Bowers & Wilkins PX Noise-Cancelling Over-ears
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phillevy

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wildpanda86

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We knew it, however here it is from B and W: https://twitter.com/BowersWilkins/status/916327650456670209
Deliberately misleading in my opinion as the original tweet says "the same angled drivers" and does not say "derived from".
Someone needs to ask on their twitter account if the PX replaces the P7 or if we should expect a P7 Series 2... I'd ask but I have no idea or interest in what twitter is and have no account to access it.
 
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rabass6

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Hi everyone, this is my first post here.
I read this forum for many weeks when I was choosing some wireless (Bluetooth) headphone, and went through some good ones to test (thanks Amazon!): starting with the B&W P5W, then Sony MDX1000, B&O H7 and B&W P7W.
The last one was the race winner by huge margin, but after seeing the PX I ordered it immediately (and sent back the P7) to evaluate it.
I got it this morning (I’m in Italy), and I’ve spent most of my day trying to know them a little bit.
I have to say that they’re very different sounding that the P5 and P7, the character of the design shows a different voicing.
They’re more open in the highs, voice and midrange are both more detailed and a bit more in your face, the bass is more laid back/neutral, both the P5 and P7 had a somewhat bumped up low midrange region (sorry, I am a bass player so I have a different way of calling the different sonic zones...to me 200hz is midrange ), that was very appealing on certain songs/albums, but a bit of a mess on different ones.
The ANC works well but it doesn’t seem to be the best available (anyway, it’s not something I really need often).
I had no problem with the way they fit on my head but a friend purchased them (in gold/Blue) and received them this morning too, so we met for lunch and noticed mine has a more soft lower part of the headband, his one is stiffer. Probably just some tolerances into play here.

Anyway (sorry for the long post) I like them a lot, but still I feel something missing from the P7 sound...I hear these PX like something in the middle between the B&O H7 and the P7.
 
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Tubakien

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PX comparison vs P7W

My PX's arrived yesterday and I compared them with some of the headphones I currently own, but focusing on the comparison between this and the P7W. I tested by listening via BT (apt-x) on my LG V10.

Build: PX = B&O H9 > P7W >> DSR9BT
Comfort: P7W > DSR9BT = PX > B&O H9
Sound: PX = P7W = B&O H9 = DSR9BT (helpful, right?)
Features: PX >> B&O H9 > P7W = DSR9BT

Build:
I can immediately tell that the build quality is better than the P7W. The buttons feel more solidly inlaid. On my P7W's the folding mechanism feels loose. The PX's don't fold, so that can't be compared. Also, these things look super sexy.

Features:
- ANC is good to very good, although they are not on the same level as the Sony MDR-1000X. It's much better than the passive isolation of the P7W and the ANC of the B&O H9's. I wish there was some sort of sound or voice that told me if I activated or deactivated ANC and what mode it's currently in, but I was spoiled by the 1000x's I tried.
- I love the automatic Play/Pause and sleep features. I use these in an office and it's very convenient to be able to remove my headphones to go do something without worrying about pausing the music or turning the headphones off. What's even cooler is that when they wake from sleep they reconnect to the previously paired BT device and continue playing, so I can put them down for 30 minutes (they'll go to sleep), come back, put them on my head, and they'll just start right up and play music; no button presses needed.
- It's more "future-proof" than the P7W: has aptx-hd support and a USB-C port
- I like that I don't have to remove an ear pad to connect a wire like the P7W.

Sound (BT, aptx, Google Play Music + Tidal):
- I haven't compared the P7W and the PX's wired yet.
- The PX's sound different than the P7W. They sound more neutral, and have a wider soundstage and better imaging as well. I'm a big fan of the mids being more present because that was one of the drawbacks of the P7W for me. The recessed mids on the P7W make them not good for listening to live recordings or music that is not heavily-produced. For those types of music, I would use the B&O H9s as they bring the mids to the forefront.
- Ironically, I think it was the bass presence and response that really made me like the signature of the P7W. Electronic, Hip-hop/rap, and pop songs don't sound as engaging to me on the PX's.
- The P7Ws are a better headphone for me for specific genres (mentioned above), but the PX's can handle any genre well due to their more neutral signature.

Issues:
- At one point today the music stopped playing and a monotone note played on my headphones. I couldn't replicate the issue.

So which ones are better (P7W or PX)?
The only solid answer I can give is this: it depends.
If you already have a set of ANC headphones that sound good and own multiple headphones with different signatures that elevate the types of music that you like to listen to, then I would be comfortable in saying that the PX's aren't a must-have.
If you like a more neutral sound, then go for the PX.
If you like refined and more present bass, go P7W.
If you listen to almost exclusively heavily produced music (Pop, Hip Hop, EDM), go P7W.

Conclusion:
I like headphones that clearly improve some aspect of the music. Bass precision and quantity for EDM, soundstage and mids brought forward for classical/instrumental/jass... I can say with certainty that I prefer the P7W's over any other headphones I've previewed for certain types of music (stated above). With the PX's, I don't personally find them more engaging for any particular genre than any of my other headphones. Sure, the lack of a defining sonic characteristic makes it better as an overall headphone for general use, but it doesn't make me consciously think something like, "oh man, the P7W's would really elevate this bass-centric song", which is the way I feel about my P7W's and H9's today. For this reason, I'm hesitant about keeping these. If it weren't for the amazing build quality and impressive specs list, I'd be more inclined to return them.
 
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Tubakien

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@Tubakien have you tried them with ANC off? Does it sound better or worse?
There are 3 different filters for ANC and I briefly switched between the 3 and ANC off. Also worthy of noting that the app also has a "Voice pass-through" slider where you can adjust "the volume of sounds in the world around you". I kept this setting as default for all modes.

- Office setting: Closest to off. I can't tell any difference.
- City setting / Flight Setting: Seems to lose some bass. I think the ANC is stronger with these modes.

To me, the sound is not vastly different between the 3 modes and off. In comparison, I can't tell the difference in SQ when the H9's have ANC on or off, but it has a much weaker ANC. If I recall, B&O said they designed their ANC to not interfere with the default SQ. Many people (myself included) think the H9's have pretty weak ANC when compared against the 1000x's or QC35's. I can't extrapolate B&O's statements and say that it's impossible to get great SQ and ANC in the same package, but I think this is closer to what I'd consider the best-of-both-worlds solution. Good ANC and above average SQ (i.e. B&W PX) is the best the ANC headphone world has to offer at present, assuming ANC isn't the most important determinant regarding what headphones you're looking for. If class-leading ANC is the most important feature, then go with Sony or Bose because I've tried the 1000x's and they are like an isolation chamber; okay, maybe not to that degree, but they were very impressive.
 
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Okrelayer

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@Tubakien ok thank you for th detailed write up! I was hoping to use these with the anc off often, and use ANC when I go out in the city or travel. I was just curious if you need it ON to get the best sound quality.
 
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Tubakien

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@Tubakien ok thank you for th detailed write up! I was hoping to use these with the anc off often, and use ANC when I go out in the city or travel. I was just curious if you need it ON to get the best sound quality.
Definitely not. I think they're fine in any mode!
 
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MICHAELSD

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st0nefish

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Hi guys, first post here. I've been lurking for a few years and never created an account, but with the requests for input on these headphones I figured I'd finally create an account and contribute to the community that's taught me so much.

First a little context. I started to get into Hifi audio in the last few years, and don't have the best gear to compare to, but I'll do my best to provide useful information. I run 2 main headphone setups, one for home (open back, less portable) and one for work (closed back, more portable). The home setup is the better of the two... Schiit stack (Modi Multibit + Magni 2 Uber) running either my Sennheiser HD700 or AKG K7XX. The work (and mobile) setup is the one I was looking to replace with the PX, a Dragonfly 1.2 running a pair of Oppo PM-3. I get MUCH more use out of my work setup due to my employment as a software engineer in an open-plan office. I spend ~6-8 hours per work day wearing headphones with music playing.

Full disclosure, I already own other Bowers & Wilkins gear that I absolutely love, so I have some positive bias towards the brand going into this. My home theater setup currently uses a pair of B&W 685 (S2) for left/right with a HTM62 (S2) center channel. This bias led me to test both the Oppo PM-3 and B&W P7 (wired) when I was last looking for headphones. I purchased both to test side-by-side but ended up returning the P7 after a week due to being blown away by the comfort and sound of the PM-3. The P7 was in no way bad, I just liked the PM-3 better.

I bought these headphones with high hopes after waiting some time to pull the trigger on a bluetooth pair. However, I pre-ordered a Pixel 2 XL during the release conference the other day, so with the move away from the 3.5mm jack I figured it's time to see if the world of bluetooth sound can satisfy my requirements. They arrived last night (East coast USA), 2 days after ordering directly from Bowers & Wilkins. I spent all of yesterday evening plus most of this morning testing them. I left them on the charger and running white noise on loop overnight to break them in a bit (I'm still not sure if this is actually required anymore, but it shouldn't hurt). I'll break out my initial reaction below in a few categories.
I almost exclusively listen to Rock/Metal, primarily in the Progressive space, so my testing was done across a range of artists in this area including: Tool, Between the Buried and Me, Dream Theater, Rush, Porcupine Tree, Animals as Leaders, Polyphia, etc. I honestly can't speak too much to how these would sound with Pop/Hip-Hop/whatever's on the radio because I don't listen to it.

Sound 9/10: if you're in this forum this is probably the characteristic you care the most about, and so far, I'm impressed. Having spent the last few years focussed on quality DAC/AMP setups driving a good set of wired headphones I was honestly not expecting anything bluetooth to sound this good. I honestly feared I'd be utilizing B&W's trial policy to send these back. While that's still not off the table, if I do return them it won't be due to sound quality. The soundstage is quite impressive for a closed back headphone, comparable to the Oppo PM-3 I've been using daily for quite a while. Additionally, while I wouldn't say the PX is quite as flat as the PM-3, it's not nearly as V-shaped as the wired P7s or my old ATH-M50x, and overall I find it to be quite appealing for the genres I listen to. The highs are very well defined, and instrument separation is impressive, but the lows are still slightly emphasized to give the bass and drums a little extra kick. The midrange does sound a BIT compressed compared to the PM-3, but I only noticed on a few songs and had to focus hard to pick it out at all. That being said, for obvious reasons these do not compare very well to the soundstage or separation of my Sennheiser HD700, but in all honesty I never expected that due to the closed back/open back difference, not to mention that the HD700s cost a fair bit more and are being driven by a DAC/AMP combo that costs almost what the PX did.
Unfortunately, all of my above statements apply only when noise cancelling is disabled, which leads to the next category

Noise Cancelling 4/10: unfortunately, from my experience so far, the noise cancelling functionality has a rather large, and detrimental, affect on the sound quality. Enabling noise cancelling seems to compress the soundstage to the extreme, making the entire thing sound somewhat muffled and closed in, almost like listening to your music while sitting in a big padded box. It seems to be especially bad at the ends of the spectrum, reducing the clarity of both highs and lows much more than the midrange. This effect seems to scale with the severity of the noise cancelling, with the "flight" mode being much worse than the "office" one. To make matters worse, I'm not sure that the noise cancelling is actually doing much at all. While admittedly this is the first pair of headphones I've ever owned that had this feature at all, I have briefly tested a friend's pair of Bose QC35 and those were on a whole different level. even on the "flight" mode the PX only seemed to be capable of eliminating steady noises like a running fan or refrigerator, while less predictable noise such as voices were just slightly more muffled than they would be with NC disabled. Between the ineffective outer noise suppression and the detrimental effect on the noise quality I truly don't see why anyone would ever enable this feature. Maybe I'd change my mind if I tried them out on a plane, but for any sort of daily use I'd rather take the passive noise isolation provided by the sealed earcups and leave the active cancellation disabled to keep it from mutilating my audio quality.

Build Quality 10/10: I'm not sure what to say here that hasn't been said already. These things feel FANTASTIC. I'm a big fan of the ballistic nylon texturing across the band and earcups, it feels both durable and quality. The whole thing just feels well built... smooth-rotating earcups, no loose connections, you name it, they just feel good. My only "negative" here is more of a design decision than build quality comment. The ear cup rotation feels backwards to me. If you slip these off your head to your neck I'd expect the earcups to rotate such that the padded cups sit against your collarbone, but that's simply not true. instead they've been designed to rotate outwards on offset "arms" such that the metal arms and ballistic nylon cups sit right on the collarbone... not comfortable. Additionally, this way of rotating makes it so that the headphones have their largest footprint when lying flat on a table... not a big deal except that it makes all of the existing hard-sided cases I have obsolete because they want the headphones to lay flat in a compact form.
I'm having a hard time describing this particular issue, but if you look at the images on their site one of them somewhat displays it:
http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Images/AdminGallery/PX/5-2-px-wireless-headphones-ready-to-travel.jpg
Note that due to the offset point of rotation these would sit MUCH more compact if they rotated the other way so that the ear-cups were facing up in this image. However, they simply won't rotate that direction

Comfort 7/10: If I end up sending these back to B&W this is going to be the primary reason for it. I was honestly hoping these would be more comfortable to wear for extended periods, but so far I'm not thrilled. The main issue here seems to be the clamping force, so I'm really hoping this will improve over time as they break in. However, it's amplified by the second issue... all of the padding feels too stiff, as if priority was put into making everything keep their sculpted shape to maintain the profile rather than making them softer so they conform to the head. This issue applies to both the earcups and headband padding. Once again, hoping this improves with time. I also found my ears heating up and sweating much more often/faster than I find to happen with my PM-3, or the ATH-M50X they replaced. In all honesty this could just be a symptom of my first 2 complaints over comfort. That being said, it's not like these feel like torture devices or would be unwearable for hours at a time, I just find them to be noticeably less comfortable than my current daily drivers.

Other/Features 8/10: For the most part these headphones really hit the feature list I was waiting on. Bluetooth 4+ with support for AptX and AptX HD, long battery life, great sound quality. The additional gimmicks are where the points off came from. The smart pause part somewhat works for the most part, but I find it to be more annoying than convenient. I actually wish the settings for this weren't so binary as to be on/off. I actually really like the feature that pauses if I take them off entirely to put around my neck, but the single earcup lift-to-pause is downright obnoxious to the point that I may disable the feature entirely. When I'm adjusting the headphones to get a bit more comfortable (which I need to do somewhat often due to some comfort issues), the auto-pause starts to get really picky and will be constantly pausing/unpausing as I adjust the headphones on my head. This is triggered even if I don't lift up an earcup off my head, but instead just slide them around. This is compounded by the fact that when it's on its pause/unpause machine-gun rhythm, it doesn't always end in the correct state. This has resulted in several times where adjusting the headphones caused my music to end up paused and never resume until I interfered manually. This managed to happen 3 times while I walked around getting ready for work this morning... To make matters worse, tweaking the sensitivity in the app seemed to do exactly nothing. I have a feeling I'll be disabling this functionality entirely.

Overall, these seem like pretty good headphones, but I'm not entirely sold yet. In fact, I left them at home today and brought my PM-3 back to work due primarily to the knowledge that I can wear my Oppos all day in comfort while the PX made my ears sweat and created uncomfortable pressure points within only a few hours. I will continue to use these after work for a few days to see if they get more comfortable as they break in, and will update here if applicable.

(side note, if anyone knows a process for speeding up the break-in of the headband/ear cups I'd love to hear it - if these could just get a bit more comfortable I'd be MUCH happier. I can honestly live without the noise cancelling or the gimmicky auto-pause)
 
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Bytor123

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Thanks for that review. I have the P7 wireless and have been considering these.
 
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phillevy

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Hi guys, first post here. I've been lurking for a few years and never created an account, but with the requests for input on these headphones I figured I'd finally create an account and contribute to the community that's taught me so much.

First a little context. I started to get into Hifi audio in the last few years, and don't have the best gear to compare to, but I'll do my best to provide useful information. I run 2 main headphone setups, one for home (open back, less portable) and one for work (closed back, more portable). The home setup is the better of the two... Schiit stack (Modi Multibit + Magni 2 Uber) running either my Sennheiser HD700 or AKG K7XX. The work (and mobile) setup is the one I was looking to replace with the PX, a Dragonfly 1.2 running a pair of Oppo PM-3. I get MUCH more use out of my work setup due to my employment as a software engineer in an open-plan office. I spend ~6-8 hours per work day wearing headphones with music playing.

Full disclosure, I already own other Bowers & Wilkins gear that I absolutely love, so I have some positive bias towards the brand going into this. My home theater setup currently uses a pair of B&W 685 (S2) for left/right with a HTM62 (S2) center channel. This bias led me to test both the Oppo PM-3 and B&W P7 (wired) when I was last looking for headphones. I purchased both to test side-by-side but ended up returning the P7 after a week due to being blown away by the comfort and sound of the PM-3. The P7 was in no way bad, I just liked the PM-3 better.

I bought these headphones with high hopes after waiting some time to pull the trigger on a bluetooth pair. However, I pre-ordered a Pixel 2 XL during the release conference the other day, so with the move away from the 3.5mm jack I figured it's time to see if the world of bluetooth sound can satisfy my requirements. They arrived last night (East coast USA), 2 days after ordering directly from Bowers & Wilkins. I spent all of yesterday evening plus most of this morning testing them. I left them on the charger and running white noise on loop overnight to break them in a bit (I'm still not sure if this is actually required anymore, but it shouldn't hurt). I'll break out my initial reaction below in a few categories.
I almost exclusively listen to Rock/Metal, primarily in the Progressive space, so my testing was done across a range of artists in this area including: Tool, Between the Buried and Me, Dream Theater, Rush, Porcupine Tree, Animals as Leaders, Polyphia, etc. I honestly can't speak too much to how these would sound with Pop/Hip-Hop/whatever's on the radio because I don't listen to it.

Sound 9/10: if you're in this forum this is probably the characteristic you care the most about, and so far, I'm impressed. Having spent the last few years focussed on quality DAC/AMP setups driving a good set of wired headphones I was honestly not expecting anything bluetooth to sound this good. I honestly feared I'd be utilizing B&W's trial policy to send these back. While that's still not off the table, if I do return them it won't be due to sound quality. The soundstage is quite impressive for a closed back headphone, comparable to the Oppo PM-3 I've been using daily for quite a while. Additionally, while I wouldn't say the PX is quite as flat as the PM-3, it's not nearly as V-shaped as the wired P7s or my old ATH-M50x, and overall I find it to be quite appealing for the genres I listen to. The highs are very well defined, and instrument separation is impressive, but the lows are still slightly emphasized to give the bass and drums a little extra kick. The midrange does sound a BIT compressed compared to the PM-3, but I only noticed on a few songs and had to focus hard to pick it out at all. That being said, for obvious reasons these do not compare very well to the soundstage or separation of my Sennheiser HD700, but in all honesty I never expected that due to the closed back/open back difference, not to mention that the HD700s cost a fair bit more and are being driven by a DAC/AMP combo that costs almost what the PX did.
Unfortunately, all of my above statements apply only when noise cancelling is disabled, which leads to the next category

Noise Cancelling 4/10: unfortunately, from my experience so far, the noise cancelling functionality has a rather large, and detrimental, affect on the sound quality. Enabling noise cancelling seems to compress the soundstage to the extreme, making the entire thing sound somewhat muffled and closed in, almost like listening to your music while sitting in a big padded box. It seems to be especially bad at the ends of the spectrum, reducing the clarity of both highs and lows much more than the midrange. This effect seems to scale with the severity of the noise cancelling, with the "flight" mode being much worse than the "office" one. To make matters worse, I'm not sure that the noise cancelling is actually doing much at all. While admittedly this is the first pair of headphones I've ever owned that had this feature at all, I have briefly tested a friend's pair of Bose QC35 and those were on a whole different level. even on the "flight" mode the PX only seemed to be capable of eliminating steady noises like a running fan or refrigerator, while less predictable noise such as voices were just slightly more muffled than they would be with NC disabled. Between the ineffective outer noise suppression and the detrimental effect on the noise quality I truly don't see why anyone would ever enable this feature. Maybe I'd change my mind if I tried them out on a plane, but for any sort of daily use I'd rather take the passive noise isolation provided by the sealed earcups and leave the active cancellation disabled to keep it from mutilating my audio quality.

Build Quality 10/10: I'm not sure what to say here that hasn't been said already. These things feel FANTASTIC. I'm a big fan of the ballistic nylon texturing across the band and earcups, it feels both durable and quality. The whole thing just feels well built... smooth-rotating earcups, no loose connections, you name it, they just feel good. My only "negative" here is more of a design decision than build quality comment. The ear cup rotation feels backwards to me. If you slip these off your head to your neck I'd expect the earcups to rotate such that the padded cups sit against your collarbone, but that's simply not true. instead they've been designed to rotate outwards on offset "arms" such that the metal arms and ballistic nylon cups sit right on the collarbone... not comfortable. Additionally, this way of rotating makes it so that the headphones have their largest footprint when lying flat on a table... not a big deal except that it makes all of the existing hard-sided cases I have obsolete because they want the headphones to lay flat in a compact form.
I'm having a hard time describing this particular issue, but if you look at the images on their site one of them somewhat displays it:
http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Images/AdminGallery/PX/5-2-px-wireless-headphones-ready-to-travel.jpg
Note that due to the offset point of rotation these would sit MUCH more compact if they rotated the other way so that the ear-cups were facing up in this image. However, they simply won't rotate that direction

Comfort 7/10: If I end up sending these back to B&W this is going to be the primary reason for it. I was honestly hoping these would be more comfortable to wear for extended periods, but so far I'm not thrilled. The main issue here seems to be the clamping force, so I'm really hoping this will improve over time as they break in. However, it's amplified by the second issue... all of the padding feels too stiff, as if priority was put into making everything keep their sculpted shape to maintain the profile rather than making them softer so they conform to the head. This issue applies to both the earcups and headband padding. Once again, hoping this improves with time. I also found my ears heating up and sweating much more often/faster than I find to happen with my PM-3, or the ATH-M50X they replaced. In all honesty this could just be a symptom of my first 2 complaints over comfort. That being said, it's not like these feel like torture devices or would be unwearable for hours at a time, I just find them to be noticeably less comfortable than my current daily drivers.

Other/Features 8/10: For the most part these headphones really hit the feature list I was waiting on. Bluetooth 4+ with support for AptX and AptX HD, long battery life, great sound quality. The additional gimmicks are where the points off came from. The smart pause part somewhat works for the most part, but I find it to be more annoying than convenient. I actually wish the settings for this weren't so binary as to be on/off. I actually really like the feature that pauses if I take them off entirely to put around my neck, but the single earcup lift-to-pause is downright obnoxious to the point that I may disable the feature entirely. When I'm adjusting the headphones to get a bit more comfortable (which I need to do somewhat often due to some comfort issues), the auto-pause starts to get really picky and will be constantly pausing/unpausing as I adjust the headphones on my head. This is triggered even if I don't lift up an earcup off my head, but instead just slide them around. This is compounded by the fact that when it's on its pause/unpause machine-gun rhythm, it doesn't always end in the correct state. This has resulted in several times where adjusting the headphones caused my music to end up paused and never resume until I interfered manually. This managed to happen 3 times while I walked around getting ready for work this morning... To make matters worse, tweaking the sensitivity in the app seemed to do exactly nothing. I have a feeling I'll be disabling this functionality entirely.

Overall, these seem like pretty good headphones, but I'm not entirely sold yet. In fact, I left them at home today and brought my PM-3 back to work due primarily to the knowledge that I can wear my Oppos all day in comfort while the PX made my ears sweat and created uncomfortable pressure points within only a few hours. I will continue to use these after work for a few days to see if they get more comfortable as they break in, and will update here if applicable.

(side note, if anyone knows a process for speeding up the break-in of the headband/ear cups I'd love to hear it - if these could just get a bit more comfortable I'd be MUCH happier. I can honestly live without the noise cancelling or the gimmicky auto-pause)
I’m even more confused now - the negative review in PC Magazine said the sound quality deteriorated with NC off, the opposite of Your finding. I realise everything is subjective, however I’ve never seen opinions so polarised as this before - it’s like different products are being reviewed.
 
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