The Bang and Olufsen Beoplay Portal made me completely rethink my approach to headphones for both gaming and casual use.
These headphones, which are targeted at gamers, are packed with a range of terrific features for both the user on-the-go and the user who sits on the chair or on the couch for long periods of time.
That being said, the microphone is pretty unideal for gaming use and the price is super high. Here’s what I think.
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay Portal (PC and PlayStation model)
WHAT IS IT?
The gaming-oriented headphones of the Beoplay series.
Incredible sound quality, long battery life, terrific device switching capability (Bluetooth and USB-A/USB-C dongle).
Microphone isn't ideal for gaming use. An incredibly steep price for a gaming peripheral.
B&O at it again
Bang and Olufsen are famous for their sound devices, which have a long history of being high quality. The Beoplay Portal continues the trend, offering a tremendously satisfying listening experience.
For the past five years, I’ve used a wired gaming headset: the Logitech Pro X Wired. It’s a terrific headset, with nice microphone quality, great sound quality and awesome build quality. But it’s wired. I’ve long thought about how it would be using a wireless gaming headset and now I know…
Not once did a cable get caught on something while I was using the Beoplay Portal, nor was charging ever an issue (over my week of constant use both in the home and on the go, I charged it three times: the initial charge, on day three and day five). It allowed me to completely focus on the game I was playing or walk down the street or catch a train while listening to music seamlessly.
This was backed up by the Beoplay Portal’s loud sound and Dolby Atmos support, along with high build quality. There was also no noticeable lag when playing a game, so I was pretty satisfied.
With a price as high as this, you can expect some pretty nifty features. The Beoplay Portal features noise cancellation, which works passably well to not hear anything around you while gaming, and a transparency mode, perfect for if you want to hear your surroundings.
These features are treated as opposites through the Beoplay Portal app and on the headset. Swiping your finger up on the left touch-slider will switch it to noise cancellation mode, whereas swiping it down will switch it to transparency mode. You can adjust the intensity of these settings with your swipe. the touch-slider on the right headphone adjusts volume and you can use the touch-sensitive sides of the headphones to pause, play, accept a call or mute your mic.
Work and play
Just quickly I’ll gush about the coolest feature that the Beoplay Portal headset has: dual-device audio.
Let me explain. This device has two signal inputs: Bluetooth and dongle (which can either be USB-A or USB-C, the device comes with both). These can be used simultaneously, which means that you can listen to two different devices at once.
When could this come in handy? Well, imagine you’re playing a game and you get a call on your smartphone. Having this set up means you don’t have to devote your attention to the smartphone and that you can continue to hear the videogame audio while listening to the call audio over the phone.
It’s really, really cool, and I haven’t used it on a device before. It actually came in handy more than once during my week of use. It was quite easy to set up too, all I needed to do was insert the dongle into my computer and pair the headphones to my phone. It was also pretty seamless, reconnecting to my PC dongle when it reentered range.
Not without its problems
The Beoplay Portal isn’t a perfect peripheral, and the inbuilt microphone is a perfect example of this.
Gamers typically have two choices when it comes to audio input: they can either use the microphone that their headphones come with (which I do, and it’s fine with the Logitech Pro X Wired headset) or they can use an external, additional microphone.
With that in mind, understand that the microphone built into the Beoplay Portal is… Not ideal for gaming. In fact, I’d argue it’s quite bad. Over Discord, my audio was choppy and often distorted, as if I was speaking on a smartphone microphone.
While this is fine for on-the-go use and phone calls, as it sounded no different to the typical call quality you can expect from a pair of headphones, it’s not ideal for gaming, where microphone quality actually matters quite a bit.
Moreover, though the earlier mentioned dual-device feature is pretty cool, it’s a double-edged sword. More than once, I’d have to disconnect and reconnect my phone to the headset via Bluetooth for my microphone to work on a call. When something feels seamless and then suddenly… Isn’t, it’s not a great feeling.
Wait, what was that price?
Yup, $880. These headphones cost more than my TV.
That’s a high price for any portable audio device, be it a portable speaker, earbuds or pair of headphones. The closest relative the Beoplay Portal has, in terms of price, is the AirPods Max ($899 through Apple). I’m not sure if the sound quality in these headphones is that much better than in my casual-use OPPO Enco X earphones, but I will say that the bass was deep and there wasn’t any noticeable distortion. It definitely sounds about B&O.
But I don’t think the Beoplay Portal is worth $880 when its alternatives are much cheaper. Though it is a premium headset, and it does make a terrific pair of headphones in both the contexts of gaming and mobile use, it’s held back by its microphone quality and the fact that alternative headsets could easily cost less. A gaming headset rarely costs upwards of $300, so it’s well outside of its competitor’s price range.
For much less than $880, you can get a decent pair of gaming headphones with a nice microphone (the Razer Kraken costs less than $200) and the Sony WH1000XM4 headphones ($388 through Sony). These are both fairly high-end accessories, which makes the prospect of a two-in-one for almost $300 more a bit tough.
I love you, Beoplay Portal, but you don’t make sense.
Keep in mind when you’re shopping for the Beoplay Portal that there are two options for the same price: The PC and PlayStation option and the Xbox option. Both options have Bluetooth, while the PC and PlayStation model offers additional wireless connectivity through a dongle and the Xbox version offers Xbox Wireless Connect. I reviewed the PC and PlayStation model.
Note that you can’t buy this device through the Bang & Olufsen website in Australia.