You’d think that gaming must be doing pretty well when luxury audio bigwig Bang & Olufsen (B&O) wants to get in on the game.
The Beoplay Portal is their first-ever wireless gaming headphones and what’s most apparent is that they chose not to ditch their classic minimalist design for gaming’s familiar black schema.
Portal is B&O’s first foray into the gaming lifestyle. Image: B&O
The Beoplay Portal shares many physical similarities with the H-series headphones, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you expect from a gaming headphone, style-wise.
But what shouldn’t disappoint is the usual roster of top-notch accoutrements, such as premium materials, a polished aesthetic, as well as the B&O standard for sound quality.
The Portal shares much of the same design language as its lifestyle counterparts. Image: B&O
The Jakob Wagner and B&O designed headphone is built around a pair of 40mm neodymium drivers. Portal supports Dolby Atmos for virtualised surround sound and the setting can be applied to music and games on top of movies. Instead of a boom mic, B&O went with a beamforming microphone array with Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) that utilises feed-forward and feedback circuits. There’s also an Own Voice feature, which adjusts the level of microphone input being fed into your headset so you can better control the volume of your speaking voice.
Touch controls are built into the side of the earcups as touch-sensitive aluminium discs with an anodised gradient effect. B&O reshaped the cushioned parts for a better fit, while the offset padding on the headband is made with bamboo fibre textile to relieve pressure on your head. B&O is one of few manufacturers that use actual leather, and the Portal features lambskin leather despite the gaming moniker.
I wouldn’t have guessed that this was a gaming headphone. Image: B&O
Because Portal was developed as part of the Designed for Xbox program, it is supposed to connect seamlessly to Xbox Series X and S and Xbox One consoles via Xbox Wireless protocol, a high bandwidth, low latency connection. The headset also supports Bluetooth 5.1, aptX Adaptive, and USB-C. The accompanying app now has a Gaming Mode that automatically activates when connected to Xbox Series X and S, Xbox One or PC using a dongle or USB-C. The mode brings up gaming relevant settings like microphone optimisation and game/chat volume balance.
The Portal weighs 282g and sports a 1,200mAh battery, which is rated for up to 24 hours of continuous playtime using Bluetooth and ANC; or 12 hours of playtime using Xbox Wireless, Bluetooth, and ANC.
It’s always interesting to see how a ’traditional’ audio company designs a headphone for gaming, given that the sound signature desired by gamers is often at odds with a traditional audiophile’s preferences.
If this is up your alley, you can check the new Portal out at Bang & Olufsen’s Grand Hyatt store and select retailers such as Challenger and Harvey Norman. Beoplay Portal is priced at $799 and is available in Black Anthracite, while Grey Mist and Navy will be available from June onwards.
Nice and clean, and a stylish shade of slate. Image: B&O