Almost one year to the date, Danish audio icon Bang & Olufsen is back with the latest version of its Beoplay E8 true wireless earbuds. Now in their third generation, the elegant wireless buds are 17% smaller than the previous version for a more comfortable fit. But perhaps more significantly, battery life has doubled. In 2020, that was nearly an imperative given the state of the market (and their previous 3.5-hour playback time).
What hasn’t changed for the E8 is the price: The buds still command a whopping $350, which is likely to give pause to all but the most ardent (and affluent) audio fans.
To be fair, the Beoplay E8 did earn our praise when they debuted in 2017. We loved their clear sound, top-quality materials, and comfort. At the time, they cost $300, but then again, they didn’t come with the standard leather-wrapped wireless charging case that became standard with the Beoplay E8 2.0 last year.
Trouble is, as prefaced above, today’s true wireless world is very different from the one we had in 2017.
Every company that competes in this space is going all-out to provide an incredible array of new features, low pricing, quality sound and/or a stylish cocktail of all three. Active noise cancellation is fast becoming table stakes for new models and you can find it on products that cost far less than the E8s (see Apple’s AirPods Pro and even Amazon’s Echo Buds).
Battery life has growing in huge leaps, too, while voice assistants can be activated hands-free using just a wake word. Serious water-resistance of IPX4 or better is now the norm. In short, the true wireless waters are shark-infested, so if you want to survive you need to keep up.
With seven hours of playtime between charges and 28 more hours on tap in the wireless charging case, there’s no doubt that B&O has significantly improved the E8 from a year ago, and it bests both Apple’s AirPods and the aforementioned AirPods Pro.
But when it comes to battery life, Apple has never been the leader. You need only look at what Master and Dynamic has done with its $300 MW07 Plus — which offer 10-hours of battery per charge, plus noise canceling, plus great sound — to realize that you can have it all if you’re willing to spend up.
B&O claims it has also made strides in both call quality, thanks to a four-mic array, and sound quality. According to the company, a new bass port permits better airflow in and out of the acoustic chamber.
We’ll let you know what we think of the changes as soon as we get our hands and ears on a review set.
In the meantime, if price is no obstacle, you can order a pair of Beoplay E8 in your choice of black or gray mist for $350 from the B&O website starting on February 14. If you’re feeling especially flush with cash, the optional Qi wireless charging mat is an additional $125.
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