Review Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Headphones: Premium Sound and Construction

It’s one thing to argue with the biggest kid in the playground. It’s quite another to try to do it on your own terms. But with its new Px7 S2 wireless over-ear headphones, Bowers & Wilkins has basically equated it with Sony and asked if the Japanese behemoth would like to have one. In bold? Reckless? A bit of both?

A few years ago Bowers & Wilkins launched its original Px7 wireless noise canceling on-ear headphones and priced them to rival the established class leader, Sony’s WH-1000XM4. And by capitalizing on both its heritage and strengths, Bowers & Wilkins delivered headphones that rivaled the fundamentals of sound quality. Yes, they were a little chintzy, a little tough in looks, but they got it where it counted, and they were a valid audio-focused alternative to the all-singing, all-dancing, all-conquering Sony option.

Last month, Sony launched its WH-1000XM5. The price has gone up a little, the weight has gone down a little, the list of features and functionality remains as long as your arm. And so Bowers & Wilkins comes with a new model. The price has gone up a little, the weight has come down a little, the emphasis on sound quality and rather self-confident “refinement” remains exactly the same.

Photo: Bowers & Wilkins

What that means for the Px7 S2’s exterior is a look that’s both premium and understated, delivered by using high-quality and tactile materials. At least that applies to our black review copy. The $399 (£379) Px7 S2 is also available in gray or blue, but we’d be surprised if those finishes undermine the impression of quality.

A combination of soft, supple, memory foam-filled leather on the contact points, flawlessly applied fabric on the outer parts of the headband and earcups, high-quality and quiet plastics for the arms and hinges, and a sky-high overall build standard help keep the Px7 S2 looking good to see and feel. Even the case where they travel feels a lot above the norm.

Comfortable, fast charging cans

Bowers & Wilkins refined the headband suspension and re-evaluated the clamping force to make these headphones more comfortable than the model they replace. And helped by shaving a percentage point off the weight (307g against the 310g of the old Px7), it really worked. The Px7 S2 are not a burden to carry, and they remain comfortable even during long listening sessions. It helps that the ear cushions ensure that your own body heat is impressively long not returned to the sides of your head.

Photo: Bowers & Wilkins

There have also been adjustments on the inside. But what hasn’t changed is Bowers & Wilkins’ determination to make these headphones the choice for customers who value sound quality over, say, adaptive active noise cancellation. The Px7 S2 uses Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity and is compatible with SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive codecs, so high-resolution 24-bit audio quality is available. The sound itself is provided by a pair of 40mm full-range, free-edge dynamic drivers. This is an all-new bio-cellulose design with lower total harmonic distortion figures than the driver it replaces.

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