Bang and Olufsen Beoplay E8 2.0 Review
Discrete colours and a surprisingly decent battery life elevate these unbalanced true wireless headphones.
Bang and Olufsen has long been known for its suite of luxurious audio products that deliver high-quality sound in a visually striking package. Its mission has always been to deliver “honest music reproduction” and has been known to give its designers a lot of freedom to experiment with new designs and technologies; resulting in a suite of products over the years that’s as easy on the eyes as it is on the ears.
However, if there’s one thing that’s defined the last 10 years in audio, it’s the shift to wireless technologies. True wireless isn’t replacing the traditional wired experience (yet) but the growing interest in wire-free solutions has resulted in a focus on the evolution of Bluetooth technology and compact battery solutions. In short, aesthetics and acoustics will only get you so far.
So as we edge closer to the end of the decade, let’s see if B&O has managed to keep up with the true wireless trend in our Beoplay E8 2.0 review.
What we liked about the Beoplay E8 2.0 earbuds
- Solid sound profiles and outstanding upper-mids and highs
- Discrete and sharp design and colours
- Battery is better than most
The highs and lows
B&O’s level of audio expertise comes through loud and clear with the Beoplay E8 2.0 earbuds. There’s a fine-tuned balance delivered by the 5.7mm dynamic drivers that you don’t find in a lot of earbuds. Out of the box, there’s a very warm and natural feel to the Beoplay’s audio quality but there is also a selection of sound profiles in the B&O companion app that help customise your listening experience. What I appreciate most about the B&O app is the practical naming convention of its sound profiles. Rather than abstract audio jargon, there are profiles for different environments (commuting etc.) and if you really want to tailor your profile, there’s a custom option too.
The crystal clear quality of the Beoplay’s upper-mid to high-range frequencies can’t be understated. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the earbuds’ low-range delivery.
I’ve found that no matter how I tailor the settings, the Beoplay E8 2.0s don’t seem to have much oomph in the low-range. Tracks with punchier bass and synth feel a little underwhelming. There’s something missing here that holds the Beoplay E8 2.0 earbuds back from reaching the levels that Sony and Sennheiser have managed to achieve in the true wireless space.
So how does that sound? Well, the best practical example I can give is what it’s like to listen to Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe with the Beoplay E8 2.0 earbuds. CJR’s angelic vocals and the big anticipatory ‘whoosh’ that bridges the chorus sound phenomenal. But the thumping, adrenaline-pumping kick drum feels muted. The overall listening experience is just a little unbalanced. If you’re into your EDM or require some hearty synth to get you through a workout, it’s hard to recommend B&O’s otherwise stellar buds.
None of this is helped by the lack of any kind of noise cancellation. There’s an intimacy to using Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless or Sony’s WF-1000XM3; noise-cancelling earbuds that do a great job of replicating the isolated audio experience of using over-ear headphones. Despite the Beoplay E8 2.0’s ‘commute’ mode, there are much better buds when it comes to blocking out noise.
Discrete colours and fit
It might seem odd that we bang on about the ‘look’ of wireless earbuds almost as much as the sound but aesthetics have rarely been a strong suit for audio hardware manufacturers. Even Sony’s WF-1000XM3 earbuds aren’t as kind on the eyes as they are on the ears. Sennheiser’s slick silver True Wireless Momentum earbuds are classy but not everyone’s idea of a stylish set of buds. The Beoplay E8 2.0s, on the other hand, have a sophisticated design and a selection of more neutral colours that, most importantly, don’t stick out like a sore thumb.
There are five colours available: Indigo Blue, Pink, Black, Natural and Limestone (the earbuds we reviewed).
The Limestone colour is a sort of a pale shade of pink that’s reminiscent of makeup products like foundation or concealer. Consequently, it blends in with my natural skin colour and often people won’t realise I’m actually wearing headphones. Of course, that means you will find yourself in a lot of one-sided conversations when wearing the Beoplay E8 2.0s, which is something anyone with long hair can relate to.
Some people like to stand out. And if you’re forking out nearly $500 for a pair of headphones, there’s absolutely no shame in wanting people to notice. If that’s your preference, you might want to opt for the Indigo Blue or Black or even something with a little brighter, like Bose’s colourful SoundSport Free range.
Battery life and charging time
Big battery in a small package
When it comes to battery life and charging time for the Beoplay E8 2.0s, you won’t hear any complaints from me. The general rule of thumb is this: the bigger the earbud and charging case, the bigger the battery size. Despite this, the Beoplay E8 2.0s touts a 4-hour battery life for each bud and four charges from the case, totalling 16 hours of battery life, which is outstanding considering the compact design of the buds and the charging case. It also takes roughly 2 hours for a full charge and uses USB-C.
In our tests so far, the Beoplay E8 2.0s have managed those numbers with ease. That tops the Sennheiser Momentum’s 12-hour battery life and with a design that’s just as compact. It doesn’t touch Sony’s top-tier 24-hour battery life but then again, not many buds do.
What could be better about the Beoplay E8 2.0 earbuds
- Touch control confusion and sensitivity
- No noise-cancelling and average ambient noise control
- Connection and motion sensor issues
I’ve reviewed a lot of true wireless earbuds recently so this is very much a me problem but each manufacturer handles its touch control scheme a little differently, which causes a lot of confusion when changing from one to another.
For context, here are the Beoplay E8 2.0 touch controls:
|Play/pause||Right bud||Single tap|
|Skip track||Right bud||Double-tap|
|Previous track||Left bud||Double-tap|
|Volume up||Right bud||Touch and hold|
|Volume down||Left bud||Touch and hold|
|Surrounds/pickup mic||Left bud||Single tap|
|Accept call||Left or right||Single tap|
|Reject call||Left or right||Touch and hold for 5 secs|
|End call||Left or right||Double-tap|
Firstly, there’s no reason to make reject and end call separate actions. Small gripe. Secondly, these controls are different across each set of buds which causes a fair bit of confusion. Again, that’s not a criticism of the Beoplay E8 2.0s, more of a plea to all earbud manufacturers: can we just settle on a single, intuitive touch control scheme, please?
I do have one criticism specific to the Beoplays E8 2.0s, however. They’re just a touch too sensitive. So often I’ll try for a single-tap command but if my hands are a little shaky or I’m on the move, the Beoplay E8 2.0s will pick it up as a double or triple tap.
Then there’s the motion sensor that’s meant to detect when you’ve removed and replaced an earbud. Many true wireless earbuds use an IR sensor to achieve pausing and playing your audio when it detects your skin. The motion sensor method is just nowhere near as reliable. It works so rarely, I’ve just given up on it and will pause and play my music straight from my phone instead. Not the most ideal true wireless experience.
No noise-cancellation and shoddy ambient sound
I’ve already mentioned the lack of noise cancellation. I think it’s probably the Beoplay E8 2.0s biggest drawback. There’s the natural noise-cancelling that you get with the included foam tips but after experiencing the noise-cancelling of the Sony WF-1000XM3 headphones and the ambient noise isolation of the Sennheiser Momentum buds, I’ve been a little spoiled for top-shelf noise suppression.
The Bang and Olufsen companion app has an option to increase ambient sound via the Beoplay’s external pickup mic but the quality using that method is muddy as hell. It has a cloudy, underwater feeling and I’ve found it to be more distraction than it’s worth when trying to have a conversation while wearing the buds.