Firstly, a happy Easter to those who celebrate and a swell Sunday to those who don't!
I sincerely appreciated all of the discussion on the preliminary thoughts post and happy to have helped as many folks as possible. After having the headset for several days and using for about 40 hours (got my COVID vaccine dose #1 this weekend… felt crappy and had tons of downtime thanks to working like crazy this last week and had plenty of time to zone out with these headphones and their primary competition. Have about 30 hours in now and also brought the family in to listen here and there) I am ready to discuss my more developed thoughts.
Initial Impressions Post – now outdated – as The Dude would say, "new shit has come to life, man."
Nothing is revolutionarily changed since the prelim., but I have revised my Penrose comparison and had time to evolve my thinking on just about every aspect of the B&O Portal in much greater detail. I know some may think my turn around on this was fast, but I have a pretty good handle on where I stand at this point. So without further ado…
My goal here is not to "get you" to buy or not buy this headset, but rather to provide some information for you to ascertain whether this headset it worth your trying out. My recommendation above all else is to buy any headset that costs more than $100 or $150 from a place with a good return policy so you can test drive it!
Me: I am not an audiophile. I am not an audio expert. I am not wealthy enough to just throw $500 or even $250 on a headset if it is not entirely worth it. I am, despite what my username may say, not a buffalo. What I am, is an average dude who spend too much time listening to music and gaming and appreciates a good all-around headset experience. If you are seeking the audiophile opinion on the Portal, look elsewhere… primarily to Mr. Caboose's comments on various posts including my last and his sure-to-be incoming in the next few weeks in-depth review!
The Beoplay Portal from B&O: The Portal is a high-end headphone designed for use via bluetooth and Xbox Wireless. It exists within the realm of wireless, lossless headsets marketed towards those seeking the best of the best in features, build quality, and audio. It's primary competition, the Audeze Penrose, is priced at $300 and is the current reigning champion for the realm of Xbox compatible wireless headsets. The Portal is priced at $500 and brings with it similar features to that of the Penrose and adds in active noise canceling, broader app functionality, premium build materials, and the signature B&O luxury styling/support.
This review is first and foremost about the Portal… that being noted, I can't help but compare it to the Penrose as it is the headset to beat right now.
Table of Contents
ooooo fancy organization this time around
I. Xbox Wireless use – audio quality and connectivity
II. Bluetooth w/ iPhone and Macbook Pro – audio quality and connectivity
IV. Ease of use and intuitiveness
V. Build, "feel"
VI. Features and range of use
VII. Ranking and "worth the $$$?" analysis
I. Xbox Wireless Use – audio quality and connectivity
The elephant in the room
The Portal has two modes, what B&O (in email with support) calls "dark mode" and "light mode". The translation of that is essentially "Xbox mode" and "everything else, mainly BT, mode". Obviously the headset uses Xbox mode for Xbox. B&O has said that the Xbox mode is specifically tuned for gaming.
I tested with Atmos on and off, and with Atmos EQs active and inactive. I ended up settling on Atmos on with B&O EQ settings. I want to stress also that this review section is about audio alone. I'm not talking comfort or features at this point in order to present an unfiltered and unbiased opinion!
I personally found that gaming with the Portal on Xbox was a very good experience. I don't play very many games that are known especially for high-def audio experience; I mainly focus on Cold War and Warzone. I do play Forza 7 and Project Cars 2, both of which have great audio generally. I also dabble in some RPGs and assorted single-player games.
From the competition angle, I am happy to say that with the Portal, I can hear footsteps clearly in Warzone, though I find the sound mixing in that game to be atrocious. The B&O app has several premade EQs, one of which is for FPS. Whether this actually helped with my competitiveness, the jury is still out on. Naturally, any FPS EQ is going to mess with audio fidelity, which bugs me… so I'm inclined to leave it off. That being said, if you are looking to be competitive, I think it works very well.
Cold War is better but still imo not a grade A audio experience. That being said, this is not the Portal's fault as I have the same sound mixing problems with both games when using the Penrose too… their sound mixing just is not great, primarily for Modern Warfare. Overall, the Portal is an excellent choice for location accuracy when paired up with Atmos. I never once felt like I was at any disadvantage and several times could tell I had advantage over the person chasing me around a building due to my ability to localize.
I found the standard "gaming" preset that the Portal uses to be a little flat on the low end… somewhat lacking in bass and depth. This was quickly remedied by tweaking the EQ in the IOS app and saving my preset. I just increased the bass a little, and that was it. This aspect, though, is largely personal preference. As a whole on the gaming with Portal front, I am pleased, though I can't say I am wildly impressed though from the standpoint of ONLY considering audio. The separation could be grander in my opinion. It is great, but the Penrose offers a more compelling experience from an immersion perspective. At the same time, however, I found the Portal to feel more authentic for certain FX, such as engine noises in Forza and gun manipulation in shooters. It is, to my ears, much better for both music and gaming than commonly used wireless cans such as the Actis 9x and Astro A50, both of which I've tried. Again, personal preference here, but I think the Penrose edges it out in the end if we are just considering Xbox audio quality. I am not disappointed by any means with the Portal as an entire package… as you will see in further review sections… but I cannot say it has $500 in worth when only audio is considered. It is almost on par with the Penrose, but a noticeable step down in separation of sound.
I have heard accounts from others that felt the gaming audio was lacking compared to the potential seen in bluetooth, covered below. I have not had this experience, aside from perhaps pre-EQing. Things thumped as expected, gunshots were on point, engine noise glorious and layered appropriately, etc, etc. Could be my preferences are different, could be any number of things really. An important point of contention regarding this is that the Portal is brand new and we don't yet know what B&O has in terms of update plans… they seem to be a responsive company which is reassuring… nevertheless, I thought it important to note that anecdotes from others are perhaps not as praising of the Portal as I have been. If you are trying it out and suffering from similar feelings, I suggest making sure that Atmos is not on gaming performance mode and that you play around with atmos EQs vs. B&O EQs.
Music via spotify on xbox (high speed wired internet connect, so high bitrate streaming) suffered from the same "xbox mode" bass flatness. Using the Music EQ within the B&O app helped greatly and I was able to tune from there to personal preference. Again, from a purely audio quality standpoint, the Penrose has better separation and therefore sound quality. The Portal is no slouch though and given proper tuning and with updates I think it is possible is edges up to the Penrose. I enjoyed listening to music through the Xbox immensely, still, with the Portal and can confidently say it outperforms any xbox headset I've tried aside from the Penrose in audio alone.
I've had to tune the Penrose in the past to get it where I like too, so nothing new there. The B&O tuning was effective and I really do feel like I am getting high quality audio from the Portal. It will largely come down to personal preference for the everyman of audio though.
I have heard two people now say that they find the Xbox audio for music or even as a whole seem flat and somehow off compared to the superb bluetooth audio. I have not had this in any drastic manner since toying with the EQ, so it is hard to comment on it. I personally find the Portal to be better than any wireless offering aside from the Penrose and even better than the wired cans I've tried from the likes of Sennheiser and Hyper (though there are wired offerings that would likely smash the Penrose and Portal both.). In regards to the aforementioned flatness… I am guessing it links back to the fact that B&O has created a bluetooth tune/mode and an xbox tune/mode. Their definition of optimization for gaming may differ from what I and others would prefer. The good news is that this seems like something that can be altered by B&O. The other good news is that I, as I've mentioned several times now, am happy with the Xbox audio experience using the Portal. It is not as good as I had hoped… but still better than most! I've managed to get things sounding pretty damn sweet by turning performance mode in atmos off, running a flat EQ in atmos, and bumping the two lowest frequencies in the B&O app. You may have success doing the same, some variation of it, or using some of the quite well made EQs in atmos.
Connectivity via wireless… well after I updated the firmware via the B&O app, I found the Portal to be more reliable than the Penrose. Xbox wireless is kind of shoddy in my experience… though for me the convenience is worth it. I did have crackles here and there with the Portal and found that obstructing the line of sight from headset and dramatically adjusting the headset positioning in relation to console was a recipe for disaster (to be expected though). It was not unbearable. The Penrose has been worse, connectivity wise, in my experience. My best guess is that is has to do with the fact that the Penrose employs its own wireless dongle, whereas the Portal connects like an Xbox controller. I expected a near flawless connection with the Portal… have not received it though. What I have received is better than the Penrose.
What it boils down to here is three things:
Firstly, B&O should offer more tuning options for users to decide how "dark mode/game mode" is applied. This could help with initial flatness in bass performance and compensate for the fact that the appeal of "dark mode" is largely going to come down to listener preference.
Secondly, the Penrose wins the audio quality battle by I'd say perhaps 15-20%. This is from a strictly audio quality perspective and mainly due to better separation aside from anything else… if that is what you want, audio quality above ALL ELSE, pick the Penrose. Otherwise, let's keep going, shall we?
Thirdly, it isn't fair to only compare the Portal to the Penrose. Compared to anything else I've had the pleasure (or I suppose displeasure in some cases lol) of using in the past, the Portal is vastly superior for Xbox gaming. On the scale for current xbox offerings, I give the Portal a 8.8/10 for sound quality alone . I'd give the Penrose an 9.6. My previous setup, a wired, DAC'ed, Sennheiser Game One I'd give a 7 (though its soundstage openness was legendary to me).
II. Bluetooth w/iPhone and Macbook Pro – audio quality and connectivity
The other elephant in the room
When connected via BT, the Portal is in "white mode". The standard tune here is much better and music sounds damn good with little to no EQ-ing in my mind. I'd say that out of the box, BT sounds much better than Xbox for music. WIth tweaking on the xbox side, BT sounds only marginally better, but still better… something I theorize has to do with the nature of the headset swapping to the aforementioned "dark mode"… which is very odd to me.
The Portal and Penrose differ in the same way, with the same points of contention and notes about EQ from the Xbox section applying. The Portal smashes, in my opinion, other common ANC bluetooth headsets such as the Sony XM4 and the Bose NC 700 and QC 35ii. This may be personal preference but I find the Portal to be a much welcome improvement as a daily, wireless (via BT). The sound is deep and the detail wonderful. Furthermore, it has a very authentic feeling reproduction that I especially appreciate and struggle to find in other cans, primarily those mentioned above. I couldn't find any one particular area of fault in the audio, though the separation as said previously could be better. I sort of feel like I'm nitpicking in saying that though as I truly am getting into the music with these in a way I don't not with other BT headphones. The app has an optimal EQ setting that, to my frustration, does not show you what it is doing. It does make music sound marginally better though!
Again, we are strictly looking at this from audio alone here in numbers 1 and 2. With that being reinforced, I think it is fair and important to note that while these do sound great, they are not revolutionary, inspiring, or any other word one might use to describe a transcendent audio description. They are quite simply very good, great, etc. Same league as the Penrose but perhaps a bit lower in my book for audio alone and yet better that pretty much everything else I've tried. I am guessing there are dedicated audiophile offerings that may connect via bluetooth that would absolutely wreck the Penrose, Portal, and certainly the aforementioned offerings from Bose and Sony… but I know not of them and have not tried them. These headphones, like the Penrose (if it was not so damn uncomfortable… foreshadowing to next section) are pretty much as good as I feel I need to try and go for Bluetooth listening. If I was really into it, I'd simply buy a real, wired pair of dedicated music cans as opposed to chasing the BT audio train to the station. I never really sit down in a space where I need even more wires than I already have though so I am content to have one of the best bluetooth options I can think of in the form of the Portal.
Now, the good news for the Portal is that audio quality is my harshest review section. From an audio quality only perspective there are simply better "bang for buck" options out there. For Xbox, its the Penrose. For dedicated daily bluetooth/wired listening, offerings from the likes of Bowers and Wilkins and a whole host of other companies at various price points. Don't get me wrong, I want to make it clear that I am as a whole impressed with the Portal's sound, but it is unfortunate that it doesn't blow everything out of the water. From a non audio quality perspective however, the Portal kicks some serious ass… let's dive in.
I tested BT audio using Spotify because it is what I use most often and what many people have. Its quality is on par with Apple Music. I had things set up in all cases so I could experience the best quality spotify stream with a high bitrate. I experimented with all genres (other than Opera… not a fan. I have eclectic music taste and quite literally listen to everything from Mick Gordon's DOOM soundtrack to Eminem to Mozart to AC/DC and Springsteen.)
"But wait! You said in your initial impressions that the Portal was on par with or in many cases beat the Penrose for audio quality?" Yes, I did… but those were initial impressions. In taking some time to really dive in and do side by side comparisons, I've concluded my initial impressions were slightly skewed. I personally prefer some of the Portal's sound signature and B&Os tuning but I think the Penrose has proven upon an in-depth analysis to be superior in the audio quality realm. The Portal remains to be absolutely no slouch and I think a drastic upgrade from pretty much any other Xbox option!
Comfy. As. Fuck. No other way to put it.
The Portal is incredibly comfortable for me. They are light, relatively breathable, and non-fatiguing over long periods of wear (and I've had a lot of those throughout the past few days). The cups are memory foam and leather and form a great seal without over-pressurizing or providing headache inducing compression. Adjustment is easy and I found they suit multiple wear preferences/cants (being closer to the front of your head or middle) without disruption of audio quality. There have not proven to necessarily be a "throw on and instantly fit" type of casual headset, though few options are in my experience… but once they are in a good spot they are in a GOOD spot. Truly a comfortable headphone. I wore them for about 7 hours straight yesterday, going seamlessly from Xbox to BT music and never felt ear fatigue or discomfort of any kind.
I'd give these a 10/10 for short term wear and a 9/10 for long term wear. Overall a 9.5 for comfort. The Penrose, I'd give a 4/10. I know that low score may come as a shock to those who have not tried the Penrose, but it truly is painful to wear for more than 30 minutes at a time for me. They also presented a challenge in avoiding ear fatigue… perhaps due to the discomfort of wearing them and perhaps also due to the sometimes deafening bass rumble that exacerbated issues present with Modern Warfare mixing.
Others may have different experiences, but I hated the way they clamped my head with the pressure of the Mariana Trench and had a generally unforgiving fit. The realm of comfort was where I began to suspect that Audeze had spent most of their efforts on audio quality and ignored other key aspects.
The Portal is the most comfortable Xbox headset I've used and is in my opinion slightly better than the Bose NC 700 (which is in Bose fashion, greatly comfortable) for bluetooth/iPhone daily use primarily due to the shockingly low weight and balance.
So, to reiterate, 10/10 from me on comfort, blowing competition from other wireless and perhaps even most wired Xbox compatible cans out of the water.
IV. Ease of Use and Intuitiveness
Like an Apple product. Maybe not the best at everything but damn if it doesn't work and feel well.
The Portal's user brain center is the B&O app for IOS and Android. I run IOS, so if you are on android this may or may not apply to you.
The B&O app is perhaps the most reliable audio app I've used. It has not once failed to pick up my Portal and everything is very much in real time when making adjustments to EQ, voice feedback, ANC, etc, etc on both Xbox and Bluetooth. Really well done and feels like the premium experience you are paying for.
The controls leave me somewhat wanting though. I will never understand the insistence on audio companies incorporating capacitive touch controls on everything. The Portal uses such controls for volume and game/chat balance/ANC in the form of "sliders". You drag a finger across the slider, which has two brail-esque bumps at either end. I've been getting better at muscle memory adjustments and learning the control scheme… but I don't like having to learn and would rather have an old-school dial personally. Other controls are activated by touching either earcup, something that has worked well and that I appreciate. All in all, my gripes with controls are pretty low on the totem pole as they do all work smoothly and I am sure I'll continue to get better at using them.
Speaking of controls, the aforementioned app can be used to change all settings that you can change on the headset. This feature is excellently implemented and makes things very smooth and since I normally control my spotify on Xbox via my phone (or am actively using my phone spotify over BT), the B&O app is quickly reachable and always present to help out with fine tuned adjustment.
One thing I do appreciate that I did not expect to find affinity for is the fact that the volume and ANC/game chat sliders are on opposite earcups. I never could get the hang of properly locating the dials, which were right next to each other, for what I wanted to change on the Penrose. When I did manage to remember which dial did what, I had to then recall whether I needed to push the dial in and spin or just lightly spin… something that was strange and not particularly intuitive to me. The Penrose also also lacks an IOS app and must be computer-connected for updates, EQ changes, and other alterations. Headsets from other companies that do have apps have in my experienced not connected to them as reliably either, though many variables factor in. The B&O app is probably the best audio company app I have used. Its EQ settings are clear and quick, sliders responsive, and has yet to fail to connect to my Portal.
Last item of note is simply more of a "feel" thing. The Portal does offer an ease of use and feel equal to that which I expect from a $500 product. The Penrose did not offer such equal to what I'd expect from a $300 product. With it, the patch notes came in google docs files, the computer app felt dated, and it again seemed that the manufacturer had spent all of their money on audio quality while ignoring everything else. The Portal comes with a clean and concise application that has not failed me yet. It all feels very premium… as it should for such a pricey product. While I understand criticism towards B&O for being a luxury brand before an audio brand… I must say it pays off in the arenas of comfort and usability for the average listener.
Furthermore, I must say that I would rank the Portal just as highly if the Penrose were better, or it the Penrose did not exist at all… in other words, the Penrose's problems do not increase the score of the Portal… the only reason I am including discussion of the Penrose is because it is the most recommended high $$$ offering right now. This rings true for every section of the review and ought be kept in mind.
An 8.5/10 to the Portal here!
V. Build and "Feel"
This headset really ties the room together, dude. Am I wrong?
Well, I've partially covered the technology "feel" already and various elements of comfort… so let's talk build. The Portal is metal, lambskin leather, some sort of fancy fiber stuff, and dense-seeming plastic. Overall it is again very premium feeling. I can't speak for its longevity or long-term build quality, but B&O has a three-year warranty on it which is pretty darn long compared to most companies. We have also seen early examples of B&O being a company supportive of consumers. A gentleman I met via my previous post emailed B&O support about the difference between light mode and dark mode and received a response in hours. Obviously we know nothing about long term support yet but I have high hopes and feel happy with the obvious attention to quality put into the product. The only problem I have with the build/overall package of the Portal is the lack of carrying case. $500 headphones should come with a case, period. The Penrose did not come with a case (and feel more breakable)… but they also are clearly not particularly designed for daily carry use. I wouldn't dare throw the frankly beautiful Portal in a backpack without a case and yet I have to go out and find one online to order for them. Absurd! Ultimately this is small potatoes… but it kind of pissed me off to be honest.
These headphones do feel like they earn the price tag in build quality… but I have no case to protect them. WIth that being said, an 8/10 to the Portal here. If they had a case, a 9.3/10.
VI. Features and range of use
When you need to flex on interns during the 4pm Zoom call and 1v1 them at 5.
The ANC of the Portal could be better but is quite serviceable. The transparency mode works very well. In an ANC bluetooth world ruled by Bose and Apple's airpod pros/max, the Portal holds its own but is ultimately second place for me. Another gripe is that you cannot play from both Bluetooth and Xbox Wireless simultaneously as you can with the Penrose. Now, I personally have absolutely zero use for this, but apparently some people do. Seems like it could be added in but is absent for now. Because it makes no difference on my use, it has no bearing on my review.
The Voice Feedback could be a bit stronger but to my ears works quite well in somehow leveraging a sort of transparency mode for your voice only via the ANC technology. Even in tense gaming moments I did not have trouble hearing my own voice enough to be comfortable… though this is massively preference oriented and may be different for many people.
I have not had sound quality issues with having Own Voice cranked, nor have I with ANC on high. Transparency mode is not something I like unless in public as I find it inherently interrupts my appreciation for what I'm listening too. That being said, the feature is well done here and I have no complaints. Limitations are inherent to the nature of the feature not the Portal itself.
Here's the biggest deal for me: The ability to have a pair of good-sounding everyday bluetooth headphones that are absolutely more than good for Xbox and connect via either AUX or Wireless is game-changing. I really cannot believe that I have a pair of headphones I can wear into the office, class, business Zoom meetings, etc, etc that will likely bring compliments rather than remarks like "oH hE hAs an xBOx HeaDSeT oN".
There are very few options right now that fill this role and do it well. The Penrose is bulky and clearly a gaming product. Even if it is comfortable to you, you couldn't be taken seriously wearing them in a non-gaming setting in my opinion. Other headsets suffer from a similar fate. They may offer the looks and comfort but not the audio, or have good sound quality but hurt to wear, or any other manner of hard-to-accept trade offs. The Portal is sleek, stylish, and I've already received compliments on their look. They simply are versatile as fuck… no other way to put it. I use them and feel incredibly lucky to have a headset capable of "doing it all" whilst sounding better than most.
To build on this impressiveness, the mic is by all accounts wonderful (unlike the Penrose mic, and several others I've tried). I have played with several different groups since buying the Portal and every one of them had good things to say. I was truly nervous about the "virtual boom arm" mic but can confidently say it is quite good. I've also played with someone who has the Portal and had a conversation with him over party chat. His voice came through crisp, clear, and with a surprising degree of nuance. The Portal mic ain't gonna outperform a dedicated standalone offering, but it does a damn, damn good job of attempting to. No annoying issues with me sounding like Dark Vader in tense moments, no boom arm in the way, if I sneeze I need not fear, and the thing sounds great. I've also used them for bluetooth iPhone phone calls and a Zoom call, and received good feedback from the folks I talked too.
All things considered, a 10/10 for features and range of use. I just cannot think of something that does all the Portal does with similar success. Is that worth $500 given the non-revolutionary audio experience? Well let's take a gander at my final verdict:
VII. Ranking and "Worth the $$$?" Analysis
Its all about the money, money, money…
Overall, the Portal has scored very highly in my book. It does not have the absolute greatest audio quality on the market amongst all headsets capable of being used with an xbox or even amongst all wireless headsets. It is, however, a top performer despite this and blows almost everything I've tried out of the water. The sound feels very faithful and authentic but the cans still thump when wanted. Both Bluetooth and Xbox audio is great and I am happy to pick up and just vibe with some music using these in a way I have not experienced before.
The Portal is not going to win any Grade A awards in audio quality when put up against dedicated music cans or even the much-lauded and ever-recommended Penrose. I am damn happy with the sound. Many audiophiles may find them lacking compared to alternatives I don't know of or personally found to compromise too much elsewhere to be worth it; but for many of us, the battle is not only about audio quality. Some of us just want a headset that works for all we need and eliminates the hassle of complex setups, ebay hunting, having multiple headsets, dealing with wires, etc, etc.
The features and functionality are excellent and the user experience, build quality, and feel is very much what I'd expect from $500. The comfort is outstanding. I wish they had a case and found the on-headset controls to have a high skill ceiling but I somewhat easily moved past this. Overall, I am very happy.
Are they worth $500 though? I would say that, in totality, they are worth closer to $400, so not exactly. But please indulge me in diving deeper than just saying "yes" or "no":
The Penrose has a host of glaring issues in my book, its audio quality being the only thing I don't have negative things to say on. Its audio quality is what earned it the go-to recommendation top spot that it holds. The rest of the Penrose as a package is simply not usable in my experience. Previously, it was the only option though for folks who cared for good audio and I, like many, therefore decided to stick with it.
Aside from it, there exists very little for those who want a multi-purpose, Xbox compatible, music worthy, wireless, etc., etc. headset. The Portal fills the existing gap very well, providing authentic-feeling sound, superb comfort, excellent features, what appears to be a stand-up company, and a premium user experience. In my opinion, what it accomplishes is from the overall package level, unrivaled. I suppose that is worth certain considerations… in this case, paying $100 more than what I might value the package in a perfect world. I don't regret paying the premium price and will be keeping the headset. I wish it was in the $400-450 range but now that I've lived with it I don't think I can see going back.
If you are seeking the "do it all" package that actually sounds good, the Portal may be for you. I think it is critical to buy, test, and return if not pleased and to also seriously consider if your use case fits the one I've been painting a picture of in this review.
To really distill things down even farther for you all; the Portal "just works". I dealt with no finacky, cobbled-together-feeling computer software or connectivity issues. My tuning has been limited to pretty much expected EQ adjustments here and there. I did not have to spend hours researching which two headsets would serve me best, one for music and one for xbox and then subsequently manage having both, a bunch of wires, an amplifier/DAC, etc. I care about audio… but I don't care enough to have a whole host of headsets, one for music, one for gaming, one for being on-the-go, etc. The Portal is great for games, great for music, great for a whole variety of uses. I personally find it is the best all-in-one headphone package available for those of us with Xbox (don't use a PC much for games aside from VR, so cannot speak to what is on the table as Portal alternatives there).
So to bring things to a close… are these worth $500? I say no. Probably worth closer to $400 or so. Am I ok with paying $500 for them though? Yes. I hope that makes sense, and I think it is a "vibe" that many of use regular folks identify when it comes to things like audio, Tvs, even cars and much much more. My LG CX Oled, for instance, is not in hindsight worth the $1500 I paid for it… but its the only thing on the market with its feature set melded with great performance and for that reason I will never regret paying for it. A Porsche is probably not worth the 100k asking price… but it's one of the few things that can be daily driven yet outperform most on the track. It's more reliable, comfortable, and practical than just about any high-end sports car. May not have Lamborghini performance, but it won't make your back hurt after 200 miles or leave you stranded at a gas station. I think that we are getting a hell of a product with the Portal. It may not be the end-all in audio quality, but it is pretty much the end-all as a total package for me.
The Dude was a lazy man, quite possibly the laziest in all of Los Angeles County, which put him high in the running for laziest worldwide.
Read the above five paragraphes!
Is this guy ever going to finish?
- I contemplated going through a very in-depth analysis of my testing between different audio qualities, sources, genres of music, etc, etc, etc… the typical audiophile review information. In the end, I don't think I am qualified to do such a thing though. Furthermore, I don't personally understand the point, as a non-audiophile, of tying a pair of headphones to a chair and beating the hell out of them with all sorts of rigorous testing. I completely appreciate reading reviews from those who do out of curiosity but such things have less bearing on me than real use case reviews – which is what I aimed to provide here.
- You may notice that I did not end up covering a section on movies… the deal is that I don't usually listen to movies or TV with headphones, so I am probably not in the right spot to make a judgement on the Portal's use for that… I can say that from what I did experiment with, the Portal may lead me to start using headphones for movies more often! WIth atmos, the experience was pretty damn cool.
- As I said at the beginning, I know my turn around time on this has been crazy quick… normally I would give longer for a review. That being said, I've spend a good number of hours with these amongst tons of different use cases… I've basically obsessed over forming thoughts for the last four days. I wanted to get this out given the lack of otherwise available information. I've done my absolute best to ignore the elevated feeling one normally has when trying a new product and believe I have approached this with an impartial attitude. I do think it is fair and important to admit, though, that I've been seeking something to fill the void in high quality Xbox headsets and that my hopes for these to be the solution were very high.
- As before, feel free to share thoughts and ask questions in the comments! I completely understand that $500 for anything is a very big ask. I am thankful I have been in a position to pick a pair up and am happy to help anyone out who is trying to ascertain whether these are worth their time checking out.
- To reinforce, please don't buy these from any seller who does not offer returns for full value. There is no reason not too and with anything this pricey and subjective, it is best to do a test drive first. If you'd been saving for a Porsche for several years and finally bought one you would still test drive it first even if it's a mere formality.
- Please do also remember that this is my opinion, not an expert analysis and again, thanks for reading!
- Recommendations for trying out the headphones! What did I do: Games on Xbox Series X — Forza 7 and Horizon, Project Cars 2, Modern Warfare/Warzone, Cold War, Hitman 3, Control, Fallen Order, and similar AAA games, many of which known for good sound. Make sure you have the proper in-game settings. I prefer atmos on to off but it is totally personal preference. Music — Hail to the King, Avenged Sevenfold | Set Fire to the Rain, Adele | Hotel California (various recordings, The Eagles | Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Sara Bareilles | Take the Power Back, Rage Against the Machine | Derezzed, Daft Punk | Other Daft Punk songs | Axel F. – 2016 Composers Cut, Harold Faltermeyer | Feeling Good, Michael Buble | Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden, Epic Rap Battles (lmao) | Living in a Ghost Town, The Rolling Stones | November Rain (both piano and original), Guns N Roses | Hells Bells, AC/DC | bfg Division, Mick Gordon | Assorted DOOM soundtrack songs | Elton John | Stand by Me, Seal | Take me to Church, Hozier | some Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra | Rasputin (piano interpretation), Boney M. | assorted Mozart and Beethoven | Murder Most Foul, Bob Dylan| God's Gonna Cut You Down, Johnny Cash… Basically a smattering of all kinds of music and really just the tip of the iceberg but these come to my mind as recommendations, each for different reasons.) Movies — John Wick 3, The Big Lebowski, Rocketman, Apocalypse Now, Infinity War, LotR: Return of the King, Sicario, There Will be Blood, Baby Driver, 1917.
Thanks to all, cheers!
- I’m a sound guy for concerts. I just spent 2 hours with my new Xbox wireless headset fiddling with the EQ. Don’t like how yours sounds? Try these settings (and AMA anything else)
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