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If you like Bang & Olufsen’s signature sound and have longed to capture it in a wireless in-ear monitor, look no further than B&O’s Beoplay E6.
This in-ear-headphone is beautiful to behold. The headphone’s main housing is encased in a textured rubber and polymer that B&O says is designed to resist sweat and moisture. The headphones have that tangible heft and feel that tells you there’s no cheap plastic here.
Form and function have always been hallmarks of B&O audio gear. You can choose from three colors: Sky, sand, or black. My review pair were the last.
The headphone’s color-matched cable sports a braided pattern that elevates the headphone’s styling and premium feel. During my review period, the braided cable resisted tangles and kinks no matter how many times I shoved the headphones into pockets of all sizes. Unfortunately, the braided cable also had a tendency to transfer the noise of it rubbing against my clothing. For a $300 headphone, that’s something that needs to be corrected.
A three-button inline remote control handles basic functions, and this component is fabricated from aluminum, further highlighting the E6’s premium look and feel.
Look closely and you’ll see a flat side on each earpiece. Those surfaces are magnetic, so if you touch one to the other, they’ll cling together. B&O implemented this slick design feature so you can wear the Beoplay E6 around your neck and reduce the risk of losing them when they aren’t in your ears. I loved this feature. And clicking the magnets together has another feature: the headphones automatically shut down to save battery power.
Speaking of power, the B&O Beoplay E6 are rated to deliver about five hours of playtime at moderate volume. If you haven’t used the headphones in 15 minutes, they’ll automatically shut down to further save power. There’s no way to use the headphones in a passive mode if the battery runs out, however, and it takes about two hours to recharge the headphones fully. I should also note that the Beoplay E6 comes with a proprietary charger. Lose the charger and you can’t power your headphones until you buy a $55 replacement.
Bluetooth and companion app
Bluetooth 4.2 is onboard. As with B&O’s other wireless headphones, you’ll find support for the AAC audio codec, but you won’t find support for alternative high-quality codecs such as aptX, aptX HD, or LDAC.
I had no troubles pairing the Beoplay E6 with my iPhone XS. I did notice, however, that once in a blue moon, Bluetooth connectivity would get finicky. After speaking with representatives at B&O, I determined the pattern was being in areas with a high density of Bluetooth interference (Midtown Manhattan for example) while also keeping my iPhone in my back pocket.
These headphones are designed to mate with Bang & Olufsen’s companion app. Once paired, the Bang & Olufsen app will show all your paired B&O wireless headphones at a glance. From there, you can see current battery life and apply DSP settings, called “Tonetouch,” to tailor the sound of the headphone. Unlike some products that give you multi-band EQ, which can be daunting for the non-technical user to suss out, the Beoplay app gives you four quadrants that will nudge the sound to “warmer” or “brighter” as well as “relaxed” or “excited.”
As in my review of the Beoplay H9i over-the-ear headphones, I found Tonetouch to be highly effective. The bullseye motif is easy to understand, and any changes are immediately audible. I think many users will prefer to nudge the sound toward “warm.” I didn’t like shifting the headphone’s EQ toward “bright” or any of the other options. I left Tonetouch off (in neutral) for purposes of this review.
The Beoplay E6 comes with a solid set of accessories. There are four silicone tips, ranging from extra small to large. Three of these come with silicone wings (B&O calls them “fins”) to increase the headphone’s grip during active workouts. B&O provides a beautiful cinch sack for you to carry your headphones.
Potentially fussy fit
Getting a good seal with an in-ear-headphone is the key to getting the best sound. If you don’t get a solid seal with the ear tips, in-ear headphones will sound thin and anemic. Bass response in particular will suffer, and the headphones might even slide out of your ears.
Many IEMs—thanks to their design, size, and collection of included tips—will fit just about any ear. Others, like the B&O E6, are a bit fussier. Some consumers will get a great, trouble-free fit, while others (like me) might encounter challenges.
I tried all the included silicon tips and none would give me a good, stable seal. Even the included silicone fins failed to add the stability I needed to keep the headphones in place. They would initially fit, but then tilting my head or turning it (producing micro tugs on the cable) would pull them out a tiny bit at a time. It was death by a thousand cuts. My recommendations to the B&O team are:
Include an even larger sized silicone tip.
Add better grip to all the silicone tips.
Include a curved fin option. The included fins didn’t provide enough hold for my ear shape.
But all is not lost. Thankfully (and smartly), B&O includes a medium pair of Comply premium foam tips with the packaging. The Comply tips, which I’ve referenced many times in other reviews, are a memory foam-based product that conforms to the shape of your ear canal at body temperature. The Comply tips gave me a solid seal and did a much better job of keeping the B&O E6 in place.
To get the best fit and seal, however, I had to go into my own Comply foam collection and choose a larger, more rounded tip. Once I did that, the Beoplay E6 made a perfect seal. The drawback of Comply memory foam ear tips is that their seal is so good that they will elevate the bass response of the headphones you are listening to—although that’s something many consumers will find euphonious with the E6.
Stunning, signature B&O sound
I conducted my review of the B&O Beoplay E6 with an iPhone XS with Tidal as my source. I played Tidal Master tracks when I could.
If you’re in the market for a great-sounding in-ear-headphone, take heart: the B&O E6 sound stunningly good. They excelled at conjuring up a deep, three-dimensional sound stage on tracks such as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ 1967 classic, “Nowhere to Run.” Orchestral works jumped to life. Hymns to the Mother of God, by Lycourgos Angelopoulos’ acclaimed Greek Byzantine Choir basked in the stage the E6 afforded.
The Beoplay E6 also have an uncanny knack for reproducing music with presence and dynamism. These headphones reveled in extracting the emotional energy from Elaine Paige’s classic, “Memory,” from Cats. The same was true of Loren Allred’s “Never Enough,” and “The Greatest Show” from the The Greatest Showman soundtrack. Both of those latter tracks were intoxicating through the E6.
The Beoplay E6 excelled at delivering audiophile-quality bass, too. Low frequencies were controlled and refined without being boomy. I noted all these traits on Khalid’s “Young Dumb & Broke,” Shaed’s “Trampoline,” and Imagine Dragon’s “Bad Liar.” But the E6 couldn’t quite muster the deepest bass notes with impact and presence. On Imagine Dragon’s “Believer” and Holly Cole’s “Train Song,” for example, this headphone couldn’t quite muster the oomph of the extreme bottom end that high-performance headphones and speakers can deliver.
That said, I’d like to emphasize that these headphones are capable of solid bass response. If you’re using these headphones and the bass sounds anemic, you don’t have the proper seal—try different ear tips.
Bang and Olufsen has managed to deliver the best elements of the company’s signature sound with all its emotional impact in a wireless in-ear-monitor. That’s not a small feat by any means. With AAC codec support, they sounded really good over Bluetooth connected to my iPhone XS. Unfortunately, they don’t support aptX, aptX HD, or LDAC.
The Beloplay E6 have two shortcomings: First, some folks will be unable to find a tip in the box that delivers a perfect seal. If you’re in that number, I encourage you to order a larger set of Comply memory foam ear to find one that fits just right. Second, The E6 depend on a proprietary charging cable and dongle, and a replacement costs $55. As long as neither of those two issues are deal breakers and you’re looking for an emotionally engaging, dynamic, and toe-tapping set of in-ear monitors, give these an urgent audition.