Bowers & Wilkins Px8 wi-fi headphones evaluation: Experience everlasting, shiny and chrome

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Sequels can suck. This isn’t information for those who’ve seen just about any film with 2, II, Too, and even 2000 within the title. However, simply in case selective amnesia helps you deal with the life you misplaced to a Transformers movie, I’ll say it once more: Sequels can suck, however that doesn’t imply they do suck. Typically a much bigger finances isn’t squandered on a follow-up. Typically, extra does get you extra. Within the private audio world, the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 is a flagship Bluetooth lively noise cancellation over-ear headphone that exhibits how refocusing vitality may be executed proper—a Mad Max: Fury Street for the headphones sector.

The construct

Sensible results versus CGI. The selection of 1 over the opposite is why some motion motion pictures really feel timeless whereas others don’t. The choice to heart the motion round purpose-built set items, utilizing evocative areas to immerse you in deliberate world-building. Equally, the perfect audio gear proves itself adept at executing extremely technical maneuvers with out difficult you to a race by way of the uncanny valley. And, with the Px8, Bowers & Wilkins has achieved its refined highway warrior.

Launched in June 2022, the extremely celebrated Px7 S2 headphones ($399) established the visible language for the present technology of B&W Bluetooth ANC headphones. The Px7 S2 and its sequel—the Px8 ($699), launched in September 2022—arrive in a fold-flat hardshell carrying case embossed with a matte rubberized “Bowers & Wilkins” throughout it—the refined distinction being the zipper pull of the Px8 is leather-based versus material. Each are accompanied by a 1.2mm USB-C to USB-C cable and a 1.2m USB-C to three.5mm stereo jack audio cable.

Carrying hallmarks of the British speaker designer’s many years of high-end industrial design, the Px7 S2—and, subsequently, the Px8—characteristic gently elliptical ear cups suspended on a C-shaped yoke with friction-fit adjustment tubes. Just like the carry case that echoes the ear cups’ oval form, “Bowers & Wilkins” is emblazoned on the outside. As you would possibly count on, this textured branding means no contact controls. An ON/OFF/Bluetooth pairing toggle—in addition to bodily quantity +/- and multifunction buttons—populate the rear proper ear cup, as does a USB-C port. A Fast Motion button sits on the left.

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And this tactile method turns into an increasing number of of a spotlight as soon as you’re taking a better have a look at the Px8’s elevated construct. Whereas the Px7 S2 is clad in woven material, the Px8’s precision-cut brushed aluminum ear cups and adjustable headband are trimmed in buttery Nappa leather-based (accessible in black or tan). The cast-aluminum arms of the Px8 have a patina that stands out from the Px7’s matte black. And the branding has advanced from the metallic ink on the Px7 to a raised, reflective lettering on the Px8 that, mixed with a beveled ring across the emblem plate, provides the phantasm of better depth when catching the sunshine. Surprisingly, these materials upgrades solely add as much as a 13g distinction between the Px8 (320g) and the Px7 S2 (307g). However they make an enormous distinction in presenting the Px8 as a extra luxurious product that guarantees, and delivers, a textured expertise each bodily and audibly.

Bowers & Wilkins Px8 headphones in case
The Px8 hardshell case echoes the elliptical form of the ear cups. Tony Ware

The setup

Internally, the Px8 once more has some similarities to the Px7. Utilizing the identical core circuitry, Bluetooth 5.2 helps the SBC, AAC, and aptX Adaptive (with aptX HD) codecs for max iOS/Android compatibility. There’s no LDAC assist, so people with a high-end digital audio participant received’t have the ability to reap the benefits of that area of interest, although noticeably high-resolution, protocol. The inner digital audio converter can deal with as much as 24-bit audio, and aptX claims to fold as much as 24-bit/48 kHz audio in. Whereas aptX is the superior wi-fi choice, the Px8 will solely constantly obtain its highest specs potential when related to a pc (or handset/iPad, and so forth.) through USB-C cable and fed acceptable recordsdata or streaming Apple Music Hello-Res Lossless or TIDAL Masters tracks.

Pairing is so simple as you’d count on: Push the ON/OFF/Bluetooth toggle to the highest and briefly maintain until you hear a pinging. The Px8 will then be discoverable in your gadget. With the Bowers & Wilkins Music app (iOS/Android), you possibly can swap between Noise Cancellation/Move-By way of/Off modes to reap the benefits of the built-in four-mic ANC array—once more, the identical confirmed platform because the Px7, which additionally contains two further vocal mics for telephone calls. Moreover, you possibly can assign the Fast Motion button to both cycle by way of these “Surroundings Management” modes or have it set off a Voice Assistant. It’s also possible to toggle on/off Auto Standby (energy down after quarter-hour of inactivity) and Put on Sensor (computerized off-head pause/on-head restart playback).

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When used primarily in wi-fi mode, the Px8’s battery life is rated at 30 hours (absolutely charged in 3 hours), although precise hours achieved normally dipped a bit under that (averaging 27 hours). Nonetheless, that retains the Px8 aggressive with the Sony WH-1000XM5 ($399), Grasp & Dynamic MW75 ($599), and the competitively indulgent Focal Bathys ($799), although not the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 ($349) and its 60-hour battery.

Bowers & Wilkins Px8 & Px7 headphones on a shelf
The Px8 (left) and Px7 share roughly the identical kind issue however not the identical finishes. Tony Ware

The sound

Whereas removed from the biggest ear cups (undoubtedly extra compact than the aforementioned, bigger ear-friendly Focal Bathys), the Px8’s plush reminiscence cushion pads lock into place with a assured, gasket-tight embrace and clamping drive that’s tight however not tyrannical. Even with glasses, there was no discomfort, nor a swampy really feel, after hours of use. And it’s inside this slim silhouette that an enhanced audio engine purrs.

Whereas the Px7 makes use of 40mm bio-cellulose drivers to realize a dynamic pay attention, the Px8 swaps in bespoke 40mm carbon cones—derived from the B&W 700 Collection loudspeakers domes—which might be coupled with an optimized basket/motor system. This tilts the sound signature barely from swinging for a knockout to focused punches. Separation and management are heightened, which at occasions makes the Px7 S2 appear the brighter headphone of the 2. However that is simply because the Px8 are tighter, tempering unruly transients that may come throughout as pleasure however threaten to journey up accuracy. Angled to realize a uniform alignment between each level of the ear and driver floor, these light-yet-rigid carbon cones are supposed for low-distortion (THD+N <0.1%), high-engagement listening.

You’ll be able to inform there’s a speaker producer’s mentality engineered into the Px8 as they honestly open up with some quantity. That’s to not say you’ll want to sacrifice your listening to to completely expertise the Px8’s finest, as you’ll nonetheless get a cohesive pay attention at decrease ranges, however making use of some stress helped most timbre and timing when placing the Px8 by way of an assault of Large Assault, Bloc Social gathering, black metallic, and IDM songs, to call a smattering of splatterings. 

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By way of imaging and layering, the Px8 does deeper than it goes large however is way from myopic. An ample, articulate midrange establishes the footing, with exactly formed mid-bass and ethereal highs setting the tempo. “Presence” is an effective summation of what’s achieved. Vocals, particularly, profit from a barely intimate expression, coming throughout as mildly heat however able to conveying each inflection. Lows attain when known as upon, however readability is prioritized over a extra coloured response. The Px8 doesn’t introduce a point-of-view character into the narrative; every tune’s setting presents itself in a language free from exaggerated frequencies.

As is frequent with virtually each ANC headphone, there’s some thickening within the bass with the solidly efficient, however not standard-setting, noise cancellation turned on. In order that’s one solution to get extra thump. As well as, the B&W Music app does provide +/- 6dB Treble & Bass sliders for some rudimentary EQing, however the inventory DSP tuning has a pure, endearing agility. Relating the sensible results vs. CGI dialog once more, it’s sacrificing infinite flexibility for a extra tangible world, and I choose the latter.

The conclusion

There are growing choices within the premium wi-fi headphones sector, which implies there’s a tuning choice for everybody. Need a extra sub-bass-focused response? I’d lean towards the M&D MW75. Need a extra analytical, shimmery session? Go for the Focal Bathys. Care extra about top-tier noise cancellation and sensor customization? The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are the undisputed software program heavyweight. Nonetheless, if it’s a high-octane however not overblown sound you’ve been trying to find in an audio warfare rig, the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 is fueled by assertive expression. Pure guzzolene.