As soon as the Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signatures arrived, I was immediately impressed with the looks, feel, and build quality of these headphones.

And when I looked through the spec sheet showing that they had a frequency range from all the way down to 2Hz up to 30kHz I knew that at least on paper, they had an impressive set of headphones at a price of $899.

BW P9 Signature in case

Highlights

Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Headphone

  • Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Headphones represent the pinnacle of their headphone lineup.
  • Typical Bowers & Wilkins build quality and refinement
  • De-coupled ear cups stop vibration-induced distortions.
  • Angled drivers provide a more natural stereo presentation from the front
  • P9 Signature’s headband and ear cups are crafted from the finest Italian Saffiano leather by Scabrenta.
  • Comes with a classy, Alcantara and leather carrying case.
  • Very impressive depth and clarity!
  • Free 60 Day Returns
Introduction

As I discussed in my review of the Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless headphones, B&W has been designing and manufacturing high end speaker systems for over 50 years now. They know high fidelity audio reproduction, and they put that same level of research and development into the P9 Signature Headphones as well.

BOWERS & WILKINS HEADPHONE REVIEW SPECIFICATIONS
DESIGN:

Over-the-ear headphones, closed back

DRIVER SIZE:

1.6” (40mm) Diameter, full range

FREQUENCY RESPONSE:

2Hz – 30kHz

IMPEDANCE:

22 ohms

DISTORTION (THD):

<0.2% (1kHz/10mW)

SENSITIVITY:

111dB/V at 1kHz

MAX INPUT POWER:

50mW

WEIGHT:

413g (14.6 ounces)

ACCESSORIES:

Alcantara carrying case, universal cable, 5-meter cable, ¼” audio jack adapter plug, thorough instruction manual

MSRP:

$899.99

Company:

Bowers & Wilkins

SECRETS Tags:

Bowers & Wilkins, Headphones, P9 Signature, Headphone Reviews 2017

Where To Buy:

Bowers & Wilkins Website

Bowers & Wilkins currently has 7 different headphone models available, and the P9 Signature sits at the top as their flagship model. At a retail price of $899, I would consider this as being towards the top of the “mid-level” market of quality headphones, and towards the bottom of the high end offerings.

More than likely, their targeted customer base for the P9 Signature headphone would be somebody who can appreciate high fidelity audio reproduction, stellar build quality, and a high fashion value, but does not want to make a significant investment in expensive headphones, DAC’s, and dedicated headphone amplification.

Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature - on bag

Design

As I have stated before in other articles, I’m a big fan of styling / industrial design, packaging, and the entire presentation. It adds to the buying experience, and based off of B&W’s reputation, they figured this out a long time ago! So when I received the P9 Signature Headphones, I was very happy to see that B&W paid a lot of attention to the details in the design and development stages. You really feel like you’ve made an investment into a luxury product and company.

The ear cups and headband on the P9 Signature headphones are crafted from the finest Italian Saffiano leather by Scabrenta, providing a luxurious look and feel. The textured silver finish of the headphones provides not only a complimentary contrast to the brown leather, but it also gives it a classy vintage look reminiscent of stereo components of the 60’s and 70’s. The styling and looks of the P9 Signature headphones would look at home with either a pair of jeans and t-shirt, or a fine Italian suit.

And when looking at design relative to sound reproduction, the P9 Signature headphones feature angled drivers to provide a more natural stereo presentation, and an innovative and effective “suspension system” of sorts that decouples the headband from the earcups. This stops unwanted vibrations between the earcups and headband, thus removing distortions that can color the sound.

The headband utilizes a convenient folding design for portability, and it comes with a high quality Alcantara and leather carrying case for protection. Additionally, the P9 Signature headphones come with a standard cord for use with cell phone (volume adjustment and mic on the cord), and an extended normal cord for listening when not close to gear.

Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature - Folded

Setup

For my evaluation process, I used the P9 Signature headphones with gear that would represent the most common type of buyer at this level. Given that, I mostly listened to them through my MacBook Pro using TIDAL and Audirvana 3.0, then through my Chord Mojo DAC/Amplifier. Also for comparison-sake, I also played them directly through my iPhone with DSD files using Onkyo’s HF Player app.

Listening

First of all, I found the Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Headphones to be quite comfortable to wear for extended periods of times. And when I say comfortable, I mean that both in the physical sense, and from a sound perspective.

The P9 Signature Headphones have a wide dynamic range, and reach everything from the deep lows to the highest of highs, without coming across as forward or fatiguing. When speaking of low frequency extension, one must look at the specs to shed some more light on it…they are rated all the way down to 2Hz! When doing some comparative listening between the P9 Signatures and my custom pair of Lawton Audio cans, I found the Bowers & Wilkins to have the ability to extend deeper. This was really surprising, particularly for an $899 set of headphones.

The P9 Signatures didn’t just impress me with their bass output, either. Mids were well presented regardless of the source material, and the highs were crystal clear without being harsh.

Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature - On Desk

Another feature that I enjoyed with the P9 Signature Headphones is that they do a great job of keeping the sound inside the earcups. If I am listening to some music at higher volumes while in a public setting (the airport!), I want to be respectful of others around me. The P9’s can be cranked pretty loudly before much of the sound extends out away from you.

For those of you who like to multi-task and work while listening to music, you’ll definitely appreciate the fact that you can use your P9 Signatures to talk on the phone. I was sitting in my home office spending some quality time with these headphones when I received an important (lengthy) phone call that I needed to take. There’s a built-in microphone in the wire that also incorporates volume controls. The sound quality was crystal clear on both ends (I asked the caller to verify how my voice was coming across), and it was comfortable wearing the headphones during that 45-minute conversation as opposed to jamming the iPhone against my ear for all of that time. If you’re a person who spends a lot of time on the phone, and you prefer to have a hands-free operation, then you’ll really enjoy the P9 Signatures!

OK then, back to listening to music and some specific impressions.

London Grammar

London Grammar “If You Wait”

If you haven’t heard of London Grammar, then do yourself a favor and check them out on TIDAL! It’s hard to really categorize their music, but I have seen it described as electronic pop. On this album, the one song that really does a great job for me to evaluate equipment is the first track titled Hey Now.

In it, vocalist Hannah Reid starts off with her trademark deep, sultry voice, but eventually shows off her wide range as well. The P9 Signatures not only reproduce her beautiful and unique voice with a natural, “you are there” presentation, but they also do a tremendous job with the wide dynamic range with the instruments.

Kodo

Kodo “Mondo Head”

I like using this album, and the song Daraijin in particular to showcase equipment’s ability (or inability) to produce everything from delicate percussion, to thunderous bass, and all of the dynamic swings in between. I also used this in my evaluation of the P7 Wireless Headphones from Bowers & Wilkins, and very much liked what they were able to reproduce.

P9 Signature Collage

With the P9 Signatures, they take what the P7’s are capable of, and add more…everywhere! I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic range of the P9’s on this track, and they proved that they can produce big, bold sound with the best of them.

Conclusions

THE BOWERS & WILKINS P9 SIGNATURE HEADPHONES Provide Exceptional Sound Quality, Great Looks, And Impeccable Craftsmanship For Just $899.

Likes
  • Very impressive sound quality.
  • Classy, luxurious styling.
  • Comfortable fit.
  • Clarity throughout. Strong bass.
  • Multiple cable options provided.
  • Risk-free trial with free 60 day returns.
Would Like To See
  • A version in black leather

The Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Headphones are priced at $899, which can be a bit of a challenge given the fact that it straddles the mid-fi and the hi-fi buyers in the headphone market. With this, the manufacturer risks being too expensive for one group, and not offering enough performance for the other group. Based on my experience with them however, I don’t think they have anything to worry about. For those in the mid-fi group of headphone listeners, the P9 Signature headphones provide features and performance that would normally be reserved for the hi-fi gear. And for those interested in the higher end products, there’s really not much that they would be giving up, and they’re getting them at a bargain price compared to other high-end products on the market.

The Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Headphones produce tremendous sound quality normally reserved for the upper echelon of headphone offerings, and they also manage to do it with high styling, superb fit and finish, and impressive build quality. Because of this they are a true value in headphones, and highly recommended!

  • Carlo Lo Raso

    Nice write up Todd!

  • thehunlbesze

    Sounds like HP MFRS distort their specs even worse then speaker MFRs
    I guess they didn’t get the memo that the human auditory system still the same despite all the hoopla about the so called “HI-Res” certification that everybody is after thanks for the current trend.

  • David Hall

    You didn’t mention a couple of things about which I was curious. 1. How do the P9 sound specifically with your Chord Mojo; and 2. How do they compare sound quality-wise to the P7 wireless? Do the P7s get you 50% of the P9’s quality? 70%? More?