Wireless noise canceling headphones have become a crowded space, with Bose, Sony, Beats, Sennheiser and others jostling for marketshare. With the comfortable can-style headphones preferred by frequent fliers and open-plan office workers (remember when we had to frequently fly and go to offices?), you generally can't spend less than $300 for a reputable pair, and moneyed audiophiles can drop $1,200 for a leather-and-walnut pair by Klipsch. Bang & Olufsen's latest, the H95, drops right in between these with a hot pair designed by MNML and going for eight bills.
As always with B&O, distinctive design is the differentiator here. And as as always with MNML, the firm lives up to their name through the relentless use of restraint. That doesn't mean underdesign; MNML's designs always look to me like the result of months spent in the studio, winnowing countless design details into, well, their most minimal possibilities.
To clarify further: A pair of Beats headphones can be said to have a minimal design…
…but to me, those look like they went to production on the second or third draft.
In contrast, when I look at the H95's, I can practically see the designers and engineers fussing over the feel of the large knurled dials (which control volume and ambient noise transparency), the level of resistance in the articulating parts, the spring levels of the headband. While $800 is out of my personal price range, when look at these I think "Yup, that's what $800 looks like."
These are more than just pretty, of course. MNML intended these to be ultra comfortable for long stretches, and unlike some other models which needlessly incorporate exotic woods for visual flair, these use the most functional materials.
"Designed to be worn for prolonged periods, the wireless headphones feature oval ear cups, soft top grain lambskin, and ductile memory foam. The comfort and noise cancellation create the perfect experience for working from home or escaping in isolation.
"Elevating every aspect of interaction, the selection of materials delivers the perfect balance between aesthetics and performance. Every detail matters - from the precise aluminum dials that control ambient noise transparency and volume to the magnetically detachable lambskin ear cushions that reveal the beautifully detailed speaker housing.
"To achieve balance between aesthetic sensibility and mechanical support, our team leveraged our extensive manufacturing experience to complement the Bang & Olufsen team."
Even the storage case--which with my $300 Bose pair, look like an afterthought--is elegant and well-considered: