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Bowers & Wilkins P7 Headphones Review

Bowers & Wilkins P7

TL;DR:

Bowers & Wilkins P7 Review: Bowers and Wilkins are a premium British audio manufacturer of audiophile speakers and consumer products. With the release of their flagship P7 over ear headphones, B&W have successfully created a highly desirable pair of headphones for the average consumer, although audiophiles may not necessarily agree.


Review Preface:

Bowers and Wilkins have long been a company that develops style and design, just as much as the fidelity of there products. From the high end Nautilus speakers found in production and mastering houses to their high brow consumer products, iconic audio brand Bowers & Wilkins certainly know a thing or two about audio. Retailing today for a princely £329.00, the B&W P7’s currently stand as their flagship headphones which are apparently suitable for a whole range of environments.


Unboxing and Build Quality:

If you have ever owned a Bowers and Wilkins product then you will know that they spare no expense with the packing and branding of their products. In Fact the P7 headphones are certainly no exception. The crisp black box lid slides up to reveal the P7’s in their folded configuration. This smooth folding design has become a common factor for many headphones in this current luxury price point, however it has been clear that some brands manage to engineer their mechanisms much better than others. With the Bowers & Wilkins P7’s within your hands, you can’t help but admire the substantial build quality and notice that the folding mechanism seamlessly integrates to the point where it actually adds to the physical design. This allows for an extremely portable, yet durable pair of headphones.


Contained within the box are the P7 headphones, registry and product information card, a stylish ‘metrosexual’ half clam diamond stitch design carry case with magnetic lip, and finally two one meter 3.5mm jack cables. The first jack cable is a simple coaxial audio cable whereas the other is an iDevice enabled cable with in-line microphone and physical controls.The iDevice cable configuration functions well and easily enables the user to quickly navigate through tracks or adjust the digital volume control. Each cable has a strong design, is finished with smooth black PPE, and is precision engineered to a very high standard. To attach or swap the 3.5mm cables you will simply need to remove the left side ear cup, which is secured by magnets, and insert the L shaped end of the cable to the connector port that is located in the headphone ear plate. Internally Bowers & Wilkins do adequately protect the large drivers with a metal grille instead of a mesh and the overall dimensions of the headphones is 8” x 5” x 3”. Mentioning this the headphones are of a size that allows them to slip into a handbag or messenger bag; perfect for the commuter.


According to Bowers & Wilkins their P7’s are luxuriously finished with a soft sheepskin leather on both the ear cups and headband and sport a sturdy aluminium skeleton with an ostentatious polished chrome finish. Evidently the B&W P7’s are well suited to a more refined audience due to their striking design and sheer comfort. In fact whilst offering sizeable ear cups the P7’s are immediately comfortable and do create a solid seal, however extended periods of listening is somewhat awkward as the leather has a habit of making the outer ear sweat and become itchy and uncomfortable. In continuation, whilst the innovation of securing the ear cups with magnets to the driver housings is undoubtedly innovative, there is a certain caveat. Under these magnetic ear cups are the 40mm dynamic drivers, and following extensive testing we believe that this mechanism is detrimental to the the audio quality due to an issue caused by a close additional magnetic force to the functioning drivers. Due to the sheer size of the drivers used the P7’s are able to potentially offer a higher degree of versatility across the frequency spectrum, although it is likely that their thirsty nature will deplete the battery of your device faster than others.

Bowers & Wilkins P7 Case

Testing Equipment:

To monitor the performance of the Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones we used the following equipment: Chord Electronics Hugo, Benchmark Media DAC 1, Lynx Hilo, Audient iD22, ARCAM irDAC, Schiit Audio Asgard 2, Apple iPod Classic, iPhone 5s, Motorola Moto G, MacBook Air standard 3.5mm output, and a selection of lossless tracks played via the current version of iTunes, Sonic Studio Amarra, and Channel D Pure Music. We have also tested the compatibility of the inline iDevice remote and can confirm that it only works with Apple devices and will not work as a controller for Android devices.


Sound Quality:

With a pair of closed back over the ear headphones you will generally experience a more personal experience with tight dynamics and sound that doesn’t substantially leak out into the environment around you. Naturally they are noise cancelling and the P7’s do not employ an active circuit to shut out the external environment. At this point it is important to note that the P7’s have divided opinion between us here at HQ and the average consumer. For the more refined ear the P7’s don’t seem to appeal very much at all and this review would most likely result in a 3 to 3.5 star rating, however the forthcoming analysis has been completed on behalf of the obvious market that they are intended for. Please note that this comment has now been vetoed in favour of a fair representation.


Immediately when playing music you will find yourself taken away from your environment and close your eyes to be at one with the music. The soundstage appears to be of natural dimensions where the vertical depth appears modest and the stereo field is sufficiently wide enough to allow clear placement of instrument as it would most likely appear in a live situation. This presentation is rather organic and works well at developing a deeply personal audio experience in the home or on the move.


Starting with the low frequencies, I found that the P7’s translate relatively well. However, the entire bass frequency region sounds quite spongy and does lack definition that is otherwise present in similarly priced headphones. This is not to say the P7’s lack power, there is plenty of that, more so that they lack transient detail and that everything feels bunched together in a wishy-washy way.


Moving on to the low-mids, the P7’s inherently accent this region which does come across as slightly muddy and can have a habit of masking definition from bass guitars. This is potentially why the low end appears to lack definition. However, the detail in the mid-range frequencies is accurate and smooth with rock/pop guitars sounding especially detailed. The real shining point about the Bowers and Wilkins P7’s are the high frequencies. This is an exciting frequency band which sports ultra low distortion and a beautifully bright presentation which gives an element of air and finesse to your music, ultimately resulting in an addictive listening experience. Sometimes with headphones vocals can feel recessed in a recording and can lack the impact they once had, this is not the case with the P7’s. Vocals, especially female, have the same edge and precision that they would have had in the studio, are now transmitted to your ears to give you that powerful vocal performance.


The overall sound of the P7’s is warm and surrounding with a sonic signature that pulls you into your music. The space the Bowers & Wilkins P7’s make is truly an three dimensional experience with both spacial depth to the music as well as an immersive sound stage from left to right. The transient detail is vibrant and doesn't sound flat and will deliver you the dynamic qualities of your music accurately.


Review Conclusion:

Bowers & Wilkins are famed for producing high quality audio equipment and the P7’s have been created as their flagship headphones. They sport an attractive design and have a commendable sound quality which places well within the consumer market, although audiophiles may not necessarily agree. With some areas lacking, the P7’s still create a listening experience that is not easily forgotten. Extreme comfort and design coupled with an immersive sound, the Bowers and Wilkins P7’s have a 4 star review from us here at The Pro Audio Web Blog.


Edd Harris & Chris Pavey

Edd Harris & Chris Pavey - 16th September 2014

US RRP: $399.99 | UK RRP: £329.00

Four Star Award
Bowers & Wilkins P7 Review
4/5 stars
Bowers & Wilkins P7 Review: Bowers and Wilkins are a premium British audio manufacturer of audiophile speakers and consumer products. With the release of their flagship P7 over ear headphones, B&W have successfully created a highly desirable pair of headphones for the average consumer, although audiophiles may not necessarily agree.

Editors Rating: