Being pitched as do-it-all headphones that you can rely on for both gaming and listening to music means the Beoplay Portal have to get a lot right. There’s a good reason that headphones and gaming headsets are usually dedicated to one job.
But B&O has pulled it off? As regular headphones, the Beoplay Portal’s out of-the-box performance perhaps lacks the energy of something like Sony’s WH-1000XM4, but B&O finds an impressively balanced soundstage that makes them a versatile listen capable of handling any genre we threw at them. Everything is given room to breathe, songs are full of detail, and if you’re after a bit more low end throb then the in-app EQ can arrange it.
And we’ve said it already but it bears repeating: these headphones are so damn comfortable that you’ll keep reaching for them.
Chances are, though, that most people picking up B&O’s new cans will see the music-listening bit as secondary to the Xbox/PC functionality, and the Beoplay Portal doesn’t underwhelm here. Audio is crisp and suffers none of the muddiness that plagues many cheaper headsets, and while noise-cancelling here perhaps isn’t quite up there with Sony and Bose’s best efforts, it’s a feature that you don’t often get with gaming headsets, and really helps with immersion.
When Dolby Atmos kicks in on compatible games, it really adds something to the experience. Focus too much on taking in your surroundings in Dirt 5 and you’ll quickly find yourself careering towards a wall, but you really do get a sense that sounds are happening above and around you as you speed along tracks. Action-heavy games like Gears 5, meanwhile, are simply more exciting when gunfire and explosions can be placed on screen. Microsoft’s far cheaper headset also does virtual surround sound and actually offers more formats to boot, but there’s no arguing with Atmos on the Portal when it’s available.
The ‘virtual’ boom arm might not be up to snuff for the hardcore multiplayer crowd, but we found it to be more than up to the job, receiving no complaints from teammates about not being able to hear us. The Own Voice feature, which lets you hear yourself above extraneous sounds while you play, also works pretty well provided there isn’t too much racket going on.
As for battery life, you can expect a quite decent 24 hours when using Bluetooth and ANC, or half of that when you throw in a continuous Xbox Wireless connection. We generally got a comfortable few days’ worth of juice when regularly switching between the two during testing, but it’ll obviously vary depending on your own usage.