[Bang And Olufsen A8 Earphones]*

The first time I saw an audiovisual system from Bang & Olufsen, I immediately fell in love. Unsuspected, I caught a glimpse of it at a window display and the unconventional positioning of the CD player took me by surprise. While all the CD player manufacturers at that time were positioning the CD players horizontally, B&O had positioned the CD vertically and most of it hanging in mid-air. I then learned that B&O products do not only stand out for their design but for the user-friendliness of their controls. Since then, I dreamt that one day I will manage to get a B&O system on my own. Not an easy feat considering that the B&O products are also known for their high prices. But among the audio systems, the intricately designed televisions and the speakerphones, I found certain items that are not very expensive: telephones and earphones.

Back in 2000, I was about to purchase a pair of Form 2 headsets. But when I went to the store, I found out that B&O had launched another product, the A8 earphones.

They were designed by Anders Hermansen, and unlike existing earphones on the market, they would adjust to the contours and curves of the individual ear and fit snuggly, ensuring a firm fit, regardless of whether I was walking, jogging or engaging in other activities. At the same time, they would provide me with unparalleled sound quality, the one I would normally expect from a B&O product. With the A8 earphones, I did not have to compromise between sound quality and comfort; I just had both.

The delicate design of the earphones won me over, and it was not long before I got home clutching a pair, even though they cost much more than normal headphones. Admittedly, I have had some problems figuring out how to wear them but I eventually figured it out. To ensure the best fit I should start with the earphone branch fully extended (outward position), and using my thumb I place the earphone in my ear canal. Then, still holding the earphone with your thumb, I use my other fingers to snap the outer branch in place over my ear, ensuring a comfortable, but not very tight fit. The optimal position allows for some movement, but does not allow for the headphones to leave my ear canal. If I need to wear sunglasses, I put them on after I have put the headphones and slightly adjust their position.

Since the launch of the product 10 years ago, there have been made imitators. Many companies launched headphones based on the over-the-ear design principle of the A8, but no company has managed to do it better than B&O. The products are either made of plastic and are of inferior quality than B&O, or they are not as adjustable as the A8.

To me, the B&O A8 earphones are a design classic and will probably be cherished for many years to come.


P.S: You can read a short story of how Anders Hermansen evolved his design of the A8 Earphones here.

[image © Anders Hermansen]


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