Graceful, sensual, sleek, plush, refined, swanky, superlative yet practical and … these aren’t the words I’d usually use to describe a pair of headphones, but the Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones deserve those adjectives and more.
We’ve reviewed many Bowers & Wilkins products in the past; back in 2010, When Thomas reviewed their P5 headphones, he found them to be “the best headphones [he’d] owned in many years.” From 2010 to 2017, a lot has changed yet some things stay the same: B&W is still making excellent audio products, and the P7s are all that the P5s were and more.
At least on Amazon, there appear to be two packaging options available — the standard and “frustration-free”. I’m guessing that I received standard, as it’s the traditional box with inserts. I realize that most people chuck a box after they’ve opened the package, but the experience of opening this particular box is pretty satisfying and it might be worth it if you haven’t before ordered a set of high-end headphones.
Inside you are presented with the P7s folded into a compact ball; under the molded tray holding the headphones, you’ll find the premium travel case. Inside the Chanel clutch-like travel case, there is a charging cable, a wired headphone cable, and a packet that holds the user manual, a booklet with safety instructions and warranty information, and a booklet labeled Bowers & Wilkins that you might be tempted to toss — but you shouldn’t. Inside you’ll see the more information on the brand and an invitation to register your headphones on their site; in return, you’ll receive 3 months “of exclusive album downloads, free from the Society of Sound when you join.” Bowers & Wilkins has excellent warranty service, as I have found out on other products in the past, so it is worth it to register your headphones and get them in the system on the off chance that you might one day need that service.
It’s a little thing, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the lambskin P7 travel case was so refined and, dare I say it, pretty. It has diagonal quilting similar to what’s found on a Chanel bag, and beyond being fairly compact for travel, it looks nice.
And that brings us to the Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones, themselves.
- Like their wired siblings, P7 Wireless utilizes B&W bespoke acoustic technologies to deliver pristine audio on the move. A class leading 17 hours of listening between charges.
- Charge from your laptop with the supplied USB cable. The P7 Wireless also features and ingenious folding mechanism and comes with a luxury case for ease of portability.
- The P7 Wireless driver diaphragm borrows key technologies from B&W advanced speaker design, resulting in more precise, controlled movement and a leap forward in headphone sound quality.
- The P7 Wireless is crafted from the finest materials, including aluminum and sheepskin leather, not just for performance but also luxury and durability.
- Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless headphones come with a 2 year limited warranty only when purchased from an authorized dealer including Amazon.com
When you first remove the P7s from the box, they come folded and ready for travel. The first thing that struck me was the visible stitching on the lambskin leather headband; it’s pretty plush and looks expensive. The second thing that grabbed me were the beautiful aluminum bars that make up the bottom of the headband connecting to the ear cups; they are striking and graceful. The obviously marked L and R weren’t unwelcome, either.
The Bowers & Wilkins name is etched onto each ear cup, and while it is obvious, it’s not obnoxious. The gray brushed aluminum with shiny polished edges that make up the nameplate on each ear cup is subtle, yet beautiful.
The lambskin ear cups measure approximately 3.5″ long by 2.75″ wide by 0.6″ thick; they are cushy, comfortable, and my ears (with earrings) fit comfortably inside the 2.25″ by 1.75″ interior.
On the left ear cup, there is a 3.5mm plug for those times when you haven’t charged the battery or you simply don’t want to go wireless. On the right ear cup bottom, there’s a microUSB charging port and a combo Bluetooth and Power button. You turn the headphones on by sliding the switch forward; you activate Bluetooth by pressing the button in.
On the backside of the right ear cup, there are three buttons. The top and bottom buttons are volume up and down, and the middle multi-function button will play/pause the music when pressed once; it will also answer or hang up a call when pressed once. When pressed twice it will advance the music you’re listening to by one song, and when pressed three times, it will reverse the songs you’re listing to by one.
The P7s weigh 11.4 ounces, so while they aren’t what I would call lightweight headphones, they also aren’t too heavy. They are quite comfortable, and I can wear them for hours without any fatigue. While they do not have active noise canceling, the Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones do provide some passive noise canceling due to their over-ear design.
There is an LED light between the charging port and the power button that will glow solid green when they are fully charged.
The overall effect of the headphones, without even putting them on, is that they are a premium set of expensive cans — to the point where I’d be careful when taking them to school, work, or the gym if there’s a chance that they might be left lying around where someone could snag them.
The experience of listening to music or spoken word through the Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones is not a letdown. The sound produced is big and bold, crisp and beautiful. They are not tuned to be overly bass heavy, yet the P7s manage thumping lows without ever bottoming out; the pulsating bass and drum in Beck’s “Wow” will vibrate your body without drowning out the highs and Beck’s voice. My usual go-to for checking mid-range sound is Radiohead’s “Burn the Witch” because on a poor set of heaphones Thom York’s voice can so easily get drowned out and obliterated by the orchestra in the background. But with the P7s, Thom’s voice is lovingly layered on top of the background music, and the result is a rich symphony of Thom’s soaring vocals on top of cellos, violins, and drums; the P7s play this song as I imagine Radiohead meant it to be heard. Listen to Queen of the Stone Age’s “No One Knows”, and you’ll hear the lightly whispered line “no one knows” on top of Josh Homme’s vocals the second time he sings the same line; I had never caught that, much less heard it before; sound though the P7s is that clear.
Battery life when listening to the Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones is around 14 hours (depending upon how loud you have them playing) — easily long enough to get you through most international flights; when the battery dies, you can plug in the cable and continue to listen to your music. Perhaps the only complaint I have regarding the P7s is that the music doesn’t pause when you remove the from your head. To be fair, there aren’t a lot of headphones that have this feature, but I would like to have seen it on a set that runs in the $400 range. I like that you can connect multiple devices to the P7s, as it makes switching between your phone and computer convenient. Calls made through the P7s are clear and easy to manage. Overall, these are a solid and easy to operate pair of headphones that also happen to sound and look amazing. With a 60-day return window, you’ll have plenty of time to decide if you love them or not.
The Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones retail for $399.99, and they are available directly from the manufacturer and from other retailers including Amazon ($399.49 for wireless) [affiliate link].
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Gorgeous combination of aluminum and sheepskin leather creates a pair of luxurious headphones; Sound through the headphones is excellent; Calls made through the headphones sound great; You can pair the headphones to multiple devices for easy listening; ~14-hour battery life
What Needs Improvement: Headphones do not turn pause music when you remove them