Bowers&Wilkins new flagship the P9!

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by redogfizbal, Sep 6, 2016.
  1. Mr X
    Wow, end of this year.
  2. GrussGott
    Well, I think I'm going to pull the trigger - Oops! - just did, ordered :) Right now I've been using the p7w for a year, using them wired via a mojo from Tidal HiFi recently and they sound great. A few days ago I got the MrSpeakers Aeon Flows which I expected to a real upgrade in a closed HP, and they are .... but ... they're very clinical and missing that low end punch.

    Now there's no doubt that the P7w in wired guise can be boomy and muddy. This is most noticeable in Adele's Rolling in the Deep - on the P7w wired it gets your foot tapping but sounds kinda crappy. On the Aeon Flows it sounds GREAT! but that low end is missing ... maybe with a punchy warm dac/amp setup (or a schiit loki) this could be fixed and then they'd be perfect, but I don't have that setup so this year maybe the P9s will work ... we'll see!
  3. gLer
    Have you tried any of the Fostex TH-x00 variants? Night and day upgrade on the P7/P7W/P9 at half the price of a P9.
  4. Slim1970
    I had the Purple Heart version of the TH-X00’s and while they may be better than the P7W’s is some regards they are not better than the P9’s. The P9’s bass is better defined, has more texture and can go just as low as the TH-X00’s with more control. The TH-X00’s bass sounds bloated in comparison to my ears. The treble on the P9’s is better integrated with the rest of the frequency range, is crystal clear and is not as sharp the treble on the TH-X00’s. The mids are also better on the P9’s even though they both are V-Shaped headphones. Don’t get me wrong the TH-X00’s are great mid-fi headphones and are made better with the Dekoni Fenestrated Sheepskin ear pads as they tame the treble while being comfortable at the same time. But they are still outclassed by the P9’s.
    JoePR31 likes this.
  5. gLer
    Interesting how we each hear things differently. Of the several P9s I auditioned, each had a mid bass hump that bled into the mids (even more so than the P7). While my TH-X00 have incredible bass, it never bleeds, never bloats. I agree there's little to touch the P7/P9 treble, and I do find the TH-X00 treble, on occasion, a little forward, but switching pads to Alpha eliminates that problem and even further smooths out the bass while expanding the soundstage. Then again I believe the mahogany (which I have) are far less V-shared than the PH, which is why I avoided the PH in the first place. The thing that swung my decision, however, was comfort. I sold my P7 because I could never get it to fit 100% (even after swapping out my wired P7 ear pads with the new memory foam variants of the P7W), and I find the P9 similarly stiff and, after a while, fatiguing. With Alpha pads there are very few headphones that I've tried that can rival the Fostex in comfort. My assessment of the P9 was - great headphone, top-tier sound, unmatched build quality, but lacking in comfort and about 40% overpriced.
  6. Slim1970
    The ear pads are stiff not only on the P9’s but on B&W headphones in general. So the TH-X00’s do win in the comfort category. I haven’t tried the new PX’s. Initial impressions are they are more comfortable than the other B&W headphones. But as convenient as they are, there is just to much of a sound compromise with Bluetooth headphones to me at the moment when compared to wired headphones. The gap is closing but it’s still not there just yet.

    I did enjoy my Purple Hearts when I had them and the Mahogany version probably would’ve suited me better. But the reason I sold them in the first place was I got the D7200’s which is in the family as the TH-X00’s but more refined. Otherwise, I still would have them. They were very fun headphones!
  7. GrussGott
    It's interesting, I got the P7Ws because I auditioned the QC35s and MDR1000X with ANC and the sound quality was just so much better on the P7Ws I decided I didn't even need ANC as my need is purely for air travel and the B&Ws are just so much better for that. Yes they're boomy, but that's actually a real positive in a travel headphone, especially if you watch movies.

    The P7Ws are also wireless and connect via AptX on some of my devices and my laptop - on others they connect via SBC, and there's a BIG difference, especially with high quality sources like Tidal HiFi. To my ear, the P7's "fun" sound is pretty great with AptX and Tidal HiFi, with wired listening (via a Chord Mojo) a touch better, but overall if someone likes the P7W sound, it's pretty great wireless given AptX connectivity.

    Back to wired, right now I'm trying the MrSpeakers Aeon Flows and they're stunning in detail and soundstage - the comparison to the wired P7W definitely shows how the P7Ws are boomy with a pinched soundstage ... but ... it's all about the bass. The P7Ws are just fun and even though I know the music isn't accurate (or super detailed or "wide") I enjoy it more. If I had more time to really have a variety of dac/amps and be analytical the Aeon Flows would be a must, but for now I just want a "fun" sound for a few hours a night of music which is what brings me to the P9.

    So I've got the P9s on order and if they can improve on the P7W sound while maintaining the "fun" sound then the P7W will move to my travel set (versus the PX), the Aeons will go back, and the P9s will take front row at night.

    My concerns are the semi-open back, as I don't want too much sound leakage, and the isolation which the P7Ws do quite well; I need to be in a room with family, but not bother them with my loud horrible music and I also don't want to hear them during music time :)

    Anyway, I'm really hoping the P9s can be that fun but high quality sound that the Aeon Flows have a tougher time with given their huge accuracy, which isn't always fun.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
    Mr X likes this.
  8. Slim1970
    The P9's definitely maintain the B&W house sound that I like about the P7W's. Fun, dynamic, and punchy, detailed bass. The difference to my ears is they have the awesome treble clarity to match and the bass is more refined. The mids are slightly recessed but are much better than the P7W's. I think you'll enjoy them very much especially if you like the P7W's sound. The P9's takes what the P7W's do and elevates it. The best part is you don't need a powerful amp to make them sound good either.
    Mr X and GrussGott like this.
  9. TooFrank
    Just a question: yes we all do hear things differently, but how different are the sources (file, amp. etc.)? And how much does the source matter?
  10. forestitalia
    The x00 is just another world compared to P9, Fostex are funny cans with a lot of bass and beyond, a V shape that is a Vendetta against the mids. The P9 is almost an audiophile headphone, apart from that with some records you hear a solid and tight "not audiophile" bass that I love
  11. gLer
    Not sure which Fostex you're talking about. The TH-900 is probably the most V-shaped of them all, followed by the TH-X00 PH. the TH-X00 Mahogany (which I own) is most definitely not V-shapred (I've owned enough V-Modas and the P7/P5 combo to know what V-shaped sounds like). If anything the TH-X00 Mahogany is U, maybe W, but not V, with great mids and bass, with only slightly peaky highs on poor recordings. I haven't heard enough of the P9 to descry their sound sig but from what I recall they're fuller and more open than the P7, so likely not a steep V. Don't get me wrong, I loved my P5 and P7, and have only nice things to say about them, but the TH-X00 is sonically a step up from both (with the right source of course), and to my ears anyway a more engaging listen than the P9 - but different enough that some people may like one or the other. Comfort-wise it's a non-contest, you just can't compare a portable-oriented B&W to a desktop oriented Fostex with thick, plush leather pads.
  12. GrussGott
    I'm considering the TH-x00 as an alternative to the P9s as they'd be somewhat cheaper (I got a really good discount on the P9s) ... basically i'm looking for a "fun" HP that can scale, but the scaling sounds like a Th-x00 weakness. That said, it would seem they're better reviewed for detail than the P9s.
  13. msp
    Hallo, I used to own the TH-x00 but sold them when I received the P9.

    They have more clamping force than the TH-x00, but I see this as positive thing, the TH-x00 should I often adjust, even though I only use it sitting/lying down.

    I also think that the P9 sounds better, and are better built, the TH-x00 is a little fluffy—finally you can run the P9 from a phone, it is not as good with the TH-x00

    Hence, if you can get the P9 cheap it is worth considering…

    Best of luck
    JoePR31 and GrussGott like this.
  14. GrussGott
    Welp, I've given a 60 min first audition ... and I'm mixed.

    My reference set is the PSB M4U2 wired passive, the B&W P7w wired, and the Aeon Flow closed all via the mojo and optical s/pdif. The P7s are 1yr old, as are the PSBs, the P9s and AFCs are new (i.e., not broken in).

    Out of the gate these sound muffled, like the midrange is tweaked way down, but the soundstage is larger than the P7s and the bass on things like BlueTech's Enter the Lovely is pretty stunning: on the P7s you hear it, on the P9s you FEEL it. If the P9s were the P7s + the wide soundstage and tight bass slam, I'd be so in ... but ...

    Vocals and treble are muffled (or else just tweaked up on other HPs). The Aeon Flows have oodles of mids and treble, too much. On tracks like Erykah Badu's On & On the knocky instrument on the AFCs practically hurts. On the P7s it's loud, but on the P9s it's just there. Older tracks like the B-52s Channel Z (24b/96k) the P9s sound much wider, WAY better than on the AFCs which almost completely lack bass. On the P9s everything is there and wide, but again the vocals and treble are dim. On the P7s things sound more closed in, but bass, mids, and treble all sound great, albeit you can tell the recording/mixing is not right (or I have no ear for anything).

    Where I preferred the P9s was a 24b/96k of Moonglow by Diana Krall, oddly the P9s sounded absolutely fantastic: every guitar strike and shuffle of clothes was there not to mention her vocals were stunning. On the P7s, much of that detail was lost. On the AFCs, the detail was there but SOOOoooo bright. The AFCs have bass but usually it's in the other room, at least to my ear.

    Then there were live tracks like a 24/96 of Ryan Adams' Blank Space that sounded much better on the P7s, much more detail, which I think on that track is in the mids that gets lost on the P9s. The AFCs, again, have lots of detail albeit bright.

    Another example is Ramblin' (Wo)man by Cat Power - on the P7s, stunning, on the P9s eh, a bit muffled. Then on Water Prayer (Rastaman Vibration Mix) by Adham Shaikh, the P9s sounded big and awesome with P7s more eh in comparison.

    And this pattern repeated over and over, with the P9s on most track sounding a big muffled with great bass, the AFCs sounding bright, and the P7s sounding pinched, but splitting the mix in sound.

    Comfort scores the AFCs > P9s > P7s, with the P7s being small ... but overall if I had to pick between the three, the P7s all day. They're all good for different things, but the P7s are the best all arounder.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
  15. gLer
    Thanks for your comprehensive impressions. They very closely resemble what I experienced when I auditioned the P9s and Oppo PM3 alongside my P7 (wired) a few months ago. The P9 consistently edged out the other two in terms of soundstage and imaging, but the P7 always held its own, and in many respects I preferred the P7's tighter bass and lower mid bass bloat (compared to the P9 - the PM3 had very feeble bass compared to the B&Ws). I also found the P9 to be less comfortable than you'd expect for a headphone in this price range. I was very seriously considering upgrading to the P9 at that stage, but the audition put me off. Luckily (for me) I discovered the Fostex TH-X00 soon after, sold my P7 and realised there's a different level beyond the portable-focused, consumer-tuned B&Ws. That's not to belittle B&W - I would always and without hesitation recommend the P7 to anyone looking for an audiophile-grade "fun" headphone that's easily driven, very portable, and is built better than most headphones on the market today (pity it seems the P7 is now discontinued). The P9, while unquestionably better in many respects, simply doesn't justify its price, not with better headphones from Fostex and others costing less and sounding much better in every department. Then again it is a "fashion can" and when it comes to fashion price is hardly logical and rarely reasonable.
    GrussGott likes this.

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