Bang & Olufsen has announced Beoplay Portal, its first wireless gaming headset. The product maintains the company’s signature sophisticated look, and it has more features than your average headset.
These were created with the Xbox ecosystem in mind, and with a push of its pairing button, they can connect to the Series X, Series S, Xbox One, or to a PC that has the Xbox Wireless adapter plugged into it. Additionally, they support a concurrent connection via Bluetooth 5.1 for other devices (including other consoles if you supply the Bluetooth adapter). This way, you can take calls without totally detaching from game audio.
Similar to the Bose QC35 gaming headset that released last year, the Beoplay Portal look like high-end wireless headphones (and in many ways, act like them, too), and come with a high-end price. These cost $499 and are available now in the black colorway at Best Buy, the Microsoft Store, and through Bang & Olufsen’s site. Two other colors, gray and navy, will be available starting April 29th.
This model has adaptive active noise cancellation (ANC) and a gaming audio mode that automatically activates when connected wirelessly to a console or when wired via USB-C to a PC (the port through which the headset also gets its charge). These also have a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The Bang & Olufsen app for iOS and Android has some new features that the Beoplay Portal benefits from, like microphone optimization and a game / chat audio balance. The company reports that its “Own Voice” feature allows for voice monitoring while keeping out extraneous noises thanks to its adaptive ANC. These have 40mm drivers with Dolby Atmos support for virtualized surround sound.
Build quality is another area where Bang & Olufsen is trying to distinguish itself from other gaming headsets. The memory foam ear pads are wrapped in lambskin leather, and it uses bamboo fiber textile to cover the headband padding. Elsewhere, there are a few anodized aluminum details on the Portal, like the touch-sensitive discs on the outside of each ear cup that are used to control them. Impressively, the company says the headphones weigh 282 grams, which is lighter than the mostly plastic Xbox Wireless Headset that, until now, I considered to be lightweight at 312g.
This gaming headset can last up to 12 hours per charge when you’re connected through both Bluetooth and Xbox Wireless protocol, and using the active noise cancellation feature. If you’re just using Bluetooth and noise cancellation, Bang & Olufsen says you can expect up to 24 hours of use.
Given the high asking price, I’m skeptical that these will be worth the cost for most people — especially those who intend to use them exclusively for gaming. It seems like a better value if you want to use them as your everyday headphones, too.
I’m also skeptical about the “virtual boom arm” the Beoplay Portal employs instead of a traditional articulating boom mic. It says its beamforming microphones allow for “crystal clear” conversations, and help to amplify your voice while filtering out sounds in the background. This is something I’ll need to test to see if it’s as good as Bang & Olufsen claims.
Do you need a $500 gaming headset? Probably not. While there are plenty of differences in terms of features and build quality, most people should be suited well by Microsoft’s $100 Xbox Wireless headset. But I’ll be reviewing these to see for myself what five times that amount can get you in a gaming peripheral.