The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport earbuds have quite a list of commendations. They’re great-sounding, intuitive to use, very customisable, and supported by an app that’s actually fun and easy to navigate. In other words, they’re pretty much everything you want out of a pair of earbuds on the trail or at the gym.
Unfortunately, you could also say the same about other best wireless earbuds on the market. And, with the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the Apple AirPods Pro winning the popularity contest, it would have put the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport at a disadvantage.
It’s lucky then that these B&O earbuds have something other earbuds and headphones don't have: character. The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport combines a unique sound signature with an equally unique yet beautiful design, setting them apart from the rest. And, in this day and age, when every audio brand is rolling out its own take on wireless earphones, that’s hardly what you’d call an easy feat.
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Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport Review: Price And Release Date
If you’re at all familiar with Bang & Olufsen products, you know they don’t come cheap. A few in the company’s roster not only screams luxury but is priced like one as well. While the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport, which came out in July 2020, won’t set you back thousands of dollars like many of the company’s other offerings, they do cost quite a bit when compared to other sports-focused earbuds. After all, an asking price of $350 / £300 / AU$500 for a pair of earbuds you plan on working out in is a lot.
Consider the Bose Sport Earbuds, which go for $179 / £179 / AU$299. These earbuds have the audio and build quality you would expect from a higher-end audio brand but at a price that won’t hurt nearly as much if something happens to them. It isn’t just Bose, either. You can find similar workout companions from Beats with their new Studio Buds or one of Apple’s ubiquitous Airpod models in around the same price range.
If you don’t care about Bang & Olufsen’s aesthetic or customizability, the Sony WF-1000XM4 may just be the most highly acclaimed earbuds out there. They may not have as much juice in the charging case or as much emphasis on design, but they offer the active noise cancellation that’s missing from the Beoplay E8 Sport and are cheaper at $280 / £250 / AU$449.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport Review: Design And Features
No one can accuse the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport of being run-of-the-mill. The company clearly cares about the look, feel, and overall design of its products, and it shows in both the E8 Sport’s charging case and buds that they’ve put a lot of thought into them.
The charging case is shaped a little differently than most. Instead of the rounded corners and sleek finish of a typical earbuds case, the E8 Sport is cylindrical with a flat top and bottom. The company’s logo is embossed on the hinged lid while the sides are ribbed for an elegant, albeit almost postmodern look, with just an LED and a USB-C port on the back.
The earbuds themselves are quite the departure from many of the usual offerings out there. They’re also ribbed around the sides and have a flat outer surface. They may look bulky at first, but put them on and they’ll fit surprisingly well. In fact, they fit very snugly without being uncomfortable. Give them a little twist while you’re inserting them, and they will stay in place no matter how hard of a workout you’re doing.
True to their moniker, they’re IP57 certified, which means it not only comes with dust protection, but also waterproofing up to one meter or around three feet. Sweat away!
Because people do have different-sized ears, Bang & Olufsen has helpfully provided everything you need to keep them in place. In fact, it has gone above and beyond anything else we’ve seen with four sizes of silicone tips, three sizes of silicone ear fins that help stabilize the buds in your ear, and a pair of foam tips.
You have a choice of three colors here: black, oxygen blue, and anthracite oxygen (a mix of the first two). If you want to invest in a wireless charger – and these buds do support Qi Wireless charging – you can choose from 6 different colors as well. Though you do have to pay an additional $125 for that convenience.
The pairing process might stir up mixed feelings. Thanks to its Bluetooth 5.1 connection, pairing is fast and easy and frustration-free.
Unfortunately, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport also requires that extra step of pressing and holding both earbuds at the same time when you’re pairing it to a device for the first time or to a different device. It doesn’t go into pairing mode automatically unless already previously connected to a device – and even then, it doesn’t always work. This is a bit of a disappointment, especially next to Beats’ or Apple’s offerings, which automatically go into pairing mode as soon as you open the lid for a hands-free experience.
Like a lot of wireless earbuds these days, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sports utilize touch sensors to easily control media, take calls, or turn on transparency mode, and this is where they shine. While some buds are finicky with their sensors, the E8 Sports reacts with every touch. In the beginning, you might find yourself accidentally turning transparency mode on, for example, when putting them in. Eventually, however, you’ll learn to adjust and avoid doing so.
Using the Bang & Olufsen app is a breeze. Nay, it’s a pleasure. Once you’ve connected the earbuds to it, you can see the battery level for each bud, control media (play/pause, next song, back), select from the different listening modes or presets, and even play around with a nifty EQ wheel. This wheel might be a little less useful than having an actual 10-band EQ, but it definitely makes adjusting the EQ more fun and accessible to the average person and audio novices.
The app will also let you select the level of the transparency mode, of which there are different levels: off, low, medium and high, as well as toggle the automatic standby, which puts the buds into sleep mode automatically after 15 minutes if there's no source, on or off.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport Review: Performance
When it comes to its sound quality, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport has a signature sound that’s remarkably its own. It’s not for everyone – if you like bright in-your-face sound, you should look elsewhere.
With the Beoplay E8 Sports, you get a warm, laidback sound that is pleasant and immersive. The bass isn’t overpowering but certainly present enough to win over bassheads. The mids get a bit of a boost, making everything sound a little richer and a little fuller. And, the high end is slightly rolled-off so you get audio that is articulate, if a tad lacking in detail. With the right music, that combination is enthralling.
Since the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sports are not neutral earbuds, they do sound better with certain genres. Jazz fans will adore these while Hip Hop and EDM fans will appreciate the bass. Acoustic music translates nicely as well, even if the sound isn’t as detailed as on brighter buds.
Sadly for rock’n’roll and alternative fans, however, that tamed high end might lack the bite required to bring the genre to life.
That low end will retain some of the rumble of action-packed scenes in movies and shows while that mid boost should help with the dialog. Another good news: although its slightly muted high end might affect some of the crispness of whatever you’re watching, it is much less apparent than with music.
Don’t expect an amazing soundstage here, but before you count that against the Beoplay E8 Sport, bear in mind that earbuds, in general, aren’t exactly known for it. To give this pair its due, the stereo imaging is good enough so you could hear everything in its proper place, whether that’s a guitar coming in on the far left or meteorites falling on either side of Loki in his Disney+ show.
There’s also no active noise cancellation here. This time, it’s a point against the Beoplay E8 Sport, as ANC is something you’ll find in several of its rivals. Despite the absence of ANC, its passive noise cancellation does a decent job of keeping sound out. And, thankfully, they also boast a Transparency Mode, which works incredibly well.
Even at the medium setting (on high, it mutes the playing audio completely), I’m able to hear what’s going on around me while still enjoying my favorite podcast or the show I’m currently binging: The Americans. It’s also a boon for when I’m hiking on a trail or at the airport, and need to hear what’s going on around me.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport Review: Verdict
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport won’t fit into many people’s budget, especially those who are looking for a dedicated pair of earbuds to work out in. It’s hard to justify the price since there are a lot of solid, cheaper options that are just as feature-rich. There’s also the fact that the E8 Sports may not provide the kind of sound signature you like. You’ll find most of the competition to be brighter than these.
However, if the price doesn’t scare you off and you prefer warmer audio, then you would be hard-pressed to find a better pair. Not only do the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport earbuds sound terrific, but they’re also beautifully designed from the customizable tips and fins down to their intuitive UI. Considering all that, its price starts to make a lot more sense and therefore, is justifiable.
The effort and thought that B&O put into these are apparent. The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport are not just another set of earbuds. They're a work of art.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport Review: Also Consider
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 Sport are surprisingly not the most expensive earbuds on the market. For instance, the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 will set you back a bit more at $399 / £349 / AU$599. The PI7 are similarly luxurious, offer high-resolution sound, and also come with adaptive noise cancellation.
If you think you’re ready to make that jump to audiophile sound, go for the Grado GT220, which costs $259 / £249 / AU$365. These buds sound absolutely engaging. They come with very few features, however, but with a sound that’s absolutely engaging, it hardly needs all the bells and whistles.