Is it the Sound of Silence?
To be honest, I've long been a fan of noise reduction headphones, and I had my first pair of 'Noise Cancelling' headphones many years ago.
They don't cancel out all noise; they reduce it significantly.
I remember the effect well. Sitting in a departure lounge, waiting to board the plane for the journey home, trying to finish the book I had chosen for this trip. I had the headphones on, noise reduction switched on, and no music was playing. There was a level of ambient noise in the background, but the exploits of Jack Reacher had me gripped. Janis taps me on the arm; boarding's beginning, and I remove the headphones. The cacophony of voices was overwhelming. Wow - noise reduction works.
Comfort is nearly everything
So roll forward to 2016, in search of another replacement set of headphones, and I head to the market. Focusing on the reviews, I looked at the offerings from the top brands.
My previous set of noise reduction headphones had been more style over comfort - and while I admired the Bauhaus inspired design, an eight-hour flight left me feeling pinched around the ears.
Then I came across Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8 headphones - Wow. The first impression was they looked amazing - wait for a second, I'd made that mistake before. However, the B&O H8s didn't disappoint on the comfort stakes. In fact, they were amazing, perched neatly on my ears, adjust for my head size, I barely noticed them.
The comfort was further enhanced when I paired them to my iPhone over Bluetooth - I did mention they are wireless headphones - oh no. By the way, they are wireless headphones. It's not that I found the headphone cable of old a terrific nuisance, it's just the sense of freedom without it.
For my first play, I settled back with Adele. Maybe not uber-cool, but her beautiful vocals just made me sink back and enjoy the performance of the H8s.
Style is also so important
So the H8s are comfortable, but I have a set of trackie bottoms that I wear around the house sometimes, they're comfortable, but I wouldn't wish to be seen dead in them.
However, B&O have created something of beauty in these beasts. I had chosen the Gray Hazel colour option - it suits my slightly conservative approach to style.
Despite this, they still screamed style from the chocolate brown leather, with contrasting dark stitching, of the headband, to the soft matching brown of the ear cushions. Paired with dark graphite grey brushed metalwork, embossed with the stylish B&O logo on each of the earpieces.
This attention to detail also carries forward to the carrying pouch with its matching B&O fastener on the drawstring. It's one luxurious product
But what's cool
So there I am, sitting back, enjoying Someone Like You - it needs some volume.
I use the gesture control to turn up the volume by rolling my fingers around the right ear case.
A simple tap pauses or plays.
I can skip forwards, or jump back - all very intuitively.
These are cool.
However - the real world.
So charged up, I'm back in an airport lounge.
One of the cool features I like about the BeoPlay H8s is the ability to function even if you've forgotten to charge them.
To be honest, they appear to charge in no time - Bang & Olufsen quote 3 hours, but that's from zero to full. Once fully charged the quoted numbers are 14 hours with Bluetooth and the noise reduction or 16 hours without the noise reduction.
However, that jumps to 35 hours if you want noise reduction, but cabled to your device. Why would you want that?
Well, that brings me to the next point.
And the Forrest Gump award goes to…
So there I am, boarding the plane, feeling just a little bit cooler with my B&O headphones.
I take my seat, settle back and go just a little retro with Spandau Ballet's Gold - such an '80's guy.
Then the instructions; devices to 'flight-safe' mode. That means Bluetooth off. I reach for the carrying pouch and pull out the cable and go old school. No Bluetooth means no gesture control either.
I guess that was obvious, but it hadn't occurred to me
So what do they sound like?
I suppose If I'm recommending a set of headphones the sound quality is going to be up there. Well yeah, it is. The sound is sumptuous. I like a wide range of music - sometimes sitting in an airport lounge I like to go a little highbrow, so it's not unusual to delve into a little opera. Equally, I could find myself listening to Bobby Womack's 'Across 110th Street' or even a little Ed Sheeran - who knows.
One thing that's true, from the strings in Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons', to the base rift of 'The Chain' by Fleetwood Mac, the B&O H8's cover it all with ease. I am a very happy bunny.
Would I recommend the B&O Beoplay H8s - Oh yeah, so much, so we bought a second pair for Janis, she likes a bit of luxury too. This time we opted for the Argilla Bright colour scheme. Identical to my set, but the love of them is the same. A great piece of kit