Bowers & Wilkins Px8 evaluate: Unimaginable sound comes at a value
When Bowers & Wilkins introduced its Px7 S2 headphones final 12 months, the corporate made it clear that it already had a extra premium providing practically prepared for prime time. Three months later, the Px8 arrived. Whereas the Px8 carries an identical look to its predecessor, Bowers & Wilkins crafted this set of headphones out of extra luxurious supplies and managed to enhance what was already nice sound high quality. Nonetheless, the upgrades come at a steep worth: the $699 Px8 is $300 greater than the Px7 S2.
At a look, the Px8 appears to be like practically similar to the Px7 S2 Bowers & Wilkins debuted final 12 months. Upon shut inspection although, the variations grow to be obvious. The Px8 has a barely extra refined aesthetic, with delicate leather-based changing the woven material on the skin of the scarf and ear cups. The outermost panels of the earcups, the place the corporate’s wordmark resides, is now metallic as an alternative of plastic. And the arms and headband slider are forged aluminum, additional complementing the extra premium design.
- Wonderful battery life
- Pristine sound
- Stable ANC
- Refined design
- Not as snug because the Px7 S2
- Computerized pausing nonetheless wants work
The Px8 weighs 13 grams greater than the Px7 S2, which might be (no less than partially) as a result of change in supplies. Reminiscence foam ear cushions maintain issues comfortable, however you possibly can really feel the additional load when you’re doing a side-by-side comparability. For that purpose, I give a slight edge to the S2 when you want one thing to put on for a number of hours at a time. After a Vegas to Atlanta flight this month, I used to be beginning to really feel the added weight – and in addition the rings across the ear cups.
On-board controls are nonetheless bodily buttons on the Px8, they usually’re in the very same areas because the Px7 S2. On the suitable, an influence/pairing slider sits above a trio of buttons for quantity, playback and calls. Over on the left aspect, a single management toggles between lively noise cancellation (ANC), transparency mode and each off. Whereas some corporations have nixed buttons in favor of contact panels, these aren’t at all times dependable, however what Bowers & Wilkins gives right here actually will get the job achieved.
The Bowers & Wilkins Music app offers you entry to the entire settings on the Px8, identical to it has for the corporate’s earlier headphones. On the principle display screen, there’s up-to-date battery standing with noise mode choice just under (ANC, Go-through and off). You can even handle connections right here because the Px8 helps multipoint Bluetooth with two units. Lastly, the corporate has put media controls (when you hyperlink suitable companies), tone settings, a fast begin information and product help proper on that first panel.
When you dive deeper into the settings part, battery life proportion and noise mode (or Environmental Management as the corporate calls it) are prominently displayed as soon as extra. Treble and bass sliders are there as nicely, permitting for very fundamental EQ tweaks. The corporate hasn’t offered any presets right here, so that you’re left with these two variables to regulate. The flexibility to handle connections is repeated right here as nicely, simply above the choice to reassign the Fast Motion button on the left earcup. By default, it cycles between sound modes. Nonetheless, when you want, you can also make it summon a voice assistant.
The final two notable objects need to do with energy administration. First, Bowers & WIlkins gives an automated standby characteristic that prompts a low energy state after quarter-hour of inactivity. You’ll be able to swap it off when you’d like. The second device is the flexibility to activate or disable the wear and tear sensor for automated pausing. The corporate says this could pause music if you elevate one earcup, however that isn’t at all times the case. Bowers & Wilkins offers you three sensitivity choices to assist fine-tune it (low, medium and excessive), however none of these treatment the truth that the Px8 – just like the Px7 S2 – is sluggish to pause if you elevate an ear cup or take them off your head. This might nonetheless use some work in order that on the very least audio resumes faster after a break.
Sound high quality
One key space the Px8 differs from the Px7 S2 is sound high quality. The place the latter packs in a pair of 40mm bio cellulose drivers, the previous is provided with two carbon items of the identical dimension. I’ll admit I don’t know sufficient about headphone building to let you know if one is technically higher than the opposite, however what I do know is that the Px8 sounds unbelievable. The Px7 S2 already had nice audio high quality, however Bowers & Wilkins one way or the other manages to take issues a step additional with this mannequin.
There’s a heat to the sound profile that invitations you to sit down and pay attention some time, irrespective of the style. An nearly excessive readability to the audio retains probably the most chaotic metallic completely organized, permitting you to select particular person devices. And within the case of Underoath’s Voyuerist, it’s simple to tell apart the backing synth even when it’s very delicate or laid beneath the total band going flat out. The quantity of element the Px8 exudes from bluegrass and jazz tracks is staggering, making it look like you’re within the room with Béla Fleck as he recorded My Bluegrass Coronary heart. It’s not simply banjo, guitar, bass, mandolin and fiddle. You’ll be able to hear the nuance within the sound of every one as they envelope you.
Gallery: Bowers & Wilkins Px8 headphones evaluate | 12 Images
Gallery: Bowers & Wilkins Px8 headphones evaluate | 12 Images
And it’s greater than the readability and element. The Px8 is a well-tuned powerhouse for bass-heavy digital music and hip-hop too. When a monitor calls for it, these headphones faucet right into a stash of low-end that rivals a few of the greatest. And like every little thing else, you possibly can hear the subtlety within the kick drum, drum machine and bass line. That’s true throughout the board, whether or not it’s bombastic beats of RTJ4 or the intricate synth work on Sylvan Esso’s No Guidelines Sandy.
By way of lively noise cancellation, the Px8 does an admirable job. It’s not miles higher than the Px7 S2, however in practically each circumstance – together with on an airplane – these headphones are as much as the duty. Bose and Sony handle to dam out extra on the QuietComfort 45 and the WH-1000XM5 respectively, however Bowers & Wilkins didn’t cellphone it in right here. There’s some stable ANC efficiency, it’s simply not the best possible.
Name high quality
Bowers & Wilkins says it moved two of the six on-board microphones nearer collectively and re-angled them to enhance voice high quality. The corporate defined that these tweaks also needs to cut back wind noise. Name audio for the particular person on the opposite finish was already good on the Px7 S2, however the lack of a natural-sounding transparency mode made me really feel a bit shouty throughout voice and video chats. On the Px8, that pass-through audio continues to be good, however not nice, and never as pure sounding as the AirPods Max.
The Px8 does an excellent job of reducing down on background noise, although, so the headphones will assist whoever is on the opposite finish focus in your voice. Nonetheless, total voice high quality isn’t nice as you’ll nonetheless sound such as you’re on speaker cellphone moderately than having a good mic close to your face. Are they effective for many video and voice calls? Positive. Should you’re doing these issues usually do you have to take into account these as your main device? Most likely not.
Bowers & Wilkins has a monitor file of beneath promising and over delivering in relation to battery life on its headphones. The corporate constantly outperforms the acknowledged determine by a mile and the identical is true on the Px8. Very like the Px7 S2, this mannequin nonetheless had 40 p.c left within the tank on the 30-hour mark – the corporate’s official score. And sure, that’s with lively noise cancellation turned on over the course of some days, plus the occasional use of transparency mode for calls. After 30 hours on the Px7 S2, there was 33 p.c left, so the Px8 appears to be barely extra environment friendly than its extra reasonably priced sibling – or maybe has a barely larger battery.
The corporate has included a quick-charge characteristic that provides you seven hours of listening time in quarter-hour. That’s good if you end up in a pinch, however with nicely over 30 hours of ANC use accessible, I’m solely charging as soon as per week after utilizing the Px8 a couple of hours every day. The battery life right here stacks up nicely in opposition to one of the best you may get in noise-canceling headphones proper now.
At $699, the Px8 is the most costly set of wi-fi noise-canceling headphones I’ve reviewed. Even Grasp & Dynamic’s priciest mannequin is $100 cheaper (the MW75). You must actually dig what Bowers & Wilkins is placing all the way down to dive in right here. Merely put, there are nice alternate options accessible for much less – a few of which provide extra options. Heck, I’d argue the corporate’s personal Px7 S2 is a greater worth at $399.
The Px7 S2 might not have the high-end look of the Px8, nevertheless it does have glorious sound high quality, stable ANC efficiency and better-than-advertised battery life. The corporate’s heat, crisp and clear audio is on show on the extra reasonably priced mannequin and it’s extra snug to put on for lengthy intervals of time. Except for the enhance in total sound high quality and that refined design, the Px7 S2 has each different characteristic you get on the Px8 – for lots much less.
At this level, Sony’s WH-1000XM5 continues to be the best you can buy, principally for the combo of audio and noise-canceling efficiency, with an extended checklist of useful options on the aspect. The 2 most notable are the M5’s capacity to routinely change sound modes primarily based in your location or exercise and the Converse-to-Chat device that pauses the audio if you start to talk. Merely put, no different firm comes near packing in as a lot as Sony.
When a pair of headphones prices $699, I begin to anticipate issues. Primarily that they must be rattling close to excellent for me to advocate them. The Px8 practically is in relation to sound high quality, however there are different areas the place they fall wanting the corporate’s earlier mannequin and a few of the competitors. Computerized pausing continues to be in want of refinement, even with the sensitivity settings. And total, the Px7 S2 is far more snug to put on for lengthy intervals of time. Bowers & Wilkins impresses with this most premium providing, however there are nonetheless some tough edges to clean out.
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