Wi-fi noise-cancelling headphones really feel like the head of headphone expertise. It’s right here that you just’ll discover all the main manufacturers actually flexing their audio muscle mass.
Whether or not it’s Bose with the QC35, Sony with the MDR-1000X, or Sennheiser with its Momentum Wireless, all the massive gamers have a excessive tech pair of cans to take a seat on the high of their ranges.
All the massive gamers, that’s, apart from Bowers and Wilkins. Though the speaker firm has put out a lot of wonderful pairs of headphones in recent times, thus far it hasn’t put out any noise-cancelling headphones to compete with its rivals flagships.
The newly unveiled Bowers and Wilkins PX Wi-fi ($400 / £330) are therefore an necessary pair of headphones for the corporate. That is the highest finish of its mainstream vary, (with the P9 Signature as its most unique, premium pair), and it’s the place it will get to indicate off the very best of its tech.
In these phrases, the PX Wi-fi are an enormous success. The headline function, the noise-cancellation, works impressively properly, and the headphones are additionally full of a bunch of different options that we hope develop into business requirements similar to sensing once they’re off your head and disconnecting robotically.
However, basically, this performance seems to have result in a compromise in B&W’s traditional premium sound, which suggests the PX Wi-fi aren’t fairly nearly as good sounding because the competitors at this value level.
It’s not simply internally that the PX Wi-fi are completely different from what the corporate has performed earlier than – your entire design language of the headphones is totally completely different.
Gone is the black leather-based and silver accenting that has develop into the corporate’s signature look, and it’s been changed by a extra matte end that’s a little bit extra plastic in look (which is a disgrace since, we hasten so as to add, they nonetheless function plenty of steel of their building).
The PX Wi-fi can be found in two shade schemes, ‘House Gray’ or ‘Smooth Gold’, and we expect the design fits the latter way more than the previous. The gray shade scheme is perhaps understated, nevertheless it feels a little bit drab in comparison with the corporate’s earlier efforts.
Fortunately whereas the look may look a little bit extra understated, the construct high quality is something however, with a chunky-yet-sleek building that feels sturdy within the hand and on the top.
The feature-set of the headphones is a master-class in overlaying all of the bases of a contemporary pair of headphones. Charging by USB-C? Verify. A non-proprietary three.5mm jack? Verify. A whole set of bodily button controls? Verify. A good 22 hours of battery life? Verify. Bluetooth aptX HD assist? Verify.
At this level, each pair of wi-fi noise-cancelling headphones ought to embrace this customary guidelines of options. They’re small touches, however they’ll go an extended solution to making the headphones as simple to make use of as potential.
Extra spectacular is the power of the headphones to grasp while you’re utilizing them and while you’re not. After an preliminary pairing course of you’ll be capable of flip the headphones on and off just by taking them on and off. You’ll be able to even pause them by lifting simply one of many earcups off your ear.
It’s an excellent function, and undoubtedly lets you maximise the headphones’ battery life since there’s no probability of you taking them off and forgetting to show them off.
Often the expertise can misfire. There have been a few moments after we paused our music with the headphones nonetheless on our head, just for it to renew taking part in after a few seconds in confusion, however these issues had been few and much between, and it’s potential to vary the sensitivity of the performance within the companion app.
Contemplating it’s Bowers and Wilkins’ first try at noise-cancellation, it’s maybe stunning that this performance is essentially the most spectacular a part of the headphones.
We tried the PX Wi-fi on a loud subway practice throughout rush hour utilizing their default (ie ‘Flight’) noise-cancellation settings they usually carried out admirably, with a degree of cancellation that’s up there with the likes of Bose and Sony.
For individuals who need a extra granular degree of management, a companion app lets you select between three completely different noise-cancelling modes, with every designed to cancel and let by way of sure frequencies greater than others.
‘Metropolis’, for instance, is designed to let by way of visitors noise with the intention to stroll the streets whereas safely sporting the headphones, whereas ‘Workplace’ lets by way of higher-frequency voices so colleagues can discuss to you. Lastly, ‘Flight’ is focussed on eliminating the low rumble of a airplane’s engines.
For essentially the most half we had been content material to go away the headphones set on ‘Flight’, as this appeared to cancel out essentially the most quantity of noise total. ‘Metropolis’ was useful for often utilizing the headphones whereas strolling out and about, however we left ‘Workplace’ alone, just because the sound of our colleagues is strictly what we’re making an attempt to keep away from. You mileage might, nonetheless, differ.
Sound high quality
We love the performance of the Bower and Wilkins PX Wi-fi, and its noise-cancellation simply competes with the established gamers, however its sound high quality doesn't fairly hit the identical highs as we've come to count on from B&W.
The most important downside is the mids and trebles, which have a fuzziness to them meaning complicated soundstages can find yourself feeling a little bit squashed.
Hearken to the likes of Radio Protector by 65daysofstatic and when the music actually will get going the headphones make the sound really feel messier and noisier than it ought to be.
General this results in a lack of element that, whereas not the worst we've ever skilled, is a step behind what we’d have hoped for at this value level.
On the bassier finish of the spectrum the PX Wi-fi honest an excellent deal higher. Play Freeze Me by Demise from Above 1979 and its driving bass line is current in spades. It's tight, it's punchy, and its given the house to essentially maintain the music collectively.
It feels odd to complain an excessive amount of concerning the sound high quality of the PX Wi-fi, however its an indication of simply how mainstream noise-cancellation expertise has develop into that at this value level we're in a position to count on a premium sound high quality along with all the things else the headphones provide.
Functionally, the PX Wi-fi are an ideal pair of headphones. Their match is snug, their noise-cancellation is nice, and their spectacular capacity to robotically activate and off as acceptable ought to imply that you just're in a position to squeeze each drop out of their affordable battery life.
However, of their noble effort to supply as a lot performance as potential, sound high quality has sadly been compromised. It's not that it's dangerous, however in 2017 you’ll be able to and may count on extra from a premium-priced pair of headphones, even when they do come geared up with noise-cancellation.
We now reside in a world the place a pair of headphones such because the AKG N60AC Wi-fi can come out at a mid-range value level whereas providing a lot the identical performance of the PX Wi-fi.
So, finally, the Bowers and Wilkins PX Wi-fi are an excellent pair of headphones, however they're asking value is just a bit increased than you'd count on contemplating their sound high quality.
- For our high picks, try our information to the best wireless headphones and the best noise-cancelling headphones.
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