The first generation Beoplay H4 headphones from Bang & Olufsen are my favorite headphones of all time. So you can imagine my excitement when they released a follow-up, aptly named the Beoplay H4 2nd gen. Long story short, I’m now in love with the 2nd gen H4 headphones and a big thanks to B&O for sending these out for review.
Bang & Olufsen is a brand that takes design seriously, and that’s something I’ve always appreciated. The H4 2nd Gen are no exception, and not only do they look beautiful, but they are also lightweight and feel premium.
When it comes to the materials used, B&O spared no expense here. Most headphones these days are constructed mostly from plastic, even the high-end ones. Not so with the Beoplay H4 2nd Gen, B&O mainly used leather, stainless steel, and aluminum with only some accents of plastic on the ear cups.
This gives the H4 2nd Gen a luxurious feel, and it’s a real shame that B&O doesn’t include a protective case or even a pouch like so many other brands do to help protect them. That’s a small touch that would have been very appreciated, especially with such a stylish high-quality product like this.
The controls on the H4 2nd gen bucks the recent trend of using touch-sensitive buttons like many other high-end headphones. Instead, B&O has continued using physical buttons, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
In the past, I’ve not been a huge fan of touch-sensitive controls, but they have started to grow on me recently. No matter though, physical buttons work fine and at least they’ve upgraded to USB-C for charging this time. That in itself is a major upgrade in my opinion. Plus, there is still a 3.5mm jack for when you don’t want to or cannot use Bluetooth.
Fit and Comfort
No matter how good a pair of headphones sounds, that’s all moot if they aren’t comfortable. I’m thrilled to report the Beoplay H4 second-gen are one of the most comfortable pair of headphones I’ve ever worn. They are lightweight with plenty of foam cushioning on the headband and ear cups to ensure a pleasant listening experience for hours.
One of the biggest upgrades to the H4 2nd gen is that Google Assistant support is now built-in. That means, not only do you have a quick way to access Google Assistant with the push of a button, but they will also read your notifications to you, and even allow you to reply to messages with your voice.
Although, my favorite improvement might be that the H4 2nd gen supports Google Fast Pairing. This makes pairing infinitely easier with a pop-up notification on your phone as soon as you power on the headphones. It also walks you through the setup and teaches you how to use the Google Assistant features.
The Bang & Olufsen app is not essential, but it does provide some additional useful options. For example, you can enable or disable Google Assistant support, perhaps if you need a break from it reading your notifications or don’t enjoy that feature.
It also has a fun and unique equalizer built-in, but it won’t please audiophiles who want more accurate control. Regardless, I happen to love the signature sound of Bang & Olufsen headphones, so I never need to play with the EQ that much. Lastly, you’ll need the app if you want to check for software updates, which can often include bug fixes or new features.
The Beoplay H4 second-gen uses the aptX Bluetooth codec, and the sound quality is everything I loved from the first generation, a spacious soundstage and deep reverberating bass. There are some things you can’t get from playing with an equalizer, and these are two of them.
However, while I’m generally a huge fan of the B&O signature sound, I did find the second-gen H4s to be a little warm for my tastes. After playing with the equalizer a bit and tweaking the brightness, I found the sweet spot and couldn’t be happier with how they sound. The sub-bass is still deep and powerful, while the extra treble adds more clarity for a sound I can’t help but love.
Bang & Olufsen rates the battery life of the H4 second-gen for up to 19-hours. In my experience, they just keep going and going. If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if they could surpass the 19-hour rating B&O gives them.
However, if the battery ever does die on you in between charges, you can always use them with the 3.5mm jack. That is assuming you have a jack on your phone, or you didn’t forget your dongle.
It’s no secret, I’m a Bang & Olufsen fan, its products exude quality from the high-end materials they use to the stunning sound. Despite all of this, the B&O H4 second-gen are not perfect.
I would have loved to have seen a case included to protect these beautiful headphones. The price is also a little on the high side. For not much more money, you can get headphones from Bose and Sony with class-leading active noise cancellation.
While I absolutely love the Beoplay H4 second-gen headphones–and I would highly recommend them to anyone who enjoys high-quality audio–it might be worth waiting for them to go on sale, because $300 is a lot to pay without ANC or a case.
Alternatively, it’s still possible to pick up the first-gen H4s for nearly half the price. They will allow you to experience Bang & Olufsen’s fantastic sound quality, only with slightly less battery life and no Google Assistant integration.