The sound quality that they produce will compete with much more expensive, wired headphones.
Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones
- Wireless design incorporating aptX Bluetooth technology.
- Very good looking design, luxurious leather appointments.
- Innovative folding design with leather carrying case for convenient portability.
- 17-hour battery life.
- Easy connection to Bluetooth enabled devices.
- Comfortable, over-the-ear design utilizing memory foam.
- Wide dynamic range.
- Can also be used in a wired configuration.
- Free 60 day returns.
Bowers & Wilkins has been designing and manufacturing some of the world’s finest and most respected loudspeakers since 1966, and they can also be found in many of the top recording studios as their reference monitors. So to say that they are highly experienced at the high end of audio reproduction would be an understatement. That same level of engineering that goes into the development of their loudspeakers can also be found in their P7 Wireless headphones.
Over-the-ear headphones, closed back
1.6” (40mm) Diameter
10Hz – 20kHz
22 ohms (passive)
323g (11.4 ounces)
370mAh (nominal) Lithium Polymer *Not user replaceable
aptX (Standard Latency), AAC, SBC
USB charging cable, universal cable (for wired application), leather carrying case, thorough instruction manual.
B & W P7 Wireless Headphones MSRP:
Bowers & Wilkins, wireless, headphones, P7, headphone reviews 2017
The P7 Wireless have all of the ingredients to make a world-class headphone: High styling for the fashion and image-conscious listeners, aptX Bluetooth technology, a folding design with an included leather carrying case for portability, over-ear memory foam pads for comfort and to block out sound, and soft leather for a comfortable fit. And with all of this, Bowers & Wilkins also managed to package it in a very affordable price.
All of those features and benefits are perfect for the general consumer, but can they combine all of this AND high quality sound to satisfy the audiophile in the same, affordable package?
Before I get into the details of the P7 Wireless Headphones, let me talk a bit about my experiences with headphones, and what my mindset was before starting this review process. Let me admit this right off of the bat…I am a wired headphone kind of guy. I like to extract as much perfect audio reproduction qualities that I can when I listen to headphones, and have invested considerably into my hobby. My cable option alone on my Lawton Audio cans cost more than most people will ever spend on a full set. So when the opportunity came up to review the new Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones, at just the price of $399 no less, I just assumed that I would be talking about them strictly from a convenience perspective. After all, great sound quality comes with (a) wires, and (b) a high price.
When it comes to wireless headphones, they’re typically marketed to those outside of the normal “audiophile” circle. The customers they are usually designed for want a little higher fidelity than the norm, but for the most part, they’re all about convenience and fashion (this would be the majority of the market potential!). And contrary to what the staunch audiophile may want to believe, fashion and style does indeed matter. But the point I am trying to make here is that wireless headphones, for the most part, are much more about convenience than they are for high quality audio reproduction.
As is the norm with Bowers & Wilkins, the products themselves have a very high level of design and styling, which is something I really appreciate. I know that a lot of people in the high end audio business want to hold onto the idea that styling doesn’t matter, and the function is the only thing that is important. But for me, I want styling AND performance! So when I received the packages that included the P7 Wireless, and the B&W P9 Signature headphones (also in for a future review), I was immediately impressed by how it was all put together. Call it the Apple factor, but I also like great packaging that adds to the buying experience of a product. The packaging looked great, everything was well organized, and the instructions didn’t read like, well, stereo instructions!
The P7 Wireless definitely make a fashion statement, and in a good way. Wrapped in luxurious leather, the P7’s look and feel the part of high quality craftsmanship. The side plates appear to be brushed aluminum, finished in satin black anodizing, and have the Bowers & Wilkins logo in raised metal. Very modern styling indeed.
The memory foam ear cups are covered in a supple black leather, and fit comfortably over your ears. Not only do they provide a great fit, but they are designed to block out external sound and noise, and also keep the music within the headphones (great if you wear headphones around other people a lot).
The P7 headphones also incorporate a clever folding design that allows them to be stored in a relatively small leather carrying case that comes with the headphones. This is a nice touch for people on the go and who want as much portability as they can.
The wireless technology that is used by the P7 is aptX Bluetooth by Qualcomm, which is designed for superior sound quality transmission. As stated by the Qualcomm marketing department: “With aptX, music lovers can enjoy wired quality sound – wirelessly”.
And finally, with an interesting twist, the P7’s can also be enjoyed in a wired configuration with the included universal wire. Why would you want to do this? Well, if you were either listening to a non-Bluetooth music source, or if your battery was running low in your headphones, you can switch over to the wire and still enjoy them. While I may not see myself using them this way, I thought this was a nice addition to the design of the headphones.
Connection of the P7 Wireless Headphones couldn’t be easier with Bluetooth. Just flip the switch to go into discovery mode, and look for them on your Bluetooth enabled device. Once paired, the connection happens automatically the next time you turn on both your source and your headphones.
I connected the P7 wireless to my iPhone 6S, my iPad Pro, and my MacBook Pro (can you tell that I’ve bought into the Apple brand?!), and listened to every source I could from your basic MP3 files, to streaming through TIDAL, and high resolution DSD files through the Onkyo HF Player app on my iPhone.
First off, I’d like to talk about the convenience factor that you get with wireless headphones. I really can’t stress it enough that when you don’t have to worry about wires, or the source that is serving the music, it makes everything in your life easier! This convenience makes the B&W P7 Wireless Headphones very appealing!
Imagine yourself cooking dinner when you’d like to jam out to some music. With wires, they would keep you attached to the phone / tablet / computer, and they would seriously get in the way. Now imagine that your phone / tablet / computer is sitting on the table while you freely move about the kitchen wirelessly, while enjoying your favorite playlist.
Also think about a work environment that allows you to wear headphones, but the wires and attachment to a device would prevent you from a good jam session. But without the wires or the connection, you can move about freely and not have to worry about a wire getting in your way.
At my business, I have fully distributed audio throughout the place, and we can all rock out throughout the shop. I even have a 13” subwoofer out there so we have the ability to really enjoy our music. Having said that though, our listening moods may be different from one another, which opens up the opportunity to enjoy music on headphones. Until the P7’s came in for review, I never had a good way to enjoy headphones because for what we do, the wired configuration simply wouldn’t work. But when I brought in the P7’s, I had all of the freedom that I wanted. Not only that, but even with loud tools and loud music playing throughout the shop, the P7’s did a great job of blocking out all of the external sounds, and kept the music within the ear cups.
Here is a quick video that we did to showcase the Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones in a work environment. OK, so we had some fun with it by using a $350K Ferrari that we just happened to have hanging around!
When talking about conveniences of wireless connectivity, we must also talk a bit about the range that you get. I did some tests around both my house, and my office. The business building is about 6,000 sq/ft, and my house about 4,300 sq/ft at 5 levels. Regardless of where I placed my connected source (phone, tablet, computer), I could not get the Bluetooth connection to drop. I could place my phone in the basement, and then walk all the way up to the top level on the other side of the house, and the music was still as crystal clear as if I was standing next to it. Color me impressed!
I previously mentioned that the headphones are quiet to the outside world, meaning that I could be listening to music at high levels (which I’ve been known to do from time to time), and it wouldn’t interfere with other people around me. If you’re listening at work, or on public transportation, this is a great feature and a courteous nod to others. Combine the quiet playback to the outside world with the convenience of wireless connectivity, and you get the perfect travel companion.
So how do the P7’s sound? For those who have read the entire article, and not just scrolled down to the bottom, you’ll know that I started off by talking about going into this review with the mindset that because it was a sub-$400 set of wireless headphones, I’d be focusing on the convenience factor because (a) it has to be wired to have high quality sound, and (b) it has to cost a lot more to sound good.
Well I was right in that I would be talking a lot about the convenience that comes with portability, but I couldn’t have been further off the mark in my assumption that it needed wires and a high price tag to sound good. The P7 Wireless headphones from Bowers & Wilkins rock!
Now, I’m not going to say that you will equal the sound quality that you get from a $2,000 set of headphones, mated to a $3,000 DAC, and a $3,000 dedicated headphone amp. That’s not the comparison that I’m trying to make here, and these are not the type of listeners that the P7’s are made for.
But, I will say that for a $399 pair of headphones, wireless no less, they are over-achievers. If you want deep, accurate bass, the P7’s deliver. If you’re into a silky smooth midrange, they have that too. And if you like crystal clear highs without being too forward or edgy, or one that becomes fatiguing over time, then once again, you’ll like the P7 Wireless.
I played a lot of music through these headphones, and I was quite happy with all of it.
One of my favorites to test the dynamic range of speakers and headphones is Kraftwerk’s live performance of The Man Machine on their album titled Minimum-Maximum. Its fast paced electronic music digs way down low, and reaches to the top of the audio spectrum as well with everything in between.
If your playback system isn’t up to the task, this song will have your equipment begging for mercy. I won’t say that the P7 pushed the bass output to the level of reference equipment, but they didn’t leave me wanting, or needing more. This kind of bass output, for less than $400?
Another that I really like is Patricia Barber’s Café Blue. This album has a little bit of everything on it, and the recording quality is second to none. To me at least, I think this is the best combination of sound quality and material quality that you can buy. It is truly a reference recording, and you will hear me talk about it a lot in my reviews.
With Patricia singing to me through the P7, I could sit back and enjoy the music just the same as I can in my reference 2.1 channel system in my rec room. I found myself forgetting about listening to the headphones, and simply enjoying the music. When you can achieve that, you’re in good hands.
And the last reference recording that I focused on was the album Mondo Head by Kodo. Not familiar with them? Well they are a Japanese Taiko drum group that is orchestrated by Mickey Hart (former drummer for the Grateful Dead).
Perhaps I like them so much because I started playing percussion when I was about 10 years old, and kept up with it through my teenage years. Or maybe I like them because of an alleged incident (I can neither confirm nor deny) where somebody with a striking resemblance to me ended up on stage in Japan, playing a Taiko drum, while wearing a kimono! We won’t talk about the alleged Sake consumption that evening, either.
Anyways, back to Kodo. If you get a chance, go take a listen to their track named Daraijin to see what I am talking about. It goes from delicate methodic pacing to absolutely thunderous and deep drum hits, and back. It is 6:35 of percussive bliss, and at no point did I feel that I wanted, or needed more bass and slam than what the P7 Wireless produced. Very well done.
THE BOWERS & WILKINS P7 WIRELESS HEADPHONES are the perfect blend of wireless convenience and Hi-Fi sound reproduction for a $399 price tag.
- Superb sound quality without the wires
- Stylish, and comfortable
- Plenty of range
- Portable, foldable design
- Can also be used in a wired configuration
- Risk-free trial with free 60 day returns
- A brushed aluminum or stainless steel look on the metal parts instead of chrome
The Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless headphones have to be one of the very best bargains in audio reproduction that I have experienced. They have the kind of sound quality that I would expect from a (much more) expensive set of wired headphones, they look and feel fantastic, the convenience of their wireless technology is a game changer to those who haven’t experienced it, and to top it all off, they’re only $399!
Between running a very demanding business, and writing for SECRETS, I don’t have a lot of time to sit back and enjoy my expensive headphone rig. When I get time to just sit and listen, it’s typically going to be with my main 2.1 reference system or in my Dolby Atmos theater. But now, with the sound quality that the P7’s are capable of in a wireless design, I can now find more time to enjoy music while I am on the move.
For those wanting modern styling with the convenience of wireless technology, wrapped up with impressive sound quality, I cannot make a higher recommendation than I can with the P7’s. And for just $399, I see it as a no-brainer.
If you’re like me, and have had the impression that you need wires with a high price tag to really enjoy headphones, then you should do yourself a favor and try the P7’s. With a free 60-day return policy, Bowers & Wilkins couldn’t make it any easier. As for me…I’m buying the review pair of P7’s!