Bowers & Wilkins has returned a few years after releasing its Px7 wireless active noise-canceling over-ear headphones at a price that put them in direct rivalry with alternatives like the all-conquering WH-1000XM4 from Sony. Bowers & Wilkins believes that the Px7 S2 is the same as the original Px7, only better. After all, the first Px7 was quite favorably received. It just so happens that they are priced to squarely compete with Sony’s new WH-1000XM5.
Nevertheless, Bowers & Wilkins is focusing on its advantages rather than trying to match Sony at its own game. The Px7 S2 is well built, comfortable to hold, and, depending on personal preference, either subtly attractive or a little too subtly attractive for their own good. Yet, one cannot dispute the thoughtful manner in which these headphones have been designed. They do offer an app for control and active noise cancellation, but “extended functionality” is not their strong suit. They are made to provide the highest-quality wireless sound that money can buy.
There are several options available if you want every wireless headphone function known to man. But, your options are rather more limited if you want headphones that make the most of the digital audio information you provide them with. But if you’re at the latter, the Px7 S2 has to be on your mind.
Review of the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2: Design
The luxury-like appearance of the Px7 S2 headphones is a result of their design. The Px7 S2 are subdued and elegant-looking headphones that are well put together from a combination of textured fabric, memory-foam filled leather, flex-free plastic, and a discretely logo-d portion on the earcups.
A new 1.7-inch (43.6mm) bio-cellulose full-range dynamic driver, housed inside each earcup, was created to have less overall harmonic distortion than the driver used in the previous Px7 model. According to theory, the new driver is canted at an angle in order to give direct and enveloping sounds.
Moreover, a new mic array on the earcups has been added with the goal of enhancing active noise-cancellation performance and call quality. Nevertheless, ANC still only offers a simple “on/off” choice, which makes it appear primitive in comparison to the finest noise canceling headphones available for a reasonable price.
Review of the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2: Comfort and Fit
Both the hanger configuration and clamping force of these headphones have been carefully considered by Bowers & Wilkins. As a consequence, the Px7 S2 are comfortable in position and maintain that comfort for a long time despite weighing 10.8 ounces (307g), which is somewhat less than the model they replace but actually 2 ounces (57g) heavier than Sony’s WH-1000XM5.
The locations of contact with the head and ears are well chosen. Although the materials feel rather luxurious to the touch, they take a while to restore the wearer’s own body heat. Everyone’s ears are unique, but the size of the earcup and earpads itself is equally considerate. They do a great job at reaching the “one size fits many” parameters.
Review of the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2: Controls
The Px7 S2 don’t have any touch controls, in contrast to the vast majority of wireless headphones that cost this much money. Here, you can’t halt your music by tapping an earcup.
Instead, a number of physical “push/push” control buttons, including those for “play/pause,” “volume up/down,” “skip forward/backward,” and “power on/off/Bluetooth pairing,” are located on the back edge of the right earcup. It doesn’t take long to become accustomed to them even if they initially appear to be too little, too identical, and too close together.
Meanwhile, there is a single multi-function button on the left that may either scroll through your noise-cancelation settings (‘on/off’/’passthrough’) or activate the native voice assistant of your source player. You see, there isn’t any voice control built in.
The sleek, reliable, and somewhat constrained Bowers & Wilkins “Music” control program allows you to specify the behavior of this multi-function button. It’s ‘quite constrained’ just in comparison, you see; in terms of utility controls and EQ tweaking, it’s fairly handy. It just lacks the same level of sophistication as those control programs created by firms with seemingly endless resources.
The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2’s audio output
When it comes to showcasing the skills (or lack thereof) of the apparatus playing them, some tunes are more accommodating than others. Starting with a large Tidal Masters file of The Beatles’ “You Never Give Me Your Money” makes a lot of sense because it is well produced and seems to have been made with the purpose of being as accommodating as possible when evaluating headphones like these.
The tune, which was performed by the Px7 S2, is really captivating and simple to follow. The Bowers & Wilkins produce a large, well defined soundstage, making it easy to find and give each instrument enough of freedom to express itself when, for example, the bass guitar is wandering on the far right and the toy piano is barreling along at the left side of the stage. This does not, however, come at the price of integration; the Px7 S2 does an excellent job of making recordings of all genres seem cohesive and as a whole.
The degree of detail is astounding; the Bowers & Wilkins give the bass guitar the depth it needs to support the whole song. The bass guitar, once again, is totally crammed with information regarding its string gauge and the technique being used to play it. Impressive low-frequency control is also demonstrated by the absence of overhang, which has no negative impact on the song’s overall pace.
At the opposite end of the frequency spectrum, the situation is similar. Bright but not abrasive treble sounds have such fine resolution that it is easy to distinguish between one ride cymbal hit and the next. The degree of assault is sensible and, again, control is total.
The Px7 S2 focus all of their authority and detail retrieval skills on the midrange at this time. As a result, vocalists of different genres, abilities, and degrees of dedication are given full expression. When you hear a vocal line via these Bowers & Wilkins, you’ll never be in any question as to a vocalist’s intentions, as so much of a song’s emotional effect may lay in the vocal line.
Everything in the frequency spectrum fits together nicely; nothing is overemphasized or tries too hard to be represented. Clean, constant, and completely persuading tone.
The Px7 S2 are nevertheless rather good, even in areas where they fall short of being outstanding. They may not be the pinnacle of dancefloor hedonism in terms of rhythmic expressiveness, but they can hold their own when we flip to Cracker Island by Gorillaz starring Thundercat. The Bowers & Wilkins do a good job in all other situations, but the most terrifying EDM can push them beyond of their comfort zone. The song’s large “quiet/LOUD” excursions have plenty of dynamic headroom, and the Px7 S2 are equally sensitive to the more subtle but no less significant harmonic alterations that make up low-level dynamics.
Noise-cancelling Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 review
The active noise-cancellation performs “well” rather than “excellent” elsewhere; in other words, it will be quite acceptable to anyone who doesn’t require complete quiet. Unless they are extremely loud, external noises are handled with well by the headphones without even the slightest hint of a counter-signal. Also, they don’t change the way they sound. Passthrough, which amplifies background noise, is similarly successful.
Review of the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2: Battery life
The Px7 S2 have an all-in, best-case battery life of 30 hours, which is about normal for a device like this these days. This is similar to the model they replace. Yet compared to the previous Px7, charging speeds have improved: from “flat” to “full” now takes just 2 hours as opposed to the old model’s sluggish 3 hours, and a 15-minute charge now provides seven hours of playing as opposed to the previous model’s five.
The Px7 S2 must be charged using the USB connector on the right earcup because wireless charging is not possible in this location. A well designed hard case is also included, along with USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to 3.5mm adapters (the USB-C connector serves as both a power outlet and a data transmission connection).
Review of Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2: Final Verdict
It’s wise to “play to your strengths,” and Bowers & Wilkins has done just that with the Px7 S2. Although the company has made more than a passing reference to the types of features we’ve come to expect from wireless headphones—effective active noise-cancellation, a control app, and voice assistant compatibility—clear it’s from a quick listen that the company has focused most of its attention on how these headphones sound. They sound better than the great majority of rivals as a consequence.