Bowers and wilkins px reviews: Bowers and Wilkins PX Wireless Review

Bowers and Wilkins PX Wireless Review

If you’re looking for a set of high-end headphones, Bowers and Wilkins is a good place to start. With options bedecked in expensive leather, or just all-around great build quality, the British company has held a sterling reputation for years. This is why you’ve probably noticed the explosion of reviews after the release of the Bowers & Wilkins PX active noise canceling headphones; when this company launches a new product, audiophiles take notice. So do they live up to the hype? Yes and no.

Who is the Bowers and Wilkins PX good for?

Considering the strengths and weaknesses of these headphones, I’d recommend the Bowers & Wilkins PX to:

  • Commuters who ride the subway daily
  • Fashion-forward listeners who want something to fit a contemporary style

Build and Design

Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless have rotating ear cups.

Bowers & Wilkins is known for its attention to detail, and the PX continues that tradition. Though the PX uses considerably less chrome finish and leather than its other offerings, the matte finish and coarse cloth accents are much less “classic car” than they are 21-st century chic—but it’s a welcome refresh to the classic aesthetic.

The build changes aren’t just skin-deep either. Bowers & Wilkins also marked a departure from its traditional ear pad design, for better or worse. There’s far less padding on the PX than the P7 wireless, but it definitely helps radiate heat better. However, those with larger heads will miss the extra padding, as the relative weight of the PX combined with the clamping force will make bigger noggins ache after long listening sessions. Smaller heads and shorter (think sub-2hr.) sessions will be A-OK, though.

You’ll find all of the buttons and playback controls on the right ear cup.

Inside the ear cups are angled drivers to meet the natural tilt of your ears, which I always appreciate. It helps dispel unintentional phase issues and helps make a more realistic representation of 3D-space in your recordings. Additionally, the supplemental drivers that make the Active Noise Canceling possible reside right in the dead-center of the speaker units, raised so they’re closer to your ear canal. This is a smart choice, as it reduces the overall power each driver needs to output in order to cancel outside noise as it reaches your head.

All of the controls for the Bowers & Wilkins PX can be found on the right ear cup, on the back edge. Volume controls a multifunction button, a toggle for the “Environment filter” used by the app, and a power/connection slider all ring the right ear cup. On the bottom, a 3.5mm female jack along with a USB-C charging port sit rather unobtrusively next to the indicator LED.

What kind of connections does the PX have?

The headphones are wireless, but you can attach the included 3.5mm audio cable as well.

You can use the included 3.5mm cable, but the Bowers & Wilkins PX are geared towards wireless listeners with aptX HD support. This is quite a step up from your standard Bluetooth codecs, and offers the latest profiles to handle headset functions with just about any smartphone out there.

However, I will point out that like the Bose QC35 II, you’ll need to download the app and turn location services on in order to get the most from your headphones. Seems more than a little unnecessary given there are other headphones on the market that don’t require you to share your location with the manufacturer in order to unlock the best features of your cans, but that seems to be pretty standard nowadays.

In the app you’ll get a few options for adjusting the strength of the ANC

One feature that’s both useful and annoying is the auto-pause. These have a tiny sensor in them that pause whatever you’re listening to whenever you remove the headphones and then resume playback when you put them back on. In my experience, it was super sensitive to the point when music would pause just if the headphones moved a little. Luckily, you can tweak the sensitivity in the app if you’re having this problem but it never fully went away for me. Even when I went into the app to turn off that feature I found that music would still randomly pause when I didn’t want it to, though the frequency of instances definitely decreased when I did so.

How long does the PX’s battery last?

The Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless headphones use gorgeous build materials with minimal branding.

While battery life depends greatly on how loudly you listen, the PX can handle just about any trip you throw at it. Chris was able to travel from to London, then Edinburgh, back to London, and then died before his flight back. All told, that was probably about 12 hours of listening—but a cold snap definitely didn’t do the battery any favors (it was the dead of winter, after all).

How does the PX sound?

The PX struggles with bass underemphasis, and makes the mids and highs too loud in comparison.

While these are one of the better-looking headphones we’ve tested in the $400 price range, they’re not the best sounding or the best at active noise canceling. The ANC isn’t as strong as something like the Sony WH-1000X M2 or the Bose QC35 II, but it gets the job done. The low hum of the heater all but disappeared in my apartment, but the same can’t be said for the rumble of voices in my local coffee shop. On the bright side you can adjust certain aspects of the ANC within the app itself so if you do want to hear more of what’s going on around you there’s a slider you can adjust until it suits your needs.

As far as sound goes, these aren’t going to blow you away. Recently we wrote a piece about how to EQ your music and in it, we mentioned how you’ll find a lot of instruments in the range of 100Hz – 1kHz. We also mentioned how if you don’t take special care here you can end up making your music sound like “muddy”, which basically means that the instruments in that range are competing for space and the PX Wireless fall victim to that. While bass kicks in the song Glow by Retro Stefson were more or less fine, the bass guitar and even some of the vocals weren’t clearly defined. Throw in the guitar licks and synthy elements that pop in during the chorus at 2:47 and it’s hard to really pick out any one instrument.

The highs didn’t fare any better, with the crashing cymbals and hi-hats in the song Dirty Paws by Of Monsters and Men really lacking in strength when compared to everything going on in the mid. The male vocals that underlie every line of the song are all pretty much lost in the mix. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to say that these headphones sound like garbage. I still had a pleasant few days of singing along to a few choice songs, but when you compare them to some of the other options in their price range it becomes painfully clear that what you’re paying for are the quality build materials and modern design. Not sound quality.

Should you buy the Bowers & Wilkins PX?

Whether or not the PX should be on your radar really depends on what you’re looking for in a set of headphones. While they’re definitely a favorite of many who use them, Bowers & Wilkins are victims of circumstance in that their latest headphones look better than they sound. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s a lot to like about the PX. But if you have a Google Pixel or other Android 8+ phone… there are other options that might fit your needs better.

Bowers & Wilkins PX Headphones review

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The Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones boast a showstopping design adjustable active noise cancellation and long battery life.

Editor’s Choice

Tom’s Guide Verdict

The Bowers & Wilkins PX Headphones provide a showstopping design bursting with tech, including smart sensors and adjustable active noise cancellation with up to 22 hours of battery life.

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Pros
  • +

    Stunning, durable design

  • +

    Adjustable active noise cancellation

  • +

    Easy-to-use controls

  • +

    Good battery life

  • +

    Great audio quality

Cons
  • Expensive

  • A bit heavy

Why you can trust Tom’s Guide?
Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what’s best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

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The Bowers & Wilkins PX Headphones are the company’s first Bluetooth cans to feature active noise-cancellation technology, and offer smart sensors for automatic pause and play. The PX headphones also have a companion app that allows quiet-seeking music lovers the option of adjusting ANC modes as well as how much ambient noise the cans let in. The PX’s premium price tag nets you great audio quality, up to 22 hours of battery life, and a pair of cans just as pretty as they are sturdy.

The Bowers & Wilkins PX are a bit heavy and are on the pricier side, but overall they earn a spot on our best noise cancelling headphones list. 

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I gasped when I first laid eyes on the PXs and their sublime design. The outer ring of the ear cups and the top of the headband are covered with a navy-blue ballistic nylon that’s as tough as it is beautiful. The look is amplified by the soft gold accents along the bottom of the headband, and on the extenders and caps on the ear cups and buttons. Soft, supple black leather lines the anterior headband and inner ear cups.

  • Bowers and Wilkins PX Wireless (Black Download) at Amazon for $194.49

The cups are connected by powerful magnets for easier removal, which comes in handy if you need to reach the reset button underneath the right ear cup. Bowers & Wilkins also embedded a smart sensor into the ear cups, so when you remove one of the oval-shaped cups, whatever you’re listening to will automatically pause and resume once you place it back on your ear.

All the buttons and ports on the headphones are located along the right ear cup. At the top rear, you’ll see the volume and pausey/play buttons with the Environmental Filter and power/Bluetooth buttons directly beneath. At the bottom are ports for the included audio cable and the USB Type-C port for recharging the cans — one of the only  headphones to have this feature.

I’ve worn the headphones for six weeks now, and they look just as good as when I first received them. This is despite repeatedly being tossed in and out of an overloaded book bag and an inadvertent encounter with a curious 3-year-old. And everywhere I’ve gone with the PX, I’ve had at least one person stop me to ask their brand and remark on their beauty.

MORE: Best Headphones 2018

For those moments when I had to cram the PX headphones into a bag, I appreciated that the ear cups can swivel so they can lie flat. The headphones ship with a snazzy quilted bag with an Type-C USB cable and an audio cord.

Comfort

Wrapped in soft leather, the memory-foam ear cups are firmer than I’m used to on a headphone. I’d liken it to reclining on an orthopedic pillow instead of one filled with goose down. The cups fit comfortably over my ears, creating a reasonable seal. I say reasonable, because whenever I would move my head left or right a slight gap was created, triggering the smart sensors to pause my music. This is a problem that’s easily remedied in the companion app (more on that later).  Still, I’ve worn the PX for over 5 hours on a cross-country flight without any discomfort.

The PX headphones weigh 11.8 ounces, compared with the 8-ounce Bose QuietComfort 35 II. But the weight difference is to be expected with the former’s use of higher quality materials — particularly with the metal.

Setup

Pairing the PX to my Samsung Galaxy S8+ and my Galaxy Note 8 was a snap. Sliding the power/Bluetooth button downward for 2 seconds places the cans in pairing mode. From there, I just went to my Bluetooth settings in my phone, hit pair, and I was ready to rock ‘n’ roll.

App

The free PX app (Android, iOS) is modeled after the hardware in that it’s clean, nice to look at and relatively easy to use. When the app launches, it automatically syncs  with the headphones. Once paired, you can access the trio of active noise-cancelling presets: Office, City and Flight.

Enabling Environment Control determines what kind of ambient noise the headphones will block out. For example, City Environment Control will automatically filter out most of the hustle and bustle of a busy New York City street, while Office blocked out any chatter in the office except for my colleagues who were directly to my right and left.

The app also has a Voice Passthrough function that lets you adjust how loud the ambient noise that gets into the PX will be. When I was walking down the street, I pushed the slider toward Amplified, so I could stay alert to my surroundings. However, when I was on the subway, I turned the passthrough off so I could shut out the guitar solo from the guy trawling the cars, trying to get a little extra cash.

You can also change the sensitivity of the smart sensors embedded in the ear cups using the  Wear Sensor portion. I typically kept my setting on Normal, but when I got a hairstyle that interfered with how the ear cups sat on my head, I switched to High. But if the sensors aren’t pausing the music when you remove the earcups, you should change it to Low.

MORE: 14 Cheap Headphones Ranked From Best To Worst

I really like the way Bowers & Wilkins handles updates for the headphones. Instead of having to plug the cans into a computer, all I had to do was launch the app and hit the info icon to access the firmware update. From there, all I had to do was make sure the cans were situated next to the phone while the update installed, which took about 3 minutes. In the event the headphones go on the fritz, you can hit the factory reset button and start from scratch.

Something I wish the app had is a way to tweak the equalizer. I also wouldn’t mind a way to adjust the soundstage, similar to what the Parrot Zik 3.0 headphones offer. However, Bowers & Wilkins says that it will be rolling out new features via the app in the future.

Active Noise Cancelling

Each variation of the PX’s active noise-cancelling creates its own quiet utopia. But as a city dweller, I found myself using the City present with disabled Voice Passthrough. It performed the best against the never-ending din of city living, including the subway; windy, traffic-choked streets; construction; and loud arguments. Now if I wanted to eavesdrop on said argument, I would set the Voice Passthrough to Natural so I could still listen to my music.

The Active Noise Cancelling performed well against the neverending din of city living.

As good as the PX’s ANC is (and it is good), it can’t compete with the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and its vacuum-like silence. Whereas I could hear faint whispers of conversation on the PX headphones with the Voice Passthrough disabled, the QC35 IIs were just a step below dead quiet with no music playing. Neither set of cans has that annoying hiss that some ANC headphones have due to integrated mics creating a negative frequency to cancel out ambient noise.

Audio Performance

The PX delivers robust sound with nice detail and clean highs and mids — something that can also be said of the QC35 IIs. Listening to several tracks on both sets of headphones, they were so on a par, I had to rely on tiny differences to declare a winner. On Bruno Mars’ “Chunky,” I could hear the strings on the bass more clearly on the PX than on the QC35 II. However, the lows on the QC35 II headphones sounded warmer overall. The vocals and synth keyboard were almost matched on both headphones. 

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

When I switched to Astrud Gilberto’s rendition of “Fly Me To The Moon,” both headphones did a great job of establishing the soundfield. The piano accompanying the vocalist sounded like it was sitting to my left while the horns were to my right. The piano and horns were more pronounced on the PX headphones, as were the vocals. Details like the cabasa were present on the QC35 II cans, but the french horn was a bit muffled.

The PX delivers robust sound with nice detail and clean highs and mids.

On Kem’s “Love Call – Main,” the main guitar sounded bloated and was crowding the bass on the PX, which affected how well I could hear the bongos, snare and cymbal. The QC35 IIs had a slightly cooler sound, but I had no trouble hearing every instrument clearly, including the singer.

Battery and Bluetooth

Bowers & Wilkins says the PX can last 22 hours on a charge with ANC enabled. I was able to use the headphones for 19.5 hours, which translated to two weeks of usage. That included my 35-minute commute to work,  errands, after-work events and a 5-hour plane ride. You can check how much battery life the PX headphones have left in the app, or wait until they start sounding their warning beeps. Bose estimates that the QC35 II headphones last 20 hours, but we managed to squeeze out 22 hours.

MORE: Buying Headphones: Pros and Cons of Every Type

The PX headphones have the typical Bluetooth range of 33 feet. The music started sputtering when I moved closer to stepping out of range, and cut out completely when I surpassed the limit. However, I appreciated that my track started playing as soon as I moved back into the acceptable distance.

Call Quality

The PX’s call quality can use some work. On my end, the calls I made to my mother and brother sounded like we were all underwater. But neither my mom nor my brother complained about the sound. In fact, they said it sounded like I was just talking to them on the phone.

You get what you pay for. And in the case of the Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless headphones, you’re paying for quality. They’re pricey at $399, but the headphones offer a gorgeous, sturdy design with great audio quality, solid active noise-cancelling technology and long battery life. When the headphones are paired with its free app, listeners have the ability to tweak what they hear and how much.

But if you’re looking for absolute quiet, the Bose QuietComfort 35 IIs are without equal and deliver great sound quality. The $329 cans are still a bit expensive, but they’re cheaper than the PX. They’re also a lot lighter than the PX and come with a dedicated Google Assistant button. Still, if you’re seeking pair of truly premium headphones, the Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless headphones are the way to go.

Credit: Shaun Lucas/Tom’s Guide

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Bowers and Wilkins PX Wireless: Price Comparison

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Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she’s reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.

Comparison of Bowers & Wilkins PX wireless headphones with the new PX7 model

We have already written about the new wireless noise-canceling headphones from the PX series from the British Bowers & Wilkins: the flagship full-size PX7 and on-ear PX5. Recall that these are the first headphones on the market to support the new Qualcomm aptX Adaptive codec with variable bitrate and low latency. How else is the new PX7 different from the previous PX model? Let’s talk about this in more detail today.

Package

The old model came with a soft case, the box with the new headphones includes a hard case with a zipper. Bowers & Wilkins was one of the first to install a USB-C charging port in the PX already in 2017, no change here. The new headphones support fast charging: 15 minutes will give 5 hours, the total autonomy is 30 hours, compared to 22 for the previous version.

Design/Construction

The main design innovation of the PX7 is that the headbands connecting the headband and ear cups are made of carbon fiber composite instead of metal on the PX. The material is as strong as traditional steel or aluminum frames, but is lighter and more flexible, according to B&W. The weight of the novelty is 310 grams, which is really 25 grams less than the PX with metal cup holders. Despite the fact that the new headphones have larger – and therefore heavier – drivers (43.6 mm versus 40 mm) and cups.

The cups and headband of the PX7 are covered with fabric with a special treatment, the PX had a slightly different material – ballistic nylon. The cups remain swivel, each adorned with a metal ellipse bearing the Bowers & Wilkins logo. The ear pads and headband of the novelty have become much softer and more comfortable, if you had complaints about the fit of the past PX, the new PX7 have been seriously improved in this place. Remarkably, this time around, Bowers & Wilkins engineers chose a more environmentally friendly, high-quality composite leatherette to cover the ear pads and headband.

Technology/Control

The old PX had Bluetooth 4.1, the new one supports Bluetooth 5.0. Codecs up to aptX HD were already in the PX arsenal, but the PX7 was the first headphone in the world to support the new aptX Adaptive. This is the next generation of Qualcomm aptX codecs, which differs from the previous ones primarily in adaptive variable bitrate (from 279 kbps to 420 kbps), as well as low latency of about 80 ms. The codec itself changes the bitrate of the stream depending on the content and circumstances, providing stable and high-quality sound in any situation. In addition, Qualcomm has provided backward compatibility with aptX and aptX HD-enabled products.

Headphones have retained control with physical buttons, some people prefer sensors, but the buttons are still more reliable, especially in winter. But the sensors – proximity sensors are preserved, playback automatically pauses when you remove the headphones or even when you simply pull the headphone cup away from your ear.

Both generations support Multipoint – pairing with two devices at once. But the application for iOS / Android has been made new, it allows you to find out the charge level, adjust the sensitivity of the sensor described above, rename the headphones and … for now, but there is a software update item in the menu, perhaps in the future the functionality of the headphones and the application will be expanded.

ANC

ANC uses 4 microphones each, 2 more for headset/telephony (supporting CVC2 – Clear Voice Communication v2). This is true for both models, but the efficiency and quality of the noise reduction system has increased significantly. In previous PXs, turning on ANC at maximum power affected the sound of the headphones, but here we have stable sound both with and without ANC – as befits modern premium models.

Sound

If you like the sound of previous headphones from the Bowers & Wilkins family, then the new PX7 will most likely be to your liking. The sound is detailed and tonally balanced, without any obvious distortions, but quite “live” and entertaining, and not completely detached dry and analytical. The bass has become more weighty and deep, probably due to the larger size of the speakers. In addition, the PX7 has grown in breadth and depth of the sound stage.

Verdict The

PX was already quite modern and successful, but Bowers & Wilkins didn’t stop there. The updated PX7 has been improved in every possible way: construction, materials, weight, comfort, autonomy, technology, noise reduction and overall sound, and the price has remained the same.

Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones review. Premium Wireless Portable. Blog.

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Let’s talk about the wireless full size from the famous British. I think Bowers & Wilkins equipment can be safely compared to Apple products, only for audiophiles. Here and the high price, and the image role of devices, and ease of use, and quality assurance. Of course, fans of the brand are spared many difficulties. But for those who still like to think and choose, I suggest looking at the advantages and disadvantages of this model.

Packing, contents, appearance

Headphones are supplied in a large cardboard box. Included: a fabric case that does not have a solid frame, but conveniently closes with magnets, a 3. 5 cable and a Type-C cable for charging.
Visually, the model is very beautiful, I liked both color options, although the dark one, of course, is more. The main part of the structure is metal, but there are plastic inserts covered with nylon. The lines are sleek, but the build is very solid. The ear cushions and headband are made of eco-leather, but it is so delicate that it can be confused with natural. The ear pads themselves are removable and also held on magnets. Everything is fine, but keep in mind – the assembly is Chinese, there are certain concerns, but no one has canceled the warranty period.
Well, let’s continue looking at our little “tusks”. Because of the metal, PXs are very heavy. The fit is solid and strong, you can walk and jump in the headphones, they will not fall off your head. But it is difficult to stay in them for a long time, especially when the building is new.
About Bluetooth and active noise cancellation. There are APTX HD and AAC codecs. The connection is pretty fast. The level of noise reduction and transmission of external sounds can be controlled through the application, it looks primitive, but it works clearly. There are also control buttons on the left bowl.
If you hang the headphones around your neck or move one away from your ear, playback will automatically stop. If you put it on again, it will resume. The magic continues when we put the PX somewhere and they immediately go to sleep. Look like me in the past during the sessions, but oh well.
Wireless operation with noise canceling enabled – Approximately 22 hours. Work on the wire without noise reduction – 50 hours. By the way, thanks to the fit, the passive noise cancellation itself is already excellent.

Features and compatibility

  • – PX frequency range: 10 Hz to 20 kHz.
  • – Sensitivity 111 dB.
  • – Resistance 22 Ohm.

About sound

Main testing was done on Questyle QP1R and FiiO M6 players.
The headphones have a 40mm nylon driver, and this is exactly the driver that the flagship P9 Signature comes with. Will the PX sound exactly the same for a third of the price? Of course not.
I listened to them via wired and Bluetooth, through my iPhone 6S and through an expensive player, used the APTX HD codec on the FiiO M6, completely turned off noise reduction and, conversely, changed modes. My conclusions can be reduced to three theses:
– Active noise cancellation on, greatly spoils the sound.
– Wireless connection also negatively affects quality.
– In its class, the PX sounds pretty good. The emphasis is on the bass and the lower mids, the upper mids are soft and colorful, the high frequencies are noticeably muffled. At the same time, the headphones still sound quite legible and clear, the bass does not press on the ear, but has a clear relief and controlled impact. Adequate, tasty serving for an adult who needs music, not audiophile esotericism.

Pouches

Genres: any. Sources: Better with APTX HD codec. The nature of the sound of the headphones: soft, pleasant, darkened. The recording quality is demanding on 6 out of 10. Would I buy this model for myself? Hardly, but for a gift – yes.

About comparisons

I think you understand that wireless and active noise canceling are not about sound. Therefore, I see no reason to compare the PX with its main competitors in the face of the Sony WH-1000XM3 and BOSE QuietComfort 35 II for a long time and in detail. Each of the three models is good in its own way, somewhere the noise reduction works a little better, somewhere the design wins, somewhere – convenience. Without trying on, I do not advise you to take any of them, but otherwise choose to your taste.

Expert assessment

Expert assessment

4.5

Expert Rating

4.5

Plus

Design and Build

Good Noise Reduction

Run Time

Minus

Modest Kit

Headphone weight

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