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Bowers & Wilkins P3 - Page 10

post #136 of 169

So I stopped by Best Buy yesterday and picked up a pair of these, and I'm not impressed.  I did some initial listening and then let these burn in for 18 hours.  Let me start by saying that I really wanted to like these, they're beautiful and are compact and I really like the design overall, all they needed to do was sound good enough and I'd be sold.


Here are my impressions.


First, the build quality, aesthetics, and comfort on these are all very good.  Let's go ahead and get that out of the way now, if all you want is something that looks and feels good then these may be for you.  Now on to the sound:


In a word, muffled. After 18 hours or so on continuous playback to break them in the sound really hasn't changed much at all, so I doubt it'll change much going forward either.

First of all, out of the box and un-equalized these are borderline unlistenable. There is NO top end, and I don't mean that like "they're missing that last little bit of sparkle", no I mean no top end. There's lots of upper bass, midrange that is there but overshadowed by the bass and a top end that is virtually non-existant. I don't have the tools to measure them, but if I did I suspect the FR curve would be a line that goes from upper left to lower right with a few weird spikes. If you have music that is excessively bright to the point of unlistenable on other headphones it may work well on these - I do not have any and cannot think of any though and just see how any human with normal hearing could enjoy these unequalized.

No problem, that's why we have equalizers right? Well first off I'm generally opposed to equalization on principle alone, but even moreso on portable devices because of the battery hit. However, to really give these a fair shake and be able to form any coherent opinion other than 'suck' I played around with the EQ settings on the iPhone.

I tried all the options, and the two that sounded the best were bass reducer and treble booster. Treble booster just bumps up the treble while mostly leaving everything else alone, bass reducer drops the bass down a bit which results in the high end popping out a little. Treble booster worked best 90% of the time but for music that was real bassy I went the other way. Even with the EQ engaged though, these still have a very dark sound to them. So with the treble engaged the highs were a bit better, they were at least there but were very thin sounding, but the overall sound of the headphone was still very colored and dark. That upper bass just overshadows the entire midrange and just throws the whole sound way out of balance.  I suppose some forms of Rock and maybe electronic music sound ok, but overall the sound is just not good even when equalized.

I also dug out the Zune to get a comparison on another device even though these are engineered to iDevices. The results on the Zune are exactly the same. In fact when playing back the same file the Zune and iPhone sound remarkably similar (I still hate the lack of physical volume buttons on my Zune though).

So in review, not impressed

post #137 of 169

It do is overly warm and bassy but I don't really agree with the treble, I suppose that's personal preference

In general its a very fun headphone to listen to for on the go, not at an audiophile level

post #138 of 169

I would like to see a FR curve of this headphone.  I don't know that my thoughts on the treble are an 'opinion' or personal preference so much as reality.  Without seeing a FR curve I guess I'm hesitant to call it fact, but I'm fairly certain that the top end is severely rolled off.


I suppose if you like that kind of sound then that's fine, but I don't know if you can really argue the fact that the treble just isn't there.


Like I said though, I've not seen an FR curve so I could be totally off.

post #139 of 169

Have you seen Innerfidelity:


It's true that the treble is rolled off, but to my ears that was ok for this headphone when used in the train and bus

post #140 of 169

So I've had the P3's for a week or so and I'm relatively happy but really am wondering if the Amperior's was the better choice!

Isolation is awful, really disappointed in this - I didn't expect it to be phenomenal but I can actually hear my colleagues talking in the office while I listen to music.

The sound is as Tyll says really good at the bottom and mids but lacking at the top end.  I have found mine after a week of solid listening to start to open up but there are some tracks which just don't get the justice with lacking highs!

Build quality and design are excellent but the pain after listening for a couple of hours is brutal - I was hoping to listen to these for the working day but I can last about an hour and a half before I actually have to take them off.  It's so bad that I have got into the office today and didn't want to put them on yet because I knew I only have a limited listening time!

Really really want to love em but just don't quite think they are there!

post #141 of 169

I tested these headphones out the other day, is it just me, or does it seem like these headphones really lack sound stage?

post #142 of 169

The sound stage isn't the biggest, that's correct. But I didn't expect ti to be bigger either

post #143 of 169

Thanks for the link, just read Tyl's review and tend to agree 100%.  I tend to feel even more strongly about the lack of a top end than he does, but we're basically of the same mind there.  I am shocked the FR curve is as good as it is, which is saying a lot because it isn't that great.


As a frame of reference, I don't like bright headphones either so I'm not looking for something with a bright sound, the Sennheiser HD25 are too bright for me at times.  I have the V-Moda M80 (had these about a week now) and in comparison they are a lot more neutral to my ears although the argument can be made that they also lack a bit of sparkle on the top end.  The point is not to compare the two, I just wanted to put my thoughts into context in terms of what I expect out of a headphone.

post #144 of 169

PolkManiac wrote:



 I am shocked the FR curve is as good as it is, which is saying a lot because it isn't that great.


Call it FR, call it frequency response, call it whatchawannacallit... I tend to fear we will never get past these myths (urban or otherwise) and beliefs.

Frequency response does not tell the whole story about the ability of any audio device to perform linearly in real operating conditions.


Yes, there are microphones today that have individual calibration sheets in the box whose measured frequency response is flatter than my school's ruler, and there were plenty even 20 years ago when I started mixing sound. Still, you wouldn't find a sound engineer to agree that two different microphones from different manufacturers, maybe with the same design, each with as flat a frequency response as the other would sound any similar across the spectrum. Mind me, I did not say SOUND THE SAME, but JUST SIMILAR! Not even the same microphone sounds the same after some use, and matched pairs are sold by each and every manufacturer exactly for this purpose, although (and despite) each microphone comes with its own calibration sheet with its measured frequency response.


And before you all shout that I mistook head-fi forum for mic-fi, wait, there's a reason to use microphones as an example to the point I'm trying to make (in support to PolkManiac, too). Not only are headphones and microphones similar in operating principle (as far as dynamic microphones with a moving-coil diaphragm are compared to dynamic headphones, although condenser microphones are again very similar to condenser headphones), they've been very similar in sound-source size for ages (before the fashion of 40+ mm in driver diameter). The real reason to quote microphones as an example, is because exactly like headphones it is relatively easy for a manufacturer to design an headphone with a nearly flat frequency response, as is for a microphone manufacturer; take loudspeakers in general, for instance, and you'll have frequency response diagrams so unruly that... they've not been used for describing the sound signature of any (serious) loudspeaker for 30 or more years.


On one hand, the frequency response shows a graph where amplitude and frequency might be correctly drawn, but fail miserably to represent the sound character of the device under scrutiny because there's TIME involved in any aural phenomenon, and frequency response diagrams don't show any of the time behaviour of such device at any frequency. And while this is the reason for me to post to this forum in response to PolkManiac request to see a frequency response curve, his disappointment when he's seen one shows how much it fails to depict the real sound signature of any audio device.


But no, wait: with headphones, it's even more useless than with many other audio devices!

Because no manufacturer can predict how the shape, length, diameter and compliance of my auditory channel will respond to the design of its headphones in terms of acoustical impedance, reflections' spectrum, resonance frequency, group delay... and probably another good dozen or two of criterias by which any electro-acoustical sound source can be researched and developed today.


Yes, nominally the principle is there: couple the headphones to a measuring microphones with as more direct-coupling as possible and you'll have a measurement result that represents the sound source and the sound source only... except that my ears are different, and my brother (who has ears of exact shape and size as mine) has both a different musical upbringing AND a head diameter about 10 cm smaller than mine... it might sound trivial with loudspeakers, to some extent, but when this (talking about headphones, right?) simply halves the pressure of the earpads onto the ear itself... the frequency response is different, as anyone can experience by varying the pressure of each cup of his/her headphones on his/her ears.


Head-fi is a great source for curious listeners trying to compare users' experiences. Because frequency response diagrams count very little, or close to nothing, even when it comes to sound sources that don't have to deal with the environment of a room (but must still deal with the enclosed space of our auditory channel), head-fi it's a most useful tool. And your opinion, trust your ears, shall be more important to you than any frequency response diagram (it sounds muffled to you even if by the curve you might expect it brighter, don't you?).


Just my 5 cents of advice.

Feel free to toss it, in case: you're entitled to disagree, both in part or in full, of course.

As they say in Britain, one man's treasure is another man's manure.

Which applies to sound devices, and headphones, especially. In full, of course.

Edited by rbbrnck - 7/29/12 at 2:42pm
post #145 of 169

^ One of the most evolved, bright and informative posts I've seen in 3+ years of reading this forum daily. The only thing I would specifically add is that, especially with on-ear headphones, one of the big variables is placement on the ear. I can easily make the P3 sound unlistenably muffled by moving them forward a bare millimeter on my ears. To otherwise prove the point of your assertions, I don't find the P3 to be lacking in the top-end, let alone muffled, and I like my treble. After a few days of listening, I wouldn't be surprised if these ended up being one of my favorite portables. Another would be the T50p. I sold my DT 1350, which I found lacking in the high end. I also agree that sound stage is not great, but for small, portable on-ears, I don't expect that. I tend to agree with the What Hi-Fi? review.

post #146 of 169

Spot on Priest...I have had my P3's for a few months now and I've started to love them, but as you say - it's all about ear placement.  I did give them some 75hour burn in which really brought the highs out but I must say some days I'll still get that muffled sound...all it takes is for me to move them slightly further back on my ears and they sound excellent again.  It's strange as I've never had other headphone which were so variable but as a purchase I'm very happy with them now and I love travelling with them :)

post #147 of 169

Glad you are liking them too. The HD 228 and HD 238 were also picky about placement and liked to be a little set back, otherwise they sounded veiled.

post #148 of 169

just got my p3.

and i very much love it.

somehow, im thinking if there is a place here where i can buy an extra pair of pads.

i wanted to cut the center of the pads so that the sound would not be blocked by the fabric.

i hear great clarity when i pull out the pads.

if im using the pads, the sound is like shouty a bit in the mids, and theres a thickness to it.


there should another way on how to improve the sound.

the fabric is really blocking the greatness of this.


can anyone help?

post #149 of 169


Edited by pinoyman - 9/21/12 at 6:13pm
post #150 of 169
Originally Posted by pinoyman View Post

just got my p3.

and i very much love it.

somehow, im thinking if there is a place here where i can buy an extra pair of pads.

i wanted to cut the center of the pads so that the sound would not be blocked by the fabric.

i hear great clarity when i pull out the pads.

if im using the pads, the sound is like shouty a bit in the mids, and theres a thickness to it.


there should another way on how to improve the sound.

the fabric is really blocking the greatness of this.


can anyone help?


I know what you are talking about with the sound. It is the not the fabric though. It is the rest of the pad materials. Trust me.
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