Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Headphones

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Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Headphones at the online Apple Store.

Latest reviews

Pros: pleasant laid-back, warm sound; premium looks and feel; good passive isolation; comfortable
Cons: average soundstage and detail; disappointing durability
Design/durability: The P5 is a truly gorgeous headphone. The all leather/metal construction and the "timeless and vintage" make it a winner in the looks department. The construction and finish of the product is very convincing and feels absolutely premium. However the P5's durability is actually pretty far from its luxurious appearances. One of the channels going off is one of the recurrent problems these cans have. I have sent them back to B&W's customer service (which is excellent btw) several times already. And the cable feels very cheap.
Fit/comfort: Clamping force is quite strong, but the earpads feel very nice and the memory foam does wonders. Overall they are quite comfortable but start hurting the ears after a few hours wearing them.
Isolation: The P5 seals very well, and isolation is surprisingly good once the memory foam embraces the shape of the ears. Not the best, but definitely above average in this aspect.
Sound: Pleasant is how I would qualify the P5's sound. It has a warm signature, with forward mids and a slight midbass hump. The treble is definitely a tad recessed, but not shockingly so. The bass is slightly boomy and not really tight. The mids are well defined, rich sounding and delightful to the ears. The treble is smooth and not very detailed nor extended. Soundstage is intimate. Overall the P5 is a somewhat slow sounding headphone, with a very warm, forgiving sound and decent resolution that suits genres like jazz or chamber music. I also enjoyed watching movies with these. Pleasant but not mindblowing.
Bottom line: The P5 sounds decent, looks and feels nice. But beware of its durability.
Pros: Style, sound quality
Cons: Build quality, comfort
I bought these in March of 2011.  They were to be "the last headphones I buy", expecting them to last at least a decade.  I'm a software developer so I wear them often and stream from my phone.  
The sound quality and style is great.  I've had compliments on them in that respect.  
Since they are on the ear, and not over, they do hurt the ears after a few hours.  
Both the original cords were eventually damaged.  They are very weak, terrible quality.  B&W replacement cost was $100.... not exactly reasonable. 
The pads are detachable to replace the cords, which is cool, but ends up being expensive.  The pads attach via magnet, however the glue that keeps the felt material on eventually seeps through the felt.  When you pull the ear pads off you can see lots of little thread of glue between the cans and ear pads.  So.... cool design but terrible execution of that design... For the price paid, I expected more. 
Finally, in the last week, BOTH drivers failed at the same time.  Very unfortunate timing, because Mastercard would have extended the warranty to march of this year... four months late. 
Agree about the built quality aspect of the P5... Mine worked pretty well for two years and I was delighted with the sound, and one day the left driver went out (not a cable issue). The warranty was over and there wasn't much I could do, except buy a new pair (well... nope). Frustrating really, especially for the price paid.
Ps. seems that *all* B&W portable products have issues with build quality. I also got into trouble with their C5s. Good thing is, B&W's customer service is second to none. But you can't just keep sending your headphones back, can you?
Pros: Very comfortable, very nice driver definition (needs burn-in), stylish
Cons: The final audio imaging is not audiophile, but can be fixed, quite expensive
I got these at a mac store... when I heard them in the store I liked them... shows that listening in a store environment doesn't really give you the chance to focus and notice the problems a headphone set can have.  I took them home, burned them for about 24 hours with regular music... tried them on... and HATED THEM.  Oh my, I hated them so much It was a pain to listen to them... thin, too much harshness, too little bass... they sucked.  So I burned them some more with music... and the same thing.  Nothing seemed to help them.  I was disgusted by them.
So a few months passed, and they were stored at my music studio... forgot about them.  Suddenly I realised, how about If i tried to burn them with pink noise... so I did for about 9 measly hours... tried them on the next morning... and Oh my God, they just opened up... the bass was well defined, the mids levelled off nicely, and the top was now so much better.  So, if 9 hours of pink noise can open them up... what could 100+ hours do... so we kept on burning them, 8 to 9 hours a day of burn... and using them with music.  It really made a difference, they sound great now...
...But something was out of place still... the imaging was not right, still a little muddy on all the frequencies, like if a veil was placed on the music.... I mean, I don't think these are audiophile cans... more like hi-fi... but I keep trying to get in all my cans the sound that I love from my 10 year old Beyer DT880 (impossible I know, Beyer has a unique signature sound).   But I did find something... taking in consideration that I generally use this cans on the go and during work time, I mostly use them with my iDevice (iPhone, iPod, or iPad)... I found a great little app called Audyssey, which is a brand that works with many other brands to improve the quality of sound (they work with the likes of Denon, Cambridge Audio, Imax, McIntosh, etc).  The app has sound profiles downloadable, specifically tailored for some headphone models... I found the profile for the P5 (and for my Jabra Revo Wireless)... and wow, did it make a change... it fixed all the problems that I still found on this cans... so I began burning-in using the sound profile using pink noise once again (they had about 45 hours of burn-in already on them)... once again, they opened up.  Now they sound truly amazing, very hi-fi, very open, even the soundstage widened.  I really think this model (it's the series 1, with the earpads of the series 2) is a gem regarding the drivers, they are great speakers, they just need some love, attention to detail, patience with the burn-in and a little help with the magic of the Audyssey app.
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