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Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Headphones Review

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by jude, Feb 9, 2011.
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  1. Syan25
    Me too - I am a B & W speaker person too. Big time. And for me also, the sound was not up to the quality I expect from B & W. However, for on the go use - they are good enough. Just when I think of the name B &  W - I expect very high SQ not average.
    Would definitely enjoy the them if they weren't so congested...after all B & W are known for their clarity of sound...
  2. wyffels
    Thanks for the review. This pair was suggested to me, but as of now, I have not bought them. They are in my mind when I shop around for new phones. Now they are higher on the list of portables. Thanks!
  3. uncle b
    I am not gonna lie, I really am enjoying these phones after a protracted burn-in period, the muffling has seemed to go away and I am really enjoying them right now.
  4. pcgo
    Jude, thanks for the great review!
    I've been using a pair for just under a year, and they've become my go-to cans for work, mucking about downtown or just around the house (esp. when I'm in front of the TV but not listening to it), not to mention just chilling in bed. (I use them with a PA2V2, which definitely helps them out.) The one thing that I have noticed is that the vertical placement on the ears does affect the sound, so you should spend a little time finding that sweet spot on your head - I personally find that they sound better sitting a little higher up on my ears than other cans do (but most of those are circumaural, so there's really little play available).
    I admit to being biased - I do really like the colouring that B&W generally bring to their devices, from my Panorama (soundbar) to the MM50's that I pushed on a family member, to the bookshelves that I grew up listening to. Just really great gear all around, so I was very happy to (finally!) see a pair of cans come out of them, and they certainly haven't let me down!
    Oh, and for anyone wondering, I take them around with me a LOT, and they can take some gentle abuse. Don't be afraid to love these!
  5. Splosh
    Lost left channel in my P5's and opened before sending them to be repaired (self caused issue). I couldn't find any information how to open them and after spendin a few hours looking at B&W release/ad video I understood the structure well enough to open them and see what was wrong. I located the problem to be in the element (I quess either the voice coil was bent due to drop or the magnet misaligned from pressure by the metal axle.) So I would avoid pressing the headphones too hard against the ears. The metal body looks a bit cheap imo, good thing the finish is great on the outside.
  6. Remonster
    I've heard the P5s twice (briefly) and I think their lack of bass is more disturbing to me than the lack of treble. They don't extend very far in either direction but their midrange more than makes up for it and actually, I don't think any less of them for this fact. They were clearly designed to be non fatiguing so they roll off the upper and lower most registers while still managing to deliver a very pleasing overall sound and they are very comfortable and light on your head, to the point where their lack of clamping force makes them feel like they may fall off or even float away in a breeze.
    I don't know where jude is getting the info that people are being fooled into thinking these have active noise cancellation, though. I found them to offer almost no isolation whatsoever compared to my Sennheiser HD280 Pros or my new Audio-Technicas which are actually circumaural, I don't listen to a lot of supraaural cans, though, so maybe they're good compared to others.
    Both times I listened to the B&Ws I liked them but not enough to spend $300 on them, or even $200 to be honest.
  7. jude Administrator

    I don't do much debating on the purely subjective stuff--in matters of taste, no amount of arguing does much (if anything) to change things.
    But on isolation, I think you're in the minority on this one.  The passive isolation of the P5 is very good, and enough so that I have no idea whatsoever how you "found them to offer almost no isolation whatsoever."  Head-Fi'er ljokerl also reviewed the P5 (among many other headphones), and felt the same (as have many others I know who've listened to and/or bought one).  He ranked isolation (compared to several models, but not your HD280 Pro) thusly:  "Ranking: HD25-1 >= P5 > Crossfade LP = Beats Solo >= MS400 >= XB700"
    Also, counter to your findings, I would not describe the bass as rolled off.  Now we're getting back to something more subjective, and it's obvious you want more of it from the P5 than I probably do.  Again, that's not something I'd debate.
  8. Proglover
    Isolation is there, definitely
    The 2 times I had the P5, I didn't like it, but comfort, looks and isolation I found to be rather good
  9. miceblue
    I'm curious as to how these sound in person. They look beautiful based on the photos! Does anyone know if the Apple store still hase these to demo? The last time I checked, which was early last month, they had a bunch of those Beats by Dr. Dre headphones...which were a major disappointment to my untrained ears.
  10. bertopl

    I was just at an apple store last night for the ipad 2 and they had a few pair of these out on display to try with some ipods and iphones. the store was so noisy and crowded though, not the best place for a demo when theyre doing a product launch.

    -- berto
  11. Remonster
    I wasn't trying to change your opinion, just stating my own. I will say that the last time I heard them was in an Apple store which would explain why I didn't hear as much sub bass as I would have liked and why the isolation was unimpressive. I did hear them in an audiophile store a long time ago but I don't really remember that as clearly. I really like their design and build quality, those are definitely fitting for a $300 headphone and so were the midrange, treble and soundstage if you ask me.

  12. dlhen68
    The only way to really test phones is to take them home. Even the Guitar Center's "headphone tree" in their listening room is not ideal. As mentioned earlier, I took a pair of the P5's home because obviously the Apple Store wasn't a good place to review them. I loved the way they looked and felt, but they just didn't have the range I was looking for. They may be great for casual listening, but I tend to be non-casual listener. I settled on the DT990's. It was a bit of a gamble, since there was no place in town that carried them. I ordered them after reading a gazillion reviews. I know they are a different animal, but they suit my needs. I still kinda miss the P5's though. :/
  13. Syan25
    They are a great portable headphone - but not great for critical listening...that's the point
  14. Remonster
    Actually, the Guitar Center environment was perfect for me. The only time I use headphones is when my roommates are home and I need to drown them out, so the store gave me a good opportunity to see how well various headphones could isolate me from the kids trying to play Smoke on the Water. Otherwise I'm a big tower speaker kind of person.
  15. pcgo
    Regarding the bass, I find that burn in really makes a difference. It gave the bass more depth and power (not too surprisingly) but also seemed to balance it out more with the mids, which may have been more about the mids burning in, to be fair. Either way, this is definitely a pair of cans that sounds better after burning.
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