- Clever design - earbuds don't block ambient sounds
- Tweak sound in Beoplay app
- Not completely wireless
- Premium pricetag
Regular readers will be familiar with me raving about the incredible B&O PLAY E8 wireless earbuds. They have been an integral part of my training for the City2Surf in recent months.
While I think they are absolutely brilliant, I know that the earbud design is not to everyone’s liking. Although I find them extremely comfortable, I can understand why some people shy away from the style of earbud that is inserted into the ear. Fortunately, B&O PLAY (the sister company of the legendary Bang & Olufsen) headphones come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
B&O PLAY Earset – Style
One of the most intriguing offerings in the B&O PLAY range is the Earset.
The first and most obvious point about the Earset is their distinctive look. While they are thoroughly modern wireless earphones, the exterior design harks back to the original lines of the 1990s icon. That’s because, fundamentally the design philosophy behind the Earset earphones hasn’t changed. Other than the inclusion of wireless (Bluetooth) connectivity for extra convenience, the focus of the B&O PLAY Earset is to deliver high-quality sound through a supremely comfortable, well-fitted earpiece.
I love everything about the style of the Earset. It is the epitome of the form follows function philosophy. The Earset is crafted out of premium materials such as anodized aluminium, soft rubber, and a solid composite polymer housing. Each piece plays its part in delivering comfort and high quality sound through a set of earphones that is obviously intended to last for a long time. The fluid movement of the aluminium telescopic piston and ear hook allows for precise placement, which means that most users should be able to find a comfortable and secure position. I certainly did – I was able to wear the Earset earphones for extended periods of commuting and walking the streets of Sydney, with no discomfort whatsoever. In fact, there was a certain degree of disappointment when I finally made it back to my car and had to remove the earphones.
The B&O PLAY Earset shuns the era of fast fashion, instead choosing to shout “I’M BUILT TO LAST!” That suits me perfectly. When purchasing a product of this calibre, its longevity is a key factor for me. I hate spending money on something that becomes landfill in a couple of years. The B&O Earset design is as stunning now as it was in the 90s, and its timeless nature means I’ll be wearing the Earset well into the future.
B&O PLAY Earest – Sound
The craftmanship of the Earset is one thing, but let’s face it – earphones have one specific task that matters. They MUST sound good. In fact, when we are talking about earphones that cost in the region of $450 AUD to purchase, the need to sound a hell of a lot better than “good”! They need to be brilliant – they need to deliver a listening experience that is deeply satisfying, a listening experience that makes the user feel like they are hearing their music the way it is meant to be heard.
I’m no audiophile (just a dad who enjoys his music), but I found the sound from these beauties breathtaking. I paired the B&O PLAY Earset earphones with the highest quality Spotify Premium downloads on my phone. The result was a stunningly crisp listening experience that made me very happy indeed.
Janis Joplin’s solo vocals in Mercedes Benz came through with a raw beauty – every little detail of her incredible voice was on show. From there I moved onto Tracy Chapman’s Fast Car. Her vocals were deep and smooth, and well balanced with the distinctive guitar rift.
Sticking with the oldies, I moved on to Tusk by Fleetwood Mac. The whispered lyrics at the beginning were easy to pick up, even with the powerful drum beat (and then bass guitar) doing their thing. I sometimes struggle to hear these vocals, but with the Earset earphones it was a clear as I’ve ever heard it.
At this point I became acutely aware of the average age of the songs in my playlist. Frantically I went in search of something a little more “modern”. However, as I scrolled through my songs, I couldn’t help but play a few seconds of some absolute classics: The opening to Hooked on a Feeling, a couple of minutes of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, the choir-like start to Fat Bottomed Girls, the guitar-work of Lynyrd Skynrd’s Free Bird, the opening lines of House of the Rising Sun, the absolute brilliance of Jimi Hendrix in All Along the Watchtower… All of these songs are the soundtrack to my life and I couldn’t help but marvel at how brilliant they sounded as the B&O PLAY Earset effortlessly pumped them into my ears.
Eventually I gave up pretending that there might be something current hidden in my playlist, so I turned to the ever-reliable Spotify to fill me in on what the cool kids listen to today. I headed to the Top 50 Australia playlist and started from the top. Some young bloke called Dean Lewis belted out a surprisingly listenable song called Be Alright. Amazingly, I really enjoyed it! Again, the Earset demonstrated its ability to deliver an outstanding listening experience. The next song to come on was called Psycho. Spotify informed me that the song featured an artist by the name of Ty Dolla $ign. Kids these days.
While the song wasn’t really my cup of tea, the B&O PLAY Earset delivered it with great clarity, from the deep bass to the lyrics to the sharpness of the snare. If anything, the lyrics were a little too clear – I could actually understand most of what was being sung. Let’s just say Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize wasn’t being challenged by this effort. Finally, I listened to a song that rhymed the lyrics “Sushi from Japan” with “Jackie Chan”. At that point I gave up on modern music and retreated to what I know best.
The take home message from this experiment in listening was that while tastes in music vary (wildly), the B&O PLAY Earset earphones are more than capable of handling whatever is thrown at them. No matter what genre I landed on, my listening experience was quite astounding. All this through earphones connected via Bluetooth. It’s amazing to think how far Bluetooth connectivity has come to deliver such impressive sound.
B&O PLAY Earset – Genius Design
Part of the genius of the B&O PLAY Earset design is the way in which the speaker sits comfortably just inside the inner ear. Unlike most other earphones, the Earset doesn’t seal off the inner ear from the outside world. That design serves the dual purposes of allowing for a more comfortable fit in the ear, and also enabling the user to hear ambient noise.
Other earphones that I have tried (including the awesome Beoplay E8) can create a feeling of disconnect from the outside world once they are on (although the E8 can counteract this with Transparency Mode). The Earset left me feeling like I was still involved in the world around me – all the sounds of my commute and the City of Sydney were still there, even though my music was coming through crisp and clear.
The result is something quite special. It almost made me feel as if my music existed in the world around me, rather than just being pumped deep into my ears. I found it extremely pleasurable to experience my music in this way. At the train station I could still hear announcements. I could hear traffic and people talking and all of the other sounds of the city (great for awareness of surroundings) – but somehow it didn’t at all detract from my music, which was at the centre of my listening.
The danger of this (and consider this a warning to the rest of you) is that you forget that the music only exists in your ears. Commuters DO NOT take kindly to tone-deaf renditions of Never Tear Us Apart while they are trying to enjoy some peace and quiet after a long day’s work. You have been warned.
The ability to hear ambient noise while using the B&O PLAY Earset earphones is also handy for us parents. It’s fair to say that the rest of the family don’t share my (somewhat eclectic) tastes in music. Sometimes I need to resort to headphones if I want to enjoy my music, but I don’t want to be cut off from the rest of the family. It is also necessary to be able to hear such things as the baby monitor while relaxing with some tunes after the toddler has gone to bed.
If you prefer earbuds that block out the outside world and completely immerse you in your music, the Beoplay E8s are a better choice. However, if you like the idea of remaining a little connected to the world around you while still experiencing great quality sound, the B&O PLAY Earset are hard to beat!
B&O PLAY Earset – Connectivity and Battery Life
The B&O PLAY Earset earphones were simple to connect to my phone via Bluetooth. I had them paired in a matter of seconds. Pairing has been consistently reliable since – I simply turn on my phone’s Bluetooth, then turn on the Earset earphones and within a couple of seconds I’m good to go.
The B&O PLAY Earset consistently maintained the connection throughout my testing. I never had any issues with dropouts. Even when testing the earphones at home, I found that I could be a couple of rooms away from my phone before the connection began to stutter.
The Beoplay app provides an extra layer to the control of the Earset. The Tonetouch panel allows for quick and easy adjustments to the balance of the Earset, with four quadrants of Warm, Excited, Relaxed and Bright to choose from. I think this is a great feature for anyone who likes to finetune their listening experience, although to my amateur ear the default setting seemed spot on.
The Earset earphones charge via a USB-C to USB cable. B&O Play claim a battery life of approximately five hours and that seems pretty consistent with my own experience. Battery level can be monitored through the Beoplay app.
B&O PLAY Earset – Other Features
In addition to great sound, the B&O PLAY Earset sport some other handy features. The in-line anodised aluminium remote is consistent with the styling of the rest of the Earset and it features three buttons and microphone. This lets you control your music, take calls and activate Siri or Google Assistant on your smartphone.
Unlike the Beoplay E8 earbuds, the Earset isn’t truly wireless. There is a connecting wire between the two earpieces. I quite like this setup in my commuting headphones, because I feel less worried that I will lose and earbud. The E8s, however, are still my top pick to wear while running because of the complete lack of wires.
B&O PLAY Earset – Final Thoughts
The B&O PLAY Earset earphones are timelessly stylish, built to an impressive standard of quality and, most importantly, deliver a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. They may cost a bit when compared to some other wireless headphones, but for your money you get impressive sound and quality materials that feel built to last.
B&O PLAY sent Blog of Dad the Earset headphones free of charge, for the purpose of review. All of the opinions expressed in this post are my own and based on my experiences with the B&O PLAY Earset headphones.