B&O BeoPlay H5 - Review

July 20, 2016

We took a first look at the B&O BeoPlay H5 earlier this month to see what made these earbuds so special. These are B&O Play's very first wireless in-ears. They will go for SGD 379 from 31 July 2016 in Singapore. And yes, we got our paws on a review unit. Let's check these out.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose
Credit - B&O Play

Pros (+): Stylish design; Good treble clarity; Secure magnetic latching; Hassle-free charging; Useful Beoplay app.
Cons (-): Short battery life; Lack of voice prompts; Fit could be improved.

There are 2 color variants - Dusty Rose and Black. 
Guess what unit we received :)
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Black
Nope, we did not receive the Black one. 
Credit - B&O Play

The packaging is typical B&O Play - a squarish and very sturdily built grey box that takes some effort in popping open.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose Packaging

With the top lid off, the BeoPlay H5 buds lie on a solid foam layer with 2 tabs at each side.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose

Pulling away this layer, you get access to the nicely wrapped up cables from both the earbuds and the charge cube (you'll find out the reason for the name shortly). And then, there's a thin cardboard with a tab that invites us to pull it up.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose

We spill out the packaging contents for a stock take:

  • B&O BeoPlay H5 earbuds
  • Charge cube and cable
  • 4 x Silicon buds (XS /S /M /L)
  • 3 x Comply Foam Sport with SweatGuard buds (S /M /L)
  • 3 x Cable clips
  • Carrying pouch
  • User Guide

B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose Packaging Contents

The B&O BeoPlay H5 immediately catches your eye with its cable. That's right. It's made of a material commonly found in shoes (braided textile apparently) and it's a pleasant change from the computer-like cables most folks are accustomed for portable audio gear.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose

Once around your neck, you can actually magnetically latch the left and right buds together to power off the H5 and have a little more assurance that the earphones don't come off when walking. 
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose

The helluva good looking Jakob Wagner-designed buds weigh 18g, comparable to other wireless Bluetooth earphones in the market like the Bose SoundSport Wireless (22g) and Plantronics BackBeat GO 3 (19g).
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose

The carrying pouch is similar to the BeoPlay H3 ANC's where there's an inner layer within for cable / extra bud storage. It ain't sturdy but it does its job in protecting the buds from scratches.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose Pouch

The BeoPlay H5 is supposedly splash and dust resistant. We tested it by flicking some water and it works just fine. Just don't submerge them. For the record, we're currently doing a Wireless Sports Audio series of articles and it was tempting to include the BeoPlay H5 to benchmark. However the positioning of the B&O gravitates it more toward a lifestyle product, given the materials used, accessories thrown in and general fit.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose

The in-line remote lies on the left side and is meant for playback control. Play / take calls and volume buttons are standard. Skipping to a previous track is still a triple press, though we feel it could be simplified to holding the volume button instead. 
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Remote

Design-wise, it looks similar to the BeoPlay H3 ANC's but that's where similarities end. It's actually larger in size. The underside is contoured and has a rubberised texture with 3 contact points for easy control when on-the-go.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Remote

Pairing over Bluetooth (featuring the latest v4.2) is straightforward. Hold the Play button to initiate pairing (blue LED flashing), select the BeoPlay H5 from your source device and it's done once you see a white LED on the bud. Pairing is to a single device at any one time.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose

While there are acknowledgement sounds, voice prompts are non-existent. A tad surprising as it's a little hard to tell what is your pairing status or battery life based on LED color and you'd likely have to refer to the user guide. 
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose

For power, you will need the charge cube to lug around. It's a little inconvenient if you're on the move where a common micro-USB cable for other products usually suffices. The good part is you just need to magnetically dock the buds onto the cube to initiate charging. It's hassle-free 'cos there's no need to remove a flap to plug a cable.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Charging Cube

The Beoplay app, that runs on iOS (v8 upwards) and Android (v5.0 upwards) supports the earbuds. To highlight what it can do, there's name and color change settings. 
B&O BeoPlay H5 - App

The good stuff includes:

  • Firmware updates - the product was at v5.0.0 and there was a prompt to update it to 'improve performance'. I duly proceeded though I couldn't really tell the diff in experience.
  • Tone adjustment - otherwise read as EQ settings though it's a pleasantly simple user interface. Just touch the quadrant to choose from an assortment of names such as Warm, Excited, Relaxed and Bright. You can even pinch-zoom to add a spatial effect.

B&O BeoPlay H5 - App

Let's talk about the different eartip experiences first. 

1. Silicon tips (M-size)
The tips provide an agreeable level of bass vs treble control. The fit is reasonably tight such that it will stay in the ear and ambient noise is partially blocked off...you can still hear but a lesser degree of traffic and chatter. 
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Eartips
4 x Silicon tips (Left) and 3 x Comply Foam Sport tips (Right)

2. Comply Foam Sport tips with SweatGuard (Sx-200)
(To understand Comply Foam tips and the different types available, do read our Comply Foam article.) 
Interestingly, the bass level and ear fit dropped a notch from the silicon buds. We had some good experiences with Comply Foam using the Jaybird X2 Wireless and LG TONE Active previously. As such, it was a surprising to find that the Sport tips did not really lodge within the ear. S and L sizes were also tested with similar results. When walking around, I could hear ambient sound quite well. 
B&O BeoPlay H5

Fit and noise isolation-wise, it was a tad surprising that the silicon buds seemed more effective. The fit in both cases is not at the jogging level purpose as I had to readjust the buds in every now and then. 

I was trying to figure out possible reasons for the nature of the fit. 
  • First, I tried evaluating the BeoPlay H5 and H3 ANC together since both are using Size 200 Comply Foam tips. The earbud size and weight is definitely higher on the H5, due to the Bluetooth / battery module, which could add to the tug on the eartips.
B&O BeoPlay H5 vs H3 ANC
H5 on Left and H3 ANC on Right

  • Second, as the H5 is an under-ears model, it's worthwhile noting that other Bluetooth wireless buds provide an additional fin (Jaybird X2) or clip (Beats Powerbeats2) or other means (UA Headphones) to lock the buds in place.

All that said, you'd really have to try them on for size 'cos the experience varies from person to person. One hack we tried is to insert a pair of Comply Foam Isolation buds (sold separately) and it worked wonders in terms of fit and noise isolation and providing warmer bass. 
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Box

For sound quality, the H5 leverages on the aptX codec that promises CD-quality sound. We had mentioned bass and treble were agreeable. With silicon tips, Coldplay's Adventure of a Lifetime is vibrant and engaging with Chris Martin's vocals coming through clearly. Those who prefer a deeper bass emphasis can try the handy Beoplay app for Tone adjustment. 
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Lifestyle
Credit - B&O Play
For microphonics (or cable rustle), there are 3 cable clips provided. B&O doesn't really prescribe how you should apply this so it's most logical to place one on. Once applied, if adjusted correctly, the microphonics can be reduced to a point where only turning your head left and right would result in minor sounds.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose

Both 50mAh (100mAh in total) Lithium-Ion batteries last 5 hours on a full charge of 2 hours through the charge cube. No issues with the charge time but we're already hitting 8 hours on some like the UA Headphones and Jaybird X2The LED on the cube flashes orange when charging and displays green when powered up.
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose

The BeoPlay H5 is an audio device where Bang & Olufsen appears to have put emphasis on a simple user experience. The magnetic latch for charging / power off and Beoplay app are well thought out. No doubt the fit and voice prompts could be improved but this is negligible point for fashionistas who'd want a pair of stylish in-ears to be seen with.

Where To Buy
You can purchase the BeoPlay H5 in various retail outlets in Singapore at SGD 379 from 31 July 2016. Alternatively, if you like what you have read, do support me by buying from Amazon from USD 249 via this affiliate link

 For Comply Foam Isolation tips (T-200), which I'd recommend to improve on the experience, you can get them from Amazon for USD 14.95 for 3 pairs of M-size.
Comply Foam Isolation
T-200 (3 x M-size)
USD 14.95 

Audio Sources
Adventure of a Lifetime - Coldplay (TIDAL 1411kbps FLAC Lossless)
B&O BeoPlay H5 - Dusty Rose

Credit to B&O Play for an evaluation unit.

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