Recently when I tested the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 headphones I was very impressed by the quality of the product, especially the sound quality. The thing I mostly wanted to test was the active noise cancellation. Are the PX7, the largest (and most expensive) on-ear headphones, good at all levels? Here is our full review.
Best price: Bowers & Wilkins PX7
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 – Release date and price
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 noise canceling headsets are the brand’s flagship boxes. Therefore, you will pay a high price for them. The official price in the United States is $ 399.99. That’s $ 100 more than you would pay for B&W PX5 on-ear headphones if you buy them directly from the manufacturer.
In the UK, you can find the PX7s on Amazon for € 269. Bowers & Wilkins PX7s are guaranteed for two years and are available in gray or silver. This is the silver pair that I examined.
A set of comfortable cans
Bowers & Wilkins says PX7’s woven carbon fiber composite arms “imitate the strength and agility of the world’s fastest vehicles”, but what will interest most people is the reduced weight compared to the metal used in the old PX.
The PX7s aren’t too heavy (310g), but you can definitely feel them for longer listening periods when compared to the plastic over-ear headphones. It is a compromise that many will be ready to make to obtain this level of manufacturing quality. Like the PX5s, the PX7s are rock solid.
The on-ear design places the PX7 in a market dominated by Sony, with its WH-1000XM3, and Bose, with its latest 700 noise canceling headphones . The design is, of course, always subjective, but the characteristic fabric touches and the B&W brand have proven popular with those looking for a pair of premium headphones. The PX7s continue this trend and I am a particular fan of the Space Gray variant.
The PX7s are delivered with a robust and not too bulky carrying case. It houses the headphones, the USB-C cable and the 3.5 mm plug which are supplied with the product. The headphones fold flat, but not inward, like the Sony ANC headphones or the mega-popular QuietComfort 35 from Bose.
It stores in a case a little less easy to transport than at the competition, although the new Bose 700 have the same problem. If portability is what you are looking for, choose the PX5 suitable for traveling.
In terms of comfort, the PX7 have large earpads that completely wrap your ears and there is enough padding. The pressure of the forceps also ensures a firm but pleasant seal around your ears. Just like on the PX5, the adjustable headband is of good rigidity.
Due to the presence of buttons, the right earpiece is more loaded than the left. We find there the power slider which also activates the Bluetooth device mode, and the three buttons for play / pause and increase / decrease for volume control. On the left earpiece is the button for changing the active noise cancellation. This is a feature that PX5 lacked, so how does it behave on PX7?
Active and competitive noise cancellation
The noise cancellation from Bowers & Wilkins was one of my disappointments when I tested the PX5 headphones, but things got better with the PX7. I carried them on two flights and a long distance train trip. I was satisfied with the ANC. If you’re looking for total silence and listening isolation, I still recommend sticking to the highest setting like I did with the more portable on-ear PX5s.
The Ambient Pass-Through function is always present and can be activated either via the Bowers & Wilkins app, or by using the button on the left earpiece. However, I find this type of function a little redundant for large on-ear headphones.
It makes sense on Apple AirPods Pro, but I always find it rude to have a big pair of headphones on when I talk to someone. However I think it is useful to hear announcements from loudspeakers at a station or an airport.
It’s interesting to note that the B&W feature that automatically pauses the audio when you take off the headphones or lift one of the headphones (and resumes playback when you put them back on) worked a little better on the PX7s than on the PX5 during my tests.
This could just be the result of the design of the in-ear earpiece on the headphones, which means that instead of sliding the earmold to free the ear, you are forced to keep the headphones around your neck. It’s still a nice feature that I ended up using a lot when I stopped to buy a coffee or show my ticket to an agent.
This clear and balanced B&W sound
The PX headset, the predecessor of these PX7s, was one of the first headsets to be delivered with Qualcomm’s aptX HD codec which gives access to 24-bit music quality via Bluetooth. Many high-end headsets are now compatible with aptX HD, but few are equipped with the new generation of aptX Adaptive.
Qualcomm’s latest Bluetooth codec improves stability and latency, while maintaining CD-quality sound over wireless connections. When you use the PX7 to play games on your smartphone, aptX Adaptive technology really makes the difference.
We have also seen this aptX Adaptive in the PX5 helmet and this functionality is impressive. The team that produced the 800 Diamond Series speakers at Abbey Road studios is behind the pilots of the PX5 and PX7 headsets. Unlike the 35.6mm drivers you have in the PX5s, the PX7s come with 43.6mm drivers.
I wore the headphones while listening to my playlist Your Favorite Songs of 2019 on Spotify, a fairly eclectic mix of atmospheres and musical genres. I have never felt disappointed with the sound quality. Although this quality remains excellent, I must admit that I did not notice a huge difference between the PX5 and the PX7, knowing that the latter costs $ 100 more than the former.
It is not a criticism of either. Both models offer a natural, balanced and very hi-fi sound, and are equipped with aptX Adaptive. But if you’re looking for clearer sound quality and don’t care about the ANC, you might as well opt for the PX5 and save $ 100.
Up to 30 hours of battery life
According to Bowers & Wilkins, the PX7 headphones can last up to 30 hours. That’s enough for a round trip flight from London to San Francisco. This autonomy is competitive compared to the best ANC headsets from Sony.
I had no reason to doubt this duration when I tested the device, despite the fact that the ANC was always set to the highest level. I took two 2.5 hour flights, traveled by train for 5 hours and waited several hours between each trip. When I returned to Berlin, I still had 50% battery left.
When you run out of battery life, you can benefit from five additional hours of reading thanks to a 15-minute passage connected to a power outlet via the USB-C port. You can also use the included 3.5mm headphone jack to listen indefinitely if you still have a smartphone or tablet with a built-in headphone jack.
The PX7s are a no-brainer for those looking for the best at Bowers & Wilkins. The manufacturing quality and finish are perfect, and the sound that comes out of the helmets of this brand that we have come to know and love, is at the top. Add to that the ANC and the battery life, you get here a real alternative to the best headphones from Sony and Bose, without having to compromise on sound or features.
The only real reason not to choose PX7s is that you prefer portability over sound insulation. The cheaper PX5s are just as comfortable, just as elegant; they sound just as good and are even lighter and easier to carry.
If you prefer the latter you will have to sacrifice part of the ANC performance but this is the choice that some will make, especially if we take into account the price difference of $ 100.