Bowers & Wilkins made it apparent that it already had a more premium product that was almost ready for prime time when it unveiled its Px7 S2 headphones last year. The Px8 was delivered three months later. Although the Px8 looks identical to its predecessor, Bowers & Wilkins used more opulent materials to create these headphones and managed to enhance the already excellent sound quality. But the price of the improvements is high: the Px8 costs $699, which is $300 more than the Px7 S2.
The Px8 first resembles the Px7 S2 Bowers & Wilkins unveiled the previous year almost exactly. Yet when you look closely, you can see the differences. The Px8 has a somewhat more upscale appearance thanks to the replacement of the woven cloth on the headband and ear cups with soft leather. The company’s wordmark, which is located on the outermost panel of the earcups, is now metal rather than plastic. Also, the cast aluminum headband slider and arms add to the luxury appearance.
The difference in materials is presumably (at least largely) to blame for the Px8’s 13-gram weight increase over the Px7 S2 in comparison. Memory foam ear cushions make things comfortable, but if you compare them side by side, you can feel the added weight. Because of this, I give the S2 a little advantage if you require something to wear for a number of hours at a time. I started to notice the extra weight and the rings around the ear cups after a flight from Vegas to Atlanta this month.
The Px8’s on-board controls are still physical buttons and are situated exactly where they were on the Px7 S2. A power/pairing slider is located to the right of three volume, playback, and call buttons. One button switches between active noise cancellation (ANC), transparency mode, and both off over on the left. Even while some businesses have abandoned buttons in favor of touch screens, they aren’t always trustworthy, but what Bowers & Wilkins provides here unquestionably does the task.
Like with the Px8’s predecessors, the Bowers & Wilkins Music app offers you access to all of the device’s settings. There is a current battery status indicator and a noise mode selection on the main screen (ANC, Pass-through and off). As the Px8 supports multipoint Bluetooth with two devices, connections may also be managed here. Also included on that initial screen are media controls (if you link compatible services), tone settings, a quick start guide, and product support.
The battery life % and noise mode (or environmental control, as the business refers to it) are clearly shown once more when you delve deeper into the options area. There are also sliders for the treble and bass that allow for very simple EQ adjustments. There are just these two variables left for you to modify as the manufacturer hasn’t given any defaults. Just above the choice to reassign the Quick Action button on the left earcup, the ability to manage connections is duplicated in this location as well. It alternates between sound modes by default. But if you’d want, you may command it to call a voice assistant.
The final two noteworthy items relate to power management. The first feature provided by Bowers & Wilkins is an automated standby mode that switches to a low power mode after 15 minutes of inactivity. You have the option to turn it off. The wear sensor for automatic pausing may be turned on or off as the second tool. The manufacturer claims that when you lift one earcup, the audio should halt, however that isn’t always the case. Bowers & Wilkins has three sensitivity settings (low, medium, and high) to assist you fine-tune it, but none of them fix the Px8’s long pause when you remove an ear cup or take them off your head, just like the Px7 S2. This still needs improvement, if only to improve how quickly audio restarts after a pause.
Some of the best-sounding headphones we’ve ever examined are the Px8. They are enjoyable to listen to because to Bowers & Wilkins’ combination of crystal-clear audio and an expansive soundstage. Unfortunately, they fall short in the comfort sector, and one fundamental aspect still need improvement. The company’s Px7 S2 is a better choice for most consumers due to its $699 pricing.
Sound quality is one significant area where the Px8 and Px7 S2 diverge. The former has two identical-sized carbon units, whilst the latter has two 40mm bio cellulose drives. I’ll admit that I don’t know enough about headphone design to be able to tell you which is technically superior, but I do know that the Px8 sounds amazing. Although the Px7 S2 already had excellent audio quality, Bowers & Wilkins manages to improve upon it with this model.
No of the genre, the sound profile has a warmth that begs you to sit and listen for a while. Even the most disorganized metal is kept in perfect order by the audio’s nearly incredible clarity, which lets you distinguish individual instruments. And in the example of Underoath’s Voyuerist, the supporting synth is clear to hear even when it is quite subdued or playing behind the complete band’s intense performance. It’s astounding how much detail the Px8 brings to bluegrass and jazz tunes, giving you the impression that you were present when Béla Fleck recorded My Bluegrass Heart. Not only are there violin, mandolin, bass, guitar, and banjo. When they encircle you, you can hear the subtlety in each one’s tone.
When it comes to the battery life of their headphones, Bowers & Wilkins has a history of making unfulfilled promises. On the Px8, the manufacturer routinely does far better than the reported figure. Similar to the Px7 S2, this model had 40% of its tank full after 30 hours, according to the manufacturer’s official rating. And yes, that includes using active noise cancellation for several days while also occasionally using the transparency option for calls. The Px8 appears to be slightly more efficient than its more cheap sister – or maybe has a little bigger battery – since there remained 33 percent remaining after 30 hours on the Px7 S2.
A quick-charge option that provides you seven hours of listening time in 15 minutes has been added by the firm. While I use the Px8 for a few hours each day, I only charge it once a week because to the well over 30 hours of ANC usage that it offers. The battery life here compares well to the greatest noise-canceling headphones currently available.
The Px8 wireless noise-canceling headphones cost $699, making them the priciest I’ve tested. Even the most expensive model from Master & Dynamic is $100 cheaper (the MW75). To get into this, you have to genuinely enjoy what Bowers & Wilkins is putting down. In other words, there are excellent alternatives that cost less, some of which have greater functionality. Actually, I’d say the $399 Px7 S2 from the manufacturer themselves offers greater value.
Although the Px7 S2 may not have the premium appearance of the Px8, it does feature superb sound quality, reliable ANC function, and longer battery life than expected. The less expensive model sounds warm, crisp, and clear and is more pleasant to wear for extended periods of time. The Px7 S2 offers every feature you get with the Px8 except for the improvement in overall sound quality and that polished look, and it costs a lot less.
With a large list of useful functions on the side, Sony’s WH-1000XM5 is still the greatest option available at this time, mostly for the combination of music and noise-canceling performance. The M5’s ability to change sound modes automatically based on your location or activity and the Speak-to-Chat feature, which pauses the music when you start speaking, are the two most prominent features. Simply told, no other firm packs in nearly as much as Sony does.