This past month, two new high-end Bluetooth headphones were released. The Focal Bathys and Bowers & Wilkins PX8 have come out at roughly the same time, which will definitely make it more difficult to decide which one you might want to buy. Especially with price points like this, the choice can be even harder to make. Both headphones have been reviewed here individually, but here is a comparison review that might help you out.
What You Get
|Focal Bathys||Bowers & Wilkins PX8|
Look and Feel
Both headphones have fantastic over-ear designs. They keep to the rigorous standard that both brands maintain for a quality build and it really shows here. The Bathys is in-line with how most Focal headphones are made, using quality parts that make up a stylish design and a great fit. You can also say the same for the PX8. Bowers and Wilkins have a similar design philosophy, and they’re more familiar with wireless headphones. Trying on both headphones, I believe the PX8 was slightly more comfortable, but the Bathys shouldn’t give you trouble either.
Design and Functionality
Even though the PX8’s 40mm driver is a high-grade system, it still can’t compare to Focal’s M-shaped dome that has become a staple to their headphones. This shows in terms of overall loudness, where the Bathys gives you plenty of headroom whether in Bluetooth or DAC mode. You can use the PX8 wired, but it won’t give you the massive change in fidelity that the Bathys is able to deliver. However, you may not care much for this feature if you’re more focused on noise-canceling. That is where the PX8 will become more desirable, as its ANC is considerably stronger than the Bathys. Neither headphone uses touch controls or gestures to control their actions. That is mostly done through their companion apps, which are both easy to use. However, the Bathys offers more options with its EQ.
Bluetooth and Battery Life
The Bathys and PX8 have a fast pairing with no moments of dropout. They offer most of the same CODECs, with the PX8 offering aptX HD as the only main difference. In terms of battery life, the Bathys and PX8 are pretty much the same, clocking in at around 30 hours of total playtime.
There are major differences between how both headphones present their soundstage and imaging. The Bathys seems to convey more depth, but the PX8 isn’t too far off from its level. Both headphones offer a nice bubble of sound for the many elements of a single track. With the Bathys, this bubble is just a bit bigger and is capable of more articulate layering. You get clear instruments and vocals with both headphones, but the Bathys offers better separation. The PX8 has good separation on its own, but it can quite position the sound as expressively. However, the PX8 does have some great wrap-around. Background effects in certain tracks will play better on the PX8 compared to the Bathys. The Bathys is semi-holographic, but the soundstage has more of a live feel that puts the performance in front of you.
You’ll find all the bass you need whether you choose the PX8 or Bathys. Both headphones achieve a fine level of depth. They have a good rumble in their sub-bass regions that come across theatrically. The PX8 smooths out a lot quicker than the Bathys, but the Bathys don’t necessarily provide much slam either. Neither headphone has that throaty texture, but the Bathys is the closest. What the Bathys does better than the PX8 here is clarity within notes. On the PX8, it feels like there is a coating over the lows at times. While it is a fun tone, the Bathys is just a bit cleaner.
Both headphones share a common dark tonality in their midrange. However, the Bathys is really going to stand out more when it comes to pure detail. The PX8 has some nice elevation with EQ, but the sound elements aren’t revealed as well as they are on the Bathys. With the Bathys, instruments are presented more naturally and are much easier to identify. There is still a slight boominess to the Bathys that might not be to everyone’s taste. Normally, it isn’t my preferred profile, but the Bathys use this tone to make the instruments roar. You don’t get this kind of drive on the PX8, but you may prefer its cleaner display of midrange frequencies.
I think this is one of the few areas where I mostly prefer the PX8 over the Bathys sound signature. Especially with EQ, the PX8 has a lot of room for its extended highs. They’re the most textured and highlighted in terms of the general detail. The Bathys can give you some natural treble, but the tone is a lot more reserved compared to the PX8. If you like crispness in your treble, then the PX8 should be the clear winner for you.
It is really hard to say which one I would go for if someone asked me. I think it depends on what you’re looking for most. Is it pure sound quality, good ANC, or phone calls? If you want Bluetooth headphones that can do it all in a simple way, you may think the PX8 is more your thing. When comparing both headphones, the PX8 is the most like your typical wireless headphone experience, which is why the price of it may deter you. The Bathys is more like an audiophile closed-back headphone that happens to be Bluetooth and offers noise-canceling. That might justify its price more than the PX8 can. No matter which one you prefer, the Bathys and PX8 are wonderful Bluetooth headphones that are hard not to enjoy.
The Focal Bathys and Bowers & Wilkins PX8 are available at Audio46.
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