English audio specialist Bowers & Wilkins renews its reference to wireless headphones and at the same time presents it with a special edition that celebrates a secret agent appointed to the crown …
Our detailed dealings
After experiencing a very convincing Px7 that was lauded by our lab experts, Bowers & Wilkins is back in business with a new model of wireless headphones. Admittedly, the market is saturated, but B&W obliged, we’re talking about the end. Headphones with advanced features are for those who are looking for exceptional sound…and have deep pockets!
Getting started with a special edition Px8 007 that was spotted during a press trip to London organized by the brand.
Design and ergonomics
The Px8 is a fairly sober-looking helmet, but its close study reveals fascinating details. A fortiori on this special 007 edition that commemorates 60 years of James Bond with a different (and only aesthetic) aesthetic detail.
These closed on-ear headphones are, you guessed it, at their price (€699 for the standard model, €799 for the 007 version), in direct competition with Apple’s AirPods Max. However, the Bowers & Wilkins model is 320 grams lighter. In the same range, the newly minted Focal Bathys weighs 350 grams.
The attention to detail of the English brand commands respect. The headband of the headphones has a black leather covered micro-foam that guarantees excellent wearing comfort – even during long sessions. The same note at the level of headphones, whose cushions (also made of leather) fit the ears perfectly and accompany us for hours.
Exquisite 007 detail: The headphones’ inner fabric takes on the iconic “pistol barrel” aesthetic in the movie credits James Bond. There is also a 007 logo at the top of the right earcup, and this model sports the (unique) midnight blue color that is meant to represent the color of Sean Connery’s costume in Doctor no. In its “classic” version, the Px8 is available in black or beige.
For the rest, this high-end speaker differs from models such as the Sony WH-1000XM5 or Sennheiser Momentum 4 in its use of metal, which brings a premium touch to the whole.
Bowers & Wilkins touch control point, but no fewer than five keys. On the right side, from top to bottom, is the power button, which, fixed in the upper position, allows Bluetooth pairing. Below, a button that increases the volume. Then there’s the multifunction button to pick up a call, start or stop music, or skip to the next track. Finally, the last button allows you to lower the volume.
On the left side, a single button switches the headphones between Active Noise Reduction (ANC), Transparency mode, or either.
Note that there is no 3.5mm jack input on the Bowers & Wilkins Px8. To enjoy wired audio, you will need to use the USB-C to 3.5mm jack cable provided in the box. The USB-C port is located below the right earcup and is also used to charge the device.
Of course, we wouldn’t risk a detailed Bowers & Wilkins Px8 analysis without lab measurements to back up our observations. Therefore, we will confine ourselves to impressions … enthusiasts, to put it mildly!
Of the various headphones we’ve worn this year, the Px8 seems to us to be the one that offers the most respectable sound for the originals. And this is in very different styles. We tested it on the Philharmonic soundtrack during our press trip, but also on hip-hop, pop, electro or metal. Each time, we’ve been amazed at the very well-balanced sound reproduction. All instruments are quite audible and well defined. There is no weakness that comes to tear us frowning and make us want to put on a helmet we feel more comfortable with.
One caveat, however, is that the Px8 seems to give its best once the volume is set to more than 50%. For extended listening, this is totally not recommended. Below that limit, the bass is a bit too timid for our taste. At least when you compare the headphones directly to, say, the AirPods Max — it’s quite bassy. As is often the case with sound, this too is a matter of preference.
Isolation and disorder
They may not be the most effective noise-canceling headphones on the market, but this model from Bowers & Wilkins works well on public transport to focus on its music. Especially if, as recommended above, we stick to a volume in excess of 50%.
Transparency mode is a bit disappointing, especially if you come from AirPods Max or second-generation AirPods Pro. Most of the time, you will simply prefer to remove the headset to have an understandable conversation with someone. Besides, it’s probably more polite.
On the disturbance side, nothing to report. Even in a quiet office, with peppy music playing at 60% volume, the leaks don’t allow our colleagues to enjoy any tunes that might leak from the converters.
Px8 is of course compatible with both wired and bluetooth on all devices that support this protocol. The headphones also support aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, aptX, AAC and SBC codecs.
Multipoint, the Px8 accepts two connections, so it can quickly switch from one device to another (just select it from the list of Bluetooth devices already paired).
Optionally, the Bowers & Wilkins Music app lets you access the equalizer, tweak the home button shortcut, and connect audio streaming services (Qobuz, Tidal, and Deezer at the moment) to find all your music in one place. Other platforms will follow, the manufacturer announces.
Finally, in terms of autonomy, the Bowers & Wilkins headset is not the best student in the class, but certainly not the worst either. With a declared (and notable) autonomy of around thirty hours of listening time with ANC, the Px8 is in the middle of a group of products that now allow from 20 to 60 hours of endurance on a single charge.