Bowers & Wilkins PX Review
Price when reviewed: £329
When one thinks of noise-cancelling, wireless headphones Bowers & Wilkins are not the brand that comes to mind. This is the legendary hi-fi speaker producer's first foray into a market currently dominated by Bose and Sony. However, this is no reason to discount their efforts as these headphones are nearly perfect. If you are looking for brilliant sounding headphones will noise cancelling thrown in look no further.
In classic B&W fashion the design is second to none. In terms of aesthetics and quality these headphones beat their main competitors, the Bose QC35 and the Sony 1000xm2, hands down. The padding is lined in leather (can be a little uncomfortable at first until it is broken in) while the outside is lined in ballistic nylon as well as some aluminium elements. These headphones are tough.
The ear cup design is similarly strong. They are not circular in shape like some headphones which creates a much better seal around the ear. This means that even without noise cancelling switched on a lot of sound is already cut out. The buttons are also well made and responsive, the play/pause/multifunction button is also raised slightly so it can be found easily and not mistaken for a volume control.
Colour wise there is a choice between "space grey" and "soft gold", personally I went for space grey as the soft gold is a little more feminine. Below are the B&W PX then the Bose and finally the Sony, what is clear is how much more premium the B&W look. There is no plastic to be seen unlike the Bose and they have a far more elegant look compared to the Sony.
The PX's incorporate a feature first used in B&W P9 headphones which is to angle the drivers (can be seen below). Through doing this the 40mm drivers create a more convincing soundstage. The detail on the headphones is ridiculous. Sampha's vocals can fail to properly come across on some headphones but here there is no issue. There is definitely a sense of space and air in the soundstage which is brilliant in that it allows each instrument to be picked out.
Now that most wireless headphones sound good more emphasis is being placed upon their user experience. For example, Bose recently added google assistant and Google's Pixel Buds translate in 'real time'. B&W's flagship is a network of sensors which allows the headphones to determine whether they are being worn or not. In theory this means they switch on/off independently and even pause the music when you life an ear cup to talk to someone. However, they are not perfect. You can adjust the sensitivity in the B&W app and while they worked 80% of the time I found they paused accidentally a lot when I was walking so I turned them off (which you can also do in the B&W app).
B&W created their own noise cancelling algorithm thinking they could do it better than the competition. While it is very good, especially at cutting out plane and car engine noise, it is slightly worse than Bose and Sony's offerings. The B&W app also also you to customise the level of noise cancellation or amplification and switch between three defaults (flight, office and city). This is very useful especially for listening to music on the tube as you are able to amplify the announcements so you are still able to hear them through the music.
Battery life is good at 22 hours. While Sony's 1000MHX2 can go for 30 hours this is more than enough. The headphones also come with a good quality aux cable, although the headphones do need to be switched on to play music through them.
Lifestyle - there may be better options for you
As brilliant as these headphones are they are not going to be suited to all activities. If you are buying headphones to use in the gym or with noise cancellation solely in mind there are better options (Bose). To that end our friends over at Reviews.com have compiled a much more comprehensive list that covers every possible lifestyle and the best choice for that, you can check it our here.
If sound quality and design is more important to you than noise cancellation and gimmicky features then these are the best headphones out there currently. While the noise cancellation is not the best it is still very good and while they are heavier than their competitors that is just a consequence of these headphones being built out of sturdier materials. They are certaintly expensive but are abosolutely worth it.