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Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones – a study in contrasts – audioFi.net

Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones – a study in contrasts – audioFi.net

BOWERS & WILKINS PX wi-fi noise-cancelling headphones


+ High quality development, high fashion styling that may age nicely; Bluetooth; up-to-date USB to USB-C charging cable; optionally available commonplace three.5mm cable connectivity; magnetic ear cups for straightforward alternative; lengthy battery lifetime of 22 hours (wi-fi) and 33 hours (wired).
– Weighs a good bit, could also be uncomfortable for bigger heads; common sound high quality with noise-cancelling perform, skinny and boxy sounding with out; stability is amiss and surprisingly less than par with comparable vary cans; you possibly can do higher given the worth level and noise cancellation goals; no choice to run the cans manually with out powering up.
Sound: 6.5/10
Design & options: eight.5/10
Worth: 6/10


“ACOUSTICALLY perfect” was the very first thing that caught my eye as my editor handed me the good-looking white field emblazoned with the well-known Bowers & Wilkins model prime centre. “That’s a big claim,” I uttered as my eye caught his, finger pointed to stated promoting. Just one strategy to discover out got here our simultaneous chime.

The Bowers & Wilkins PX headphone is the corporate’s maiden foray into noise-cancelling. As a idea, lively noise-cancelling (“ANC”) headphones reduce undesirable ambient sounds utilizing lively noise controls by feeding “anti-noise” to neutralise “noise”. When these surrounding sounds are eradicated, any piped in music can then be loved in a close to good, silent surroundings. Hey, what’s to not like?

Some complain the by-product of this answer manifests as a “pulling” or “sucking” impact one feels in the ear when ANC is activated. To a giant extent, totally different manufacturers produce this impact in various levels. Very similar to how some individuals won’t ever put on IEMs as a result of they only don’t like the texture, so it goes with noise-cancellation headphones. Personally, I’ve discovered ANC cans to be fairly rewarding for probably the most half in that I can tolerate most adverse bodily results ought to that endurance be rewarded by equal quantities of listening pleasure. As soon as good high quality music flood my senses, any slight bodily discomfort tends to dissipate.

I’ll make a basic assertion at this juncture: logic would say one of many main explanation why one would need the ANC perform is to be used in comparatively busy environments which suggests you’d be utilizing them whenever you’re out and about. With the PX, although, sporting spectacles while having them on proved problematic. Extra on this in our subsequent part.

SETTING UP
This evaluation comes comparatively late relative to the PX’s introduction to the world and also you’d have the ability to learn up on a plethora of on-line write-ups which already cowl specs, gear and features. So I’ll skip all that and contact on what my fortnight’s expertise are with these cans: you possibly can determine if it helps your choice.

First impressions of the construct are that these headphones are clearly premium in phrases of supplies used and design language. They wouldn’t be out of style a decade from now and doubtless would nonetheless really feel as sturdy due to the sculpted metallic elements used to cocoon any wiring – very intelligent. I appreciated the navy blue and gold color choice which is a distinctive combo in the ocean of silver-on-black cans.

The a part of the headphone that may most certainly fray after some years are often the fake leather-based cups and B&W has them magnetically removable for straightforward alternative. Once more, fairly an ingenious design transfer. The cans include a premium wanting slim black quilted carry pouch which the headphones fold flat in – trendy for strolling round with however not just like the strong carry instances another manufacturers embrace so I wouldn’t advocate chucking them in your check-in baggage with out added safety.

Match sensible, I felt they have been heavy on the top due to all that metallic used which additionally clamped my noggin a little an excessive amount of for consolation… actually (and I’ve a comparatively slender head as it’s). When you put on spectacles, there’s even a caveat that it’ll mess with the seal of the ear-cups and thereby have an effect on the sound high quality… however the truth that should you do attempt to put in your glasses anyway, it’ll be a lot too tight a match.

So right here’s the place I’m going again to my common assertion on the excessive chance you’d be utilizing such headphones if you’re on the transfer: for those who can’t have your glasses on while utilizing the PX, you then gained’t have the ability to use them when strolling or simply working in your laptop computer in a café. As such, portability is restricted. Some critiques and consumer suggestions additionally point out each the tightness of wear and tear and fewer than passable preliminary sound however say each get higher with time. To be truthful, I’ve not had sufficient put on time nor burn-in to remark if that is true.

Pairing the PX to my Samsung Notice eight wanted a few tries with a restart of the telephone thrown in the combination of actions I needed to improvise on. My editor couldn’t succeed together with his S7 Edge (truly, S6 Edge+… and I attempted a few occasions throughout two periods with out success. – Editor). Connections on Apple merchandise proved a smoother affair and as soon as established, hyperlinks have been fairly dependable and constant. Nifty features embrace the “wear sensor” which pauses the music whenever you take the headphones off. Music comes proper again on once you put on the PX once more. My expertise was fairly actual in phrases of sensitivity however some reviewers have discovered it glitchy at occasions. On the wired aspect, you get a normal three.5mm jack-to-jack in addition to a charging cable that’s USB to USB-C (a welcome up-to-date transfer to ditch the micro USB port nonetheless seen in most makes).

What appeared an pointless complication was the necessity to set up the B&W app for the extra nuanced management of the noise-cancellation features. Once you do set up the app, you get to toggle between having the ANC on or off – B&W calls this the “Environment Filter” (EF). However wait… you’ll have to show each your location and Bluetooth on to allow the headphone’s use of the perform. That may be a ache in the event you simply need to get straight into your music with out having to fiddle together with your telephone settings. When switched on, there are three choices for ANC – “Office”, “City” or “Flight” that are primarily the low, medium and excessive noise-cancelling settings respectively.

The app appears to virtually advocate not turning the EF on the place attainable because it says “PX will not actively reduce noise when the EF is off, providing the purest delivery of audio. Leave this off when in low- or no-noise environments for the best sound”. I assumed both method it was a Catch 22. On one hand, partaking the EF tends to color the sound (which sonically is best than having it switched off) however having the ANC turned off outcomes in a very unbalanced audio expertise with hardly any backside and a skinny treble. Extra on this subsequent.

LISTENING
Okay, I’m simply gonna say this upfront – I don’’t get it.

A fast on-line seek for the PX will yield loads of evaluations showering accolades and I’m acutely conscious that what my ears are listening to buck this development. From my check run, outcomes enormously differ with the EF turned on and with out. It’s virtually as if you’re listening to 2 totally different headphones. Sadly each situations don’t get you leaping with pleasure. For pure sonics, many cheaper cans with out the ANC would outperform the PX.

With out the ANC turned on, the bass is essentially lacking and muddled, trebles and mids are ahead however general sound is fairly “boxy” sounding: skinny, missing depth and fullness, usually smallish sounding. Enjoying Mr Massive’s Promise Her The Moon, decrease registers sound muddy as if somebody’s positioned the bassist and drummer a lot additional than the standard distance from remainder of the band; electrical guitars are properly to the forefront as with Eric Martin’s vocals.

So turning on the EF was a no-brainer on the PX. Bass instantly kicked in with the deep notes making their presence felt. Spatially issues opened as much as a wider soundstage. Buddies by Led Zeppelin with its pretty simple instrumentation had higher separation of the guitars, violins, vocals, bongo and preamble. Presentation was detailed and even. Between Flight and Metropolis modes, there wasn’t a discernible distinction in sound.

I discovered the general listening expertise higher with the ANC on however nonetheless moderately common for headphones at this worth level. The mids have been standout however that was relative to the PX’s presentation and never as a result of they have been distinctive. General stability wanted enchancment as one thing felt amiss and the soundstage, though extra open, was nonetheless too slender for my liking. For those who’re questioning which aspect of the fence the PX leans towards, it’ll be a ahead “on-stage-with-the-band” versus the “third-row-from-the-stage” expertise.

I do know the PX are closed cans, however a comparability to the primary iteration of the Beats Studio which I had mendacity round, appeared to have the latter feeling wider and extra ethereal. Issues acquired higher with Led Zep’s Entire Lotta Love because the PX confirmed off its dynamics and timing capabilities. Saving grace sure, however the general traits of the sound are nonetheless amiss. My acid check for noise cancelling cans are all the time which pair you’d seize when dashing out the door to the practice station and these infants wouldn’t be my go-to pair given different decisions on the rack.

THE LAST WORD
“Acoustically perfect”? Not fairly but in my books I’m afraid. Given B&W’s audiophile pedigree, I really feel the PX is a little bit of a missed alternative for what’s a prepared marketplace for followers of the model and people on the lookout for a strong pair of noise-cancelling headphones for journey to take a position in. The idea of noise-cancellation definitely isn’t new and there are requirements aplenty in the actual world to benchmark towards.

On a price-performance ratio, there are different noteworthy choices from AKG, Sony, Bose and Beats that do a higher job on both noise-cancelling and/or audio efficiency, each qualities which the PX sadly nonetheless wants enhancing on to really stand out from the pack.

GEAR
Hardware:  Samsung Observe eight, Home windows Floor Professional four, iPad Air and mini, Chord Mojo / Music sources: Spotify, YouTube, wav information

Worth: US$399
Malaysian worth: RM1,900
Malaysian distributor: The Specialists Group (+603 2282 8881) / Discover your distributor.

THE FLIPSIDE
– by JOHAN KHOO

I’ve been fascinated by noise cancellation for a very long time, so it’s no shock that I’ve experimented with fairly a few totally different noise cancelling headphones – each in ear and over ear (I don’t like on-ear cans as a lot). Counting solely the over ears, I’ve been an proprietor of Bose QC 15, QC25 and QC 35, Sony MDR 1000X and now the B&W PX.

With the Bose, there was all the time the sensation that the sound constancy elements have been by no means the precedence, they usually have been slightly a software – and really efficient ones they have been certainly. In truth maybe a bit too good – because the noise cancellation gave you a little bit of the “my brains have been sucked out of my ears” feeling. However to offer credit score the place it’s due, the sound high quality has improved a lot because the QC15 and my spouse at present enjoys the QC35s. The primary pair which I assumed worthy of being thought-about considerably hi-fi have been the Sony MDR 1000X, which have been cozy, had nice noise cancelling and sounded excellent certainly. My solely slight bug bear was a unfastened bass response and iffy contact controls.

When the B&W PX was introduced, I used to be already predisposed to them as an proprietor of B&W P7s, I used to be eager to see if the straightforward to pay attention to deal with sound can be on supply with all our anticipated wi-fi and noise cancelling mod cons.

At first, the PX appeared to not fulfil this promise – sounding a bit relentless and harsh, however after a few strong days of operating in, the home B&W sound got here to the fore, with larger subtlety of contact, the bass turning into much less apparent and extra fluid. The mids additionally opened up significantly, affording rather more perception into denser mixes.

As an experiment, I additionally ran them in wired mode from a Chord Mojo, and additional positive factors of readability have been available – audible even via the over sampling ADC-DSP-DAC chain constructed into the PXs. Which indicated that as a transducer, it had a lot of potential. AptX HD over Bluetooth mode from an AK KANN additionally labored properly, giving a contact extra refinement over my normal AAC over Bluetooth connection to my iPhone. The USB DAC mode can also be helpful – you possibly can plug in the PX into a USB port utilizing the provided USB to USB-C cable and it exhibits up as a 24/48 succesful DAC – good for desktop Tidal streaming with a PC.

One piece of recommendation from the guide is right although – switching off noise cancellation when environment are quiet affords far more readability and transparency. Make no mistake that though that is probably the most “hi-fi” of noise cancellation headsets I’ve owned, they nonetheless come a distant second to devoted wired headphones resembling my Oppo PM-2s, Grado GH-1 and Focal Elex.

As such I can advocate the PXs, although I need to give the Sonys and Bose the sting on consolation and with one caveat – extra so than with audio system, I discover that preferences for headphones is very subjective and because the People will say: Your Mileage Might Range. Do audition a nicely run-in pair earlier than deciding on any buy.

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