If you own a BMW, then you should also own a B&W. It’s a very sophisticated and elegant brand. So, how the PX7 landed in my hillbilly paws, I don’t know. Just kidding. I’m incredibly stylish. But this is my first experience testing a Bowers & Wilkins headphone. So, I was curious as to whether the brand lives up to the hype. At a classy $399.99, let’s see how the noise-cancelling PX7 fares in this Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Review.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Review
IN the BOX
Quite a tight fit indeed. Why am I talking like a member of British Parliament? Anyway, if you feel easily suffocated by headphones, you may want to keep looking. On the flip side, the PX7 creates a super snug seal. And the natural sound isolation is fantastic. Still, the cans felt a little obtrusive around my jawline. But I’m a jaw clencher; the life of a headphone reviewer is very stressful. And after I wore the headphones for a while, they seemed to loosen up a bit.
Controls and Functionality
You’ll be able to control the usual functions using the buttons on the earcups. I personally prefer buttons over touchpads. Much more reliable and easier to navigate. Using the 3 buttons on the right side of the earcup, you’ll be able to play/pause, skip tracks, control volume and answer/end calls. You’ll also get a few added features, such as call merging and call switching.
Active Noise Cancellation
The button on the left earcup will control the noise-cancellation levels. You’ll have the option of switching between 3 ANC levels (in addition to an auto/adaptive mode). And the PX7 also offers an ambient mode, which invites in sound from the outside environment. This feature has become pretty standard amongst ANC headphones at this price point.
The ANC effectiveness is solid, but perhaps not as powerful as models from Bose or Sony. I have yet to test the PX7 back to back with these models, so don’t quote me. That being said, some folks find ANC frequencies to be a little oppressive on the ears. And if all you’re looking to do is kill the hum of an air conditioner or airplane, the ANC on the PX7 is certainly sufficient.
Battery Life and Charging
The PX7 offers 30 hours of battery life. These cans also charge quite quickly; 15 minutes of charging will yield 5 hours of playtime. This is probably thanks to the USB-C charging connection, which has become the new standard (over micro-USB) for headphones of this caliber (and for more affordable headphones as well).
Not too bad. The caller didn’t sound crystal clear and clean, and the microphone wasn’t particularly sensitive. But if your calls are generally limited to running through the shopping list with your ball and chain, then the PX7 will certainly get the job done.
Supported Hi-Res Formats
The PX7 supports aptX, aptX HD and aptX Adaptive, as well as AAC, which is the format used by iPhones.
The PX7 has an accompanying app that gives your added control over the features of the headphone. You can control settings such as the standby timer; this timer dictates how long the headphones will stay turned on while they’re idle. Also, since the headphones pause playback when you take them off your head, you can adjust the sensitivity of the sensor or turn off the sensor completely. The app also allows you to pair your headphones to multiple devices. And another neat feature is the soundscape option, which lets you play a variety of very realistic nature soundscapes. I was in a gloomy mood during this review, so I played some rain. But then I was constantly running to the ladies room. So, I turned it off.
The bass presence changes depending on whether the ANC is on or off. With the ANC on, the bass is thicker and warmer. But on either mode, you’ll get some solid bass that, at the same time, avoids overkill. The bass is also relatively dry, giving plenty of grip to punchy bass on pop tracks. Again, listening to rock, the low end provides a good deal of warmth to track. Still, the bass remain quite tight and clean. So energetic tracks have some good funk to them. It’s a fun listen. The level of detail is decent as well, though string instruments in this range revealed more smoothness than texture.
Though not particularly forward, the low and high mids are quite evenly balanced. As a result, you’ll get an expansive and all-encompassing feel from these cans. Vocals sit realistically in the mix. Therefore, if you like a particularly dynamic sound where vocals really pop, you may want to keep looking. Personally, I like a mix that feels natural. And in this sense, the PX7 certainly delivers in this range. These cans feel clean too. And busy tracks sound tidy in their layering of instruments. But again, my favorite thing about the PX7 is the smoothness. There’s an easy movement to the sound that’s highly enjoyable to listen to. The music just has an effortless flow about it.
You may notice a touch sibilance on certain tracks, but for the most part, it’s not bothersome. And though it’s far from overblown, the highest frequencies do present a bit of sparkle and crispness. (Listen to the intro of Daft Punk’s “Lose Yourself to Dance” or Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”). But the PX7 certainly can’t be considered a bright headphone. And as someone who is sensitive to high frequencies, I found the sound signature quite forgiving on the ears. The PX7’s smoothness also works well for female vocals in this range. Silky and graceful, Rihanna sounds quite lovely.
The soundstage didn’t strike me as notably vast, but perhaps because the PX7 presents such a clean sound, the imaging gives the listener a fun sense of space. There were clear gradations in height and depth, providing plenty of color to multidimensional arrangements.
PROS and CONS
Pros: Well-balanced, smooth and clean sound.
Cons: Fit may be too firm for some.
The PX7’s smooth and refined sound whispers class. Tastefully balanced and fluid, this is a sound signature you can listen to for long stretches without getting annoyed at your gardener. And the ANC, while not the most effective I’ve ever heard, is still very respectable. The fit may be a little too firm for some, and the call clarity is less than fantastic. But otherwise, I won’t file any complaints. Golf clap.
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