Note: This is a review of the Bowers & Wilkins P7 (wired) and not the wireless version.
Bowers & Wilkins is a brand that we always heard about but didn’t manage to try out because of the price. Luckily, we were able to get our dingy hands on a P7, courtesy of our generous colleague.
Costing about the same price as a Bose QuietComfort 35, how does it measure up as a premium headphone? Let’s find out.
Made from mostly aluminum and sheep’s leather, the P7 is a well-crafted piece of headphone. With the brushed Bowers & Wilkins logo on the plate of the ear cups, the sleekness extends all the way to the headphone sliders.
The P7 feels really sturdy. Combined with the folding hinge design, the headphone becomes more portable. We even feel safe carrying the P7 around without the carry case.
Although the cable is only 1.2m long, we are fine with it since we used the P7 for mainly desktop use. We will like to note that although the cable is detachable, it will be hard to find an aftermarket cable that can fit into the groove.
The ear pads are magnetically attached to the plate of the ear cups and are removable. Just like the cable situation, you are pretty much bounded by the proprietary design for replacement. The magnetic force is quite strong but there was no easy way for us to detach it. In the end, we had to use our nails to pry it open. This runs the risk of scratching the soft leather ear pads.
Comfort & Fit
Although it looks bulky, it only weighs about 290g and is slightly heavier than the Bose QC 35. The large, cushy ear cups is comfortable and fits our ears well. In contrast to the earcups, the headband is kind of stiff . This creates this slight pressure on the top of the head. We also find the clamp of the P7 to be slightly stronger than what we normally find comfortable.
Info: In our opinion, the Bose QC 35 is a more comfortable headphone than the P7. With the P7, we felt the need to remove the headphone every few hours.
Due to its looks, people have a misconception that the P7
With a sensitivity of 111 dB/V and a low impedance of 22 ohms, the P7 can be driven by most mobile devices to a loudness level of 110 DBSPL.
Try our Headphone power calculator to check if your audio source are powering your headphone effectively.
The P7 has great passive noise isolation with its snug fit. Once the music kicks in at around quarter of the max volume, most external sound are already muted. Kick up the volume to half of the max volume and you are in your own blissful world.
With the great seal from the ear pads, you will struggle to hear any sound leakages from the P7. Even at a deafening three quarter of the max volume, we failed to pick up any audible sound from the outside of the headphone.
The P7 has a huge soundstage. Listening to Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack on the P7 feels really immersive and got our head nodding very quickly.
With Save the World by Swedish House Mafia, the bass response is decent without sounding boomy. The mid bass is present but still lack the depth and punchiness that we like. Despite that, the P7 did not disappoint with the speed of the bass response. In Paradise Circus – Gui Boratto Remix by Massive Attack, the tight and fast bass shine in its central rhythmic role and does not muddy the mids. In fact, the mids and bass have great harmony without overwhelming one another.
As usual, we tested the sub bass response with Intro by Yoshi Horikawa and the P7 rewarded us with the sweet rumble that we were looking for.
The mids are clear and smooth. The vocals on Money Trees by Kendrick Lamar sounds amazing and crisp. It was so good that we ran this song through the P7 a few more times.
We feel the P7 also have just the right amount of treble. It sparkles without sibiliance and does not fatigue the ears. Harder Better Faster Stronger by Daft Punk sounded excellent on the P7.
Our current favorite test for treble performance is the 2:30 – 2:45 segment of Rude by Daniel Jang. It handles the electronic distortion of the violin with control and not by muffling it.
Overall, we were very impressed with the sound quality of the P7. Despite lacking the depth of the bass response that we were looking for, we still enjoyed bass-heavy songs with it.
The mid and treble response was top-notch. We were pleased with how it elegantly controls upper frequency of treble without sibilance. Vocals in rap and R&B songs sound lush and full-bodied on it.
The only issue we have is the comfort. The clamping force and the stiff headband does cause us some amount of distress after wearing for a long period (> 2 hrs).
- Great Build Quality
- Sturdy enough to be carried around without carry case
- Immersive vocal performance
- Wide soundstage
- Impressive sound quality
- Even though ear pads and cable are replaceable, it will be hard to find aftermarket replacements due to its proprietary design.
- Not comfortable to be worn for long period of usage