While not the most comfortable headset, the PX’s are luxurious and stylish, with extremely high-quality ANC and sound performance to match.
I was just about to do my Top 5 Active Noise Headphones video, and then you guys been blowing up my comment section asking for me to test these out. These are the Bowers and Wilkins PX’s, their first ever Active Noise Cancelling headphones. As always being transparent, Bowers & Wilkins did send these to me for review, however, my assessment was not altered in any way. Please watch the entire video for both pros and cons. They’re priced at 400 dollars at the time of this review, up there with the Sennheiser PXC 550’s and more expensive than the Bose and Sony headphones, but we’ll see if the performance justifies the premium price tag. As always, I’ll place my affiliate links up above, click on those links to get the most updated pricing in real time – you never know when these things might go on sale.
Going over the physical features, I loved the weave pattern on the headband, and the best part, it’s not just aesthetics, but it’s practical. This material is called Ballistic Nylon and it’s one of the most durable and abrasion resistant fabrics available. Going down the sides, they’re adjustable arms, all-metal construction and they gracefully slide out instead of a ratcheting clicky feel. With my testing, yes, they do stay in place and they don’t adjust while walking. Along those metal arms, the wire is braided and recessed in, extending down to the Ballistic Nylon covered earcups. The closed back headphones have a metal backing with the Bowers and Wilkins logo in a reflective metal. Overall, these things look classy, gorgeous, and props to them for being original in their own way.
Overall quality looks and feels super premium. Doing my stress test, and I’m aware this is overkill, I know you won’t be doing this to your own headphones, but… let me do it so you don’t have to. I’m not trying to break them, but to hear or see if there’s any cracks or creaks, or spot any weak areas. Thankfully, I didn’t notice any on the PX’s, if anything, the headphones stretched a bit because of being reinforced with metal.
Before talking about comfort, take a look at these earcups. These are completely different from anything else I’ve tested. They’re completely hollowed out. My ears do stick out a bit, and when I wear these, my earlobes to outer rim barely touch the inside. You’ll also notice the earpads are very thin. It’s a unique feeling because it doesn’t give you a “cushiony” pillow-like feeling – and I’m aware, there’s no such word as “cushiony” – but… it feels like I’m wearing a glass cup that’s wrapped in supple leather over my ears. Now, does it cause ear sweat, it didn’t for me, but my ears did warm up a bit while wearing these for an hour and on. Also while wearing, minimal sound leakage was present as well. Last but not least, the earcups are magnetized which was awesome, and they’re strong too. Pull them off, and slide them back on – piece of cake.
FIT AND COMFORT
As for comfort, the headband I’ll admit doesn’t feel plush, and because they weigh in at 335grams which is on the heavier side of ANC headphones, there’s slight pressure at the crown of the head. I do feel slight soreness at the top. I would throw some caution in this area, especially for those who are on long commutes or intend on wearing these at the desk for extended hours.
Taking a closer look at the controls. They are for the most part easy to find, giving good feedback to ensure a confident press. Bowers and Wilkins do include a button called Environmental Filter that adjusts the Active Noise Cancelling performance or to turn it off altogether. The perfect example, and I’m going to briefly show you the Bowers and Wilkin’s App, in City mode when you’re walking around, some might prefer to hear the cars or people around them for safety. By pressing the button on PX’s, you can switch to City mode which turns on the microphones and pumps your environmental noises into your headphones… If you want the opposite, essentially to shut out the world, you can switch it over to Flight mode which attempts to block out as much as ANC headphones can. But more on my performance later.
Getting back to the physical headphones, pausing and going back on songs were straightforward with double to triple clicks on the multi-function button. Siri and Google Assistance also works by holding it down. A 3.5mm port is offered for wired connections and last, I’m happy to say, these are my first ever headphones that I’ve tested that comes with USB Type C. Finally I’ve been waiting for this and mentioning this for quite some time!
Bowers and Wilkins claim up to 3 hours to recharge from a dead battery to full. I was able to do it in an hour and 25 minutes. As for battery life, they’re claiming up to 22 hrs of use which is very good. With my testing at 50% volume from full to dead, I was able to get 25 hours and 27 minutes to be precise. The only issue I’ve encountered, I wished they included a better battery level indicator. The lights on the right earcup are very small, and the color-coded lights give an approximation. Having voice prompts within the headphones would have been great but we don’t get it. The best thing you can do and the most precise, you gotta whip out the phone and look at their sparse app.
Touching base on one of Bowers and Wilkin’s high tech features, the PX’s have a proximity sensor. When you lift up one earcup or take the headphones off, your music automatically pauses. When you put them back on, the music resumes. Lifting one earcup worked each time, but taking them off and placing them around my neck was finicky. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Either or, it’s a neat feature when it does work and similar to Sennheisers PXC550’s or Sony’s 1000x hand over earcup method.
Finishing up the minor details, I did test these with phone calls. My voice comes across pretty clean, not 100% but surely reasonable. Like most other headphones or headsets, they still pick up background environmental noises.
I tested Bluetooth range and although this has Bluetooth 4.1, it’s still very very good. With a straight line of sight, I was able to get 240 linear feet with the iPhone X that I’m currently testing… I did another test but inside the office building and was able to achieve 110 ft with the same phone and with the Pixel XL, I managed to get 100 feet, and that’s with the signal going through three walls. The PX’s has been the best performing Bluetooth headset I’ve tested to date. Also as a side note, you can have up to 8 devices paired with the PX’s, though there’s no voice prompts to tell you which device it’s connected to.
Last but not least before I demo the Active Noise Cancelling performance, I gotta talk about their carrying case. This thing looks fancy as hell. There’s no structural support for protection, but this does protect from scuffs and such with style. I’m not sure what the materials are, I couldn’t find it with a brief search, but it feels like Alcantara. Inside there’s a little pouch to hold your wires and last… the cover is magnetized to stay closed. This is much better than any other neoprene or silk-like bag with drawstrings that I’ve seen on many headphones in the past. The only true critique, the bag does collect some dust over time.
ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLATION
Alright, folks… Let’s do a quick Active Noise Cancelling review. With my experience in person, they did a very darn good job. I barely experienced any air cabin pressure with the PX’s. I know some may encounter that. And there’s minor white noise heard when ANC is on, but with music going, I can’t hear it at all. With ANC turned on to maximum, much of ambient air to ambient noises around me were able to be muted or muffled, and background music was suppressed by a good bit. Like most ANC headphones, they don’t block out everything, but while walking outdoors to sitting in my studio with others working around me, I barely hear the keys of my coworkers clicking, most of their movements of them rustling around are gone. Voices in the food court or the studio were also reduced but with most active noise cancelling headphones, they can only do so much. Overall, from my experience, these performed very well, I can hear the noise cancelling working and this might be a shocker, they did perform slightly better than the Bose QC35ii’s. If you guys want that comparison head to head video, add me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and let me know personally. Send me a message so I know.
The first thing you’ll notice when you fire these up is the spacial audio sound. They’re amazing in that regard. Left and right audio channels, to vocals being heard in the forefront to hearing instruments off in the distance, to hearing the live crowd around you when you’re listening to live concerts. The headphones were really able to accentuate the direction, depth, and width of the music. It does amazing in this regard.
They’re also loud and the majority of the time I’m listening around 60 maybe 65% volume while my Bose QC35ii’s, which I love, I’m playing around 75% to 80% for the same experience.
As for bass, Bowers and Wilkins went with very balanced audio signature from my experience. When I constantly took these on and off and swapped them for my Bose QC35ii’s, they sounded very close to each other. They’re not bassy, giving off a much more natural and neutral tone. Bass is not overpowering, but enough for listening across most genres. I can see those who focus on accuracy and a natural sounding signature appreciating these headphones. These will shine for classical, rock, music strong in vocals. Depending on your preference, genre’s of Pop and EDM will surely be enjoyed while those listening to Hip-hop and valuing bass, they’re going to have to look elsewhere. Watch my Sony WH1000x review for the alternative.
Focusing on the mid-range, the consistency with being clear, detailed and full of resolution are some of the characteristics I can give. The reproduction of instruments was accurate and very detailed. Vocal performance wasn’t recessed but wasn’t very forward either. If you’re listening to quality audio files, APTX-HD is also supported and the detail does come through.
On the top end, the PX’s finished out the spectrum with precision and nuance. With such a focus on the other two ranges. When listening to a busy-sounding song with a lot of synthesizers, harmonics, and cymbal crashes, there was never any tinging or ear-ringing that would lead to listening fatigue.
Overall, the Bowers & Wilkins PX’s are a high-end option for wireless ANC headphones. They sounded amazing and they looked amazing in my opinion. The ANC performed great, and I’ll admit, their app experience was very sparse, and indeed, they’re not as high-tech as the Sennheiser PXC550’s or Sony WH1000’s, but I’ve always thought of those as extra bonuses. That’s why I love my Bose QC35’s equal to the Sony 1000x.
The only big downfalls that you should consider and I wished they did better on: I needed voice prompts for battery life and which devices I’m paired to, and lastly, the comfort was not there for long-term wearing. I’ll leave the rest up to you guys. Please comment down below and let me know what you think. And folks, if you read this far, please give me some Fire Emoji’s in the comment section to help support mt work. Again, I’m Jimmy with JimsReviewRoom, we’re here to help you make that purchase decision. You guys take care and I’ll see you on the next one.
[table id=1 hide_columns=”all” show_columns=”a,b,m,h,o” /] Specs from manufacturer. If incorrect, please contact us.