The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 and PX8 may look the same, but one is significantly pricier than the other. What makes the PX8 more expensive? Let’s find out the differences in sound and design between the two models in this PX7 S2 vs PX8 comparison review.
Look and Feel
There are few differences to note in this category. The PX8 is just slightly heavier than the PX7 S2, and unsurprisingly, it looks more solid. The clamping force and/or ear pads of the PX8 might feel a touch firmer. But other than these minor differences, the buttons and functions on both headphones have the exactly the same layout.
Design and Functionality
The PX8 employs a carbon diaphragm, which is stiffer than the PX7 S2’s cellulose design. In theory, this means that the PX8 should produce lower harmonic distortion. But apart from the driver set-up, these two models appear very similar. For instance, both headphones will give you 30 hours of battery life, and both support the same Bluetooth Codecs. The PX8 and PX7 S2 also deliver what sounds to be the same level of ANC effectiveness.
The PX8 may not present a remarkably more expansive stage. However, the superior level of detail on the PX8 translates into a distinctly more nuanced and multidimensional sense of imaging, giving it a more colorful spacial feel than the PX7 S2.
In terms of balance and bass response, there doesn’t seem to be too much discernible difference between the two headphones. The exceptions occur in the low to sub-bass frequencies, where the sound PX8 feels more visceral. And on certain tracks, the low-end on the PX8 sounds slightly more substantial. Playing a few pop tracks that perform in this range, the difference in the level of detail is less than astonishing. However, once you switch to acoustic instruments, the contrast becomes clearer. Classical strings reveal more grip and transparency on the PX8, while the PX7 S2 tends to smooth over the more subtle elements of the sound.
Both headphones convey a pretty even balance between the low and high mids. But in this range, the PX8’s superior performance becomes more obvious. The PX8 articulates instruments more skillfully, making the PX7 sound compressed in comparison. And again, when acoustic instruments like guitars and cymbals are involved, the PX8 delivers a more detailed and natural presentation. But while I was expecting to hear a significant difference in the quality of separation, the PX7 S2 actually doesn’t fall far behind.
It comes as no surprise that the PX8 again displays more breath, timbre and overall nuance in instruments such trumpets and pianos in this range, as well as in female vocals. Again, in comparison, the PX7 S2 seems to gloss over the details, making it a less natural sounding headphone.
There’s no question that the PX8 displays better transparency and articulation, as well as a more natural, less compressed sound overall. But although the difference in sound quality becomes obvious in cases where acoustic instruments are involved, the contrast is sometimes less than staggering. So, it’s somewhat surprising that the price difference is so significant. If you mainly gravitate towards genres like pop and hip-hop, the PX8 might not be worth the price jump. However, if you primarily listen to classical, folk, jazz or other acoustic music, the advantages of the PX8 will become more important to the overall listening experience.
You can find both the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 and Bowers & Wilkins PX8 at Audio 46.
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