While other brands are going budget-friendly, Bowers & Wilkins decides on the exact opposite, choosing to build on the success of its popular P7. The new (S$599) P7 Wireless is basically the same headphones, but now with Bluetooth connectivity and internal amplification.
Build Quality and Design
The P7 Wireless has that familiar gender-neutral sexiness oozing out of its every nook and cranny. They feel very substantial, but surprisingly light. A stainless steel wire frame seem to flow from its thick leather headband down to the ear cups. The ear cups are liberally wrapped in black leather with a brushed aluminium faceplate. Classy.
The opulent soft cushions have also been treated in sheepskin leather. Replacing these when they wear out is a breeze! No acrobatics involved, just magnets that snap those cups in position when you replace them – a more fuss-free method compared to other headphones!
Behind the left ear cup hides the audio input. It is more secure, but I would prefer an easier way to attach or remove my cable should I ever need to.
All control buttons are conveniently located on the right ear cup. The three buttons that operate your music and volume controls sit behind the right ear cup, with the Power/Bluetooth switch below.
The P7 Wireless also folds inwards and fits inside a nice synthetic leather pouch – with a magnetic cover!
Performance and Features
The P7 wireless may be flushed with good looks but it’s pretty skinny on features. I figured the message here is that the P7 Wireless’ best features are its build-quality and sound (which I will cover below). It doesn’t even have an App nor noise-cancelling, or even multi-point pairing!
The P7s are extremely comfortable to wear. I experienced a blend of soft, plush leather cushions, lightweight design and a firm but gentle clamping force. These and its broad, thick headband meant that I could wear them all day, with just a few breaks in between.
Did it feel too warm to wear in a tropical climate? Not really. Heat seems to dissipate quite efficiently and it did not feel too warm to wear even after a few hours!
B&W did not disclose what Bluetooth version it’s using, but it does support aptX audio streaming codec as standard. Nonetheless, audio quality over Bluetooth was excellent, and the headphones reliably tethered to my source – even beyond the typical 10m Bluetooth range. There were also no latency issues when watching videos from YouTube or from other sources.
On paper, the B&W P7 Wireless has a battery life of 17 hours. In my testing, headphones pulled in up to 19-hours worth of endurance on average volume – using it continuously for music and videos!
Audiophiles are leery of wireless headphones because of the perception that wires ensure no loss of musical information. While it includes the option of using a cable, these cans are clearly designed to change that opinion! The wireless P7s are exceptional in its dynamic range and detailing. On these, you’ll also enjoy snap-tight bass attacks, and hearty bass extensions when the situation demands; while steering clear from sounding like a boom-fest run amok.
Vocals in general sounded rich and velvety with a laid-back character. Treble was effortless, airy and distortion-free, great for a wide variety of music involving percussions, strings and winds. For these reasons, Slow Dancing In A Burning Room by John Mayer felt like a fresh new experience, even if I’d enjoyed this song many times before. Percussions are very tight and impactful with a lot of gravitas. And John’s vocals actually sounded more detailed and full than I recalled with other (similarly priced) headsets.
Movies sounded very engaging and open. I felt like I was being enveloped in detail when I was watching Guardians Of The Galaxy on my computer where every action scene carried so much impact and stayed in sharp focus.
The P7 Wireless’ S$599 sticker price may seem less reasonable at first, when you compare it with feature-rich noise cancellers like Sony’s MDR 1000X or the Bose QuietComfort 35 (both $599). But the P7’s luxurious design and sound qualities are indeed superior to the latter two! This makes it reasonable value for money.
B&W might be pitching the P7 Wireless as a means for audiophiles to explore going wireless, and still enjoy a reliable pair of well-crafted, classy cans with a highly musical sound. In short, I like these headphones, and I want them.
But I’ll have to save up first!
Build Quality and Design (Wireless Headphones)
- Pros: Classy, sexy, gender-neutral design. Substantial feel while remaining lightweight. Ear cups are plush and encased in genuine leather. Magnetic mounting system ensures cushions are easy to replace. All control buttons are on the right ear cup. Comes with an elegant pouch.
- Cons: Audio cable must be installed by removing the left ear cup.
Score: 6/7 (28.5%)
Performance and Features
- Pros: Exceptional audio performance for a pair of wireless headphones. Very comfortable to wear, and for a long period of time. Bluetooth connection was very reliable, even beyond the regular 10m range. Proven battery life of 17-19 hours on average volume.
- Cons: Lacking most popular features – even common features like an App or Multipoint pairing.
Score: 4/5 (26.64%)
Score: 3/5 (19.98%)