As the Bluetooth wireless headphone category continues to grow, more and more brands are migrating their way into the fitness space. Of the budding pack, Bang & Olufsen have recently thrown themselves in the ring with an updated variant of their in-ear wireless headphones dubbed the E8 Motion.
The original E8 has been around a little while now, though the brand decided that some minor tweaks were in order, to make the headphones more gym/workout/active lifestyle friendly. I’ve had a pair on hand (and in-ear) for about a month and a half now, and after an onslaught of workouts, walks, urban commutes, and other general testing periods I must say that I’m pretty impressed. With an entry price of $350, the bar was set high to begin with, however the Danish firm is not exactly one for “half measures” or “good enough”.
Design & Features
As noted above, the tweaks that went into the E8 Motion are nominal, but thoughtful. They still come in a clever and substantial leather-clad charging case—one capable of holding three full charges for the headphones, with each charge being good for up to 16h of play time. An indicator light on the back of the case displays how many full charges remain, and the case itself is charged via a micro-USB cable or on the brand’s wireless charging pad (also clad in matching leather).
I typically use my headphones in relatively short bursts (1-2h periods at a time, at least 5-7+ times a week), and in over a month and a half I’ve actually only recharged the case twice. Having owned other Bluetooth headphones before, this is the most impressive battery life I’ve experienced to date. Because the charging case is so compact, it’s an easy item to carry around, and simply toss the headphones back in the case when I’m done using them.
While I’m generally not a fan of white headphones (and thankfully they also now come in grey), the E8 Motion are “very B&O” in terms of design, featuring a soft organic form and crisp brushed aluminum accent around the capacitive touch control portion of each earbud (more on that in a second).
Use, Controls, And Sound
Aside from sound quality itself, ease of use is a major factor in choosing wireless headphones, and thankfully B&O spent quite a bit of time on this. Connecting to a smartphone is easy, and though the E8 Motion make use of the B&O App (now refined to a single app, compared to years ago where they had several depending on the device in question), the headphones quickly and easily connect to your device once you turn on bluetooth on the device and take the earbuds out of their case (they automatically unpair when charging).
The app itself is surprisingly handy not only for learning the different commands/functions of the headphones, but also for making adjustments to sound output settings. There are four tone presets build into the E8 motion—Motion, Commute, Clear, and Podcast. Motion and Commute are both relatively similar, being well balanced for rock, electronica, pop, and other more energetic and bass-heavy listening. Motion specifically increases the lower frequencies, as the assumption was made that when listening to music during a workout or other activity, a substantial bass beat is appreciated (accurate). I found the Clear setting to work perfectly when listening to jazz, acoustic, and classical music, as it boosts more of the mid to upper frequencies.
The app also offers the ability to dial in your own preferred balance using the ToneTouch function, though in a less direct manner than you would expect. Users move a dot on a matrix that splits four corners—warm, excited, bright, and relaxed. Depending on the placement the sound profile adjusts accordingly, and users can save their individual settings as they see fit.
Lastly, a transparency mode with four levels of adjustment is available, using the microphone on the earbuds (also used for taking calls), can be adjusted within its range here. Personally I keep it set to 0%, for specific reason. While at the gym, tapping the left earbud once engages transparency mode, and at 0% it cuts the music output and mics the room, so that I can engage in conversation in the gym without having to remove my earbuds.
Working Out/Being Active
Being one of those people who’s very fussy about in-ear headphone fitment, I was curious to see how these earbuds would work out in the real world; could I get a proper workout in without constantly fussing with them?
In short, absolutely. Though the original E8 were quite stable once installed, Bang & Olufsen added small and unobtrusive “wings” to the earbuds to increase overall stability. Each set comes with three sizes of these wings, four sizes of rubber earbud tips, as well as a set of Comply foam tips. I’ve long been a comply convert given the shape of my ears, and though I gave the rubber tips a try, I immediately found myself switching out to the foam tips.
Since getting the headphones in hand, they’ve been through a slew of workouts, and I remain very happy with their overall performance. I’m not a runner, though I have put them through weight training, rowing routines, and other workouts, and not once did I find myself having to fuss or reposition them.
Functionally they’ve also been pretty idiot-proof, with single tap, double-tap, and tap/hold functions all being seamless. I found it especially smart that it seems that the capacitive touch function is disabled if the headphones “know” that you’re handling them out of your ear. They respond immediately when used, and don’t inadvertently change any functions while in your hand or pocket.
At the end of the day, at $350 the B&O E8 Motion faces some steep competition, but between their build quality, sound quality, battery life, and other perks I can 100% appreciate the overall value here. If you’re on a budget, then look elsewhere, but if you want something of quality and substance that’s a joy to use (and will last you for ages), the E8 Motion are a great option and therefore get a “Recommended 2019” from us.