Review | Bang & Olufsen Beoplay Portal

Review | Bang & Olufsen Beoplay Portal

LifeisXbox’s Beoplay Portal review | Storming in with the elephant in the room, yes this headset will cost you as much as the Xbox Series X. I will discuss in length why this high-end headset is worth €500, quality costs money and after using this for over thirty hours I am blown away by the pristine sound and puppy hugging comfort. This is the first Designed for Xbox Limited Series partnership, Microsoft uses this new official branding for licensed products that promises premium product quality and design. And oh boy, Beoplay Portal is one hell of a start and bar for other products. Danish company Bang & Olufsen created gold for audiophiles, and on a personal note, I am very proud that could review this!

Tech Specs:
Drivers: Electro-dynamic driver w/ Neodymium magnets, 40 mm Dimensions: 167.3 W x 178.7 H x 92.6 D Weight: 282gr. Battery: Lithium-Ion Battery (1200mAH) Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1 – Xbox Wireless – 3.5 mm mini-jack Codecs: apTX – AAC – SBC

The first out-of-the-box-experience

Unpacking time, always a moment to look forward to. It was the only time that the Beoplay Portal let me down a bit. The headset itself looks gorgeous so nothing wrong with that but the packaging felt cheap for such a high-priced product. One thing to note is that it lacks a travel case, which I found really odd. After all, one of the strengths of this product is that you can use it on so many occasions. Which, in my opinion, requires a travel case to carry with you when you don’t use it. Sure I could use my old Razer’s travel case but with shelving out €500, I was really hoping for a fancy solution from Bang & Olufsen. So yeah, I thought to myself, we’re not off to a great start here but that initial feeling transformed completely when I started to use the headset. Included in the box is a USB-C cable and a mini-jack cable and a rather short but informative quick start paper. You’ll have to read that one as the Beoplay features a lot of different buttons.

One fine-looking headset!

Before we continue with the important stuff like sound and comfort I wanted to talk about the design. This is one heck of an eye drooling beauty! My review kit is the Grey Mist colour, not the kind I would personally purchase but it still looks good. The other two available options are Navy and my favourite Black Anthracite. Beoplay Portal’s design is actually simple and efficient, there is nothing that screams I’m a gaming headset. It is almost a given that gaming headsets feature some kind of flashy visuals, for example, Razer’s Chroma lighting but none of that with this Bang & Olufsen headset. And for me, that’s a relief. Using this headset while playing Xbox Cloudgaming is something I recommend. I don’t want to wear a kind of attention screaming headset while I’m travelling on the train. Beoplay Portal’s features some slick design with a nice Bang & Olufsen logo on the sides of the earpieces. Its simplicity makes it beautiful, especially the aluminium parts give it a nice modern and elegant touch.

Invisible microphone

Bang & Olufsen calls it the virtual boom arm, this means that you won’t see any sort of microphone. At first, I was sceptical, but that quickly vanished. Let me explain how this actually works first, the fancy technical term is Directional Beamforming Technology. In the earcup, four small microphones can be found that pick up the players voice and eliminate any background noise. Gamers will know annoying examples in an instant, but let me sum that up. This technology cancels out eating sounds or music in the background and works 90% of the time. (Which is impressive) The huge benefit here is that you can simply put on the headset and other people can hear you loud and clear. Instances like setting your mic straight or people complaining that they don’t hear you are completely gone. When using a physical microphone this is something that happens on a regular occasion. Another wonderful feature is the Own Voice function. This is easily controlled with the left slider, here you can check how you sound so you can lower or increase your voice volume. To be honest, I never had to use this function as my voice was crystal clear for others. In other words, that fancy Directional Beamforming was working as intended!

Smooth as butter controls but it misses some crucial functions for mobile devices

Increasing or decreasing sound is done with a touch bar on the earcups that are controlled by sliding your finger over it. The ease of use is incredible, it worked every single time and just became second nature in an instant. When you are playing with your friends and your girlfriend asks something you can quickly mute the microphone by double-tapping the earpiece, you’ll hear a distinct sound to confirm that the headset went into mute. Again, this worked every single time, which is important in some situations. You can turn on ANC (active noise cancellation), game chat volume and pairing with Xbox wireless or Bluetooth is a single button press. So for Xbox control, I have absolutely zero issues and it works like a charm. It’s a different story, however, when you connect the headset to your smartphone. Let’s not forget that this headset is made to be able to play on smartphones and tablets as well, for you know… Xbox’s little thing called Xbox Cloud gaming. Since you have this headset on your head anyway I also used it for Spotify. And there I missed the functionality to skip or fast forward songs without having to use my smartphone. But again, when it comes to straightforward Xbox use it works incredibly.

Xbox Wireless and Bluetooth

In the heat of the moment, nothing is more annoying than a headset that drops connection with the Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S console. I had mixed results with headsets using Xbox Wireless protocol but the results from the Beoplay Portal have been awesome. I didn’t have a single disconnection or issues connecting after rebooting the Series X console. When using Bluetooth I was surprised to see my test results for the range, it only started to get noticeable connection issues when I was 80 meters away from my mobile streaming device. This is significantly less when being connected to an Xbox console, around 25 meters but that’s only normal. Also important to mention is that two devices can be connected at the same time.

I can’t function without Adaptive Noise Cancellation

Adaptive Noise Cancellation or ANC in short is something I use a lot in my personal life. It is my lifeguard against annoying people eating on the train or when I need to have some quiet time. This distinctive feature is pretty unique for a gaming headset! And it works pretty well, not as great as some other high-end headsets but much better than I originally expected. It completely removed car noises from the outdoor and significantly reduced the voice of my girlfriend while she was calling her mom. This does have a small impact on sound quality though, not much but worth mentioning. Be sure to go in with the right expectations if you never used ANC before, this doesn’t make you deaf or anything. Predictable noises like refrigerator sound, making a roast in the oven are undetectable and ambulance sirene or humans talking reduces it by half or even less. It’s an incredible feature that will be useful for many gamers. Even more so when playing outside! And what someone jokingly asked, you’ll still hear babies cry but heavily reduced.

Battery, how long can we game with it Dae Jim?

After three days of use I had to charge the Beoplay Portal for the first time, this was after ten hours of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, six hours of Dragon Quest Builders 2, a few other games in between and listening to music while being connected to Spotify. Bang & Olufsen claims 12 hours of gaming time and 24 hours of Bluetooth (with ANC). In practise it seems to be a lot more, it is not the greatest battery but it lasts more than enough for typical and even hardcore gamers. Of course, it highly depends on volume and equalizer settings but I was happy with the results. When the battery (1200 mAh – Lithium-Ion) becomes low (10%) you’ll notice a red light, when it reaches 2% that light will start flashing, a useful system that also turns green when you are charging the device, a full charge takes around three hours. Also useful to know, you can continue to use the headset while it is charging. So you’ll never be in a situation where you won’t be able to use your headset. You might want to consider buying a longer charging cable though as the one included isn’t long enough for it.

The most important question, is the sound any good? Spoiler: It is superb, without any doubt the best quality for Xbox!

Bang & Olufsen is widely acclaimed for great sound quality and you’ll immediately notice that when you play a game or music on the Beoplay Portal. And gaming sounds even better with Atmos turned on! For your information, this only works when connected with Xbox Wireless or a USB-C cable, but the difference is night and day. Hearing footsteps or cars in the virtual surround field is one of the most accurate and impressive sound experiences I had with gaming so far. You can easily tinker on some sound settings in the application or use one of the presets but I found that the standard setting was perfect for my taste. If you have read any of my previous headset reviews you’ll be aware that I hate how gaming headsets deal with bass. I was so glad that the Beoplay Portal doesn’t use any cheap tricks to ‘improve’ sound, bass is slightly increased but the range of sounds on display can be compared to hearing an angel sing in heaven. It uses Dolby Atmos as default, the Xbox console detects the headset and an Atmos subscription isn’t necessary. When you connect it with Bluetooth or a game that doesn’t use Atmos the sound quality still remains excellent, mid and high tones are equally present and every single sound form comes out clear. Even without Atmos active it still does a fantastic job in immersing the player.

You don’t even notice wearing the Beoplay Portal, comfort is incredible.

If you take a closer look at the design you’ll notice a few things that stand out for comfort reasons. First, the choice of deluxe materials makes this an extremely lightweight headset, 282 grams to be precise. The earpieces have a slightly thicker jaw area and the earpieces are filled with a soft memory foam filling. It is the skin from the pads that makes a difference, excuse me for not knowing the exact used material but it allows for skin breathing and is pleasant to touch. The headband is another remarkable function, the aluminium arms expand with such precision and I honestly don’t get how they managed to pull this off. It doesn’t click or anything. It is millimetre accurate and super easy to adjust to your head, making it one of the most comfortable headsets I ever used. I could literally wear this headset constantly without any sort of discomfort, pain or annoyance. Not having a microphone in front of your mouth is also a small luxury detail that greatly increases comfort!

That elephant again, why would you pay €500 for this?

I wanted to conclude this matter again as this was one of the most replied answers when I shared I was reviewing the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay Portal in our Facebook groups and Twitter. Yes, I’m aware that this headset isn’t for everyone. This kind of premium experience is something most regular gamers can’t afford. I personally wished it was cheaper so everyone that wanted this could purchase it. But for those that can lay down the amount of money, it is a wonderful piece of hardware that sets it apart with unmatched sound, functionality and comfort. There is nothing that comes close to the same quality. I could name a lot of headsets that have good value and quality, for example, the Razer Kaira Pro, the Astro A50 or Microsoft’s very own wireless headset but Bang & Olufsen created something in another league. I understand you want to be absolutely sure when you pay so much money for a headset, so if you are still doubting something feel free to contact me! (Dae Jim) But rest assured, this is money well spent! The perfect headset for an audiophile.

A must-have for audiophiles

Bang & Olufsen made a fantastic headset for Xbox, it is a premium purchase but it’s worth it. The best sound quality that you can buy and as an added benefit the comfort is incredible and it looks beautiful.