The B&O Beoplay EX Are as Fantastic As You’d Want $650 Earbuds to Be

The B&O Beoplay EX Are as Fantastic As You’d Want $650 Earbuds to Be

Bang & Olufsen is a brand associated with luxury. It’s not uncommon for a Bang & Olufsen customer to spend more on a set of speakers than most of us make in a year, but not everything they sell costs a kidney, such as the Beoplay EX wireless earbuds.

While I’m guilty myself of sometimes not seeing past the $76,950 floor-standing speakers when recommending speakers/headphones to friends and family, the luxury sound folk have some more affordable kit out there. After spending a week with the Beoplay EX wireless earbuds, the quality is all I keep talking about, and without the R&D Bang & Olufsen do thanks to those higher-end items, such an experience wouldn’t be accessible to someone like me.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX wireless earbuds

The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX wireless earbuds have been out for a little while now – they offer a waterproof, full bass experience, with clear sounds, pro-level noise-cancelling capabilities and a respectable 6-hour battery life.

They’re on the higher end of the pricing schedule, at $650. Their closest competitors I’d consider to be the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 ($429.95), Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds ($298), the Apple AirPods Pro 2 ($399), the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro ($349) and the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 TWS Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones ($599).

The Beoplay EX wireless earbuds are more expensive than their competitors, so are they worth the extra investment?

Look & feel

As you’d expect, the buds and the case they come in are gorgeous. The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX wireless earbuds are available in black, gold and a black-turquoise hybrid. B&O markets the buds as possessing a ‘jewellery-like beauty’ and I’d have to agree – they feel beautiful. The case is the perfect size for your hand and the buds themselves aren’t heavy, yet they still feel solid.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The earbuds come with medium tips fitted, but the box includes a large pair, a small pair, an extra small pair and a ‘comply’ pair. Comply is basically foam tips with a B&O tech called ‘Isolation Plus’.

With ears on the smaller side, the small were a tad too big, but I found them more comfortable than the XS tips. There’s a little bit of a cork-like sensation, but that’s to be expected with noise-cancelling earbuds and I wouldn’t call them uncomfortable, either. I also don’t feel overwhelmed with how my voice sounds when plugged up.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX
Model (left) me (right). Image: Bang & Olufsen/Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

My only complaint is how long the stems are – they’re only a little bit longer than the AirPods Pro 2, but that still doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love a smaller stemmed pair of earbuds. As you can see in that pic above, they push down on my earring and if I was to tilt it in more, it would hit against my cheek.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX (left) Apple AirPods Pro 2 (right). Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Setup & ease of use

After installing and setting up an account via the Bang & Olufsen mobile app (you can, thankfully, log in using your Apple/Google ID), connecting the Beoplay EX buds is as straightforward as you’d want. Including updating the software, downloading the app through to listening to music via the buds took about 14 minutes.

I usually have a lot of complaints with apps, mostly on the UI. The B&O app is probably the most beautiful and feature-packed sound device apps I’ve ever used. The only reason the AirPods are trumping Bang & Olufsen is that they don’t require app real estate on your phone, given they’re contained within Settings for iPhone users.

There are a tonne of features to fine-tune your sound. You can choose from the pre-set sound modes or move around the little knob to find your sweet spot. The app is also where you turn on or off noise cancellation and transparency mode and fiddle with call settings. But, the B&O app also has in-built radio (B&O radio and TuneIn) and if you have a Deezer subscription, you can also access your profile in-app.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX
Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

The touch controls on the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX earbuds are intuitive and easy to get used to. I didn’t experience accidental activation when pushing them back into my ears like I have using other earbuds.

Like music to my ears

My new first song to test while reviewing earbuds/headphones/speakers is Bad Guy by Billie Eilish, not usually something I’d choose for enjoyment, but it’s definitely something that shows the capability of what I’m using. Even with volume almost at max, the repetitive bass beats didn’t make me flinch with every bang and there was no bleeding between sounds. Her vocals were clear, not drowned out by the backing track and the noise-cancelling meant everyone in the office around me was but a distant memory.

There’s a 9.2mm driver in each of the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX earbuds, resulting in a truly clear and balanced sound that could handle every genre I threw at them. With instrument-heavy songs, the drums, guitars, bass and vocals were all clearly separate, with no faked sound or one overpowering another. Pop vocals were clear, and the Beoplay EX handled the soft and loud changes present in something like Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley without needing a volume change.

How the B&O buds handle nuanced volume changes is really noticeable, and they do a really brilliant job of serving up the best sound from a track that they possibly could.

While it was fun fiddling around with the volume controls for each ‘type’ of listening experience, it isn’t necessary. You might find your own sweet spot, however, and it’s great being able to change the ‘type’ when shifting things into podcast mode.

Although the noise-cancelling is good, it could be better. Walking along a busy Sydney street during peak hour, I could still hear horns and the wooshing of a bus going by. On the bus, all of the sounds around me bled through a little, but not in a way that ruined the experience. On the other side of things, with transparency mode activated, I couldn’t hear people talking to me while at my desk. The overall sensation of swapping from transparency to ANC was noticeable, a very clear audible difference, but transparency didn’t do what other brands have done, such as Apple with the AirPods Pro 2.

It’s not bad by any means, it’s just that the sound is so perfect, the noise-cancelling could be better.

They handle phone calls well, no real complaints while driving with the windows down from the other end and in an office environment, the calls were crisp and clear and it was only while walking to the station along a busy street that I felt it was hard to hear. My voice went through crystal clear, thanks to the three mics in each of the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX earbuds, no doubt.

Battery life is OK

Bang & Olufsen reckon you’ll get up to six hours of battery life with active noise-cancellation on, with another two hours added on top if your usage is without ANC. You’ll also get up to 20 hours off a single charge when you include the charging case (you’ll need to be listening on average at a ‘moderate’ volume).

My experience was pretty on-par, but I did get to 6.5 hours in my second use – even with me leaving them out of the case when not in my ears. I had to charge them (including the case) after about 16 hours of use, but noise-cancellation was on and volume definitely wasn’t at ‘moderate’. The battery drop is also quite spaced out, around 50 per cent down after three hours and then a gradual reduction after that, too.

This isn’t much different to the Beoplay EX’s competitors, it’s become the standard, despite me wanting more.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX, the verdict

The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX wireless earbuds are genuinely the best in-ear noise-cancelling buds I’ve ever used from a sound perspective. They handle range beautifully, level out instruments in a way I’ve only heard with over-ear headphones and they look and feel gorgeous.

They’re a little too big for those of us with smaller ears and for the cash, I’d also love Google/Siri voice integration.

The only thing holding me back from telling you these need to be your next pair of wireless earbuds is their price. They’re still under $700, I know, but it would be irresponsible of me to not highlight that while they’re great, they’re not $200-$300 more great than their competitors.

If you’re not overly bothered by the price, and you’d like to experience a little bit of luxury, it’s hard to look past the Beoplay EX wireless earbuds.

Image: Asha Barbaschow/Gizmodo Australia

Where to buy the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX wireless earbuds?

Bang & Olufsen $650 | Premium Sound $650 | SSense $650

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