Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 audiophile wireless headphones ($399) (buy at Amazon) (Series 2) wireless noise-canceling headphones are the second iteration of the company’s best over-the-ear cans. The original version of the Px7 was my reference travel headphone for years. (Sadly the pair died a miserable, briefcase-oriented death right around the time that I stopped traveling thanks to the rise of COVID-19.) The pair was comfortable, stylish, and lightweight. The headphones sounded pretty damn good and had some very cool features. Now I’m happy to report that the new pair is even better. Way better.
What Makes the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Headphones Special?
- For starters, these headphones come with an upgraded industrial design that makes them even more sexy than the original pair.
- The large 40-millimeter drivers deliver damn close to best-in-class performance for the speaker driver.
- The Px7 S2 is notably more comfortable than the S1 model.
- The fact that you can “pair” easily to more than one device concurrently is something that I haven’t seen in other audiophile headphones in this category, and the feature is very useful. To be clear, both devices don’t play at once. What you get is the ability to quickly switch from one device to another without a lot of fuss.
- The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 comes with a well-made, lightweight travel case to protect your headphones. I don’t use it, but I should.
- The Px7 S2 charges via USB-C, and a USB-C to USB-C cable is included in the package—so charging them with, say, your MacBook Pro (or Air or any modern Apple) is simple.
- There is an optional cable with a 1/8-inch headphone jack tucked in the gorgeous packaging. This allows you to use the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 as a wired pair of headphones when necessary.
- The battery life is impressively long. Fly across the country without a recharge? Check. Fly from Los Angeles to London without a recharge? Check. Forget to charge your headphones for a whole week while on vacation? Now you’re pushing it, but these headphones can play for a long time on a single charge.
- Monitoring the battery life of these headphones was easy via the Bluetooth icon in the upper-right of my screen when using Macintosh OS 12.5 Monterey. Just click and look.
- Pairing the Px7 S2 with your devices is close to idiot-proof: Simply hold the power button down for a few seconds while opening the Settings menu on your device and selecting “Bluetooth.” Done and done.
- The accompanying Bowers & Wilkins app is useful and well designed.
- The headphones have a lot of buttons to control a variety of functions. We covered the power/pairing button already. Below that is a long button that is easy to use by feel: One press controls volume up/down, a double-click pauses the audio, and a triple-click answers phone calls. This mult-click process takes some getting used to, but it’s keeping up with the Joneses in terms of real-world functionality. On the other ear cup, you’ll find a smaller button that adjusts the three-level noise cancelation.
Why Should You Care About the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Audiophile Wireless Headphones?
- We all need headphones in our life for some reason—be it to tune out a noisy roommate or office colleagues, to enjoy media when commuting or travelling, or just for the love of listening to music. And earbuds suck. These Bowers & Wilkins headphones don’t.
- Headphones make a statement, and the statement that the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 makes is that you care about good sound—that you care more about audio performance than the mainstream Beats or Bose guy. That said, if you’re a more traditional auidophile looking for the absolute best performance and don’t care about wireless functionality, you can get better performance from some similarly priced wired-only headphone pairs.
Some Things You Might Not Like About the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2?
- The bass isn’t as low, tight, or defined as you’ll hear on other headphones in the high-end over-the-ear category, and these headphones get smoked by wired, audiophile headphones in the same price range. There are a number of wireless players who do better in the lower register too.
- The headband on my white pair of Px7 S2 headphones got a little dirty after a week-long trip because I jammed them into my Tumi briefcase instead of using the travel case. Don’t be like me: Use the travel case.
Listening to the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Headphones…
At the start of a recent trip to the East Coast, I ended up (like most Americans who are traveling today) quite delayed. The United Airlines Lounge at LAX was pretty quiet that Monday morning, so I didn’t need to turn on noise cancelation when jamming tunes from my new 16-inch MacBook Pro. Once I got on the plane and it took off, I started experimenting with the Px7 S2’s noise cancelation. It didn’t take long to nix levels 1 and 2 and settle on the most powerful noise cancelation setting, which really did minimize the background noise of the Boeing 787-10 “Dreamliner” airplane. The resulting quiet made it much easier for me to relax in the lay-flat seat and chill while watching season six of Better Call Saul (buy at Amazon on any number of formats) on my iPad.
On the studio version of “The Song Remains the Same” from Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy (AIFF 1440, CD quality) (buy at Amazon), the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 was able to present a quiet background for music that allowed Mr. Page’s guitar acrobatics to dance across the soundstage. The twangy 12-string sound in the slower passages had a little bite to it, and I mean that in a good way—the guitar sounded lively, not shrill or bright. The bass was somehwat lean, but I could certainly rock out to it. If I had a lighter, I would have held it up (fill in old-guy joke, as I refuse to hold up my cell phone at concerts, sorry). Hours later, I didn’t feel fatigued in the ear or on the ear by the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2, and I can tell you that other headphones in this class and price range can’t boast that accolade.
On “Hello, Goodbye” from The Beatles 1 album (buy at Amazon) (1440 AIFF, CD quality), the richness of the overdubbed layering was quite enjoyable. The Sir George Martin–produced instrumentation sounded lush. George Harrison’s guitar had a really “tangy” sound through the Px7 S2 as he was ascending through his scales in the chorus. The piano parts (which Paul McCartney played on this highly layered studio track) had a three-dimensionality to them that you might not expect to hear on wireless headphones that cost $400 per pair.
Who Is the Competition for the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Headphones?
In the audiophile world, there’s a growing list of headphones from companies that seasoned AV enthusiasts tend to lust after. I’ve got a pair of HIFIMAN’s Deva Pros (buy at Amazon) on its way to my house, and that’s exciting. Sennheiser’s HD-1 is discontinued, but this pair was my go-to travel headphone for a long time. The new Sennheiser Momentum 4 Bluetooth audiophile Wireless Headphones ($399) (buy at Amazon) are another strong player.
The Bose Noise Canceling 700 headphones ($379 retail) (buy at Amazon) have a fantastic industrial design, and the “gray” version (it looked white to me) stayed clean even when dumped in someone’s travel bag. Bose gets a major beating from the older audiophile community, and the company earned its bad reputation for a lot of reasons. But in 2022, the Bose’s noise cancelation is up there with the best, including higher-end Sony headphones and these Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2.
Bowers & Wilkins also now has their higher end audiophile Px8 headphones which at $699 (buy at Amazon) are even more slick looking and don’t have as many issues in the bass. These headphones get a lot of love from others because of their absolutely gorgeous industrial design. The James Bond of McLaren models have a bit of kitsch factor too if you are so inclined.
There are also good competitors from Sony, B&O, and Denon. I could keep going. We will review them all over time, as this category is a favorite of mine. Stay tuned.
Final Thoughts on the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Wireless Headphones…
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 headphones at $399 (buy at Amazon) headphones look good. They sound good. They are very comfortable. They have lots of cool features. They come in designer colors and make a bit of a tech fashion statement.
My wife tried to commandeer the Px7 S2 headphones the second I opened the box. Then my 10-year-old son (who already has very slick noise-canceling headphones from Pinna Labs) wanted them. They can both wait their turn because Daddy is keeping the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 for himself.
(update: my wife won. She got the Px7s for her work day. My son got my old Sennheiser HD-1s which is not a bad parting prize at 10 years old)