Bang & Olufsen (B&O) has just announced its first set of wireless headphones aimed specifically at gamers. The $499 Beoplay Portal, which comes in three colors (black, gray, and navy) combines the features of a set of high-end wireless headphones with features that are normally only available on gaming-specific headphones like a boom mic, and virtualized surround sound.
The announcement comes on the heels of B&O’s release of its latest luxury wireless headphones, the Beoplay HX.
The Beoplay Portal bear a strong resemblance to the rest of the B&O headphone lineup, which is to say, they don’t look anything like traditional gaming headphones, which tend to be big, serious-looking affairs, often festooned with splashy graphics, large boom microphones, and even LED lighting. The Beoplay Portal, by contrast, wouldn’t look out of place if they were hanging off a seat of a luxury private jet.
Gamers will likely take note that the Beoplay Portal don’t possess a boom mic — at least, not a traditional one that sticks out from an earcup and curves toward your mouth. Instead, B&O claims that its virtual boom mic can play the same role, as it’s equipped with a series of directional beamforming microphones designed to “isolate and amplify the user’s voice while eliminating background noise, allowing for crystal clear conversations.” How well this works compared to a traditional boom mic remains to be seen.
Bolstering this virtual boom mic is B&O’s “Own Voice” feature, which works like the side-tone option on some true wireless earbuds: You can use it to hear your own voice more clearly while still canceling out competing external sounds.
The other gaming-specific enhancements include the headphones’ participation in the Designed for Xbox program, which means they can and connect to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles via the Xbox Wireless protocol, providing a high-bandwidth, low-latency connection. With an optional wireless dongle, you can use the Xbox Wireless connection with PCs too.
Another big feature on the Beoplay Portal, which should appeal to gamers and movie fans alike, is Dolby Atmos for headphones. This virtual surround sound technology can reproduce the 3D sound environment that helps gamers locate sounds like enemy movements while providing a much more immersive experience for watch movies that have been created with Dolby Atmos soundtracks. Music can also benefit from Dolby Atmos.
B&O has equipped the Beoplay Portal with adaptive active noise cancellation (ANC) and aptX Adaptive, AAC, and SBC Bluetooth codecs.
The aluminum earcup discs are home to a series of touch-sensitive controls for play/pause or mute/unmute, while a series of physical buttons and sliders control power, volume, ANC, transparency, and activating/deactivating Xbox Wireless. Inside the earcups are a set of 40mm drivers — the same setup used in the Beoplay HX.
Battery life maxes out at 12 hours when you turn on Xbox Wireless, Bluetooth, and ANC, but B&O claims it can last for up to 24 hours when Xbox Wireless is turned off.
The Beoplay Portal are available starting today on Bang-olufsen.com and other select retailers.
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