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Bowers & Wilkins P7 - over the ear headphones - Page 32

post #466 of 1128

I tried the P7 at a Best Buy last night.  Unfortunately, the headphone demonstration system at the Magnolia section does not allow one to use a separate source.  I was ready with my iPod Video/FiiO E12, too.   So, my opinions are heavily weighted by the setup they had, which had lots of things in the sound chain, including some sort of rotary volume control that was digital in nature (rotations led to step changes in the sound level, but only if you rotated the knob a half-turn or so, and definitely not proportional).

 

I compared the P7 to the P5 which was next door and easily accessible.

 

Comfortwise, the P7 is definitely a snug over-ear design for me.  It is hard to tell whether it will be like the Momentum -- comfort depending on ear size.  I was fine with it, and I felt no discomfort, but it did feel like my ears were being cradled, very much like the M100 with XL pads (which I own).

 

Soundwise, the P7 has a much brighter sound signature than the P5.  The P5 is a dark headphone with a treble rolloff which is a little too aggressive for my tastes.  It is hard to tell if the P7 rolls off, but it is less than the P5 for sure.  It has a balanced sound, with a bit of a boost in the bass.  In fact, the bass sounded loose to me.  I was listening to Diana Krall's "Live In Paris" CD (one of the selections they had of which I am familiar), and the bass was a bit more forward than I am used to.  Now, this might have been the fault of the amp setup, but I could not change that (I asked, and the manager said no, we can't disconnect the system for individual test).

 

Interestingly, they had a PSB M4U2 in a box sitting right at the station, but it was not hooked up.  I would have loved to hear that headphone, but I did not ask having been shut down on the source question (and this was at a special "private shopping" event, too).  In my opinion, Best Buy Magnolia's headphone listening station is basically non-consumer.  About the only thing you can do is try on headphones for fit.  Sound listening is a crap shoot, and there are too many constraints in the way one listens to make it remotely useful.  If they were to become a bit more Japanese in their thinking, they would go a long way -- think Yodobashi Camera, folks. 

post #467 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzman7 View Post
 

I tried the P7 at a Best Buy last night.  Unfortunately, the headphone demonstration system at the Magnolia section does not allow one to use a separate source.  I was ready with my iPod Video/FiiO E12, too.   So, my opinions are heavily weighted by the setup they had, which had lots of things in the sound chain, including some sort of rotary volume control that was digital in nature (rotations led to step changes in the sound level, but only if you rotated the knob a half-turn or so, and definitely not proportional).

 

I compared the P7 to the P5 which was next door and easily accessible.

 

Comfortwise, the P7 is definitely a snug over-ear design for me.  It is hard to tell whether it will be like the Momentum -- comfort depending on ear size.  I was fine with it, and I felt no discomfort, but it did feel like my ears were being cradled, very much like the M100 with XL pads (which I own).

 

Soundwise, the P7 has a much brighter sound signature than the P5.  The P5 is a dark headphone with a treble rolloff which is a little too aggressive for my tastes.  It is hard to tell if the P7 rolls off, but it is less than the P5 for sure.  It has a balanced sound, with a bit of a boost in the bass.  In fact, the bass sounded loose to me.  I was listening to Diana Krall's "Live In Paris" CD (one of the selections they had of which I am familiar), and the bass was a bit more forward than I am used to.  Now, this might have been the fault of the amp setup, but I could not change that (I asked, and the manager said no, we can't disconnect the system for individual test).

 

Interestingly, they had a PSB M4U2 in a box sitting right at the station, but it was not hooked up.  I would have loved to hear that headphone, but I did not ask having been shut down on the source question (and this was at a special "private shopping" event, too).  In my opinion, Best Buy Magnolia's headphone listening station is basically non-consumer.  About the only thing you can do is try on headphones for fit.  Sound listening is a crap shoot, and there are too many constraints in the way one listens to make it remotely useful.  If they were to become a bit more Japanese in their thinking, they would go a long way -- think Yodobashi Camera, folks. 

 

Which store did you visit?  They should have the PSB on display in any of the Design Center locations, which from the sound of it, is where you were.  I would press them on the source issue, since that capability is not built into the display at those locations.  If they won't allow it, you could always stop by one of the Magnolia Home Theater locations.  The ones that have the P7 will also have the PSB(albeit on a different display).  They should also have the ability hook up your own source.  PM me with your ZIP code and I can find the store closest to you, if you're interested.  

 

Regarding your suggestion about displays, it is more complicated than you think.  The general education level of customers shopping in retail stores, with regard to amps/DACs etc, is very low.  Most people wouldn't understand how to switch sources or amps.  If they can't figure it out, they're not going to buy headphones.  You also have consider that buying 10 amps to power your displays would be way too expensive given the low sell-through of amps/DACs.  A multi-channel headphone amp like the one they use is best solution in that case.  They do have a pretty liberal return policy though.  So taking it home to try out on your personal setup would be the best way to audition it.        

post #468 of 1128

Thanks for the reply, Speakerphile.  I am pretty sure I was at a Design Center location -- they had at least two Magnolia install trucks parked in the parking lot when I drove up. 

 

I think the home audition right now is probably the best way to go, and in fact, moving to a client model in the Magnolia section would be even better.  Taking a couple models home with the intent of a return of at least one might work   Of course, it can't turn into a headphone rental shop, though -- that is where customer relations comes in.  On the setup itself, Yodobashi Camera in Kyoto left me alone for several hours as I went from station to station, with lots of flexibility in terms of how to listen including using your own 3.5mm source jack, but that was pretty unique and expensive.  The traffic in the States might not justify the expense.  But all that is a bit OT.

 

I may try and get a P7 to audition at home at some point.

post #469 of 1128
So I finally pulled the trigger on the P7's last night and took them home. My God they are a beautiful pair of headphones. Even my wife who could not care less about headphones was amazed by the packaging, elegance and construction. Connected to my iPod classic and compared them to my Momentums and M100's. The Momentums definitely sounded more forward and crisp while the P7's were recessed. Instrument separation was done equally well, with the P7's possessing a massive soundstage in comparison without sounding they had just pumped up the reverb factor. Compared to the M100's, they sounded similar with the M100's sounding more veiled even if more forward. The bass on the P7's is beautiful, I would say just as fast as the M100s without the XL pads. I am hoping with burn in, if such a thing in fact exists, the P7's will sound more forward as the bass slightly settles. On construction and beauty alone, they are worth every penny.
post #470 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzman7 View Post
 

Thanks for the reply, Speakerphile.  I am pretty sure I was at a Design Center location -- they had at least two Magnolia install trucks parked in the parking lot when I drove up. 

 

I think the home audition right now is probably the best way to go, and in fact, moving to a client model in the Magnolia section would be even better.  Taking a couple models home with the intent of a return of at least one might work   Of course, it can't turn into a headphone rental shop, though -- that is where customer relations comes in.  On the setup itself, Yodobashi Camera in Kyoto left me alone for several hours as I went from station to station, with lots of flexibility in terms of how to listen including using your own 3.5mm source jack, but that was pretty unique and expensive.  The traffic in the States might not justify the expense.  But all that is a bit OT.

 

I may try and get a P7 to audition at home at some point.

I know the Magnolia Design center I went to just had all the headphones hanging on the board and were unplugged; you just had to pull them out and plug them in.  Other ones that I have seen some have a input cord next to the control panel where you could plug your own source in then use the control buttons to select which headphones to listen to; but not all had this.  If you are in MN try the Richfield (I-494 and Lyndale) Best Buy as all the headphones there are just hanging there for you to try.

post #471 of 1128
The Best Buy I went to with the Magnolia Section had all the headphones accessible for use with my portable system. In fact, at first there was no P7 there and when I enquired at the desk they said it had been stolen shortly after it was displayed. One guy said he thought there was an open box in the back, however he came back with a new box, opened it, and gave me the headphones to listen to. I was there for over an hour.

If possible, I would check with another Best Buy that may have a more accomodating staff.
post #472 of 1128

Well, I've spent three sessions with the P7s in a local Magnolia room. They were kind enough to let me find a quiet corner in one of the listening rooms and use my iPod. Each session was about half an hour. The physical fit is great (for me). I like the way they hug my noggin and my ears fit just right.

 

Back when the P5s were released, I bought a pair and kept them for 13 days before returning them. They seemed to have a limited frequency response, particularly in the upper end (I remember getting flamed on Amazon for daring to mention this. "Get your hearing checked!", someone opined). Subsequent reviews have made me feel vindicated...

 

Anyway, back to the P7s. They deliver on what I perceived as a weakness of the P5s. However, in my sessions with the cans they seem to be TOO "vivid". That's the word that comes to mind: Vivid. They certainly don't seem warm of dark to me. Yes, the bass provides a generous bottom; perhaps sometimes too generous, but the treble is very dynamic. I'm still pretty close to buying a pair. I'm curious to see if they would "mellow out" a bit after a week of constant use. And I could apply a bit of EQ (like I do with my 990s). I should mention that my testing sessions were done with my iPod set to flat EQ. BTW, has anyone else used the Denon headphone app? It was free about a year ago when I downloaded it. Much better that the iTunes EQ. It's got sliders, by gum! WAY better than those pesky presets. You can really sculpt the sound.

 

I'll jump on here again if I buy the P7s and share more. I just wish there was a nearby store where I could try the new NADs or those darn Sony 7520s. :/

post #473 of 1128

For anyone interested in an in-depth comparison between these and the KEF M500: http://www.head-fi.org/t/691170/kef-m500-vs-bowers-wilkins-p7

post #474 of 1128
I can now say confidently that the P7 scale well with a better source and amp. I've been using them with the Theorem 720 and today decided to run directly off the iPod again to test and it's a night and day difference. They don't require better gear, but they scale with it very well, that's an unusual combination.
post #475 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by PolkManiac View Post

I can now say confidently that the P7 scale well with a better source and amp. I've been using them with the Theorem 720 and today decided to run directly off the iPod again to test and it's a night and day difference. They don't require better gear, but they scale with it very well, that's an unusual combination.

Yeah with my tests, I get that feeling too. I think the bass will become much more controlled. I unfortunately can't test it with an amp since I sold all my low impedance amps. So far it's the vocals on the P7 that really puts it down for me. Maybe burning in or amping would help. As far as amping is concerned, I cannot treat it that way because it would lose its distinction as a mobile headphone. If you want to give an amp, you might as well start comparing it with HD600, K702, or DT880. I guess you could argue a specific niche for use in a public place that you can have an amp, but you want closed-back not to disturb others, such as at your work desk. Then you're going up against T70 and Mad Dogs. Could an amped P7 compete with the likes of those?

post #476 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by dlhen68 View Post
 

Well, I've spent three sessions with the P7s in a local Magnolia room. They were kind enough to let me find a quiet corner in one of the listening rooms and use my iPod. Each session was about half an hour. The physical fit is great (for me). I like the way they hug my noggin and my ears fit just right.

 

Back when the P5s were released, I bought a pair and kept them for 13 days before returning them. They seemed to have a limited frequency response, particularly in the upper end (I remember getting flamed on Amazon for daring to mention this. "Get your hearing checked!", someone opined). Subsequent reviews have made me feel vindicated...

 

Anyway, back to the P7s. They deliver on what I perceived as a weakness of the P5s. However, in my sessions with the cans they seem to be TOO "vivid". That's the word that comes to mind: Vivid. They certainly don't seem warm of dark to me. Yes, the bass provides a generous bottom; perhaps sometimes too generous, but the treble is very dynamic. I'm still pretty close to buying a pair. I'm curious to see if they would "mellow out" a bit after a week of constant use. And I could apply a bit of EQ (like I do with my 990s). I should mention that my testing sessions were done with my iPod set to flat EQ. BTW, has anyone else used the Denon headphone app? It was free about a year ago when I downloaded it. Much better that the iTunes EQ. It's got sliders, by gum! WAY better than those pesky presets. You can really sculpt the sound.

 

I'll jump on here again if I buy the P7s and share more. I just wish there was a nearby store where I could try the new NADs or those darn Sony 7520s. :/

When you say vivid, it sounds like you mean bright.  If that is the case, you should definitely audition (or purchase with a return option)  the NAD HP50.

post #477 of 1128

Yea, Craigster. You are, of course, correct. It's the nature of this hobby to deal with the fact that the various products we're interested in aren't on a shelf somewhere, easy to try out. I just hate returning things. I should bite the bullet and do it though. The only way to know is to hunker down with the cans and determine how they sound and feel. Tyll's review certainly got my attention. I'm kinda holding off until he reviews the P7s. Last night I got down w/ my 990s with about an hour's worth of music and then an older film via blu-ray (PS3 HDMI to a Pioneer receiver). Sounded great. BTW, the film was How the West Was Won. Great score and restoration.

 

In reflection on the sound of the P7, it seems that they are likely trying to cater to the modern demographic that is used to a very colored sound, w/ accentuated bass and mid-treble. I imagine that those folks weaned on Beats would feel like they were "missing" something from a truly neutral set of phones. I'm still "on the fence". In theory, I'm not against coloration, particularly when one realizes that sound is being sculpted in a relatively small machine that sits on our heads, and must be modified in various ways to be enjoyable.

 

As far as my "vivid" comment, an analogy would be the image on my plasma tv. I rarely put the set in "torch mode". I like the picture a bit subdued and not overly saturated, with a bit of back lighting. My wife has her own tv and likes to toast her eyes. I can hardly watch the darn thing.

post #478 of 1128
I agree. I think the sound of the P7 is somewhere between consumer headphones with mass bass and audiophile headphones that are more neutral. That's why I get that veiled dark feeling. It makes sense since B&W really is a company that bridges consumer and niche high end. People know their name to be high end, but there are definitely esoteric brands out there only enthusiasts know about. This is even the same way for their speakers.
post #479 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonido View Post

I agree. I think the sound of the P7 is somewhere between consumer headphones with mass bass and audiophile headphones that are more neutral. That's why I get that veiled dark feeling. It makes sense since B&W really is a company that bridges consumer and niche high end. People know their name to be high end, but there are definitely esoteric brands out there only enthusiasts know about. This is even the same way for their speakers.

Personally, I don't experience a veiled or dark presentation with the P7.  P3 & P5 on the other hand...

post #480 of 1128
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speakerphile View Post

Personally, I don't experience a veiled or dark presentation with the P7.  P3 & P5 on the other hand...
I think it's all relative to what you're used to. I'm used to Beyerdynamic T90 and Hifiman HE-500 which are both very transparent. But that's like saying a Corvette has weak acceleration because I'm used to driving a Lamborghini. My ears are just spoiled. I'm sure it sounds great to most.
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