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NOW Playing: Beoplay EQ | Noise Cancelling True Wireless Earphones
The Beoplay EQ are Bang & Olufsen’s first true wireless earbuds with adaptive active noise cancellation (ANC) and despite their eye-popping price tag, they deliver on most critical fronts.
Everything about them screams premium. From their sleek looks to gorgeously detailed audio and compact carrying case. The buds themselves are a bit on the chunky side, but once settled in they sit comfy and snug without cramping your ears. Touch controls on the outside of the buds let you toggle through ANC modes, playback, volume and call answer/reject. Like most touch controls on earbuds, they can be a little clumsy and it’s faster to control stuff on the device the buds are connected to.
Audio is crisp and gorgeously detailed. The Beoplay EQ are able to pick up on subtle nuances in dense tracks, delivering an expressive sound scape. Their default tone is fairly neutral as is the case with most B&O headphones. If that’s not your jam, you can play around with the EQ setting on the B&O app and find a tone that suits your music. With ANC on, the soundstage shrinks a bit, creating a wardrobe effect. However, the Beoplay EQ still manages to maintain a decent amount of clarity and separation between frequencies.
Speaking of ANC, it’s very good but not market-leading in any way. At home or in the office, the Beoplay EQ will do extremely well to drone out the chatter and hubbub around you. They’re fantastic to use during calls, ensuring you sound crisp and clear. On busy streets they’re not as effective with wind and traffic noises creeping in.
Battery life is also decent, giving you around 6-7 hours of playback on a single charge, which extends to 20-ish hours with the case. Acceptable, but nothing to write home about.
The Beoplay EQ are not perfect. They don’t have industry-leading ANC like Bose, and their fiddly controls and fit leave a lot to be desired. But their impressive audio performance alone make them one of the best true wireless earbuds you can buy - if you can stomach the price.
The Beoplay EQ are available to buy now for a retail price of AED 2,130. They come in two color variants - Black Anthracite and Sand Gold Tone. We have the sand gold unit for review, which looks absolutely gorgeous.
They’re priced well in excess of most well-regarded alternative true wireless earbuds from Sony, Bose and even Bowers and Wilkins. For that price you’d expect the Beoplay EQ to hit every mark if you want to justify spending that much on a pair of wireless earbuds. If you’re looking for wallet-friendly wireless buds with ANC with decent sound consider the Sony WF-1000XM4.
Simply put, the Beoplay EQ looks elegant and luxe. Bang & Olufsen have managed to make a fairly chunky pair of comma-shaped buds easy to handle with subtle contours around the rim and refined metal accents on the sides.
At 8g per earbud, they are heftier than most wireless earbuds, but once you plug them in your ears they don’t feel too bulky. They will stick out of your ears a fair bit but not too prominently. You get silicone ear tips of varying sizes in the box and a memory foam ear tip dubbed Comply for a more secure fit and additional sound isolation.
We found ourselves mostly using the Comply tips for a tighter fit since the Beoplay EQ on their own don’t sit in as snug as other earbuds, which takes some getting used to. During our testing they never fell out, but on more than one occasion we had to fidget a bit to make sure they were sitting in right. It’s a minor quirk but it’s a good thing as they don’t end up cramping your ears or lead to fatigue when worn for several hours. Given the quirky fit and a dust and waterproof rating of IP54 they aren’t particularly suitable for fitness and sport activities
You can control all sorts of things using the touch panels on the outside of the earbuds. Tapping on the left earbud lets you switch between the three noise cancelling modes, while tapping on the right lets you control playback and a long hold lets you adjust volume. It’s nice to have convenient shortcuts but in practice we found the touch controls to be imprecise and more cumbersome to use than tweaking things manually on the connected device. For instance, when trying to increase the volume our initial tap would get registered as play/pause and when it finally gets around to adjusting volume we were never sure on when to let go and ending up at a higher volume than desired.
The Beoplay EQ’s carrying/charging case is pleasantly compact and lighter than you’d expect thanks to its aluminum frame. When held side by side with the AirPods Pro case (with earbuds in) it’s noticeably more lightweight. It’s finished in a matte texture that feels polished and grippy to ensure it won’t idly slip out of your hands. The bottom houses a thin rubber-coated base optimized for wireless Qi charging with the upside of adding additional grip when placed on slippery surfaces.
The Beoplay EQ features Bluetooth 5.2, allowing you to connect the earbuds to up to two devices simultaneously and they’re fairly easy to set up. Along with the usual AAC and SBC codecs they also support hi-res aptX Adaptive for CD quality music.
The accompanying Bang & Olufsen smartphone app acts as a basic control center, giving you a glimpse of battery status and limited options to tweak sound profiles. One glaring omission from the app is the ability to choose a noise-cancelling mode, which is disappointing as getting it done solely through touch controls and perplexing audible cues can be mildly infuriating.
Once you’ve set them up it’s time to crank up some tunes. This is where the Beoplay EQ impresses the most. They’re extremely easy to listen to with a wide soundstage and plenty of headroom. Tracks are rich with detail and definition with a level of clarity and bite you don’t get in most wireless earbuds with the exception of maybe Bowers & Wilkins.
Like most Bang & Olufsen audio products, the Beoplay EQ defaults to natural and neutral tones with an emphasis on midrange frequencies and warmth in vocals while still retaining a separation of information. There’s a vigor and enthusiasm in the presentation without going too sharp making each song you listen to feel complete and super enjoyable.
Listening to New Person Same Mistakes by Tame Impala on the Beoplay EQ lets you appreciate the stereo field and depth of the song in a fresh way keeping vocals clear, drums clean and the bass deep. The default settings don’t dig deep enough for bass, which can easily be tweaked in the app, but it’s textured enough to give a satisfying groove. Everything in the midrange gets deliciously resolved, giving guitars a crunch without overpowering vocals and maintaining low-end stability with an enthusiasm and energetic drive.
The Beoplay EQ are decked out with advanced noise-cancelling tech that works extremely well to drone out surrounding sounds. There are six omni-directional mics and a dedicated DSP chip for adaptive ANC that promise to automatically adjust noise-cancelling levels as you move between different surroundings.
There’s a transparency mode that filters in some of the outside noises into what you’re listening to. It is slightly more suppressive than the transparency mode on AirPods Pro but effective at letting you keep an ear on what’s happening near you.
You can toggle between the various modes - ANC, transparency and everything off - by tapping on the left earbud, where you’ll hear subtle audio cues indicating the mode you’ve selected. Identifying each audio cue can be perplexing since they’re so subtle. And with no way to switch these modes via the app, you’re left toggling back and forth till you find your desired mode.
As for the ANC quality, it’s higher quality than what you’d see in most competing wireless earbuds but it isn’t perfect. At home or in closed spaces, the Beoplay EQs can effectively shut out noise, letting you focus on what you’re listening to. Out and about however, the ANC isn’t as apt at drowning out wind and traffic noises like earbuds from Sony and Bose.
Where ANC really shines on the Beoplay EQ is during calls. It is effective at cutting out ambient sounds and isolating voices, letting you hear others distinctly and ensuring that your voice goes across with crystal clarity.
When listening to music, turning ANC on noticeably closes the soundscape resulting in a cramped listening experience. Although it’s not as bad as what you generally see in other wireless earbuds where bass is unpleasantly boosted, choking out higher frequencies. Despite the drop-off in openness, the Beoplay Es hold on to an impressive amount of vocal and treble clarity. It’s just not as rich and balanced as what you would get with ANC turned off.
The Beoplay EQ offers fairly standard battery stamina (albeit a little less than competing earbuds), which varies a little depending on how you use them. With ANC turned on and volume at around 80%, we got around 7 hours of usage, slightly less than what B&O claims - 7.5 hours. Without ANC, the buds last an hour longer. If you like to crank volume to the max, expect the battery life to drop by an hour or so.
The case is capable of charging the earbuds twice over giving you around 20 hours of playtime in total. It features a rubber-coated base that’s optimized for wireless charging and we had no issues getting it to work across several wireless charging pads. When using a USB-C cable for battery top-up, the case takes less than an hour to charge to full. Though if you’re in a pinch, a twenty minute charge can give you two hours of use.