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Bowers & Wilkins P7 (Wired) - Quick Review

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  1. RockStar2005
    Just purchased the B&W P7 for the second time in 4 years to compare it to my Sennheiser HD1 Over-Ear headphones. After reading several reviews, I noticed a trend that many were saying the P7 sounded better than the Momentum 2.0 or HD1 (which IS the M 2.0, but renamed and with a widened headband). Now, when I initially tried the P7, I felt they were too bassy. But that was back before I learned how to EQ. Now that I am better at that, I decided to give it another try. Both headphones got 5-star ratings AND awards for their own price category on "What Hi-Fi?", which is my GO-TO audio reviewer.

    Turns out, those reviews were right! As great as the HD1 is, the P7 was better on 3 fronts: 1) Hiss - The P7 appeared to have slightly less hiss at the same volume than the HD1 did 2) Soundstage - The P7 has a wider soundstage than the HD1, but not too wide where it becomes disengaging 3) Instrument Separation - Due to the wider soundstage, the P7 also had slightly better instrument separation.

    I found both to be rather comfortable, though the P7 did need a little stretching overnight over its box for a night or two to get it where I wanted it. Some call the P7 an on-ear headphone, but I DO NOT. My ears are regular size and fit just fine in its ear pads, which are rectangular. Normally I would prefer the oval-shaped ear pads of the HD1s, but somehow the P7's seem to be just fine there. The HD1 comes with some plastic on the ear cups, but the rest is essentially either brushed aluminum or genuine leather. The P7 though has no plastic, just aluminum and genuine sheepskin leather on the headband and ear pads.

    Both come with detachable cables (about 4' long) with in-line remotes, and the P7 has an extra cable with no remote. The HD1 comes with a silky soft beige case (I have the Ivory/Chocolate Brown color model) and a really nice hard case. The P7 comes with a hilarious-looking "Louis Vuitton" type hard case, which I don't like as much, but it's alright. Doesn't zipper up like the HD1's case does, so there is some MINIMAL exposure. I would've preferred the HD1's type of case, but not a big deal. You can always stuff it in a plastic bag and then backpack or luggage case when traveling if you're worried about it getting rained on, etc. Also, both fold inwards for maximum portability!

    Price-wise, the HD1 was $250 (normally $350), and the P7 was $350 (normally $400), so there is a difference there which might explain why the P7 sounds better. Bowers & Wilkins' philosophy behind the P7 was that they wanted their headphones to make music sound the way it does when played through speakers. Fortunately, this philosophy really DOES work rather well in the real world, as these sound incredible!

    Very highly recommended!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    EQs (created in the Poweramp music app; make sure Tone & Limit are OFF):

    **Update: JUST ADDED a new 4th Custom EQ, "B&W P7 (Bass Xtra+). I am finding this one to be a great fit for listening to most Led Zeppelin tracks, album or live. I also added a 5th EQ with boosted bass for train and plane rides. Try them (and the rest too) out and let me know what you think!

    I SHOULD add that at least the main EQ seemed to work very well on the HD1, and other headphones as well, including the Meze 99 Classics & the Sony MDR-1ADAC. By "work very well" I mean it sounded noticeably better than both "No EQ" and the "Rock" preset on my Poweramp app, which was my default until recently. I still use "Rock" in my car though as it still sounds the best there.**


    Main -

    P7.png

    Bass Lite -

    P7 (Bass Lite).png

    Bass Xtra -

    P7 (Bass Xtra).png

    Bass Xtra+ -

    B&W P7 (Bass Xtra+).png

    Bass Train -

    B&W P7 (Bass Train).png



    P7.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
    trellus, stenog and HungryPanda like this.
  2. voxie
    Hey RockStar, hope you and yours are well. Thanks for the share. Very interesting and informative esp about the EQ. Never really delved into the eq software on my players. You have sparked an interest. BTW I returned the Senns as I could not justify the sq. Have an on-line credit so will begin the BIG SHOP.
     
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  3. RockStar2005
    Hey voxie,

    Thanks! Hope you and yours are doin' well too!

    Sure, no problem. I'm glad you liked the review!

    I didn't either for a long time, or when I did, it was in my car, and just the bass, mids, and treble. But 10-band EQ'ing is on a whole other level!

    Haha well that's a good thing then if I sparked an interest in it! Yeah as I've gotten better at EQ'ing, I'm finding it really helps elevate what a pair of headphones can do. I've actually been using like the same EQ above (and/or its 2 variations) on my last 3 headphones that I've owned or tried out (Meze 99 Classics, Senn HD1, Sony MDR-1ADAC), and it also made them sound better vs. No EQ or the "Rock" preset in Poweramp. So I'm calling it my "Magic EQ" from now on. Ha! I guess b/c maybe many headphones have "roughly" the same EQ tuning, that may be why it's worked for all 4 of these headphones so far. Could it be improved upon? Maybe, but to me the fact that it sounds better than No EQ AND "Rock" (which is what I was using for years) is a big deal.

    Oh you returned the Senn 660s? Ok. Well those are open-back so that's a whole other thing there. lol

    Well the P7 is closed-back but also right now about $155 cheaper than the 660s are (per U.S. Amazon price), and I honestly couldn't recommend them more for anyone who has $350+ to spend on headphones. My review tells the whole story, so feel free to reread it again if you are open to closed-back. For me, I somewhat frequently travel into downtown (Chicago) by train, so open-backs wouldn't work for me, unless I liked getting frequent dirty looks from other people. lol
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2018
  4. voxie
    "Magic EQ"... love it. Patent that one RockStar. Great to hear that all is good. (no pun intended) lol. Have been eyeballing the B & W's but could never pull the trigger as my favourite head phone is...drum roll with lots of sighs is my AKG 601. Ok, it needs the force of an intergalitical time machine thingy thing to power them. LOL.
     
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  5. RockStar2005
    Haha yeah.....perfect name!

    I C. lol AKG says "120 ohms" impedance, which doesn't sound TOO crazy, but ok. Well if they sound great to you then F it! Plus they're open-backs, so that's an advantage right there since I'm assuming you don't travel with them (and that intergalactic time machine "thingy"). lol
     
  6. voxie
    Hey Rockstar .. if I wore my AKG's out and about I would like Princess Leia with the millennium falcon attached as a back up battery pack.
     
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  7. RockStar2005
    Haha...........EXXXXACTLY!!!
     
    voxie likes this.
  8. someyoungguy
    Well it's interesting to see your review as I've had a pair of Momentum 2's for years, which have been my main headphones, and just picked up some B&W P7s a few months ago. The P7s weren't even on my radar but a store I use for audio gear had them going cheap now that they're discontinued.

    I like them both, but they're very different characters with different styles of presentation of the music. I agree the P7s seem to have a more immersive soundstage, with a bit more clarity between the instruments. The P7s have a more V-shaped sound to my ears than the Momentums - the bass can go very deep and can be quite prominent, but it's controlled. Sometimes, however, at the other end of that V sound the treble on the P7s can be too much (although that seems to be calming down to some extent with burn-in). The Momentum's win out for me in terms of comfort - I find the P7s clamp too hard and after a while it begins to hurt. Maybe that will decrease over time, but the Momentum's are way easier for long listening sessions. P7s are definitely an over-ear fit for me too.

    I've never used the cases for either - I bought a separate semi-hard shell case for my headphones+DAP, so whenever I'm throwing them in my bag etc. I can fit either pair of headphones in the case and there's plenty of room to snuggle a DAP in between.

    If anything the P7s make me curious how the P9's sound! Might have to wait till that gets discontinued as well :wink:
     
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  9. RockStar2005
    Hi Some,

    I think BOTH headphones are fantastic, and it took about 10-12 comparison songs or so before I started to really hear the differences. I too was enticed to buy the P7 after seeing it drop from $399 to $349 on Amazon.

    For me, my review is different than others b/c most ppl review headphones based solely on "out of the box" sound. My problem with that is even though it is more general (and most either don't EQ or just go with a preset like "Rock"), I find that the only way to REALLY hear what a headphone can do is to EQ it, which isn't easy for everyone to do. I had some help, and some luck............the EQ I have posted seemed to make my last 4 headphones that I owned or tried (see Post #3 above), including the P7, sound noticeably better than either "No EQ" or "Rock". When I tried the P7s out the first time a few years ago, I either did "No EQ" or "Rock". Not sure now cuz I switched back and forth a few times over the last few years. But this "Magic EQ" seems to bring the best out of most headphones. The thing is, every headphone is tuned differently. So even though my EQ makes them shine, I'm sure I could tweak it for each headphone to make it even slightly better, but I'm honestly MORE than happy with what I have now.

    I agree that w/o EQ'ing the P7s are def V-shaped. Initially I found them too bassy, but now that issue has been dealt with, and now despite having owned several headphones over the last 3-4 years, I'm noticing NEW details in songs even at this point, which is crazy. But these are the priciest headphones I've ever owned (well, or equal to the Oppo PM-3 and Master & Dynamic MH40), so that I'm sure plays a part. I will agree that the HD1 is more comfortable (Note: the HD1 IS the M2 but with the SAME exact sound signature + a slightly widened headband for additional comfort), and lighter too. But after doing a bit of stretching out, I find the P7s at this point are comfortable enough. I've even fell asleep with them on. My ears are just small enough (though not small) to fit comfortably in the ear pads. I like the HD1's case more too. The P7s is hilarious cuz it looks like a Louis Vuitton purse, but part of the top sides are exposed, which I kinda don't like. But it's not a big deal. If it ever is for me, I'll def go and buy a third-party case.

    Oh yeah man, I would LOVE to try out the P9s one day too! It has even bigger ear pads too I believe. If I ever decide to upgrade, the only 2 choices (or best 2) would be either the P9 or the Mr. Speakers AEON (closed-back version, love the "teardrop-shaped" ear cups). The P9 is $899, and AEON $799. I'd prob have a tough time choosing, but that's prob a good thing. lol Though most disagree, the vast majority of reviews indicate the P9 is a step above the P7. And since the P7 already blew me away, it would be awesome to hear music on the P9 as well!

    Thanks for reading and commenting on my review!
     
    trellus and someyoungguy like this.
  10. G_T_J
    Yes. these headphones are very good and musical. You don't have to be a basshead to enjoy them as said by some.
    They might be coloured yet they are also very natural and effortless sounding. A good balance between a coloured signature and a natural timbre.

    They have been under appreciated lately although I strongly believe they still hold their place in the ranking of some of the best closed portable headphones out there.
     
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  11. RockStar2005
    Yeah I love them! You're right, you don't. But that's the great thing about EQ'ing is that you can fix issues like this so you can really enjoy the BEST sound these headphones have to offer, which I find is rarely "out of the box/No EQ" sound. lol

    Yeah I would say they're much more colored but yeah the EQ'ing fixes that so to me they sound much more balanced & natural now IMO.

    Well there's been SO many headphones that have came out since the P7s debuted in 2013, so I can understand that. Plus yeah, initially I ended up returning mine like 3 years ago b/c I didn't know how to EQ back then, and felt they were overly bassy.

    Thanks for commenting on my review!
     
  12. ManAtWork
    I owned a pair of P7 as well, agreed that it is quite bassy when out from the box. However, as the process of burn-in going on, it sounds much balancing.
     
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  13. RockStar2005
    Hey Work,

    I used to be a big believer in burn-in. Anytime I got new headphones, I'd connect them to my stereo and let them burn-in for like 1-3 days. But over the last year or so I came to the conclusion that what is perceived by many as a headphone "burning in" is actually just that your ears get used to the sound signature of a particular set of headphones. That is interesting that you perceived the sound to become more balanced over time, but I still believe it's simply just that you got "used" to the sound of the P7s. With my EQs, the issue is fixed instantly with no burn-in required.

    I welcome anyone & everyone who is reading this thread to try out my EQs by comparing them to your favorite presets or custom EQs, or no EQ at all, and letting everyone here know what you think! Your input would be invaluable, so please feel free!!
     
    djray likes this.
  14. ManAtWork
    Believe or not, I have tried tens of headphones in the last 13 years, burn-in does come with changes of sounding. How comes some changed dramatically, some didn't change so much? EQ also is tricky to change the factory balancing, just like it has worked in audiophile since 1960s.
     
  15. RockStar2005
    Hey everyone.........

    So yesterday I took my B&W P7 to my local Best Buy. I decided to hit up the Magnolia section there to compare my P7 vs. the $900 B&W P9 they have on display there. So I tested 3 songs out using my LG V30 with the Quad DAC, and to my surprise, my $350 (was $400) P7 actually sounded BETTER!! What?! I'd seen user reviews on Amazon claim that, but I didn't believe them, until now! lol On all 3 songs, both headphones sounded great, but the P9 had MORE background hiss at the same volume than my P7 did!! So I guess if I ever upgrade my P7 it WON'T be to the P9! lol Crazy.
     
    trellus and Den Sol like this.
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