The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay Portal Wireless Headphone is pretty remarkable for reasons I didn’t expect at first. The sound quality and build quality is excellent, as expected, but the versatility is remarkable. You can use this in Xbox Wireless mode, Bluetooth 5.1 (with AptX), Aux mode, and even USB-C DAC mode. This headset works not only on Xbox and Windows 10, but also on Playstation 5, Nintendo Switch, and more. The Active Noise Cancelling tech is top notch, making this a truly portable premium headphone. If you want a single headphone that does it all (and well), you should strongly consider the Beoplay Portal from B&O.
The wireless performance is top notch, which is expected from Bang & Olufsen, as they have more wireless experience than almost every other audio brand in the world. For a direct-pairing headset to Xbox, the wireless stability was miles above most brands I’ve used. The only models that have come close with regards to stability were the Stealth 700 Gen 2s from Turtle Beach, and the HS75 XB from Corsair.
In Game mode on Xbox, the bass and overall volume is a little lack-luster out of the box. This can be quickly fixed/tuned with the easy-to-use B&O app, which immediately brought back the punch I was originally missing. Audio imaging, positional awareness, and overall clarity was absolutely amazing however. This is great for competitive gaming, as hearing footsteps even a second before your opponent can give the the final edge needed in game play. The Portal’s sound quality is a very rewarding experience in game as a result.
The touch-sliders on both ear cups are used for master volume and game-to-chat mix. Admittedly, this takes some getting used to. I’m used to the speed of adjusting dials on headsets like the Stealth and Corsair models mentioned previously. I found the touch sliders to be more consistent than I expected, even without the tactile feel. The sliders help preserve a clean aesthetic which is especially nice when out and about. The B&O mobile app also allows you to make quick and easy adjustments to volume and chat mix if you want to see the exact settings you’re at without second guessing yourself.
If I had to nit-pick anything about using the Portals on Xbox, it’s the dual microphone system. This is a really difficult one to explain because part of what makes the Portals look so nice (especially when traveling) is the lack of a mic boom. The dual-array integrated microphones sound about as good as they can in this arrangement, but not being right in front of your mouth adds a certain amount of airiness and distant sound. Of course it sounds more distant, because it is right? Your friends may find you a little less intimate sounding than before, but thankfully the clarity is still excellent. If your room has a lot of reverb, it’s likely they will hear a little more of that than before.
There is also a lot of versatility to this headset. The Beoplay Portals allows you to wirelessly connect to Xbox, use the included TRRS cable for aux listening, or use the included USB-C cable for directly connecting to a PC, or even a Playstation 5 console! The possibilities are endless and I can see this headset serving as the only one you need for nearly any use case.
Music and Movie Performance
When listening to music and movies, the Portal’s true capability began to shine. There are great value gaming headsets out there, but their weaknesses become apparent the moment more demanding audio tracks like movies or high quality songs play through them. The Portals excel greatly here, quickly eclipsing every gaming headset I’ve reviewed before. Think of this as a high-end music headphone that happens to work well on Xbox, and not a gaming headset that happens to play music.
I often try movies like Marvel’s Avengers Endgame to really push headphones and their ability to handle incredibly complex audio tracks. Some headphones and headsets fall completely flat on their face, often adding too much distortion and lack of control. The Portals act as though multiple drivers are in each earcup (which isn’t the case of course), powering through the movie with poise and control. As a result the movie is much more engaging and becomes more of an experience than before. The app has different audio preset modes as well, which help add that little extra touch to the sound to please your listening style.
With music let’s make one thing clear, this is the best “Xbox headset” for listening to music. The fullness and accuracy of the sound is incredible, often hitting notes in a way I usually don’t experience in any dynamic driver (traditional headphone speaker technology). Listening to Tidal Master-grade audio tracks via Bluetooth and taking advantage of AptX technology sounds exceptional considering there is no wire involved. The built-in amp provides all the power these Portals need to deliver a world-class listening experience without distraction. They sound signature is versatile and open enough to play with nearly any genre with ease, something I found myself constantly testing. Going from Rock to Jazz to EDM with one headset powering through them all with great control was an incredibly rewarding experience.
Comfort and Quality
Comfort and build quality is another area where the Portals demonstrate why they cost $500. These don’t feel like a gaming headset (both in hand and on your head). The float effortlessly on your head, gently hugging your ears enough for a secure grip and seal to help make the most of your sound quality. The clamp force is just right in that you can wear these out and about without worrying about them falling off. This is partly due to light weight of the headset, allowing them to get away with a softer clamp. The soft clamp force plus lambskin ear cups provide the perfect balance of creating a seal around your ear while also keeping you comfortable in long listening sessions.
The build is great as well, with no noise or creaks coming from the headset as you physically adjust them. They are surprisingly robust for how little they weigh. Buttons feel just right, the touch sliders are consistent, and the USB and Aux ports feel solid enough to handle years of use.
This isn’t the headset for everyone, especially considering this price point of $500. There’s an interesting value proposition however, in that many people have an Xbox/gaming headset AND some type of headphone for travel. When you look at something like the Sony XM4s (a $350 ANC headset), that leaves you with $150 left for your gaming headset. What the Portal offers is incredible sound quality for music and movies, comfort, an excellent noise cancelling system, and multiple console gaming support. This allows you to reward your ears with any content you consume, whether its at home or on the go.