The high-end Danish speaker maker Bang & Olufsen, affectionately known by its initials B&O, has long been known for building audio and video components sporting stylish, striking designs that command very high prices.

Hit hard by the 2008 economic crisis, B&O has since refocused on its traditional strengths, including building a solid line of headphones. The B&O Beoplay H9i reviewed here are the company’s flagship over-the-ear, active noise-cancelling cans.

Styling and features

The Beoplay H9i are simply gorgeous. These are stylish, eye-catching headphones that scream premium quality and first-class construction. They come in two colors: Traditional black and natural. The latter was the color of my review pair.
B&O Beoplay H9i black Bang & Olufsen
B&O Beoplay H9i headphones in black.

The headband’s arms are made from brushed aluminum anodized to match the headphones’ color. The aluminum arms slide in and out in a perfectly smooth, infinitely adjustable motion. This is no clunky, click-adjustable headband. Best of all, once you set the headphone’s arm positions, they don’t slide or move.

You’ll find similar high-quality materials throughout this product. The top of the headband is genuine cowhide, for example, while the ear pads consist of ultra comfortable memory form enveloped in soft lambskin. Should you ever need to, you can replace the entire ear pads for $70.

The ear cups are adjustable and fold flat. You’ll need to look hard to see the fine line at the base of the headband arms indicating these are two pieces of metal joined together. The folding ear cups accommodate both travel and adjustments to fit the contour of your face. The folding motion is silky smooth.
The H9i’s ear pads are removeable and replaceable. Theo Nicolakis / IDG
The Beoplay H9i’s ear pads are removable and replaceable.

The acoustically transparent fabric covering the electrodynamic 40mm drivers is printed with a large “L” or “R,” so you can easily discern which is left and which is right. The ear cups are made of a plastic polymer and capped with matching brushed aluminum B&O branded discs. The plastic polymer doesn’t feel cheap by any means.

In contrast to the cowhide leather on top, the headband’s underside has a cloth covering with four quadrants of padding, which doesn’t seem to do much. These headphones tended to become uncomfortable after long listening sessions. After about an hour, I’d feel pressure at the very top of my head, forcing me to either take the headphones off for a bit or loosen them. This was a bit of a disappointment considering how comfortable the ear pads are.