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  • Cheryl Tan

Bowers & Wilkins Px8 Review: A Step UP!

By now, you’ve probably already watched the unboxing video I did for the Px8 007 Edition. Well, I’ve been putting these headphones through its paces, and wow. If you were holding out for these over the Px7 S2, I’d say you made the right choice.

Design

Let’s talk design first. As I mentioned in my unboxing video, these are seriously impressive on the design front. Even though, yes, they look a lot like the Px7 S2 in terms of silhouette and overall design, everything has been taken up a notch.


Gone is the fabric covering on the headband and outside ear cup, and it’s been replaced with a luxurious Nappa leather that feels super pleasant to the touch. The earpads are also using the same Nappa leather, and I never actually noticed my ears overheating when I was using these in Japan since it’s fall right now. In hot, humid climates like Singapore’s though, I’m quite sure sweat will be an issue.


The arm sliders are made with aluminium, and it slides smoothly with the same 180-degree pivot of the earcups that we saw on the Px7 S2, and that I absolutely love. The headphones aren’t all that heavy either, at just 320 grams. Similar to the Px7 S2, Bowers & Wilkins has adjusted the clamping force so that it’s much more comfortable, although the same problem exists because of it. Due to the decreased clamping force, the earpads don’t seal quite as securely around my ears. This does affect ANC performance, which we’ll talk about later.


Inside the headphones is one of the bigger differences. The Px7 S2 were using bio-cellulose drivers, while Bowers & Wilkins has gone with carbon fibre here. This carbon fibre driver is said to be lighter and more rigid, reducing distortion for an even cleaner sound.

Controls

Controls remain the same here, with most of the physical buttons on the right earcup. You’ll notice the left earcup has a single button for toggling between ANC on, transparency or off, which is great in my book since it’s easy to find and activate.

On the right side, you get the power slider which doubles up to put the headphones into pairing mode. This particular 007 Edition model has a red power slider, which is very nice. There’s also the textured play/pause button in between the buttons that control volume. The play/pause button also works for track skipping: two presses to skip forward and three presses to skip backwards.


The headphones connect to the Bowers & Wilkins Music app, which I’d recommend downloading for a few added features. You can link your music streaming services here directly as well, and control it from the app, so that’s nice. Unfortunately, the streaming services aren’t all that comprehensive, and Apple Music isn’t on it, so I typically didn’t use the app that much.


Of course, you can adjust simple sliders for bass and treble, and you can activate features like auto-off and wear detection. I would highly recommend turning wear detection off. I just found that it was so inconsistent and inaccurate. The headphones would start pausing music when I was just sitting down and listening, even when I was on the lowest sensitivity setting. It’s a nice idea, but Bowers & Wilkins really needs to improve this.


Inside the case, you get two cables, a USB-C to C for charging and connection, as well as a USB-C to 3.5mm.

Connectivity & Battery Life

Connectivity-wise, these are running on Bluetooth 5.2 with support for SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD and aptX Adaptive.

Battery life is the same as the Px7 S2 with around 30 hours of playtime. I’d say it’s relatively accurate, and I’m perfectly happy with this amount of battery life.

ANC Performance

ANC is about the same as the Px7 S2 as well. The Px8 uses four of the six onboard mics for ANC, and as I mentioned earlier, the reduction in clamping force does affect the performance, unfortunately. That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s actually very good. But because of a multitude of factors, me wearing spectacles, wearing masks on flights and all, I’ve noticed a very slight gap between my jaw and the bottom of the earcups which reduces the efficiency of the ANC.


When I manually push in the earcups to try and create a better seal, there’s a definite difference and I would say that if your head is on the wider side, the ANC performance might be better for you. All in all, it’s very serviceable, I was perfectly happy using these on the plane, but they’re not to the level of the Sonys.

Sound Quality

But now we come to sound quality, and Bowers & Wilkins has outdone themselves here. I was already very impressed with the Px7 S2, and these are just as incredible. You get rich, detailed bass, a beautifully layered and revealing midrange as well as energetic treble that stays very accurate to the source. I will note that there is a slight bump to the bass when ANC is turned on though, but I think most people won’t mind it too much really.

Soundstage is where these wow me, again. The Px7 S2 had a very wide, spacious soundstage and the Px8 is the same. There’s just so much air that you never feel instruments or vocals get too close or cramped. It’s a beautiful, open pair of headphones that perform impeccably when you want to be a bit more analytical, but they’re also fun and musical, with a sense of energy and refinement. Vocals are forward and have appropriate levels of airiness and bite when present, and I loved listening to female vocals on these.

Bowers & Wilkins Px8 Price

So we come to price, and, well, these aren’t cheap. The normal Px8 retails at US$699 or S$899, while the 007 Edition goes for US$799 or S$1007, which is a little nuts. While I can see the appeal of these headphones for sure, I’m not sure a lot of people will fork out that much cash. And while I absolutely love the midnight blue colourway for the 007 Edition, there’s no way I would pay an extra $100 just for the colour or the branding. If you want a great listening experience and decent ANC though, these are for you. If you need something a bit more affordable, there’s the Px7 S2. Might not be as premium or as luxurious, and there is a very slight difference in sound quality, but it’s still an excellent pair of headphones.


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