Given that “overrun” According to Merriam-Webster, it can mean “reaching above or beyond” or “beating oneself by doing too much or winning,” it’s clear that context is everything. That the new Px8 wireless over-ear active noise canceling headphones represent “overrange” from Bowers & Wilkins is not really up for debate. It’s really the context of this overrange, that’s a living question.
The acclaim that the Px7 S2 wireless over-ear active noise canceling headphones met when Bowers & Wilkins launched them in the summer of 2022 was almost universal. We certainly found enough to both like and admire. So in what can only be a step of utter confidence or staggering recklessness on the part of the company, Bowers & Wilkins has taken the Px7 S2 concept and tried to make it more expensive.
At a glance, these new Px8 could quite easily pass for their more affordable Px7 S2 sibling. However, a closer look reveals some significant differences. And then think about the asking price: Px8 suddenly becomes a completely different proposition.
While the Px8 shares the same fundamental silhouette as the Px7 S2, upgrades in materials result in headphones that look, feel and – let’s not be shy – smell significantly more expensive. Which is probably a good thing, considering how much more expensive it actually is.
Px8 is available in a number of different finishes: black leather, or brown and gray leather. The company-specified nappa leather is soft, bouncy and aromatic, and it’s perfectly applied to the memory foam ear cushions and both the inside and outside of the headband.
The arm structure and headband adjustment are cast aluminum – the look and tactility of the metal elements of over-ear headphones has rarely seemed so immoderate. The logo plate on each earcup has a diamond-cut edge and the Bowers & Wilkins logo itself varies in appearance as the light changes on it. They weigh just 320 grams and are comfortable to wear for hours on end, even for those of us who want to wear glasses at the same time.
It’s a fine line between “refined” and “flash” at times, but it’s one Bowers & Wilkins walks confidently. Certainly in terms of looks and general desirability, the Px8 go a long way in making their asking price seem reasonable enough. Compare these headphones to the likes of Mark Levinson’s acclaimed wireless headphones No. 5909 (selling for $999 / £999) and (at least in terms of showroom appeal) the Px8 are blocks ahead.
Beautiful dream cones
Since the active noise canceling platform mounted on the Px7 S2 is one of the very best that doesn’t say “Bose” anywhere, Bowers & Wilkins’ decision to carry it over unchanged for the Px8 is understandable. Some users may crave more customizability than the Px8 offers (you’re limited to “on,” “off,” or “passthrough”), but it seems highly unlikely anyone will crave more noise cancellation than these headphones can achieve. Sure, the drone of an airplane, as well as the drone of its passengers, is virtually eliminated when ANC is turned on.