According to a new study by the music streaming service Deezer, we should listen to at least 78 minutes of music a day to keep our physical and mental health in tip-top shape. That’s all well and good but if you listen to music through a rubbish pair of headphones, you could end up feeling worse than when you started. I'm being flippant, but it’s certainly true to say that a good-quality pair of headphones will enhance your listening experience no end.
In this review, I'm going to focus on a pair of headphones made by one of the world’s most esteemed audio manufacturers. The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 are a set of wireless noise-cancelling headphones that were launched by the British firm in the summer of 2022 – two years after the original Px7 headphones hit the market. Since their release, they’ve won numerous awards and received their fair share of positive user comments.
In this review, I'm going to focus on a pair of headphones made by one of the world’s most esteemed audio manufacturers. The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 are a set of wireless noise-cancelling headphones that were launched by the British firm in the summer of 2022 – two years after the original PX7 headphones hit the market. Since their release, they’ve won numerous awards and received their fair share of positive user comments.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Design
Available in black, blue or grey, these headphones aren’t especially eye-catching from afar, but up close it’s hard not to be impressed by their build and finish. Comprising a robust, matte plastic chassis, sumptuous memory foam ear pads/headband and a moisture-repellent fabric covering, they boast exactly the kind of precise detailing you’d expect from a set of headphones costing this much. And they feel well-built, too, which is always reassuring when you’ve just invested a hefty sum.
These second-generation headphones are a tiny bit smaller and lighter (307g) than the original PX7 headphones, but you’ll barely notice. They also sit closer to the head than their predecessors, which will come in handy for those who like to wear headphones during vigorous exercise. It also ensures a better seal around the ears, making for a more immersive listening experience.
Though the headphones could hardly be described as cumbersome, if you start to tire of having them round your neck between listening sessions, you could always stash them away. While they’re not foldable, meaning you won’t be able to stuff them in your coat pocket, the ear cups do rotate horizontally, allowing you to lay the headphones out flat inside the provided carry case.
These are wireless headphones, but if you suddenly get a craving for wired listening, you can plug in the USB-C to 3.5mm cable that comes in the box. The USB-C port located in the right ear cup is also used to charge the headphones – for this, you’ll need the USB-C to USB-C cable that Bowers & Wilkins includes among the accessories. It's worth noting that the headphones will need some charge even if you’re not listening wirelessly as they don’t support passive audio.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Features
We mentioned how the ear cups provide a good seal around the ears and if you want to isolate yourself further from the outside world you can draw upon the headphones' active noise cancelling technology. With ANC mode on, the four built-in mics do a fine job of shutting out low-frequency sounds such as the washing machine and next door’s vacuum cleaner. In total, Bowers & Wilkins reckon the headphones will snuff out up to 30dB of noise. While that’s by no means perfect, it does make a noticeable difference, helping you to appreciate the finer nuances of your music. If you do need to hear more of your surroundings – for example, if you need to listen out for a phone ringing or a baby crying, you can activate Pass-Through mode, whereby more sounds are allowed to filter in.
Switching between these modes is carried out by pressing the Quick Action button on the left ear cup. As for controlling your music, this is achieved by pressing the buttons on the right ear cup (a multi-function button for playing/pausing/skipping tracks, plus volume up and down buttons). While I love the physical controls – especially the slider for switching the headphones on and off – having to press the multi-function button twice (for skipping to the next track) or three times (for playing the previous track) is less than ideal.
If you prefer, you can head over to the Bowers & Wilkins Music app – available for both iOS and Android – and connect the headphones to your chosen voice assistant (the app also offers an equaliser, but it’s not particularly sophisticated, allowing you only to adjust the bass and treble). However you control your music, you’ll be pleased to know that Bowers & Wilkins has spared no time or effort in providing the best possible listening experience. The British firm has equipped these headphones with custom-designed 40mm drive units, carefully angled inside each ear cup to deliver the minimum of noise distortion. This, according to the manufacturer, enables the listener to hear more of what the artist wants them to hear.
As for battery life, these second-generation headphones are on a par with their predecessors and offer 30 hours of music playback. They charge faster than the original headphones, though, with a full supply of juice coming in two hours rather than three. Note that you can also get seven hours from just a 15-minute charge.
Finally, a quick word about voice calls. Despite the presence of two additional microphones for this purpose – and the fact that Bowers & Wilkins has repositioned them for better pick-up – speaking to friends and family through the headphones isn’t what I would call crystal clear. It’s not exactly the be-all-and-end-all, but if you’re the kind of person who needs to make regular calls on the move, it’s worth taking into account.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Sound
When it comes to audio prowess, Bowers & Wilkins products are generally a safe bet – and these headphones impressed me across a range of musical genres. When I first put them on, the combination of sumptuous ear pads and spacious soundstage prompted a deep sigh of satisfaction. Bass lines rumble with an ominous menace while managing to remain taut and tidy, the mid-ranges are smooth and vibrant, while vocals and lead-guitar licks cut through the mix with confident swagger.
If I wanted to be pernickety, I would say the overall sound could muster up a teeny bit more enthusiasm – the marvellous Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones have the edge there. But make no mistake, these are a very lovely-sounding pair of headphones.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: The alternatives
These Bowers & Wilkins over-ears are a fabulous set of wireless noise-cancelling headphones but, for me, the top choice in that category are the Sony WH-1000XM5. Offering best-in-class ANC, excellent battery life and truly superb sound quality, these Japanese-made headphones are about as good as it gets in this price range.
The Lindy NC-60 noise-cancelling headphones can’t be considered competition to the Bowers & Wilkins headphones in the truest sense, as their sound quality simply isn’t at the same level. But these wired headphones do offer a very good package that includes reasonable ANC and a massive 72 hours of battery life for a great price
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