B&O Play's wire-free Beoplay E8 earphones enable you to control how much outside-world sound you hear

In-case charging, touch controls and premium materials mean they look a superior option over Apple's AirPods

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B&O Play is taking on Apple's AirPods and Bragi Dash in the completely wireless earphone space, although the new E8s are £100 more than Apple's buds. 

They're splash and dust resistant and come inside a charging case with a strap. Everything is controlled by touch on the earphones including play/pause, track switching and taking calls. You can also activate voice control, whether you use Siri or the Google Assistant

We're looking forward to seeing how this works out in practice, since in our experience a lot of headphone touch interfaces are a bit so-so; and that's on a large earcup. 

There's a feature called 'transparency mode' enabling you to decide on how much real-world sound you wish to hear. There are three settings and you can use the Beoplay App to control this. Tapping on the left earpiece activates this mode. So you can use a different mode when listening to tunes sat at a desk than you would if you were walking in and out of traffic. Software updates are also delivered via the app. 

As you'd expect, the audio has been tuned by B&O Play (each earpiece has a 5.7mm dynamic speaker). We can't wait to hear what they sound like in a real-world environment.

The case can charge the earphones twice over, which is just as wellsince you get four hours of listening on a charge (clicking them into the case powers them off and begins charging). That's not the end of the world, since you will put them back in the case after use, say on a commute. That compares to the five hour battery on the AirPods (though in our experience you get quite a bit less than that). 

One thing's for sure, we doubt we'll get people staring at us as we have with Apple's all-white AirPods. Darker colours are far more appropriate for this kind of thing - until we all have them, anyway. Mind you, Apple has a compact case design to beat all others - we've seen the E8's case in the flesh and it is not that compact. 

Beoplay E8 is available from 12 October and comes complete with a leather charging case, five ear tips and charging cable in 'black or charcoal sand' and retails at £259, 299 Euros or $299 USD. A single earphone is available for £119, presumably if you lost one or just want to use one as an earpiece.

Check out all the other gear launched at IFA 2017