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Something different to consider for the Headfi community. Luxurious, comfortable quality product with an inoffensive sound.

A Review On: Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Headphones

Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Headphones

Rated # 92 in Over-Ear
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Price paid: $100.00
Posted · 4527 Views · 4 Comments

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.


Well said! I too am one of those headfi-ers who almost feels ashamed admitting that I love my P5's... They've gotten so many bad reviews... But I really have to admit that they are more and more my true go- to cans when I just want to enjoy music. Yes, I have some very nice Sennheiser HD-650's (w/Whiplash TWAG) that I also really love (and a bunch of others too) but after 4 years with the P5's I still keep coming back to them as perhaps my overall favorites. There - I've said it. I'll probably get banned from head-Fi for saying it, but it's true. It's weird... They don't really excel at any single attribute (except for smoothness - awesome) but for some reason they just work with my particular tastes in such a way that I just enjoy music with them better than my other cans. Plus, they sound good even driven by an iphone. You can forget about that with HD-650's - need a good amp too. So you're not alone - I love them too!
I was shocked by the posts too.So negative.How is the wear of the headphone?
Actually, I'm a bit surprised by the wear - there is none! They seem to me to be the same as the day I bought them. Surprising, because I would have thought that I would have broken that cheap thin cable they use by now. I wonder if that has a lot to do with why a lot of people don;t like them - they can't get past that horrible cable they selected. I also wonder if maybe one of the reasons I keep coming back to them as my go-to headphones is their sumptuos comfort - easily the best I've ever encountered in a headphone. A real pleasure just to put them on. One more thing - I didn't see before that you mentioned the Beyer DT-1350's.. I own a pair of those and I can say that to me the P5's easily trounce them and it's not even close. I only use the 1350's for travel because they have  great isolation. Someday maybe I'll pop for the P7's.. even the head-fi-ers seem to like those.
I wonder the critique of the cable...is it because of it 's looks? Or does it really impact the sound of the headphones negatively.
It's flimsiness actually works well designwise. You can hardly see it when wearing it.
What dont you like of the DT1350? Isnt it considered the king of portable on ears?
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