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Bowers and Wilkins P3 - no top end? . . . not to my ears after burn-in

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I've been following most of the threads here on these new headphones, and I watched Tyll's review where he praises the design and build quality but is disappointed with the sound due to a perceived muffled top end. I've also read other reviews online that haven't really mentioned this sonic quality.

 

I am interested in these headphones, but I'm confused by the disparate opinions. I did read one post by an owner who suggested there is a difference in sound between the two supplied cables, the one without the remote sounding better. Anyway, I was hoping that since the P3s have been out for a little while, whether burn-in or going back and forth between the supplied cables or anything else has improved the lack of high frequency detail reported by some of the members here.

 

I find it improbable that B&W would design a headphone with no top end detail given its legacy of loudspeaker design. I don't know if anyone would ever refer to a B&W speaker as dark sounding. I understand that portable headphone design has to take into account the intended use and likely source material, but still, with a heritage of attention towards upper frequency performance, B&W releasing a product with no high frequency extension seems puzzling to me ...


Edited by jwbrent - 8/14/12 at 11:38am

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post #2 of 6

The P5 sounds way more neutral and has better extension into the treble than the P3.  The driver damping material and ear design seem to be the limiting factor on the P3.  When I did my testing the high hat and triangle were barely audible.

 

Taking a look at the charts reviews two things:

 

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/BowersWilkinsP3.pdf

 

1.)  The treble is downward tilted after 1 khz

2.)  The leading edge of the 300 Hz square wave is missing

 

With those two pieces of data one can conclude, in addition to listening to the P3, that the treble is not only rolled off but the headphone is missing the harmonic frequencies of 300 Hz.  So 600Hz, 900 Hz, etc are going to be greatly limited.

 

Perhaps the issue is a combination of the harmonics problem and the abundant midrange masking the treble.  According to the charts there should be quite a bit of treble from the P3.  The big dips near 5 kHz and 10.5 kHz are also contributing factors.

 

If it were me I would easily go for the P5 over the P3 at least until B&W release new pads / driver filters.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your comments. I agree, spending $100 more seems to be the better choice.

 

I'm still amazed these got by B&W's QC for performance ... perhaps the prototype reflects the true design and somehow the first production run by the OEM supplier deviated from the reference.

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

I decided to go ahead and purchase a pair of P3s from the Apple store. Since they had a 14 day refund policy, I wanted to hear these for myself amid all the comments of an overly recessed top end. I listened to them for a while initially, and indeed, the top end was subdued with the whole presentation being syrupy sounding. But I'm well aware of how audio components can change their sonic characteristics with extended burn-in, so I hooked them up to my iPod and let them run continuously for about a week, stopping to charge the iPod every so often.

 

First, let me say that I am not someone who is looking for accuracy from my portable rig (note in my signature I use a digiZoid). If I want timbre accuracy or dimensional sound staging or emotional involvement from low level detail resolution, I listen to my home system. A portable system, for me, is just a means to enjoy music when I'm hiking or pursuing some other outdoor activity. All of my music files were purchased from the iTunes store—256kbps AAC—although I do have a few 320kbps files from artist's websites as well as a few songs burned from my CDs that are not on iTunes. I don't have the time to burn my 900 CD library, so yes, I'm probably not very typical of those here on Head-fi who are after the ultimate in headphone audio.

 

After 150 hours or so on the P3s, I did some critical listening. The presentation had changed quite a bit. Yes, these are dark sounding headphones, but I find the high frequency presentation satisfying. Since I listen to headphones for hours sometimes, any hint of upper frequency excess is bothersome and fatiguing to me. I wanted to post my thoughts about this so if anyone else is attracted to the P3s (and how could one not be, they're gorgeous and wonderfully built), give them a try, you may be as happy with them as me.

post #5 of 6

^the most important thing in this hobby is that you are HAPPY!

 
post #6 of 6

I definitely like these too and do not find them dark or syrupy. It sounds to me like the highs are fully extended, but are slightly recessed in the presentation. I get more high-end from them than I remember from, say, the DT 1350, which people were doing backflips over on this website. I found those dark.

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