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Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphone

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
My wife picked up the Bowers & Wilkins P5's for me yesterday, and I'm in love (with the wife too).

I'm a fan of B&Ws speakers and actually own a pair of low end bookshelf 685's but I never expected to prefer the P5's over a number of my other cans (Grado RS1 / AKG k701 / and Denon D5000).

I'm not enough of an audiophile to give a detailed review, and am wondering if I'm just biased to something in the B&W sound, as if their engineers could somehow capture the sound of their speakers in headphones the first go round. These P5 really hit the sweet spot for me. I listen to near every genre of music and there's nothing that doesn't sound terrific (strange though they aren't so great on movies).

Am I just biased to B&W or are others enjoying these cans as much as I am? BTW so much for cables and SQ for me because the cable on the P5 is this thin little thing. Also, the comfort is better than my other headphones and unlike the others I can actually bob my head without any fear of the phones coming off. These things are damn near perfect to me. Apologies in advance if this sentiment is long redundant on these boards.

Ben
post #2 of 25
Hi Ben,
There is quite a long thread in the other forum about those.
Personally I wasn't too impressed and thought they were rather average for the high price tag. Also that was a 10mn audition in the Apple shop.
But I am shocked you prefer those to the RS1 or Denon D5000. Must be new toy syndrome. Wait a few weeks and report back.
But In the end, the most important is that you enjoy your new can.
post #3 of 25
Congratulations with the P5, and nice to hear that you with both that one and the wife.
post #4 of 25
I've had them for three or four weeks but not used them much

From the perspective of build quality and comfort I think they are great.

But as regards sound quality I haven't been so impressed. I hope they'll improve over time.
post #5 of 25
I've heard the B&W in the new Jag XK's and haven't been moved by them. Hope the phones are better. Gratz on the wife. Did you get a good deal on her from J&R? J/K.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I'm shocked too. I keep telling myself this shouldn't be, but I think I can pin down what it is:

P5's for me have a nice lush sound with whatever I play. I guess I like that sound and from what I'm reading others might interpret/hear this as a lack of clarity. I experienced this same result whenever I audition speakers at the local hifi shop. After everything they put in front of me (other speakers had better clarity etc...), I still was drawn back to B&Ws. It was always the fullness of the sound that drew me back because there are all kinds of specific problems that even I can pinpoint in B&W (imaging, clarity, etc...). I'm a cheap date, I own 685's, but I've auditioned every B&W up to the 800's not the new diamonds. Funny though, I hated the Zepplin. To be fare though, it was a quick and less than ideal audition.

As for the other cans, I think I can pin down where they fall slightly short for me:

RS1: The treble can be harsh. Bright.

K701: Overall nice and smooth, but sometimes some vocals are too recessed and bass can slightly lack the impact you think should be there. Maybe it's not.

D5000: Can't complain about much. Overall good, but only rarely great. Bass can use a little more detail, but its got lots of it.

Clearly numerous ears have elevated the above cans, and generally I'm not going to disagree, but the P5s just do it for me more than the others. I think others have more critical ears and I'm sure if I forced myself I could be critical of the P5s but clearly I'm biased to something in the overall sound. I call it a lushness or fullness of sound. The music just feels right.

I'll report back in a few more weeks if I still feel the same way. And just for reference, I generally listen to music through my Macbook pro hooked up through toslink (optical) to a spitfire DAC and supplier connected to a Woo WA6, but so far the P5s have sounded great no matter what: directly from the mac book, various Ipods, an ibasso D10 cobra etc... I have a SACD player and will eventually try that out, but can't figure why it wouldn't sound great there as well. Also, I watched a few movies and the P5s weren't that great (read horrible). That surprised me a bit, but I've had the same experience with B&W speakers. Not so great on movies. Weird?

regards

Ben
post #7 of 25
I am a P5 lover also... they are the best $300 can i have heard.. the sum of its sounds is better than the parts it just all comes together so well with these.. Im so in love that i defend them when ever someone speaks ill of them... took me 5 min listen in the apple store to know that they are for me
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by BenjaminGraham View Post
Yeah, I'm shocked too. I keep telling myself this shouldn't be, but I think I can pin down what it is:

P5's for me have a nice lush sound with whatever I play. I guess I like that sound and from what I'm reading others might interpret/hear this as a lack of clarity. I experienced this same result whenever I audition speakers at the local hifi shop. After everything they put in front of me (other speakers had better clarity etc...), I still was drawn back to B&Ws. It was always the fullness of the sound that drew me back because there are all kinds of specific problems that even I can pinpoint in B&W (imaging, clarity, etc...). I'm a cheap date, I own 685's, but I've auditioned every B&W up to the 800's not the new diamonds. Funny though, I hated the Zepplin. To be fare though, it was a quick and less than ideal audition.

As for the other cans, I think I can pin down where they fall slightly short for me:

RS1: The treble can be harsh. Bright.

K701: Overall nice and smooth, but sometimes some vocals are too recessed and bass can slightly lack the impact you think should be there. Maybe it's not.

D5000: Can't complain about much. Overall good, but only rarely great. Bass can use a little more detail, but its got lots of it.

Clearly numerous ears have elevated the above cans, and generally I'm not going to disagree, but the P5s just do it for me more than the others. I think others have more critical ears and I'm sure if I forced myself I could be critical of the P5s but clearly I'm biased to something in the overall sound. I call it a lushness or fullness of sound. The music just feels right.

I'll report back in a few more weeks if I still feel the same way. And just for reference, I generally listen to music through my Macbook pro hooked up through toslink (optical) to a spitfire DAC and supplier connected to a Woo WA6, but so far the P5s have sounded great no matter what: directly from the mac book, various Ipods, an ibasso D10 cobra etc... I have a SACD player and will eventually try that out, but can't figure why it wouldn't sound great there as well. Also, I watched a few movies and the P5s weren't that great (read horrible). That surprised me a bit, but I've had the same experience with B&W speakers. Not so great on movies. Weird?

regards

Ben
I also feel the same way as you do regarding movies - the P5 aren't that great in that department. And it is interesting that you say their speakers display similar caracteristics - at least it means B&W did their job rather well.

I think one of the reasons for their difficulties with movies might be that they have a weird imaging I cannot really describe, but some of us feel they sound as if they had a inbuilt crossfeeding effect.

If you, as some people do, feel they're muddy, wait for burn-in and move them around your ears a little bit (positionning is important).

I wasn't blown away by these as well, but I can understand why some just fall in love with their sound signature - I wish you'll be that sort of audiophile !
post #9 of 25

It took me awhile. The P5 didn't grab me at first. Then I stopped being analytical and just relaxed. Within a couple of weeks, I was a fan. There is something almost analog about the sound. It's slightly warm and accommodating yet still brings the detail. It's the first phone I like equally with my iPhone and with my home gear. The ergonomics help, too. So, if you're not satisfied with the sound at first, let the P5's burn in for a few days, then revisit. However, these cans are not necessarily for electronic music. I prefer them with rock or acoustic. Guitars, bass and drums sound organic. Very forgiving on poorly-recorded or low bit sources but excel with better mastered material.

 

 

 

 

post #10 of 25

I just got my P5's in the mail about 1 hour ago. I'm actually quite pleased with the sound. To me it sounds warm, but not too dark - there's quite a lot of detail. Some treble notes seem a bit etched and forward (and I wonder if burn in will help this) but it's not terribly harsh, and the real standout is the speed and instrument separation for me so far. Speed and sensitivity in particular - they pick out delicate little details, and present them delicately in a way that is more like some full size speakers I have heard, including some nice B&W's. Oddly enough the slightly forward treble doesn't translate into better sound on violins or brass, which suggests to me that the peak is a little lower then that. Soundstage is not actually very large - I expected more, since this is my first pair of good quality headphones and not IEMs. The bass is great for me - and coming from IEM's, even ones with fantastic bass response, I really notice what I'm missing out on compared to large dynamic drivers. They are built beautifully, and they are comfortable and isolate decently.

 

Now given that they retail for $499 AUD here, I can understand why people would be a little underwhelmed. I don't think I would have necessarily paid $499 for them (I got them for free), but the US price seems a bit more fair to me given the quality of materials and construction. 

post #11 of 25

Don´t worth their price....maybe they´re comfy...good looking, but - that´s all. At least for me. Every single line seems to be recessed for me and they´re also over-bassed - for someone they will be maybe funny and accurate, for me hell NO. Not worth....IMO.


Edited by casioa5302ca - 10/22/10 at 10:16pm
post #12 of 25

After a week with the P5, my take is very positive. Unlike my Senns and Denons, the P5 is like a speaker up against your ear. Not for everyone, to be sure. Forget soundstage, air and all that. You get the music directly to your ear and that is all.

 

These guys are serious rock and roll headphones. No matter what you throw at 'em they sound wonderful; they are analogue, almost vinyl sounding. MP3's, youtube, it all sounds good. These phones are built for digital but sound analogue. Very weird. The isolation is perfect for me although people outside may hear your sounds if you play fairly loudly. If you have an iPod or personal listening device, you will not find better than this. 

 

Talk about visceral, the P5 is like a speaker pushing and pulling on your ear drum. Played even at the lowest level, the music makes its presence felt. Bass sounds caress and stomp. This is a serious rock music listening device. Should be part of every recording studio, IMO.

 

To summarize, I love these phones. They are unlike any phones I have encountered. Certainly not for any younger people raised on digital but a boon to those who favour analogue and are bothered by the digititis so prevalent in the modern loudness wars. You can turn these guys up and the sound only gets better. Just make sure you don't do that. You could ruin your ears!

 

Warning: like others have mentioned, the P5 requires serious break in. 24 - 48 hours recommended. Don't give up on these babies! They rock.

 

(Best of all for hearing impaired people: if you are a one-eared impaired person with tinnitus or Meniere's like me, these puppies even out the playing field unlike any other phone I have tried. I had given up on phones until I tried these.)


Edited by skysaxon - 10/26/10 at 11:08pm
post #13 of 25

I listened to a pair of these in John Lewis, Oxford Street.  Source was an ipod touch and I have to stay for the price these sounded very average.  The build quality hmmm ok but again for the price not fantastic.  What took me by surprise was when you apply pressure to the cups you could hear the ('diaphram'? or something inside) making a clicking sound. 

post #14 of 25

^ My pair make that clicking noise, but I can't tell if its from driver flex because of a seal caused with the ear, or a noise that the removable magnetic earpads are making. (That aspect of the P5's is very neat.)

 

I don't think the sound is mind-boggling, but its a really sweet and relaxed signature that works great for acoustic music. 

post #15 of 25

It's great with electric music. If you have a guitar amp, play this with your phone outlet, if you have one. Play this phone a little loud and then you will understand. It turns everything to rock and roll. I just heard "And You're Bird Can Sing" for the first time. I've heard it dozens of times. 

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