That’s one thing to strike a blow with the eldest child on the playground. It is something completely different to try to do it on your own terms. But with its new Px7 S2 wireless over-ear headphones, Bowers & Wilkins have basically taken up with Sony and asked if the Japanese giant liked some or not. Highlighted? Reckless? A bit of both?
A few years ago, Bowers & Wilkins launched their original Px7 wireless noise-canceling on-ear headphones and priced them to meet the established class leader, Sony’s WH-1000XM4, directly. And by playing on its legacy as well as on its strengths, Bowers & Wilkins delivered a pair of headphones that were able to compete where the basics of sound quality were concerned. Yes, they were a bit chintzy, a little confident in appearance, but they had it where it spoke, and they were a valid sound-focused alternative to the all-singing, all-dancing, all-overcoming Sony option.
Last month, Sony launched its WH-1000XM5. The price has increased a bit, the weight is a bit down, the list of features and functionality remains as long as your arm. And then here comes Bowers & Wilkins with a new model. The price is a bit up, the weight is a bit down, the emphasis on sound quality and quite self-conscious “sophistication” remains exactly the same.
So what this means for the exterior of the Px7 S2 is a look that is both premium and understated, delivered by implementing high quality and tactile materials. At least that’s right with our black review test. The $ 399 (£ 379) Px7 S2 is also available in gray or blue, but we would be surprised if these finishes undermine the impression of quality.
A combination of soft, supple, memory-foam-filled leather at the contact points, flawlessly applied fabric on the outer parts of the headband and ear cups, high-quality and silent plastic for arms and hinges and a sky-high overall. build standard helps the Px7 S2 to look and feel great. Even the case where they travel feels a cut above the norm.
Comfortable, fast charging boxes
Bowers & Wilkins have fine-tuned the headband suspension arrangement and reassessed the clamping power in an attempt to make these headphones more comfortable than the model they replace. And assisted by shaving a percentage point of the weight (307 g against the 310 g of the old Px7), it has actually worked. The Px7 S2 is no burden to wear and they remain comfortable even through long listening sessions. It helps the ear pads resist returning your own body heat to the sides of your head for impressively long.
There have also been changes on the inside. But what has not changed is Bowers & Wilkins’ decision that these headphones are the choice for customers who value sound quality higher than e.g. adaptive active noise reduction. The Px7 S2 uses Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity and is compatible with SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive codecs – so 24-bit high resolution audio quality is available. The sound itself is provided by a pair of 40mm full-range, frikant dynamic drivers. This is a brand new bio-cellulose design with lower overall harmonic distortion rates than the driver it replaces.