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Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Headphones

86% Positive Reviews
Rated #56 in Over-Ear

Posted

Pros: Comfortable, good noise rejection, unique tonal palette

Cons: Expensive

I have heard that some design mods have been implemented recently on the P5's, but I can't verify it at the moment. I will say this, however, in defense of a very nice set of cans. They feel great, look amazing and have a punchy yet non-fatiguing sound. There is a definite bump in the upper bass register that makes Getty Lee's bass sound like he's playing in your living room--yes I'm listening to R30 on my P5's as I'm writing this. There's plenty of bass extension on the synths and kick drums below 100 hz, and Neil Peart's cymbals have just the right amount of sizzle without being overbearing. Mids are very well balanced with plenty of detail.

I own a set of Grado RS 325i's, Senn Hd 600's, Aiaiai TMA 1's, Charter Oak SP 1's and several other headphones. Like the P5's, they all bring something different to the listening party, whether it's an expansive soundstage, ultra linear response, detailed highs, deep bass, midrange punch, or extreme comfort. The P5's were never intended to be audiophile cans--they are perfect for portable devices because they sound like full sized headphones.

If you're gonna pull out all of your reference recordings and nitpick them to death, you are missing the point. They are exciting to hear with an "on stage with the band" presence and plenty of detail across the frequency range. They are perfect for Iron Maiden, Porcupine Tree, Joe Bonamassa, Pat Metheney, James Brown, and SRV; real music that real people in the real world like to hear. No, they don't sound as hyped in the lows and highs as Grado's or as silky smooth as Senns. If that's what you want, don't buy the P5's, but if you want a punchy, slightly compressed (in a very musical sense) comfortable set of cans that will put a smile on your face when you crank up "Clockwork Angels" and Alex Lifeson tears into his first solo, give the P5's a serious listen.

As an added bonus, you get excellent noise rejection and the other patrons at your favorite coffee house won't have a clue that you are listening to your favorite emo band (Dashboard Condessional, anyone?). And when you finally come to your senses and crank up some Motörhead, you'll hear every nuance of Lemmy's Rickenbacker bass. Leave your 24 bit reference recordings on your pretense/smug drive and plug the P5's into your iPad. Your lunch hour will go by way too fast. And go ahead--try some of the EQ presets. Screw the audiophile crowd. You know what sounds good to your ears. The Electronica preset on iTunes for the iPad 3 will absolutely thrill you when you hit the play button on the Killer's "Battle Born." Or click the treble booster if you want Joey Jordison's cymbals to sizzle like fried pork fat. Mae Moore, Joan Armatrading, Johnny Nash? Who listens to this stuff? And who hooks portable cans to audiophile headphone amps?

Those of you who have heard them and were unimpressed, see if you can find a recently manufactured set. Pop the ear pad off and have a look because I think there may have been some design changes. I love these things! Then again, I enjoy variety in my headphones. I don't want them all to exhibit the exact same characteristics--how boring would that be? Now, let's talk about my recently acquired Aiaiai TMA1's...

(Wait a second, this was supposed to have been a quick one. Sorry)

Posted

Pros: A small and very attractive headphone with great isolation

Cons: A very off sonic signature with very rolled off highs and lots of midbass

B&W (Bowers & Wilkins) P5 Headphones


Being a B&W speaker owner, and fan, I was eager to test out a pair of P5’s. The look of the headphone also enticed me – they are very attractive:






So I bought a pair. My reason for buying these was to use them as portables, on the road, with the iQube and an iPod Classic. I have been using the Senn PXC350, and still will have to for sure on airplane trips, but when I travel another way, or when I am gone a long time, I want to have another, non-noise cancelling headphone for that. I was hoping the P5 would fill the bill. I had bought the Ed 8's for that, but decided I liked them for home use too much to take them on the road.

As they arrived, I was impressed by the nice packaging. They are smaller than I thought. The build quality of the headphones themselves is outstanding. And indeed, they are very beautiful to look at. The pad design has been extensively discussed, and so I won’t go into it there, but as nice as they looked, I never found them to be completely comfortable. There is more pressure on the ear than I would like, no matter what I did. I could only wear them comfortably for about 15 minutes. On the flipside, they do isolate very, very well – the best I have gotten from a headphone that doesn’t use noise cancellation except for the Sennheiser HD25.

Also, the included cables are very thin and un-inspiring. And due to the connection scheme coupled with the manner in which the cable is snaked through the earcup close to the earpad assembly, and the absolute requirement of the earpad assembly to be snugly coupled to the headphone, it’s very unlikely that any sort of aftermarket cable is possible.

But worst of all, I found the sound to be very disappointing. My initial listen showed some promising things, but some very noticeable problems too, which I had hoped would be ameliorated with burn in. So I burned them in for 100 hours before listening to them again.

I played around a LOT with positioning on my ear, and while it definitely does matter, it did not change the overall sound significantly IMO (assuming we are talking only about reasonable positionings to begin with ).
I tested them using the iQube, which I consider to be a paragon of transparency in a portable amp. Just to make sure of what I was hearing, though, I also used the P5 on the Meier Audio Concerto and even the Leben CS300X.


Sound:

The P5 have a slightly muffled, muted sound, are lacking transparency, and are noticeably colored. They are maybe the darkest sounding headphones I have ever heard that were “real” headphones. The treble sounds very rolled off and lacks extension in a very noticeable way, even compared to headphones with a slightly soft treble like the JVC DX1000. As such, little musical details get lost. Cymbals don’t sound like they should – they are thrown almost behind your head since they are so muted.

The midrange is an enigma. There is definitely a lack of transparency to it. It’s lush, but there is a odd coloration I cannot quite describe to it. Some female vocals sound very good in a beautiful sort of way, but male vocals sound odd. And piano also sounds wrong – it fails to sound realistic. Patricia Barber's outstanding recordings have some of the most natural piano rendering I know of, and yet through the P5, they did not sound as I know they should.

The above two traits also lead to a lack of dynamics and good attack. The whole presentation comes across as slightly slow and soggy. It's been a long time since I listened to a headphone where I felt that the dynamics were so restricted. I guess I have become spoiled listening to headphones like the Beyer T1 and the Ultrasone Edition 8 - but the P5 didn't have the dynamics even of the PXC-350.

The bass is pretty strong, and generally good, but it lacks a little in terms of punch and definition. It’s not one-note, which is good, but it’s a little loose sounding. I have heard better defined bass in headphones costing less. I would say the bass performance is good, but not great. It has better weight than depth, too -- on Joan Armatrading's "Lover's Speak", which has some very deep bass during the chorus, this was less present than I expected it to be - the bass weight is mid-upper bass, not deep bass.

On some material, like Mae Moore’s “Love Will Bring You Back” from “It’s a Funny World”, this darkness didn’t really cause any major problems. I noticed the lack of top end extension because I am so familiar with the music, but it did not bother me, and Moore’s voice sounded good. Some tracks that are generally too bright to enjoy actually sounded great on the P5. But on other material, and especially male vocals, or music where there is musically important detailed treble, the colorations get in the way too much.

Two examples: David Gilmour's voice on "This Heaven" from "Like in Gdansk" is rendered in a muted way that is flatter and duller than it really sounds.

On the other hand, Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" actually sounded GREAT, but that is a track that is normally is a very bright sounding. It sounded good in a way that it actually shouldn't

The lack of treble extension gives the headphones a little bit of a claustrophobic soundstage. The image isn’t all that well defined, and seems to cluster in the center of the head and around the ears, with very little forward projection and not much depth.

My main comparison was to the Sennheiser PXC350, as it’s similarly priced, and designed for the same basic application. All of my other headphones are in a much higher price/performance range. The PXC350’s are noise canceling, and as such they have a little bit of background noise when the NC circuit is on. The P5 have a blacker background. But that is the only advantage they have. The PXC350 sound better in every other way. They are more neutral, much more transparent, and have better treble extension, bass definition, and soundstaging than the P5 do. I no longer own them, but if memory serves me at all, I would say the Denon D1000/1001 outperform the P5 sonically. I wish I still had them so I could compare the two – but I’d be surprised if the P5’s outperform the Denons in terms of just sonics.

I don’t want to overplay this – it’s not like the P5 sound awful. But they are a very colored headphone, and you will have to really like their odd flavor to like them. It’s already clear that some people do, and that’s great. I have deep, deep respect for B&W. I absolutely love my B&W Nautilus 800’s. I had never owned a pair of speakers for more than 2 years before investing in the N800’s – and I have owned them for almost 10 years, and just yesterday I was listening to some nice vinyl through them and absolutely reveling in their sound. Unfortunately, B&W has a major miss with the P5, in my opinion. They could have been so much better, and they look so nice and are so well built, surely they could have made them more neutral sounding. It’s not like B&W doesn’t know what good sound is. I have a hard time imagining that they feel the P5 represent $300 worth of headphone sound. Maybe they needed to do more benchmarking.

In any case, unless you have a VERY bright set-up and want to radically change the sound of it in the other direction, I cannot recommend the P5’s at all. I think B&W needs to go back to the drawing board, or at a minimum, offer us a headphone at some point that better represents what their tradition dictates that they are capable of.

Posted

Pros: Great looks, great sound, very clear and transparent at high volume, work perfectly with iPhone 3Gs, Great build quality

Cons: $300 price tag, cord is alittle thin

Enter the Bower & Wilkins P5's !!!!
I was in the apple store and they caught my eye from across the room... yes their physical design is that great.. I was amazed at the perfect design and build quality using extremely high quality materials all round with firm construction that seemed very out of place in the rowdy "pop culture" apple store. These cans look like something that you would be invited to listen to by invite only. Real high grade leather , polished and brushed chrome yes!!

After a 5 minute test listen (which blew me away) _I bought them all $300 of them ...lol they are so worth it that i got the last pair they had in stock.. I realized quickly that these where designed for ipod/iphone even the packaging style is similar and the inline controller/mic is very similar to the apple one.

So when you open the box you smell and feel quality.. these things are packaged meticulously as if they were sent straight from heaven.. velvety formed cradle under which is the silken pouch that has your alternate cables, adapter and user's manual etc. That pouch then becomes your transport case but i swear it looks like some sort of Versace gotur accessory...lol
Ear cushions are magnetically attached to the driver housing. these things fit on your head and ears like a sonic glove. but they are sized perfectly and exquisitely designed such that people around will wish they could wear them in public too.. you will not look like a DJ or a crazy person .. you will look like a conosur of mobile sonic experience..

So ok how is the sound?????

first of its hard to divide my description into highs mids and lows cause these cans defy what you are accustomed to.. to be honest the whole sound is perfectly unified, transparent, warm full, balanced, precise , controlled. Sound stage is very high up and true to life. instruments are very natural and true to life sounding with no peaks or brightness at all.. These cans have alot of headroom that leads to a loud but relaxed sound that has to be heard to be believed.. They are very very sensitive too so if its in the recoding you will hear it just as a true reference monitor should be.... 
These cans make me happy cause i have a very eclectic taste in music so i need speakers and phones can do what the song calls for when its time to do it.... If a song wants to be rendered at 25 Hz in some parts then these will do it with tight and accurate precision. while keeping the vocals and highs as crisp and clean as they need to be.. THERE IS NO DISTORTION AT ALL!!!

So in conclusion these cans are the best looking and sounding $300 set i have ever witnessed.. they make iphone/pod sound fantastic i would recommend..

Posted

Pros: Comfort, Form Factor, Excellent Passive Noise Cancelling

Cons: sound isn't there for the money spent

When I first heard that Bowers & Wilkins had entered the mobile headphone market I was very excited. Anyone who knows anything about high end audio has heard the name Bowers & Wilkins. The company has a long distinguished history amongst the audiophile community with their excellent product line of stereo speakers. I've never owned a pair of B&W speakers but I have been lucky enough to hear a set and I was blown away at the sonic signature of their stereo speakers.

 

PROS:

First lets get the pros out of the way. The build quality on these cans is excellent. They have a very firm very solid feel in your hands and if properly taken care of they will last for many years to come. B&W also provides a sturdy display box and a nice travel pouch to help protect your 300 dollar investment. Included in the pouch is a spare cable and a standard 3.5 mm head jack. The fit of the P5 is incredibly comfortable on the ears and have got to be the most comfortable set of cans I have ever owned. I have been able to wear them for 3 to 4 hours on end and have felt no discomfort whatsoever.

 

The passive noise canceling capabilities of the P5 is very impressive. The headphone cuffs and the fitted leather over the cuffs act like a sort of tight sealing suction cup over the ears allowing no noise leakage in or out. I've sat on a packed bus with these cans blasting away and have not disturbed anyone around me. I've even worn these cans blaring away in a library where I was in close proximity to the working librarian and have had no requests to turn the volume down due to the noise leaking out into the surrounding environment. I've walked down a busy sidewalk with rush hour traffic zooming by barely 3 feet away from me and have been able to enjoy my music undisturbed by blaring horns and rumbling buses and trucks.

 

Cons:

The con is unfortunately where it matters the most which is the sound. Before I begin I want to make it absolutely clear that the P5's are good sounding headphones. The problem is when I think Bowers & Wilkins I expect great sound not just good sound. When I first tried my P5's out I was left for a lack of a better word disappointed. I did try to give them a chance though and proceeded to loosen the drivers up (burn) by playing music nonstop through them for a good 50 to 60 hours. I also chose a wide selection of different genres to see how they would perform. Although I did notice some improvement the overall sound was still lacking.

 

Depending on the music the bass seemed hollowed out and not properly balanced with the treble. In certain spots the mids and highs sounded grainy and other times almost nonexistent due to the bass drowning everything around it out. Vocals on other headsets that sounded like the singer was standing 3 feet from me on the P5's sounded distant and even at times tinny. Transparency was lacking on so many of my song selections. One band I've always loved is Epica (Symphonic Metal) and on the P5's I found many Epica songs so lacking in transparency it was almost painful to listen to.

 

It's not to say the listening experience was all bad. For whatever reason when I played various songs from Disturbed (alt Rock/Nu Metal) I was pleasantly surprised. For whatever reason that bands sound or maybe just how the music was mixed paired with the P5 very nicely. Vocals were clear in your face and mids and highs seemed acceptably clear with the bass seeming less hollowed out. I also took the liberty of running various different mixes of Darude's (Electronica) Sandstorm through the P5's and was again pleasantly surprised with good mids, highs, and less hollowed out bass. Matter of fact the P5's seemed to mesh well with most of the electronica and dance songs I threw at it.

 

Final Thoughts:

I don't hate the P5's but I'm not exactly in love with them either. As a mobile headphone they offer a extremely comfortable fit, excellent passive noise canceling, and have a very solid form factor that will last for years to come if the consumer takes care of them. What bothers me the most about the P5's is for 300 dollars there are far better sounding headphones on the market. I'm not a huge fan of Dr Dre Beats headphones but given the 300 price tag a future consumer might consider Beats headphones as a slightly cheaper alternative. Sonicly the P5's aren't that much better sounding then the entry level Dr Dre headphone. Klipish also just recently put out what I'm told is a good sounding mobile headphone at a good price point.

 

Does this mean I'm going to dump my P5's? Probably not. I think they're generally good headphones. My main problem with the P5 is I think they're overpriced for the sound quality they offer. I also can't help but think that if Bowers & Wilkins were going to put out a headphone they should have taken more time and done better sound benchmarking. Considering this is a product with the Bowers & Wilkins logo on it I expected far more from a company whose name has become respected for putting out  great products with great sound.

 

 

 

Posted

Well, I just had a rather special experience with the P5 which results in me selling my T50p and ESW10jpns while retaining the much battered P5. Here it goes -

 

I haven't thought of getting the P5 after Skylab's comprehensive write-up, and other concurring views from other members. I was rather happy with my ESW10s, and later the T50p. I mostly use ER4S and Monster MDs these days, but there are times when I'd like to reach for a headphone. I just grew curious about the P5 after someone, who is a known Bose hater, asked me to try them. He himself got a little surprise with them. I didn't asked him in details and thought I'd come up with my own conclusion. Luckily the P5s are relatively easily available for trial.

 

I brought with me a light setup, just my iPod Classic and SR-71A, with my iPhone and the iQube loaned by the shopowner being guest performers. My music is mainly classical orchestral pieces, with plenty of pop to supplement that. Rock is scarce but also available.

 

Maybe my review would be better understood if I begin by saying what I DON'T LIKE about my own portable cans, namely T50p and ESW10:

 

T50p: I absolutely HATES its bass. Overpowering, embracing YET lacks impact and bite. The lower half of the spectrum is a bit too lush and mushed, while the upper half is a dry-ish and rather coarse presentation. Does that sound awful? Well no I like its presentation of slower, lazier music like jazz and small-scaled classical pieces, mostly solo works, but in larger-scaled works they sound a bit bland and lacks transparency. It shows its weakness in tonal coherence when there was an upward swoosh in strings in an orchestral piece (forgot which one now) where the lower notes and the latter upper notes sound like they come from different instruments, which was not true. Soundstage is quite disappointing, and details are present but drowned out by the all-embracing fat bass. One thing the T50p really stands out is its isolation - until its release only the HD25 performs well in that department.

 

ESW10: I have no gripe about its sound - it's simply 1st class, period. A bit coloured in the mids (but less so than other ATH phones), its detail rendition is jaw-droppingly good and is nicely extended at both ends of the spectrum. The one and only one possible deal-breaker is its isolation - it's almost non-existent in noisy environment, like on the underground or on buses, not to say on a flight.

 

OK so I know the perfect portable can would be a ESW10+T50p mixture, which is a distant dream. I'm not saying the P5 is anywhere near that dream. But, as a portable can (ultimate one maybe, as I've been looking for the ultimate one for a long time), I think it does wonders in every department in a portable can. And the obvious caveat when judging a portable can is that sound quality must be balanced with other factors, such as build quality and durability, looks (for some), weight, size, isolation, practicality in general, etc.

 

When I first put on the P5, I immediately searched in my memory for something similar in the sound signature, and if my memory serves me good the can appeared first in my mind was the PX200-II. Both sounds pretty balanced, but nothing excels. Both suffered from a lack of extension at both ends of the spectrum. That said, I was expecting a very, very dark sound from the P5 after all the others have said here, but the sound I got from the P5 out of my iPod directly is far from being dark. There is a peak somewhere in the mid-high region, creating a pseudo-high-extension feel - actually this feeling is quite similar to the Monster tuning in the MD and the Copper Pro, the difference being the P5's peak is located a bit lower in the spectrum, while the Monster peak is located a bit higher up. This renders the sound somewhat coloured, but not overwhelmingly so.

 

Besides this peak, the P5's sound is pretty balanced overall. I don't find it muffled - in fact I find its detail rendition at least on par with the T50p, which is very surprising considering Beyer's claim of the driver technology and T1's track record. When listening to classical symphonies the P5 reminds me of my bedroom Onkyo system - a rich, warm sound, with bite and grit, but not too weighty. And P5 is very good in soundstaging and presenting layers of instruments in the correct orientation with transparency and clarity. This even the ESW10 fails to satisfy me, and the T50p is a complete failure in this area.

 

The bass is good, not overwhelmingly deep, but comes with details and impact. Definitely not overpowering, and not lacking.

 

Needless to say, P5 excels in build quality and comfort, and I do not intend to repeat what others have said in these areas. What proved it to me as the able partner to my iems is its isolation - it is not iem-good, but it is miles ahead of PX200 and ESW10. It IS usable on trains and flights. And its size, together with the more reasonable approach in its method of stowing away, adds up to a winner, not in the sound department perhaps, but in the overall package.

 

Is the MSRP justified? As I've mentioned its sound is PX200-II-ish and though it betters the PX200, it isn't a night and day difference. I think it is difficult, if not impossible, to consider this question solely on sound quality. For the listed MSRP I think the isolation alone worths 20%, the design/looks/size/weight/comfort worths another 20%, the brand (yes I think that's the part which haters hate most) worths maybe 10-20% (though trust me the B&W brand is not THAT marketing oriented and not THAT well-known here in Asia, at least their campaigns are way less aggressive than Bose, Sony and Shure, and their showrooms are located in obscure places). The rest goes to the sound. Fair enough, eh? Yes it is way more expensive than the PX200 but doesn't offer too much improvement in sound, but to sum it up in one word: PRACTICALITY, makes it all worthwhile IMHO. It is small (relatively), extremely simple to handle, extremely intuitive in folding and storing (by contrast the T50p case, thought handsome, was HUGE and occupies too much space in my briefcase, while it's always a hassle to tug the cable of the ESW10 into the seperate cable pouch to protect the wood from scratch), great isolation making it usable in many difficult situations, the single-sided cable is very handy in everyday life situations, and the Apple-friendly remote/mic cable, if you can stand a very slight deterioration in sound, is again very handy if you use a iPhone. Even when i'm listening to music on my iPod (not my iPhone), i can just yank out the cable and plug it into the iPhone in no time if a call comes in. And if I want to listen to the broadcasting on the underground, I can turn down the volumne or stop the track in no time. Practicality may not be for all audiophiles or head-fiers, but for myself, I know there are times when I'm chilling out with my ER4S and some Mahler, I become desperate when a call comes in and I wanna fetch my hands-free buried somewhere deep in my bag.

 

And it sounds good, not jawdroppingly good, not $299 good, but plain good. You know what you're paying for, and that's fine.

Posted

Pros: Beautiful, beautifully made, very comfortable

Cons: The sound is mid range at best

 

Popped into the Apple Shop today and gave these a right good first listen……..
 
SOUND 
 
 I listened to a variety of tracks from The Rolling Stones to Lilly Allan. The P5s were straight into an ipod nano. I have no idea what EQ if any setting was on. I have no idea, but suspect that the files were probably itunes downloads and so lossy. Kicking off with The Rolling Stones and Street Fighting Years and there was great rhythm, clarity and detail. The sound was quite forward and bright (the file and EQ setting?) and the cymbals sounded odd and a bit flat. I then tried some Talking Heads and this was superb. David Byrne was crystal clear and the bass and drums very good without overwhelming. If that was not a lossless file then boy would lossless be a treat. Dance fans may mistake that bass clarity for a lack of bass. 
 
Jamie Cullum is not my usual, but I wanted something different and it was a track Grand Torino off the film with Clint Eastwood. The piano and his vocals were stunning and I got goose bumps.  Another more mellow track I tried was one form REM. I felt there Michael Stipe’s voice was too to the fore and it drowned out the plucked mandolin guitar of Peter Buck. 
 
Next a bit of metal and Queensriche and American Soldier. It had great attack, dynamics and a good bit of menace came over with the spoken vocals. I finished off with Lilly Allan for a bit of compressed pop and that is exactly what I got, dance along compressed pop. Again, it was a very bright and forward sound, too much for me. But, these are being marketed as portable headphones and to the ipod generation, so maybe that is the best I can expect in The Apple Store.
 
Overall, very promising and I am going to have another try with my own portable set up. If the volume needs to be maxed out of an ipod, the headphones need amped to really make them sing. They are a good equal to my similarly priced AKG K702s. So, many cheaper cans will also come close in the overall sound, which means how can they be £250?
 
BUILD
 
They are beautifully made. They are quite small. The headband is thin and well padded. The drivers are tucked away inside the very comfortable lambs leather and memory foam pads. They are held on with magnets, one side so you can access the changeable cable. What was very clever was neither side was marked left and right. The metal adjustment looked very solid and well made.  I tried them both ways and got an equally comfortable fit. That means you can have the cable either left or right hand side. I am not sure if that is intended or not, but they work both ways round.
 
They have a tight clamp on your ears to get the pads to stay on your ears. There is very much a sweat point to where you have them on your ears. If they move you noticeably lose volume and sound quality.
 
They are closed backed, but did not isolate as well as my Goldring NS1000 or the Bose QuietComfort 15. There was a not bad soundstage with the P5s, which could be down to them being closed backed and on ear, as opposed to over ear. They appeared to leak very little sound. I got a sales person to tolerate The Cure at full volume and whilst I got intimately close to them. All I could hear was the tizzz of the cymbals.  But, it really needs a listen in a quiet room to properly judge them. They definitely leaked less sound than the Bose.
 
The metal back with its B&W logo makes these cans very classy.  Will I buy them? Not at the moment.  There is no doubt that you are paying a premium for the name and build. The sound is promising, but needs a trial with an amp and some lossless files to see if it improves to really impress. At the moment, for closed backed cans, the half the price AKG K271MkII remain my top of the list to get.
 

Posted

Pros: Build quality, Comfort, Design, Sound

Cons: flimsy Cord

OK, firstly these headphones aren't for everyone. They have a very warm, lush, upfront and colored sound which i personally love. They have strong crisp bass with smooth mids and clear highs. I find that this sound signature nicely compensates for my iPhones slightly anemic line out. They have strong crisp bass with smooth mids and clear highs. These headphones particularly thrive is portable use. they are some of the best unamped portable sound for the money. Using them with my iPhone has been a great experience. They fold flat and nicely fit in the included pouch in my backpack.

 

In addition to this, these are some fantastically built and beautiful headphones. The combination of the leather and aluminum create something that is both remarkably comfortable and solid.

 

So, for those looking for a portable headphone to be used unamped I suggest buy them and try them out (the apple store is not the best place to listen to them). If you find you dont like them you can take advantage of apples 14 return.

 

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Posted

Pros: Very comfortable for long listening in your lounge chair, plane, train or bus. Handles most genres without fatigue. And sound rates a 8.5-9/10 for me.

Cons: None really. Not cheap but hardly expensive compared to many other commercially successful phones like Beats, Amperiors or Momentums.

I'm adding my support to this often maligned headphone. I've noticed several previous critical reviews have been made by folks who've had a casual listen at the Apple Store and don't actually own a pair. That does seem to distort the overall rating somewhat since I think these are a headphone you have to have for a while to appreciate. True, there are many better sounding cans but I doubt most who have purchased did so for them to be their premium listening headphone. I am sure I am like many buyers who liked the look, found them comfortable especially with your head nestled into a high back chair like aircraft seats because you can turn your head a little without the ear cup being pushed off your ear, with a moderate clamping force that doesn't pinch your ears especially if you wear glasses like me. The sound quality while agreed is not in the league of my HD600 or Beyerdynamic DT-250 or even my HD-25-1, is still pretty damn good for a supra-aural.

I tried many portables over the past 6 months looking for something I could wear pretty much anywhere and easily driven by my phone, iPad and Sony WMZ Z-1070. First were a set of DT-1350s. There are any number of glowing reviews. I must say I didn't mind the sound but I couldn't get a good seal and therefore the bass was underwhelming while the mids were too forward. I tried to like them but had to give up and decided to move them on recently. I also tried Amperiors early on but while some say the P5 has a forward mid bass, I found the AmperIor much more so. To the point of being boomy to me. I returned them after a week. That's when I got the P5s. I've enjoyed them since. Used them at home and while travelling. While I do prefer my Bose QC-15 for noise cancelling on flights, I just don't like the Bose for regular listening. Not that they sound awful, just not good enough.

Believing there might be better choices, went on to buy a set of Momentums after auditioning a pair and getting a great deal on them. It was a love/hate thing for me. They looked great, have the iPhone controls, a nice carry case, nice earpads but in the end I found them just too warm sounding, and I could not wear them for long periods as the stitching around the inner pad irritated my ears. I persevered for a month or so then bought the HD25s which I should have bought right at the beginning but chose the DT-1350. They sounded just right to me. So I traded the Momentums for my HD600s with someone looking for a portable and not using the 600s.

The HD25s really are a superb sounding phone but, they look too dorky to wear as an out and about portable and really aren't anywhere near as comfortable as the P5s. So what's the attraction to the P5? Simply the fact they do what a portable headphone should do well. They sound good even if not audiophile standard, are compact (they fit nicely in my computer bag), are very comfy for long periods, and totally non-fatiguing. I frankly enjoy using them. Vocals tracks present like you're in the audience not simply listening to recorded music and that perception extends to jazz and classical alike. I highly recommend them.

PS. I like my P5s so much after auditioning some P3s I found an almost new pair on eBay at a fair price purchasing them as a carry round pair of even more portable headphones. Make no mistake, while pretty good too, they aren't in the same league as the P5 and aren't that much more portable given they don't fold flat like the P5s do. Nor are they as comfy as the cloth pads don't sit on your ears as well as the leather pads of the P5s.

Posted

Pros: Build, Looks , looks when you wear it, Sound, comfort

Cons: Thin cable, Silly purse, High high price, sound, to many top end competition

I bought an open box model B&W p5. Got warranty. But just 1 working cable. It's typically british. Luxury high end item. Like a Jaguar or Rolls Royce. Or a B&W speaker set.

 

Always have been intrigued by B&W. The first of many high end stereo companys (Bose don't count) getting their feet wet ín headfi gear.

P7 was my initial target. But damn its expensive.399€. No where can i find it cheaper. 

To be honest the sound didnt wow me when i tried it a few times. 

P3 is nice. Love the different colors. but I think it's more trendy than luxurious.

So it's up to the P5. At 299€. I never really considered it at all. On ears at this price...with DT1350, HD25s, Momentums, M80s etc etc...not surprising.

 

That's why I won't go to in depth in the sound or comparing them to the other models. All I can say is. I like the sound. To my ears it fits with the house sound of B&W. Dark, rich warm sound. Easy on the ears and you could listen to it for hours. It has nothing offensive in it. Works good till great with all music genres i listen too.  And the mods  suggested in headfi means only further improvement on the sound. The bass is good as expected from B&W. If the sound was very neutral/flat or bright...that would really sound wrong to me. Because that's not B&W.

I miss the thump to make it bassheadworthy...but that would also not be a good fit for the B&W sound.

 

What really got to me was the build and the sheer luxurious comfort of the P5s. I am a strong believer in substance over style.Hate to pay extra for perceived style aka marketing BS.

But with the P5 I can't deny that the form and style got to me. All you see and feel is pure leather and metal. Giving it a comfortable but robust feel to the headphone.Simply put the headphone feels like a quality product in your hands. The build is great. It ticks all the boxes for me. Cable is removable. Clever magnetic earpads cover.

 

So build is great, how is the fit. Thank god it's not like VModa. Build like a tank, sadly with the same comfortlevel. The P5 luxurious translates perfectly with the fit.  A great fit and extremely comfortable to me. Easily adjusted. The onear pads that's genuine lambskin leather feels awesome. Stays cool. And never a problem with my ears heating up. Could use it for hours and even fall asleep with it.

Even with over ears the earpads made from synthetic material tends to irritate or heat up my ears after a few hours. Thats why i never bought an On ear before, because I was pretty sure that I cant wear it comfortably for any amount of time. Could it be really this simple...using genuine leather pads for more comfort? Anyway B&W made the right choice.

 

An unexpected bonus was the way the headphones look when wearing it or how the way the headphones look on your head. Sadly it doesn't make you look more attractive. But it beats looking like a cast member from Something about mary or like a butch princess Leia. Wearing headphones on the street are definitely a challenge.Thank god for IEMs.

But with the P5 there is no problem at all. It look surprisingly sleek on your head. The thin cable works perfectly like this. I have the black leather color and it blends perfectly with my black hair. The metallic part accentuate everything nicely. The brushed finish with the shiny bowers & wilkins letters exudes pure class and a bit of high end snobbery. More a jewel or fashion accessory than just a headphone. You know you are wearing quality. To me it's the most beautiful headphone I have ever worn.

 

Another positive is the price of accessories. The simply awesome earpads are quite reasonable. Just 41$ a pair in the USA. Great value for genuine leather IMHO. People criticise rightly the cable. But at 12$ or 7$ for a bose version it's quite a nice price. No problem replacing them if needed. The case or is it a a purse is quite useless. Looks nice...but for a portable headphone a hardcase would be a better option. You can buy them cheap for 11$ at ebay. Only accessory what you need to buy.

 

Reading the posts about these headphones on headfi, people don;t like it. I can understand why this headphone misses the impact on a site like headfi. Where sound is king. Than something with the sound of the P5 doesn't shine. It's to inoffensive to be considered extraordinary or unique. Unlike the famous competitors it misses that edge in sound to make them great. And truth is...lesser and cheaper headphones can be found with similar sound. But when you consider all the other aspects, the P5 has absolutely no competitor and  is a surefire winner IMHO. The looks, the build and even the sound gives them a potential to become a classic. 

 

The original price makes them quite expensive.And truthfully I wouldn't have paid full retail for them. But they can be bought for less money now. And if the price continues to drop.200/225$ for example?! They will be awesome value and can be instant classics. Buying them secondhand is a good and safe idea with the way they are put together, Cause the looks and build are timeless and the inoffensive sound actually works perfectly for the mainstream listeners. Great high end gifts for anyone looking for a headphone. For travellers who want an upgrade in portable headphone. If you are a woman you should give these headphones a try pure on how it looks when you wear them. For us headfiers...if you are looking for something beautiful and comfortable to wear these are perfect. Just luxuriate and enjoy these aspects of a headphone for once instead of focusing on the sound. If you do that..you will also enjoy it's qualities.

 

Quite weird..to say that sound is secondary coming from a famous Speaker company like B&W. But I think it fits perfectly. Sound and fit will let you enjoy music effortlessly and comfortably for hours on end. And the build will insure that you can enjoy this for years on end. Great job B&W.

Posted

Just a quick review... I think the people critiquing these miss the point a bit. These are not reference headphones. But they are actually decent sound wise, not great but far from terrible. They are hands down the most stylish headphones I've seen, both on and off. They have a particularly low profile when worn. If I never went out in public I probably wouldn't use these, but for those of us that care, the sound compromise is not too great to outweigh how good these look IMO.

 

They are about $100 cheaper than the Sennheiser Momentum, they look quite a bit nicer but don't sound as good. So value-wise I think they are about right. You just have to decide where you fall on the style/substance continuum.

Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Headphones
Description:

Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Headphones at the online Apple Store.

Details:
DetailValue
BindingAccessory
EAN0714346310531
FeatureCable with Remote and microphone
LabelBowers & Wilkins
ManufacturerBowers & Wilkins
ModelFP29696
MPN714346310531
Package Quantity1
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameHEADPHONES
PublisherBowers & Wilkins
StudioBowers & Wilkins
TitleBowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Headphones
UPC714346310531
Batteries Included0
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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