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Bowers & Wilkins PX

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. Asspirin
    The stylish audiophile Bluetooth headphone
    Written by Asspirin
    Published Jan 15, 2019
    4.5/5,
    Pros - fantastic sound quality,
    APTX HD,
    great build,
    stylish looks
    Cons - not the most comfortable headphones,
    sensors can be fickle,
    NC affects sound quality
    Build & design

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    Bowers & Wilkins are known for not skimping on material selection and build quality. This concept is also pursued with the PX. The exterior of the headphone is dominated by leather, metal and the trim elements of ballistic nylon. You'll rarely find that in this price range and the PX set themselves apart from the competitors simply by havong them in your hands. The leather ear pads are magnetically attached and can be replaced, exemplary! The controls are easy to reach and have crisp pressure points, only the on/off/coupling button is kind of excentric.

    Operation, comfort, isolation

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    The PX are easy to use. Controls are done with 5 buttons and work almost intuitively. In addition, there is the smartphone app. It is practically mandatory, since only here the noise cancelling can be fine-tuned and the sensors switched off and on. But this is not a bad thing, as the app works very well and connects reliably to the PX. The carrying sensors that pause the music when you lift the earcups also work very well and reliably with the latest firmware and the most insensitive setting.

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    Now to comfort, which is a tricky topic. People with big heads should definitely try the PX beforehand. The pressure is quite high and the leather head band needs a while to become supple. In my opinion, however, that is fine. Raw denim jeans or Goodyear-welted leather shoes are also not supple and comfortable from the very first second, but want to be worn in, as do these headphones. However, if you wear the headphones for more than three hours at a time, you will definitely feel a pressure point on your head. The headband could use significantly more padding.

    Sound

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    The real highlight of the B&W PX is its sound quality. I would describe the signature as slightly warm but surprisingly close to reference. The bass is slightly enhanced, but quite tight and controlled. Untypical for Bluetooth headphones! The mids sound full and pleasant, voices and stringed instruments have good volume and a lift in the presence area results in a very clear and transparent sound, which however never seems artificial or sterile. The British also nailed the treble: Lightly raised, but without disturbing peaks or discoloration. Very vivid, detailed and yet controlled. This, too, is quite exceptional for Bluetooth headphones! The Bose QC 35 in particular sounds very artificial and lifeless in comparison. The PX' soundstage and instrument separation are also impressive and any competing product can pack in this regard. Nice!

    Connection

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    The best sound experience can be achieved through a Bluetooth AptX HD connection. Unfortunately, not all smartphones support this codec. The normal Bluetooth connection is, of course, already very good. With an AptX HD connection however, Hi-Fi level is definitely achievable here, very impressive.

    If you don't have or are not allowed to use a Bluetooth connection, you can also connect the PX to your source device via 3.5mm cinch or USB (!). Due to the built-in amplifier however, the cinch connection is quite susceptible to noise and is more likely to be understood as a stopgap. The connection via USB is much better and particularly interesting for laptop users.

    Noise cancelling

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    The noise cancelling can be adjusted in three stages. Office (low), city (medium), airplane (strong). An interesting feature is the adjustable pass-through function, which allows the wearer to perceive the outside world, i.e. conversations, honking, ringing… if necessary. While the sound signature in "office" mode hardly changes, the two highest NC settings already have a significant influence on the sound. The PX sounds much more compressed and less spatial. The noise cancelling is more of a compromise and should only be used if normal music enjoyment is no longer possible due to extreme noise. For example, on a plane or on a London main road. In these cases however, the PX performs very well and can still compete with any product out there. For normal operation in an average German city, passive isolation, i.e. without Active Noise cancelling, is completely sufficient. Only on the bus or other noisy transport I turn on office mode to filter out the deepest hum.

    Conclusion

    With the PX, Bowers & Wilkins have exceeded all expectations. They play in the same league as Sony and Bose, but trump them significantly with build quality, high-quality materials and sheer sound quality. Only regarding comfort, the competition pulls ahead. If you are looking for the best possible sound quality in a wireless headphone, you will find it here. If you really want to wear the headphone for a long time on your head (longer than 3 hours), you should maybe look at Sony!

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    1. billbishere
      Great review, I have had these for about a year now. I love them, I wear them everyday.
      billbishere, Jan 17, 2019
    2. Tagjazz
      I own these and have had the Sony's. The noise cancelling is really not on par with Sony now so for flights etc, Sony wins. I am doing a 24 hour fight in 5 months an considering getting the Sony's M3 for comfort/noise cancelling. But PX are way superior in terms of just regular bluetooth music listening, although mine seem to drop out a lot which is frustrating. There are no 'perfect' headphones I guess and I think PX 2 will be much better.
      Tagjazz, Jan 20, 2019