Bang & Olufsen recently launched their first-ever wireless gaming headphone. Known for their high fidelity systems, the Danish audio giant strides into the gaming market hoping to lay the competition to waste…. but does it?
Featuring a sophisticated aesthetic, premium materials, and immersive sound, Beoplay Portal brings all the hallmarks of Bang & Olufsen to the world of gaming. In the box, you get the headset itself, as well as a 1.8 m USB-A to USB-C cable and a 1.25m 3.5 mm audio cable.
While marketed as B&O’s gaming headset, the Beoplay Portal is designed for a more contemporary feel than the striking designs and RGB lights most gaming headsets adopt.
The aluminium frame is solid and robust and provides the foundation for a well designed, good looking headset. The lambskin-wrapped memory foam earcups were soft, comfortable and did not sit too tight on the ear. There is a subtle protrusion on the rear of each cushion, which conforms to the shape of the user’s head, enhancing comfort and eliminating sound leakage.
The inner headband features offset padding designed to relieve pressure on the top of the head. The telescopic frame also allowed you to adjust the headband, covered with a high-quality bamboo fibre textile, to just the right position, which made the relatively lightweight headset a comfortable fit even after extended hours of use.
However, the Grey Mist headset we received for review felt like it wouldn’t ward off stains as well as the other Black Anthracite and Navy.
The aluminium surfaces on the sides of the earcups are used for control. Tap twice, playback is started or paused during phone calls or video conferences. While gaming though, tapping twice mutes audio playback.
On the back of the ear cups, you can find two strips on the left and right that are operated like sliders and allow you to change the volume (right) and to switch from transparency mode to noise cancelling (left) or in Xbox mode, setting the game chat balance.
The two small buttons on the bottom of the ear cups switch between Bluetooth and Xbox mode; if you press the button for a few seconds, Xbox pairing becomes active. On the right, the small button is used to switch the headphones on and off, while pressing and holding it activates Bluetooth pairing.
The control gestures worked pretty well – I’m not the best at swiping and typically still prefer buttons. However, I wasn’t able to skip and move between tracks which had to be done via your connected device.
The Beoplay Portal features two custom-designed 40mm drivers with neodymium magnets that are engineered to deliver precise and faithful acoustic reproduction. And with Dolby Atmos for Headphones, it also offers virtualized surround sound, adding layers of depth and texture to games, movies, and music.
The sound performance of Beoplay Portal is further enhanced by Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation technology that uses a combination of feed-forward ANC and feed-back ANC. The addition of Own Voice, which enables users to hear their own voices while simultaneously cancelling out extraneous sounds, is an interesting feature that does take a little getting used to.
However, the soundstage is very well balanced for music and most applications – as you would expect from a pair of B&O cans.
Developed as part of the Xbox program, the Beoplay Portal connects seamlessly to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles via Xbox Wireless protocol. Games sound rich and detailed and that’s without any or much enhancement. With Dolby Atmos compatible games, the experience is exponentially better.
Sounds are richer and much more immersive. Feel pulled into the battle in games such as Gears 5 as gunfire and explosions go off all around you.
Not just for the Xbox though, the Beoplay Portal is also compatible with PC and mobile devices via Bluetooth 5.1, aptX Adaptive, and USB-C, allowing gamers to take their immersive audio experience on the go.
When connected to Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One or PC using a dongle or USB-C, Gaming Mode is automatically activated. When connected using Bluetooth, the features will adapt to the needs of a traditional headphone, and the app’s user interface will adjust accordingly.
For communication, Beoplay Portal also features an all-new virtual boom arm, eliminating the need for the traditional boom arm found on most gaming headsets. Using Directional Beamforming technology, an array of microphones helps to isolate and amplify the user’s voice while eliminating background noise.
Communication is crisp and clear and didn’t have much issue at all. However, once you’re connected to the Xbox, you can’t be connected to a separate device (like your phone) and stream music if you’d want to. Something Xbox’s much (much) cheaper headset can do.
Offering up to 24 hours of continuous playtime using Bluetooth and Active Noise Cancellation, or 12 hours of playtime using Xbox Wireless, Bluetooth, and Active Noise Cancellation, the Beoplay Portal’s 1,200 mAh lithium-ion battery, has enough juice for an extended session, but will likely need to be recharged soon after.
Priced at SGD 799, the Beoplay Portal costs more than the game console itself and will probably be one of the costliest gaming headsets you’ll ever get. While it definitely performs well in many aspects, there are just so many options out there that might just miss the mark but are much cheaper. Unless you’ve got cash to burn, it’s extremely practical to settle for cheaper options.
Available in Black Anthracite, Grey Mist and Navy, in Singapore, the Beoplay Portal will be available exclusively at Bang & Olufsen’s Grand Hyatt flagship store and select retailers.