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Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Superb wireless sound

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Bowers and Wilkins Px7 S2 review: These over-ear headphones offer a well-rounded, neutral sound (Image: BOWERS AND WILKINS • GETTY • EXPRESS NEWSPAPERS ) This text comprises affiliate links, we may receive a commission on any sales we generate from it. Learn more

Bowers & Wilkins returns with a worthy follow-up to its Px7 headphones. Expect superb sound and a design that trounces the competition

What we love

  • Sleek, Sophisticated Design
  • Stunning Sound Performance
  • Solid Wireless Connection
  • 3.5mm Adapter Included For Flights
  • Great Battery Life
  • Nice Selection Of Colors

What we do not

  • Noise-Cancellation Is not Market-Leading

Bowers & Wilkins really took its time with the follow-up to its much-praised Px7 headphones, which launched back in 2019. As such, it is a relief to report that Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2  have been well worth the wait. These sensible over-ear headphones arrive with superb audio performance, a snug fit, and a shocking design.

Bowers & Wilkins says the PX7 S2 are one of the best wireless headphones it’s ever produced …something we cannot argue against.

Nevertheless, the distinguished British audio brand swiftly diminished that statement by revealing its latest top-of-the-range Px8 headphones, which launched a number of short months later. It’s somewhat odd that, having waited years to launch a sequel to the award-winning Px7 over-ear headphones, Bowers & Wilkins has released two pairs of flagship cans back-to-back. Insert your individual punchline about London buses…

All of this to say, the superb B&W Px& S2 headphones are left in a rather odd position within the lineup.

In case you’re in search of the last word headphones from Bowers & Wilkins, you is likely to be happier with the newer (and pricier) Px8 headphones. Nevertheless, in the event you’re looking for a pair of premium over-ear headphones with supreme sound and superb construct quality …the B&W Px7 are the whole lot you are in search of. They usually arrive with a smaller price tag as well.

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 review

Before Apple debuted its eye-wateringly expensive AirPods Max, Bowers & Wilkins was the go-to alternative for anyone in search of a classy pair of wireless headphones that boasted a sleek design, premium materials, and great sound quality. But with the arrival of the AirPods Max in late 2020, shoppers with that criteria were left with a tougher alternative.

It’s taken almost three years for British brand Bowers & Wilkins to meticulously craft its follow-up to the Px7 headphones – and its response to the brand new competition from Apple, in addition to the sustained threat from age-old industry rivals like Bose and Sony.

In any case of that point, the pressure was really on. However the Px7 S2 headphones seriously deliver.

Bowers & Wilkins has meticulously refined the whole lot that made its Px7 wireless headphones such successful. But with a pair of second-generation purportedly AirPods Max on the horizon, are the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 once more the plain alternative for those in search of top-tier over-ear headphones to extinguish the background noise on their morning commute or long-haul flight? Our in-depth B&W Px7 S2 review has all the answers.

bowers and wilkins px7 s2 headphones review neckband comfort

The Px7 S2s have a slim profile that makes wearing them around your neck very comfortable (Image: BOWERS AND WILKINS)

Sound Quality

Bowers & Wilkins has taken a distinct approach from some rival headphone manufacturers.

While Apple’s Spatial Audio feature relies on mind-bogglingly complex algorithms to map the sound around you, like a virtual surround sound floating around your head in any respect times that adapts as you progress, Bowers & Wilkins set out with the goal to be certain that its headphones enable you to experience the music exactly as the unique artist intended.

In consequence those in search of skull-shaking bass won’t find it here. As a substitute, the Px7 S2 headphones deliver an incredibly detailed and wealthy sound, albeit one that is still neutral. That may sound somewhat flater than the pizzazz present in some rival headphones, but is ultimately rather more rewarding. In any case, it’s how your favourite albums are imagined to sound. 

Bowers & Wilkins wants the experience of listening on its Px7 S2 wireless headphones to be akin to its reference-quality 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers, that are utilized in recording studios across the globe. It is a lofty goal, but one which its Px7 headphones largely achieve.

Seriously, you will notice minuscule details in the combo that you have missed with other headphones. Even in the event you’ve listed to the identical track a whole bunch of times.

Want skull-shaking bass, or software pizzazz sprinkled in your songs? You will not find any of that here 

The breadth of the soundstage may be very impressive. A standard pitfall for noise-cancelling headphones is a claustrophobic feeling while listening for long periods at a time, however the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 offer superb respiratory room when listing to your favourite album. Not only does this make listening for prolonged periods – like a long-haul flight, for instance – pleasurable, nevertheless it also helps you to distinguish between the finer details within the audio itself.

To deliver this clarity, the British brand has fitted the Px7 S2 headphones with 40mm bio cellulose drive units in each earcup, which Bowers & Wilkins proudly states are angled to point directly towards your eardrum. In practice, it’s tough to say how much of a difference that angle adjustment makes …and even whether my ear canal is a complementary design for the precision positioning by the Bowers & Wilkins engineers. Nevertheless, the sound quality of those wireless headphones is staggeringly good – and that is all that matters.

To really squeeze probably the most from the components contained in the Px7 S2 headphones, you’ll have to make use of aptX HD or aptX Adaptive codec with Hi-Res files. While those listening with an iPhone or streaming from Spotify might miss among the most delicate details, the listening experience remains to be sensible.

And that is good because Bowers & Wilkins doesn’t offer much in the way in which of customisation. Given the quantity of labor that has gone into fine-tuning these wireless headphones to mirror the output of the corporate’s own reference speakers, you’ll be able to see the logic behind this one-size-fits-all approach. Nevertheless, it’s somewhat disappointing at this price point that headphone owners cannot do greater than increase or decrease the bass and treble by 6dB.

Contained in the companion app in your smartphone, there isn’t any EQ presets or manual equaliser to tinker with. That is prone to disappoint some audiophiles.

Noise Cancellation

Bowers & Wilkins says it has dramatically improved the lively noise-cancellation (ANC) in comparison with the Px7 wireless headphones launched three years ago.

Dotted across the earcups are six high-performance microphones that monitor the hubbub surrounding you, which clever algorithms then eliminate. These microphones are also used during phone calls to spice up overall call quality and eliminate the whistle of wind.

The Px7 S2 wireless headphones manage to quash lower frequencies, just like the hum of a photocopier or the drone of aeroplane engines, with relative ease. Whether you are watching a movie on a flight or listening to a podcast on a busy commuter train, Bowers & Wilkins will comfortably eliminate the background hum – so you will not be forced to crank up the amount to a level that you simply’re uncomfortable with just to seek out out what is going on on.

bowers and wilkins px7 s2 headphones review noise cancellation

There’s an audible quality to the core components contained in the Px7 S2s (Image: BOWERS AND WILKINS )

Even without anything playing, there isn’t any annoying hiss to be heard, which implies that wearing the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 wireless headphones to sleep on a flight will work well (not the case for all headphones with ANC).

That said, higher pitch noises cut-through the lively noise-cancellation with ease. Unfortunately, which means meaning screaming babies in your next flight, or the screech of brakes on the morning commuter train will still disturb your favourite track. It’s something that plagues most lively noise-cancellation – it just works higher with consistent, rumbling background noise – but that said, the competition – Sony WH-1000XM4, Bose 700 and AirPods Max – all do a greater job of reducing these sounds.

The truth is, while the noise-cancellation on the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 works well, it is not industry-leading. Overall, Bose, Sony and Apple all do a greater job at consistently eliminating annoying noises so you’ll be able to hear your music, audiobook, or podcast at the bottom volumes even in loud spaces.

Those looking to speculate in a pair of headphones primarily to eliminate all background sounds might wish to look elsewhere.

Design

Looming over any pair of over-ear headphones is the threat that they will make you seem like a Cyber-Man. It is a significant issue that has afflicted among the biggest brands available on the market, but thankfully, Bowers & Wilkins has avoided that exact pitfall with its Px7 S2s. These over-ear headphones sport a slimmer profile in your head, which looks a lot better when wearing them in your travels. It also means they don’t seem to be as bulky if you ought to hang them around your neck using the scarf.

Bowers & Wilkins offers the Px7 S2s in Black, Blue or Grey. For this review, we took delivery of the plain ol’ Black, which is likely to be somewhat reserved for some tastes, but we actually liked.

B&W has injected some personality with a skinny sliver band (the identical detailing is gold on the Blue pair) across the earcups, which adds somewhat flair. The combo of textures found across the Px7 S2 headphones signifies that – even in the event you select a plain color option – these aren’t a block of uniform black plastic.

For the second-generation Px7 headphones, Bowers & Wilkins has reduced the quantity of clamping force from the scarf. These still feel incredibly sturdy and there isn’t any risk of them falling off, even in the event you decided to sprint for the bus wearing them. Likewise, adjusting the dimensions of the scarf takes a good amount of oomph and, once in the right spot in your head, there isn’t any probability of those sliding back into an uncomfortable position, even in the event you place the headphones on the desk next to you for a bit, or wear them around your neck.

The redesigned headband also don’t put an excessive amount of pressure in your head – coupled with the luxurious memory foam used contained in the leatherette earcups – signifies that wearing the PS7 S2s for hours on end never bothered us. At 307g, the lightweight design (the Px7 S2s weigh 3g lower than the 2019 Px7s) also helps with comfort. As compared, the AirPods Max – which settled on aluminium as an alternative of plastic – tip the scales at a hefty 384.8g. That is the burden of the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 and two pairs of Apple AirPods of their charging cases.

It takes B&W Px7 S2s and two pairs of AirPods to match the burden of the hefty AirPods Max over-ear headphones 

The proper cup has dedicated volume up and volume down buttons in addition to one for play-pause and a slider to power on the headphones. There’s also a USB-C port for charging. Meanwhile, the sparsely-populated left cup only has a single motion button, which will be customised within the Bowers & Wilkins app to summon the hands-free voice assistant associated together with your phone or cycle through lively noise-cancellation, pass-through, or disable each.

It is a relief that Bowers & Wilkins didn’t go for a touch-sensitive panel to regulate the principal features of its latest headphones as, in our experience, that always ends in some pretty unpredictable behaviour from rival headphones. Nevertheless, it will be nice to see a more even distribution of buttons across the 2 earcups as, in our first few weeks with the Px7 S2s, we did struggle to blindly hit the best button first-time (there’s a texture to the play-pause button to make it easier to locate, but you’ll have to start out stroking the buttons before deciding on which one to tap for that to work as expected …something our muscle-memory struggled to adapt to).

bowers and wilkins px7 s2 headphones review design

The svelte design of the Px7 S2s ensures these headphones look good when worn out-and-about (Image: BOWERS AND WILKINS)

Contained in the earcups are sensors to detect when the Px7 S2s are in your head, pausing robotically while you take them off. Bafflingly, this feature was disabled by default after we took the Px7 S2s out of the box, but there is a toggle inside the companion app that helps you to turn on the feature and customise the sensitivity. By default, the sensor wasn’t quite sensitive enough for our tastes, taking some time to understand that we would placed the headphones on the desk beside us before pausing our track. Thankfully, that was easily fixed with the app.

Bowers & Wilkins has dropped the three.5mm headphone port found on the first-generation PS7 headphones, as an alternative bundling a 1.2 metre USB-C to three.5mm cable as standard within the tough carry case. Meaning you will still have the opportunity to make use of the Px7 S2s with the in-flight entertainment system in your next holiday or business trip without forking out on an additional cable (something that may not the case for AirPods Max owners) but those preferring wired listening experiences might lament the proven fact that they will not have the opportunity to make use of any 3.5 to three.5 cable.

USB-C charging – so you will have the opportunity to top-up your wireless headphones with the identical cable used in your MacBook Pro, Kindle Paperwhite, Nintendo Switch, iPad Pro, and Android phone – may be very welcome. It may possibly also charge from 0-100% in around two hours, that is one hour lower than needed for its predecessor. The brand new Quick Charge support signifies that 15-minutes plugged into the wall will restore seven hours of battery, which is an actual lifesaver while you’re desperately trying to find a plug on the airport as you will not need long in any respect before you are back up-and-running.

With a full charge, battery life on the Px7 S2 sits at 30 hours, which is identical because the 2019 predecessors but about spot-on from what you’d expect from wireless headphones at this price point.

Price and Availability

Bowers & Wilkins launched the Px7 S2 in early 2022 by itself online store and quite a lot of retail partners. Priced at £379, these noise-cancelling headphones match the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones – also launched earlier this 12 months. The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 can be found in Black, Blue or Grey.

bowers and wilkins px7 s2 headphones review design

Even after hours of listening, the Px7 S2 over-ear headphones remain comfortable (Image: BOWERS AND WILKINS )

Final Verdict

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 are superb wireless headphones that put sound quality above all else.

No matter the music genres that make up nearly all of your playlists, the stunning Px7 S2s will handle it with aplomb. What it lacks in clever surround sound algorithms, Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 relies on the premium components nestled inside its stylish earcups.

Px7 S2 relies on Bluetooth 5.0 to attach wirelessly to 2 devices at a time – so you’ll be able to switch between a phone and tablet, or phone or laptop connectivity, with SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive codecs also supported out of the box for 24bit high-resolution audio. Wireless connections remain solid, even on a packed tube with loads of other Bluetooth devices filling the airwaves and the Bowers & Wilkins headphones paired immediately the moment that we tapped the On button.

For our money, these are among the most stylish wireless headphones available on the market. The whole lot in regards to the Px7 S2 headphones oozes quality. The mixture of textures across the cups and sliver of silver makes these headphones stand out from the gang and look more sophisticated that the newest from Sony. The Bowers & Wilkins text on each earcup is somewhat much – surely a small B&W logo would’ve been a more subtle calling card? – nevertheless it’s a small nitpick in an otherwise gorgeous and refined design.

The whole lot in regards to the Px7 S2 headphones oozes quality 

Fortunately, Bowers & Wilkins has put as much effort into the performance of the Px7 S2s as the looks too. The lively noise-cancellation does a solid job of eliminating the background hum of the morning commute or a long-haul flight, while the scarf keeps the whole lot secure and cozy for the 30-hour battery life.

There are a number of nitpicks: the Bowers & Wilkins companion app is not as full-featured as among the competition with no support for EQ, the missing 3.5mm port will likely be a dealbreaker for some shoppers (although a USB-C to three.5mm cable is included within the box), and it takes some adjustment to get the wear-detection sensor working as expected.

But the most important shame is the lively noise-cancellation doesn’t hit the identical dizzying heights as Sony, Bose or Apple.

In case you want neutral but supremely wealthy sound, Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 wireless headphones are one of the best available on the market. The fashionable design looks more sophisticated than a few of its comparatively-priced rivals and the bundled carry case is hard and sturdy, with USB-C charging cable and USB-C to three.5mm audio cable included in a dedicated compartment in your travels. It is a compelling package …and a straightforward advice for individuals who wish to wander off of their favourite songs.

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