(Pocket-lint) - Think of sports earphones and there's a certain aesthetic in mind. In most cases you'll be looking at plastic 'buds, often brightly coloured or - in the case of on-ears - covered in a canvas-like material. Those bright colours used to complement the colour schemes you'll often find on training shoes and tracksuits. 

What you probably don't see that often is a pair of 'buds built using traditionally luxurious or premium materials. At least, not until now. Enter the Beoplay E8 Sport by Bang & Olufsen - which seeks to marry the sporty and premium into a single product. 

Design

  • 4 silicon tips (XS, S, M, L) & Comply Foam tips; 3 earfins (S, M, L)
  • Finishes: Black, Oxygen Blue (and limited edition collab models)
  • IP57 water- and dust-resistant

Bang & Olufsen's argument for not rushing into the sports earbud market is based around its own insistence on using particular materials and not compromising on its design principles. In this instance, specifically, it means B&O sticks to its tradition of using aluminium in at least part of the design. 

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On the E8 Sport you'll spot it in a couple of places. Firstly, when you open up the case you'll find a brushed aluminium surface covering the entirety of the top of the case, with cutouts where the earbuds sit to charge. In our model it's finished in matte black, camouflaging it with the rest of the case, but if you angle it towards some light you'll notice the polished, chamfered edge reflects light. Secondly - and echoing that design - on the 'buds you'll find another polished, chamfered aluminium ring. 

Get it in matte black and you get that classy, stealthy look that works just as well in your everyday carry as it does in the gym. But it's not the only option, so those who want a splash of colour have options: the limited Fernando Alonso version features a teal metallic ring around the touchpad; the Rapha edition has a red ring around; or there's an Oxygen Blue model which has a pastel turquoise colouring for those who feel black is a bit too boring. 

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Being sports earphones, of course, the design focus is also on grip-ability. Interestingly, B&O has taken this focus and applied it not only to the 'buds, but to the case as well. Both have a ridged finish around the outside, so that when you're holding the case or wearing the earbuds, they're very unlikely to get slippery, even when wet. 

B&O's earbuds are water resistant to IP57 levels, which means they'll get through your sweaty sessions, or runs in the rain. If the 'buds get too grubby or sweaty, you can remove them and wash them under running water quickly to get the grime off. 
 
In our own testing, the 'buds stayed in our ears very securely with the default tips and wings applied. It's a secure fit, but one that doesn't feel too snug or pressured. It's a nice light balance that ensures these 'buds don't get uncomfortable after a run, but also means the chance of one falling out is slim - so nothing to hold you back from that personal best attempt.


 
One of our favourite elements to the design is actually the hinge of the charging case. Like so many other manufacturers, you flip open the lid to get to your 'buds, but the movement of this hinge is so smooth. It's not loose or tight, which adds to that overall feeling of attention to detail in design. It's a luxurious touch that makes it feel like the 'buds are worth their rather high price tag. 
 
The case isn't just a luxury item though, it's practical too. You can place it on a wireless charing pad to refill the battery inside when empty or - if you prefer - use the Type-C connector on the back. 

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One of our favourite elements to the design is actually the hinge of the charging case. Like so many other manufacturers, you flip open the lid to get to your 'buds, but the movement of this hinge is so smooth. It's not loose or tight, which adds to that overall feeling of attention to detail in design. It's a luxurious touch that makes it feel like the 'buds are worth their rather high price tag. 
 
The case isn't just a luxury item though, it's practical too. You can place it on a wireless charing pad to refill the battery inside when empty or - if you prefer - use the Type-C connector on the back. 

Features and performance 

  • Bluetooth 5.1 and aptX
  • 7 hours music playback
  • 30 hours including case
  • Audio transparency mode

While there's no active noise-canceling (ANC) to speak of here, there are plenty of modern features that help the E8 Sport perform really well in terms of connectivity and longevity. 

The fit of the tips means these 'buds offer a decent passive seal to help keep out unwanted noise, so ANC isn't a serious miss here. However, you do get an audio transparency mode that you quickly access by tapping the left earbud. That feature's enabled by the touch-sensitive panels on the two 'buds, which you also use to play and pause or skip forwards and back between tracks. 

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If you load up the Bang & Olufsen app on your smartphone you can adjust the level of audio transparency you want too, it's not a case of being stuck with an all-or-nothing approach. 

Other useful modern tech includes Bluetooth 5.1, which helps the 'buds stay connected with each other and with the source device. With that, and aptX support for Android users, we got a consistent and lag-free experience during our testing. Not once did we find the connection drop, even when leaving the source device in another room. 

Like the connection, you rarely have to worry about the battery life either. Bang & Olufsen claims you get up to seven hours of music playback when you remove the 'buds from the case, before the need to dock again for recharging. In our daily use we were easily able to listen for a solid two or three hours with the app showing a percentage drop of around 30 per cent. 

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If you somehow do end up using these 'buds for the full seven hours, you'll get just over three additional full charges from the battery in the case before you need to plug it in or place it on a wireless charging base. That's a considerable 30 hours total.

Sound 

  • 20Hz - 20KHz frequency response
  • 5.7mm electrodynamic drivers
  • Customisable EQ in app

Like its focus on design, B&O has a set approach for sound quality and it's very much 'how the artist intends you to hear it'. That means you don't get lots of heavy bass. Instead, the result is clarity and detail, but with quality, balanced mid-level and low frequencies. 

That's the default at least, and it's a great place to start, because - while not loud and prominent - bass is well controlled and detailed. We did find that you lose some of that balance, losing the bass, when you turn the volume down - but once you're up to 50 per cent or higher, there's a great balance to everything. 

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Unlike some other manufacturers, Bang & Olufsen actually lets you adjust the equaliser too. Rather than have complicated faders on screen, you get a single dot that lets you choose the way you want the music to feel, whether that's warm and mellow or bright and exciting. If you want a dynamic, exciting sound with more bass you can have that. What's more, you can create different profiles for different moods and save those in the app with their own names. 

So, for instance, if you want a particular kind of sound for when you're working out and another for when you're listening to music on the bus/train, or when you're working at your desk, you can have a different profile for each scenario. Regardless of how you adjust it, there's a certain 'signature' to everything in the way you get clarity. There's tight control everywhere, so you never get distortion in the upper frequencies, and bass retains its feel and tightness even if it is more prominent in your preferred profile. The end result of all this is a sound that's incredibly versatile.

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Verdict

Bang & Olufsen's E8 Sport true wireless 'buds set themselves apart from the usual crowd by looking and feeling ultra-premium. These in-ears also just happen to be waterproof, practical and durable too. It's a great combination, plus the sound profile and fit is superb.

Combine that practicality with B&O's signature sound and an app that lets you customise the equaliser to your liking, and you'll find this is probably the best-sounding pair of workout headphones on the market.

Except, thanks to that premium styling, you can wear these 'buds during your commutes to work with your business attire and nothing would look out of place. How's that for premium and versatile.

Alternatives to consider

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Powerbeats Pro

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Since launch, the Powerbeats Pro has been virtually unchallenged as the top workout headphones. It'll cost you less than B&O's effort, and has a design that'll keep these 'buds stuck on your ears while delivering great sound and battery life. 

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Master & Dynamic MW07 Go

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Master & Dynamic's smaller and more affordable true wireless 'buds deliver dynamic sound in design that fits snugly in the ear with a flexible, grippy comb-fin. Battery life isn't as good as B&O's, but the cost is a lot lower.

Writing by Cam Bunton. Editing by Mike Lowe.