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Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal review
1:33 pm | February 8, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , , | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

Those people and businesses that are protective of their liquid assets will probably exclude the Danish luxury brand Bang & Olufsen from their product choices.

Bang & Olufsen has a long and impressive history of delivering excellent audio technology for those that care more about quality than price, and its new Beocom Portal headphones haven’t strayed from that path.

However, compared with gaming-orientated or audiophile-luring headphones, these have been designed more with hybrid workers in mind. And are being promoted by Bang & Olufsen as “the next big step in our efforts to grow our business-to-business portfolio which is an important strategic focus area for Bang & Olufsen”, according to John Howard, Head of Enterprise at Bang & Olufsen.

In service to those objectives, these Bluetooth-connected headphones are Zoom-certified out of the box and come with support for all the commonly used communication platforms.

Therefore, irrespective of the particular standardisation of the purchasing business, these should be suitable.

One caveat of deploying these types of devices away from the office is resolving technical issues without onsite support. The Beocom Portal headphones come with Beocom link USB wireless Bluetooth adapters (with aptX Adaptive Codec), pre-paired for use and supporting both USB Type-A and USB Type-C ports on the host device.

If the connecting technology is already Bluetooth enabled, Bang & Olufsen has apps, Apple and Android, that can establish the pairing easily with the minimum of fuss.

These headphones aren’t exclusively Bluetooth, as they include the cables to connect them to both USB and 3.5mm audio systems. The USB-A to USB-C cable also doubles to charge the Portal headphones, although no charger is included for those that don’t have access to a USB-A system.

Once these are connected, the user can experience the “uncompromised Bang Olufsen signature sound”, or clear communication and audio rendering for those who don’t speak PR.

It achieves this by using an array of beamforming microphones to isolate and amplify the voice of the user while cancelling out background noise, though cancelling can be disabled if required. A prerequisite for those that spend their days calling others, along with long-wear comfort, these are things that business headphone designers can no longer ignore.

While these might look very similar to the previous Beoplay 500 design, plenty of business-friendly changes make these more suitable for hybrid workers.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal price and availability

The Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal isn’t cheap or even attractively priced, and those expecting otherwise aren’t familiar with this brand.

The only choice here is that they come in Black Anthracite, Navy or Grey Mist colour schemes.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
  • Value score: 3/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal design

  • Designed by Jakob Wagner
  • Stylish and lightweight
  • Simple to operate

For those unfamiliar with the name, Jacob Wenger is an American industrial designer and entrepreneur that founded his own design firm, Jacob Wenger Design, LLC, and it specializes in high-end custom furniture and product design.

Therefore, while it might be a leap to suggest that he designed the Beocom Portal headphones, his design team was responsible for their ergonomics and visual styling.

Unsurprisingly, these have all the hallmark deference of a product design exercise where every sharp edge has been eliminated and replaced with a sweeping curve.

What makes these stand out from other headphone makers' products are some simple refinements that elevate the user experience.

Where most headbands have a notched connection to the driver covers, on the Beocom Portal, they move smoothly, allowing for a great degree of positioning. It’s a tiny thing, but it makes for even greater comfort. The breathable fabric used for the headband is another factor in making these easy to wear throughout a working day.

In other respects, the control mechanisms of the Portal follow a pattern that anyone who has experience with B&O Bluetooth headphones will be familiar with.

Each of the metal surfaces on the cup faces operates as a touch input, but the subtle nuances of this design are that strictly what gestures do entirely depends on the mode of operation.

For example, if the wearer is taking a call, then tapping on the left cup will end the call. But the same action will pause a track playing over Bluetooth. Some actions overlap, and some are entirely different. These peculiarities might take some learning by the user, but it’s logical.

However, the controls assume oddly that music lovers never repeat tracks or fast forward.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

What the designers avoided was using touch on the cups for volume controls, instead using a rocker/slider on the left cup to control noise cancellation and one on the right side to adjust volume levels.

Each side also has a single pressable button, with the right one doubling as the power and Bluetooth pairing control and the left side mute.

The physical controls have their limits, and we’d strongly recommend installing the Bang & Olufsen Beocom app on your phone, as this allows you to easily switch between different modes and levels of noise cancellation. And, this tool can also update the onboard firmware should the makers release updates.

Both the USB-C connection and 3.5mm audio jack is placed on the right side, assuming that the computer will be on that side of the user if they’re using wired technology.

Bang & Olufsen opted for a design that doesn’t have a boom microphone, instead a beamforming array to identify the wearer from other sounds and focus exclusively on that source. The quality is more than acceptable and well within the spec required for making and receiving calls, but it isn’t the clarity needed for broadcast work, like a podcast.

Overall, these are exceptionally classy headphones that work well in a business context, although some audiophiles might take exception to the inability to reverse skip tracks and move through audio accurately.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

Design score: 4/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal features

  • AAC and aptX Adaptive
  • Google Fast Pair and Microsoft Swift Pair
  • Good battery life

The Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal that was sent to us for review came with the following hardware:
Frequency range: 20 – 22,000Hz
ANC: Adaptive ANC with Transparency Mode plus Dolby Atmos
Drivers: Electro-dynamic driver w/ Neodymium magnets
Drive diameter: 40mm
Driver sensitivity: 95dB @ 1kHz / 1mW
EQ: Presets and custom settings via Bang & Olufsen App
Designer: Jakob Wagner, LLC
Fit: Circumaural
Dimensions (WxHxD): 167.3 x 178.7 x 92.6mm

The Bluetooth technology in the Portal is version 5.1, which goes beyond the standard ABC codec with both AAC and aptX Adaptive.

Due to the audio compression used, variable between 5:1 and 10:1, the aptX Adaptive is the preferred method of connection for best audio fidelity, as it offers up to 420 kBits of data at 48 kHz.

That’s for a single source, but it is possible to have multipoint connections for those transitioning from a PC to mobile phone use.

By default, the headset will automatically try to connect to the last device that was paired, and it supports both Google Fast Pair and Microsoft Swift Pair technologies.

Ironically, the best audio quality available is undoubtedly over USB. When connected using the provided cable, these will be seen by the connected PC as rated for Dolby Atmos playback.

Another high-quality sound option is the audio jack mode, but it has a few limitations since it won’t work if the Portal isn’t powered by the battery or through USB. But with power available, even when using audio jack input, the noise cancelling and some controls will work as expected.

Noise cancelling on these is good, but not quite as amazing as we’ve experienced on some of the more expensive options from Sony. The effect is that low-frequency rumbles are all but eliminated, but higher ranges are muffled. This allows you to realise someone alongside is speaking to you in person but removes most unwanted background sounds that you might experience in an office. There are five levels of ANC, enabling the user to find the one that makes them less distracted by those around them while not entirely deaf while wearing them.

You can also adjust the level of your own voice feeding back into the headphones, which can be helpful if you are raising that to cope with a bustling environment.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

The B&O Android application provides full control over the features of these headphones (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

The similarities between the Beocom Portal and Beoplay 500 series headphones might lead some to think they are the same product, but some distinct differences exist, especially in respect of the battery.

Where the Beoplay 500 offer 19 hours of talk time with Active Noise Cancellation, the Portal has extended that to 23 hours and listening to music at a moderate volume level offers 47 hours with Active noise cancellation (connected to the Beocom Link A or C dongle).

That extra time should make the Portal last through at least three working days, as they turn off after 15 minutes without an active audio stream.

The quoted times are dependent on the sound being relayed through the headphones, as high-impact audio, like rock music, will use more power to output compared to a flute solo.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

Both USB-A to USB-C and 3.5mm audio cables are included (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)
  • Features score: 4/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal Sound

  • Best over USB
  • Balanced soundscape

When phones get more than 10,000 mAh, they’ve got enough battery for extended use without a recharge, and this one has 10800 mAh of battery inside.

According to Doogee, the V30 should operate for more than three days of typical use without needing a recharge, and it might make it to a fourth.

The included 66W charger can recover 50% of its battery capacity from empty in around 30 minutes, although if you use the 15W wireless charging, it will take four hours to reach the same level.

There are rugged designs that offer more battery, but they trade weight for that advantage, and the physical mass of the V30 isn’t so great that it becomes impractical.

The available capacity is enough for a camping holiday, and the power efficiency of the platform makes the most of it.

  • Sound score: 4/5

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal

(Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

I could wax lyrical about the balanced frequency response, how they feel after you’ve been wearing them for hours and the generally wonderful build quality, but none of these things obscures the fiscal elephant in this room.

If you want some high-quality headphones that are equally impressive user for work or play and carry this logo, then be prepared to open your wallet wide.

Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal score card

Should I buy a Bang & Olufsen Beocom Portal?

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Astro A30 review: stellar if not completely out of this world
7:25 pm | February 4, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Computers Gadgets | Tags: , , | Comments: Off

Astro A30: One-minute review

Astro always aims for the stars, and its latest offering, the Astro A30, is no different. While the brand doesn’t always get there – specifically with its more budget-friendly offerings – the tactic at least gets it to the moon, and that's especially true here. 

The Astro A30 looks great and inherits some of the A40’s customizability. And, it’s a quality purchase as well, delivering in audio performance, comfort, and versatility – even if you do have to pay a slightly hefty price to get it. However, it’s not devoid of shortcomings, although some of those can be remedied by mere EQing, and despite having all the right elements, it doesn’t do enough to really stand out.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Still, it's great where it matters. It's also among the latest models to join this new breed of gaming headsets that tries to do it all, which I'm absolutely here for, especially since it also means that it could potentially save users money (and perhaps even lower their carbon footprint).

Is the Astro A30 going to win the race to the stars? Probably not, but it’s still a stellar choice and one of the best wireless gaming headsets right now.

Astro A30: Price and availability

  • How much does it cost? $229.99 / £229.99 / $429.95
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
Astro A30: SPECS

Interface: 2.4GHz transmitter, Bluetooth, 3.5 mm aux cable
Platforms: PS5, PC/Mac, Xbox Series X|S
Mic: Removable boom mic, Built-in mic
Surround sound: 3D audio
Weight: 326g

I wish the Astro A30 wasn’t so steeply-priced. At $229.99 / £229.99 / $429.95, it is a hefty purchase for most people, particularly because we’re in the middle of high inflation. That isn’t to say it isn’t worth it because you are getting a versatile pair here that can be used for PC and console gaming, and can moonlight as headphones. 

But, there are other gaming headsets with very similar features and capabilities at a more affordable asking price. The SteelSeries Arctis Nova 7 Wireless is a terrific example. For just $179 / £174 (about AU$310), it also delivers slightly better sound quality and promises a longer battery life.

If you have cash to spare, however, and are a fan of Astro headsets, like the legendary Astro A50, you might prefer the Astro A30. It’s also a good one to add to your collection if you’ve got one going.

  • Value: 3.5 / 5

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Astro A30: Design

  • Comfortable and customizable but some clamping force
  • Plastic yoke is easily scratched
  • Mobile app support

Personally, I adore the Astro A30’s look and design. I appreciate the uniqueness of its rounded square ear cups since many of the newer releases from Astro’s rivals have gone with an oval design. Plus both its speaker tags and ear cups are magnetically attached so you can swap yours out to match whatever aesthetic you’re currently into.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

There are things that I wish were better, however. The plastic yoke that attaches the ear cup to the band is easily scratched – so much so, I’ve had to gently remove shaved bits of it whenever I accidentally scrape it against something. And, I tend to be a little OCD about my gear so I’m usually very careful and take good care of them.

On top of that, the Astro A30 has a bit more clamping force than most of the gaming headsets I’ve tested in recent months. Coming from someone with a regular-sized head, that’s saying something. To offset that, I put the headset over my cats’ food bin and kept it there for 24 hours. That seemed to fix the issue.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

I don’t think either of those things is a massive deal-breaker. Besides, the Astro A30 has a slew of excellent design features that more than make up for those. The memory foam ear cups, for one, are plush, comfortable, and soft to the touch. The physical controls are intuitive and easy to remember. And, the overall fit is great, so as long as you break it in a little, it should stay comfortable for hours.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Another fantastic feature worth highlighting is the mobile app support. The Astro A30, as I’ve mentioned, isn’t just for PC and console gaming. It moonlights as a great pair of headphones as well, one you can use with your phone, wearables, and tablets to consume other forms of entertainment via Bluetooth. With your phone, you can download the Logitech G mobile app and manage your audio mix, check on battery life, and most importantly, personalize the audio with its five-band EQ.

  • Design: 5 / 5

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Astro A30: Performance

  • EQ and dual-audio mixing
  • Good sub-bass and balanced high end
  • Clear microphones

One cool thing about the Logitech G mobile app is that its five-band EQ, which is available for the Astro A30, is actually pretty powerful. It lets you cut or boost a frequency by 12db, which has allowed me to fix the minor complaints I have about its default audio performance. I could offset the sibilance a little, for example, that’s present at default due to the high end being a little too pronounced. 

Another cool feature here is the dual-audio mixing. Not only does the Astro A30 offer multi-connectivity and multi-platform compatibility, but also lets you hear audio from two different sources at the same time. It does a good job of balancing them as well. I personally don’t have a lot of use for such a feature, but very few gaming headsets offer it so it gives the A30 a bit of an edge.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Not that it needs extra frills to be great. The Astro A30’s audio performance hardly needs assistance, delivering good sub-bass extension, good mids, and a fairly balanced high end. Listening to tunes like Kendrick Lamar's DNA, Naseebo Lal & Abida Parveen's Tu Jhoom, and Rihanna's Lift Me Up has been enjoyable, though perhaps not perfect.

When listening to music, I’m definitely not getting a lot of rumble here, even with bass-heavy tunes and even when I’m EQing – that rumble is at around the 60Hz frequency, and the mobile app’s EQ band stops at 125Hz. Meanwhile, the high end tends to be a little pronounced so some sibilance appears when listening to things with a bit of sizzle. Finally, there tends to be strong low-mids, so depending on what you’re listening to, things might sound a little muddy.

As far as soundstage goes, the Astro A30 is not the most intimate headset as it feels like there's some distance between the listener and the music. It’s not bad, but it also feels like you're watching musicians from the audience instead of standing on stage or in a small room with them.

You’ll get a slightly different experience when you’re playing your favorite PC games. I’ve found when playing Control, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Rocket League that the lifted high end allows games to sound more detailed and the boosted low-mids make everything sound a little fuller. As for the soundstage, that little bit of distance actually helps immerse you in the game.

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Adding to its versatility – and ability to moonlight as a pair of headphones – is its dual-mic design. The removable boom mic tackles your communications during gaming, while the built-in mic allows you to keep things compact when you’re at the airport or train station. They’re a great pair of microphones too. The boom mic comes through clearly and has decent background noise isolation, despite the frequency range not being very wide and having a little less high end. Meanwhile, the built-in mic has a little more high end, though you will sound farther away and the background noise will come through a little louder.

There’s certainly decent battery life here, giving you about 27 hours of playtime, but honestly, for a pair of headphones that doesn’t have RGB lighting, I expected more. Its longevity seems to extend a bit when on Bluetooth, however.

  • Performance: 4.5 / 5

Should I buy the Astro A30?

Astro A30 on a lavender desk mat

(Image credit: Future / Michelle Rae Uy)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

Also consider

If our Astro A30 review has you considering other options, here are two more gaming headsets to consider...  

Astro A30: Report card

  • First reviewed February 2023

How I tested the Astro A30

When testing PC gaming headsets, I pay very close attention to audio quality, testing its frequencies, volume, soundstage, and sound imaging. Because a lot of gamers prefer a lot of rumble to really get into the most intense moments of their game, I also feel for any rumble a gaming headset can offer. If there's EQ-ing offered via software or app, I play around with that as well, especially if a headset's default sound performance isn't quite on par.

I also don't just test with games; because most gamers use the same headset for watching movies and listening to music, I see how well one fares play other media as well. I also test it with different inputs, especially if it has multi-platform compatibility.

Of course, equally important are a gaming headset's comfort, versatility, build, and mic performance, especially for gamers who stream or play a lot of multiplayer games. If it's a wireless headset like the Astro A30, I test its wireless performance and range.

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

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