This Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX review is for anyone who wants some of the best true wireless earbuds, and who doesn’t really have a budget in mind - these earbuds are pricey but they are oh-so-worth-it.
Bang & Olufsen has built up a solid reputation for combining excellent sound with incredibly stylish designs. Undeniably, they make some of the best noise-cancelling headphones for the fashion-conscious, and their true wireless offerings do a good job at upholding that.
Their latest in-ear headphones, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX, boast superb audio quality, noise cancellation and a fully waterproof design. Here’s how I got on when I tried them out…
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX review: price and what's new
Available to buy now, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX cost about $400 in the US, £350 in the UK and AU$650 in Australia - take a look at the widgets on this page to see the best deals on them from across the web right now.
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX are different from the other two options in a few different ways. Firstly, they have a stem and aren't just rounded buds and they're the most waterproof pair in Bang & Olufsen's portfolio. You also get bigger 9.2mm drivers in the EX buds which should make for more powerful, higher-quality sound.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX review: design and fit
As you’d expect from this high-end audio brand, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX are a seriously stylish pair of true wireless earbuds. A dangling AirPods type stem and a mirrored touchpad on the outside give them a touch of class while also being both practical and functional.
You can buy these in three different colourways: Anthracite Oxygen which is blue and black, Black Anthracite and Gold Tone.
I got my hands on the gold earbuds, which actually look a bit more nude in colour with gold touch controls, and they come housed in a slightly rose gold matching charging case. I’m a big fan of the design, I wouldn’t call them discreet but they do look pretty cool when you have them in and they don’t protrude too much. My only niggle was with the touchpad because fingerprint marks were very easily left on them after use.
The charging case is a little larger than elsewhere, measuring 66.2 x 48 x 22.1mm, but it will still fit into your coat pocket, and because it weighs about 53g it won’t feel like a burden to keep in there either.
I found the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX very comfortable to wear for hours on end. Each earbud weighs about 6g which is pretty good going and there are four sizes of silicone ear tips included in the box to help you find the perfect fit. There’s also a set of ‘Comply’ memory foam earbud tips for an even more secure and tailored fit, although these were too big for me to use.
Whether you’re more into running or weight-lifting, these are excellent for exercise, they stayed put in my ears and they're IP57 rated which means they're fully waterproof. They're dustproof as well so they'll survive all sorts of conditions and locations.
Controlling the buds through the touchpads is easy: touch once on the right to pause or play the music and twice to skip, then on the left, touch the surface once to cycle through noise-cancelling modes and twice to go back to the last track. You can also press and hold to adjust the volume, the touch controls will even let you manage your phone calls although there's no way to access your smartphone's voice assistant. I got on well with the default controls which is just as well because the app doesn’t let you reassign them.
When it comes to the battery life, these are quite middle ground. You’ll get about 6 hours of continuous use with ANC switched on, or 8 hours with it switched off, and the case provides up to 20 hours of listening time in total.
Once the battery does dry up, the buds will take about an hour and a half to recharge, while the case takes just under 2 hours. You can charge the case using a compatible wireless charger too.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX review: performance and features
Packing two 9.2mm drivers, which are the largest B&O has ever put in a TWS pair of headphones, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX sound superb.
I listened to all sorts of tracks, from RnB to classic rock and electronic dance music. I found these earbuds a pleasure to use, the audio is so clean and crisp. You can hear every guitar twang, every backing vocal and each beat of a drum.
The soundstage is wide and balanced so you won't be overwhelmed by the bass but it has enough punch to give the tune some energy, I also thought the mid-range was bright and natural, while those higher frequencies were able to push through comfortably.
When you download the Bang & Olufsen smartphone app (available for Android and iOS) you open up even more doors when it comes to the sound. There's a manual equaliser, but instead of the usual bars, you pull a slider around a circle to make the audio brighter, warmer, more relaxed or more energetic. For those who don't know their way around treble or bass controls, it's much easier to use because it's more self-explanatory.
The only time I had an issue with the sound was listening to spoken word, whether that was in a podcast or streaming a video, voices came across a little too quiet on the lower volumes but if I dialled it up, voices were often too loud and high pitched. Luckily the app has a few specific sound modes to choose from and I found the Podcast setting mostly resolved that issue.
As well as to adjust the sound, you can use the smartphone app to switch on the noise cancelling. I found it did a good job at drowning out distracting noises when my surroundings weren’t too loud, so it worked well in the office or on the street. But on the flip side, I struggled to hear my podcast in particularly noises spots on the London Underground so it didn't do such a good job there.
If you do want to hear what’s going on around you, the Transparency mode is able to let through some sounds. I could clearly hear announcements on my commute and road traffic as I walked to the shop so I was pleased with that feature.
Six microphones are housed in the stem which meant the call quality was loud and clear on both ends, and they come loaded with ‘intelligent beam-forming technology’ which identifies and cuts out background noise. It seemed to work well according to the people on the other end of my phone calls.
In terms of connectivity, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX use Bluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC, and aptX Adaptive codecs.
Getting them set up the first time was easy thanks to Google Fast Pair, I just opened up the case and my phone recognised them immediately. I was up and running within seconds.
Pairing them to a second device took a bit longer, you have to open the case and press both touchpads simultaneously until the LED light turns blue, it took me a bit of time to get it to work but it did eventually.
Thanks to multipoint pairing you can be connected to up to two devices at once which will make life very easy, if you’re watching a video on your tablet and you get a call on your phone, you won’t need to faff around disconnecting and reconnecting.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX review: verdict
One thing you can take away from this is that the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX are some of the most good-looking true wireless earbuds in the world. That’s a strong statement but I would stand by that, everything about them oozes elegance and style - I love how they look in my ears.
Pair that with superb customisable sound and B&O are on to a winner. Clean, crisp and clear they sound great across all sorts of music genres, and it’s great to be able to tailor the audio according to what you’re listening to as well.
If I could change anything, it would be the battery life. Some earbuds, like the Philips Fidelio T1, offer a total of 48 hours of listening time which makes 20 hours seem a little measly especially when you take the price tag into account.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX review: also consider
For iPhone and iPad users, it’s still worth considering the Apple AirPods Pro because they’re a fair amount cheaper than these. They do everything very well - they’re comfortable, they sound very detailed and the noise cancellation does a good job of blocking the world out so you can keep your focus on the music.
Another very worthy pair of true wireless earbuds are the Sony WF-1000XM4, which again, are a fair amount cheaper than the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX. For most people, they’re likely to be the best choice because they’re such good all-rounders.