We received the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 headphones already weeks ago. “Take your time, he doesn’t have to return anytime soon” Jaap Veenstra reported. Good, then we’ll dedicate a thorough review to it. With use under different circumstances. And by different people.
To introduce them right away: the two ‘apprentices’ in this one are our daughters aged 16 and 18 respectively. A tough crowd to please… Your author used their findings throughout the review.
We receive the B&W PX7 – the over-ear version of the PX5 – in its original box. Tightly designed, and it does give a premium feel. When we open the box we see the hardshell (suitcase?) where the headphones are placed and nothing else… except a small square booklet Warranty & Safety. No instructions for use. Do we need those?
We unzip the gray-mixed case and take the headphones out of its jacket. What’s noticeable is that the headphones don’t fold very compactly. The headshells can be rotated so that the headphones are a bit flatter, but not really smaller. Because of this, the case also has a ‘brave’ size. Really a lot bigger than the case of my Dan Clark Aeon Flow Closed. Now it has a very clever folding mechanism, but the case of the Bowers & Wikins PX7 is not so small that the daughters (to name but a few) are going to take it with them.
The headphones themselves are nicely made, with a fine weight, and a good “look and feel”. It radiates quality, and you can feel that too. Pretty nice to see with its gray/silver gray version.
But now we go and listen! We’re done with pairing the tablet to the headphones (Bluetooth). How does this thing turn on? Button left, button right, LED goes on, off again. And the tablet does not see it anymore … how about this? That’s what you get when there is no manual.
However, it was quickly downloaded and what turns out to be? You have to charge such wireless headphones as well 🙂 A USB cable wasn’t included (your editor thinks this demo model has already gone through some hands and the contents of the box has become smaller and smaller over time (red addition: correct…:-)) so we’ll include that one as well. Plug it in (it’s now about half past eight in the evening). We are counting on being able to start listening the next day.
Not much later, out of curiosity, we check if there is already some juice in the batteries. Much to our surprise, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 is fully charged! That’s fast. And a first pleasant surprise.
Great. Connecting to the tablet goes, after a few attempts, also fine. First impression: the headphones closes out surrounding sounds mechanically already very well. It clamps pretty tight on the head. No problem for your editor. Our eldest daughter experienced it differently: she thought it was a bit too tight after a while. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting used to when you’re used to AirPods. In any case, the first step in noise-cancelling, a physical closure from the outside world, is fine.
Then we listen to a wide range of music. And that sounds very decent. Because it is a bluetooth connection, there will always be some loss compared to the classic setup with a decent amplifier and wired headphones. But the ease of use and extraordinarily effective noise-cancelling really add something.
According to the two girls the sound is really a lot better than the AirPods. Nice and full and some nice bass. They only listen to modern (commercial) music. Your editor has – as said – really listened to everything for this review. Jazz, chamber music, dance, hip-hop, acoustic singer-songwriter, even a piece of metal (Pantera!) has passed by. And it has to be said: the B&W PX7 likes everything. And it really does reproduce the genres pretty well too. Not exaggeratedly thick in the bass, reasonably balanced but with a ‘commercial’- touch by turning the bass on a bit.
It strikes me that despite the very closed model it still sounds quite spacious. Your editor didn’t expect that. The singing voices are nicely “in the head” and the instruments – like horns – get some decent space and air. It takes no effort to listen for hours. Thanks to the wearing comfort and the sound reproduction you can enjoy the headphones for a long time.
The battery life also helps with this. We haven’t timed it, but it really does last a long time. We have the headphones, even though they have been used quite intensively, only charged a handful of times.
So the Bowers & Wilkins PX7’s sound reproduction is fine. The (wearing) quality as well. What about the noice-cancelling? We’ve had some great experiences with it. One of which also helps reduce the planitary greenhouse effect.
If we listen to music in the living room, the noise-cancelling is not very effective. The sounds “from outside” are voices; live and from TV sound. This is attenuated, but due to the irregular nature of this sound it is not completely excluded. No disaster; with the music on, the tightly closing ear shells and a bit of noise-cancelling it is pleasant to listen to.
It becomes more fun when your editor moves upstairs to the room at the front of the house. We live in the city, on a fairly busy road. So with a window open you can hear everything that’s going on outside. From passing cars and scooters and passing boats to shouting or music from stationary cars. The noise-cancelling then really works perfectly.
You can set the extent to which it works with a button on the auricle “noise-cancelling off, auto or on” and choose the extent to which the ambient noise is filtered out. We’ve only set the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 to ON; the most effective way. I can’t believe how you can listen to quiet passages in classic pieces while outside the summer is in full swing and cars are passing by every now and then. That was a real ear-opener 🙂
We hadn’t thought of it at first, but watching TV via the tablet with the B&W PX7 works great as well of course. You can almost sit wherever you want, in a roller coaster, on the shoulder of the high-way, on the catering square of a big fair; and yet completely immerse yourself in The Wire of Breaking Bad. I’m sure you will be able to do that with another noise-cancelling headphone. But this one also looks nice. And after all, you appear in public anyway, so the eye wants something too.
Talking about high-way: we were going for a long drive, it was very hot outside and we took the headphones with us. The tablet was on the passenger seat and in a parking lot we connected the headphones, put on a piece of music, switched the noice-cancelling on ON and started driving. First with the windows closed and the air conditioning on. Then we turn off the air conditioning and open the windows. What a revelation! With the window completely open, arm outside, the wind in our face but in almost complete silence we drive over the high-way.
We had paused the music (can with a tap on a button on the auricle) to test how effective the noise-cancelling is in a 100 km/h Volvo from 1993 (not the quietest car your editor can tell you) with the windows open. Apart from some faint background noise, deathly silence. Then the music back on (Miles Davis’ Live Evil) and with a big smile on my face at home. All the way without air conditioning. Surely that must make a difference in CO2 emissions!
That we used to get our thumbs up from a motorist who drove next to me for a while, laughing and watching us sing along with Donny Hathaway’s Magnificent Sanctuary Band only confirms to me that the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 is a real pleasure machine. Would your editor like it? Sure would. We’ve had so much fun. And so did our daughters!