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Bang & Olufsen Portal Xbox Headphones Owner Review

I picked up the new B&O Portal Xbox headphones today and have spent the last several hours using them with Xbox, PC, and iPhone. To be sure, these aren't for everyone. First, they're $499. And they don't include some features other much cheaper headsets do. But depending on what you're looking for, they may be right for you. Here's what I think of them:

– Build quality: Superb. Aluminum, lambskin, memory foam, and they're incredibly light at 282 grams. Obviously, for 500 bucks they better be made well, and they are. Just beautifully made.

– Comfort: Excellent. The earcups are large and deep providing plenty of room for your ears. The pads are lambskin covered memory foam and the headband is well padded with a slight v-notch at the very top to eliminate pressure at the very top of your head. Every part of these that touch your head is very soft. Combine that with the impressive lightness, clamping force that isn't too tight, and I forget I'm wearing these. VERY comfortable.

Features: These were made for Xbox, so they pair just like an Xbox controller does. You can also pair to a PC with the Wireless Adapter for Windows. They also connect to other devices through Bluetooth 5.1, an included USB-A to USB-C cable, or the included 3.5mm audio cable. The headphones can remember up to 8 devices and pair to two devices at a time. Settings can be controlled through the B&O iOS/Android app, which worked well for me. They do not connect to Xbox and Bluetooth at the same time. This could be added in a future firmware update, but they do not include that feature right now. It is easy and quick to go back and forth, though, press one button to change to Bluetooth, then press it again to reconnect to Xbox, which takes 2-3 seconds. One of the more impressive features are the two touch bars on the back side of each ear cup. The right one controls volume, the left controls ANC or Voice/Chat mix. You simply slide your finger up or down the bar and it works very well. Surprisingly, B&O does not include a case or a pouch to store these in, which is disappointing at this price point.

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-Sound quality: Audio quality is very subjective. What sounds great to me might not to you and vice versa. I'm somewhat of a headphone-phile so I'll compare them to the others in my collection. In addition to these, I also have the Master & Dynamic MW50+, Audeze Mobius, Sony XM4, Arctic 9X, Razer Blackshark Pro V2, and Sennheiser HD555. I would say the Portals combine the Xbox connectivity of the Arctic 9X with the sound quality of the M&D's. I'm a big fan of the planar magnetic sound from the Mobius, and they're probably my favorite for pure sound quality, but they're very bulky, not very comfortable, and the build quality is mid-level at best. The XM4's have superior ANC but I much prefer the overall sound of the Portals. The Razers are typical Razer, decent sound and build, but nothing that stands out. What I like about the Portals is that they're both a great gaming headset AND a great music headphone. And they don't look gamer-y at all, they look very elegant and I'd wear them anywhere. If I were taking a long flight somewhere, I'd probably take the XM4's for their superior ANC and ability to fold up into a small case. But for anything else, I'd probably go with the Portals, at least so far.

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– Mic quality: Personally, this is the least important part of these, since I play mostly single player games, but it's a big concern for others. The Portals do not have a boom mic, they use beamforming from several mics placed on either side. I had my wife and daughter put them on, we switched phones, and we called each other. They both sounded fine. Their voices were clear and I didn't hear any static or dropouts. Granted, it was a fairly quick test but the mic seems fine to me.

Overall, I love these, as they're the first set of cans I've used that I can use equally well with Xbox, PC, and my iPhone. They look beautiful and are extremely well made. Are they worth $500? I had $200 worth of Best Buy points and probably would not have bought them if I had to pay the full amount, but even at $300 that's very expensive. If you've got the money and want a fantastic Xbox headset and an audiophile headphone all in one, these are probably as good as it gets.


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