Hey guys, we have the newly announced Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 with us today, and this has been a long time coming.
Before we start, I do have to note that because I tested these out before the official announcement, the Bowers & Wilkins Music app didn’t recognise these headphones and I didn’t have access to the app and all the features. So I can’t speak about features that can only be toggled or activated in the app because I didn’t actually have the chance to try them. But just as a note, these are the first headphones that can be used with the Bowers & Wilkins Music app instead of the Headphones app, so that’s cool.
So let’s talk design, starting with the case. This is actually quite a different look from the PX7’s case, being more oblong. There’s also no awkward raised bulge in the middle, which is nice. Unfortunately, the case is still quite large because the headphones don’t collapse in on themselves. Inside, you get a soft suede-like covering along with a hidden compartment in the middle that holds a USB-C to C cable as well as a USB-C to 3.5mm cable. No flight adapter here, unfortunately.
The headphones themselves are gorgeous, coming in three colours, Black, which we have here, Blue and Grey. You get a matte black fabric covering the earcups and the top of the headband, and around the earcups, there’s a shiny silver strip that really pops. The padding is plush and wearing the headphones during my recent 16-hour flight from San Francisco was a breeze, thanks in part to the fact that there’s basically no clamping force at all provided by these headphones. You might think this is a good thing, but it’s actually not. More on that later though, but I just want to say, the wearing comfort of these headphones is crazy high, they’re super comfortable. According to my kitchen scale, these are ever so slightly lighter than the PX7, at 306g, and the official weight is supposed to be 307g so yeah. The earcups are also just slightly smaller than the Sony WH-1000XM5’s, roughly 5.5cm between the top and bottom of the padding. The review for this will be coming soon along with a comparison, so if you want to know how these fare against each other, subscribe and stay tuned. Back to the video.
The yokes of the headband are plastic, unfortunately, as is the protruding part on the earcups, but it’s a nice matte plastic that doesn’t attract fingerprints or oils and at a glance, it still looks quite premium.
The drivers inside are new, custom-designed 40mm biocellulose dynamic drivers, which are interesting, seeing as the PX7 used 43.6mm drivers. We’ll talk about the sound later, and there’ll get a sound test too.
On the right earcup, you get a slider for power and Bluetooth pairing, and three buttons, volume up, a multifunction button and a volume down button. There’s also a USB-C port here for charging or wired use. The multifunction button is okay, one press for play/pause, two presses for track skip forward and three presses for track skip backwards.
On the left, there’s a single button to toggle through ANC modes, transparency, off and ANC on.
Surprisingly, it seems like there’s no on-ear detection in these or auto-off, although this could be locked behind the app. But I did get my hands on the press release, which states there’s an EQ feature in the app, which is a nice change. The spec sheet did say there’s a wear detection sensor, but taking them off my head still results in music continuing to be played, and there was once I forgot to turn the headphones off and the headphones were dead when I wanted to listen to them again on the plane. Thankfully, a quick charge with the USB-A port available on the airplane was enough for me to get a couple of hours with them.
Speaking of battery, Bowers & Wilkins has kept the same 30-hour battery life in these, although they’ve upgraded the quick charging so that now, a 15-minute charge gives seven hours of battery life as opposed to five, which is pretty good.
They run on Bluetooth 5.0, surprisingly, which I was honestly surprised to see. It would have been better if these were on 5.2, but oh well. There’s support for SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Adaptive and aptX HD. I actually have no idea if there’s multipoint connectivity since it could be a feature that needs the app to turn on, so yeah, sorry about that guys. I’ll try and put a text overlay on this video if I can figure it out after I can add the headphones to the app.
So we come to ANC, and I have to say, the ANC here is much improved compared to the PX7. But the problem with the more comfortable fit is that because there isn’t much clamping force, the earcups don’t seal quite as tightly, meaning I found myself having to wriggle and adjust the headphones to get the most ANC out of it. The optimal position I found was when I was looking downwards slightly. In this position, the headphones really cancelled out almost all the plane rumble, although I did have to trial and error it to get to this point. That being said, it could also be because I’m wearing glasses and a mask, so it affects the seal. But regardless, I think Bowers & Wilkins could have actually increased the clamping force here just a touch. But ANC, top-notch once you have the headphones in the right position, well done.
Microphone quality is okay, there are two mics in total for voice calls, it’s not the best, but it’ll do in a pinch.
As for sound quality, well, the PX7 S2 still lives up to the Bowers & Wilkins standard. These sound awesome. There’s pretty much no degradation in quality or clarity when ANC is turned on, and you get a coherent, detailed sound. The bass is thumpy and well-controlled with the ability to get plenty powerful if needed. No bass bleed into the mids as far as I could tell.
As for the mids, this is the part that I really like. There’s a beautiful warmth here, and plenty of detail and separation for instruments. Vocals are a bit more upfront and emotional here, which I love and for the genres of music that I listen to, pop mostly, these headphones work very well. One problem that I’ll note here though, is that I’ve noticed that when there are a lot of instruments, it does feel like the mix devolves into a bit of a mess. When the mix isn’t too complex though, instruments all have their own spot and it’s actually perfectly fine.
As for the treble response, I personally like it a lot, there’s bite and air in the upper registers and it’s quite apparent in high hats and cymbals.
But the best part of these headphones has to be the soundstage and it’s incredibly spacious. Instrument layering is nicely done as well, and in songs with plenty of vocal layering, you can hear the layers distinctly. There’s plenty of detail in these headphones, and while there’s no way you’d consider these headphones for critical or reference listening, they’re actually a really enjoyable pair to bring on flights or out and about, which, well, is what they’re meant for. There’s musicality here, the sort of musicality that makes you tap your foot and want to dance along, and honestly, that’s what I’m looking for in most headphones. If my headphones can’t make me enjoy my music, what’s the point? Thankfully, no such problem with these.
The headphones are priced at US$399 or S$597 and should be available for preorder starting today, 29 June.