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Reviewed on Aug 26, 2016

Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2 HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
6.2
Mixed Usage
6.8
Critical Listening
6.0
Commute/Travel
6.3
Sports/Fitness
6.0
Office
5.7
TV
6.5
Gaming
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2 are well-designed, eye-catching and compact headphones with a good audio reproduction. They have a sturdy and durable build quality. However, they're uncomfortably tight at times and don't block much ambient noise. They also sound a bit tinnier than the P5 Wireless or P7.

Test Results
Design 7.1
Sound 6.6
Isolation 6.2
Microphone 6.6
Active Features 0
Connectivity 5.3
Pros
  • Good audio reproduction.
  • Stylish and compact design.
  • Durable build quality.
Cons
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Slightly uncomfortable and tight on-ear fit.
  • Bass delivery varies significantly across users. Sensitive to glasses.
  1. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  2. Update 10/2/2017: The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
  3. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

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7.1

Design

The P5 Series 2 are sturdy and stylish on-ear headphones. They have a durable metal frame and dense, well-crafted ear cups that won't break easily from a couple of drops. They're lightweight, compact, and stable enough for jogging but not for intense exercises. Unfortunately, they're a bit tighter than the P5 Wireless, which coupled with their on-ear design can get slightly uncomfortable during long listening sessions, especially, if you wear glasses.

Style

The P5 S2 are well-crafted headphones with a premium build quality. The headband and earpad are covered in a smooth black leather that adds to the high-end appeal of these headphones. They're compact and look a bit sleeker than the P7. They have small square ear cups like the P5 Wireless and a unique metal frame that's quite eye-catching.

6.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.43 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0.92 lbs

The P5 series 2 are moderately comfortable on-ear headphones. They're lightweight but feel a bit tight due to the light padding on the ear cups. They clamp the head a bit more than the P5 Wireless but on the upside, the padding is covered with a plush leather that feels good on the skin. They won't be the most pleasant headphones for long listening sessions but they're comfortable enough to not cause any pain or soreness.

7.2 Controls
Ease of use : Good
Feedback : Okay
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : No

The P5 S2 have an above average control scheme hat provides call/music, track skipping, and volume controls. The buttons have a decent tactile feedback with a dip in the middle of the inline control module for the call/music button. However, the shape of the inline controls looks dual sided which can take a little time to get used.

8.2 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 2 C
6.4 Portability
L : 7.63 "
W : 5.50 "
H : 1.63 "
Volume : 68.4 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The P5 S2 like the P5 Wireless are fairly portable on-ear headphones. They're compact and lay flat to take less space. They will fit into most bags and larger purses, but don't fold to reduce their footprint, which makes them a bit cumbersome, to comfortably carry on your person.

7.0 Case
Type : Pouch
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

Comes with a stylish soft pouch that will shield the headphones from scratches and minor water damage. However, it will not protect them against hard falls, and the case fabric is not waterproof.

8.0 Build Quality

The P5 S2, like the P5 Wireless and the bigger P7 model share the same sturdy metal frame and dense ear cup design that's robust and durable. The materials used in their build quality feels premium and should withstand regular wear and tear quite well. They won't get damaged by a few drops. However, the metal frame connects to the earcups with a relatively thin hinge, which could get damaged by heavy physical stress.

6.5 Stability

These headphones are moderately stable. They will stay in place during casual use and mild physical activity. However, they are not meant for running or strenuous exercise. They're a bit tighter on the head than the P5 Wireless, but unlike the wireless version, the cable can get hooked on something and pull the headphones of your head.

Cable
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4.04 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRRS

Comes with a 1/16" to 1/8" TRRS audio cable with inline controls.

Top
Headshots 1
Headshots 2
6.6

Sound

The B&W P5 S2 are an average sounding pair of closed-back on-ear headphones. They have a very good and deep bass, and a good mid-range, but a sub-par treble. Additionally, their bass is on the heavy side which some may like, their mid-range is slightly tinny, and their treble is uneven and veiled. Also, their performance could vary dramatically depending on how they are positioned on the user's head, and don't have a good soundstage either.

8.1 Bass
Std. Err.
:
2.87 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
3.67 dB
Mid-Bass
:
3.56 dB
High-Bass
:
1.88 dB
7.8 Mid
Std. Err.
:
2.9 dB
Low-Mid
:
-2.63 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-1.53 dB
High-Mid
:
2.95 dB
5.8 Treble
Std. Err.
:
5.23 dB
Low-Treble
:
1.66 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-4.08 dB
High-Treble
:
-8.32 dB
5.8 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
1.0 dB

The frequency response consistency is sub-par. There response shows significant deviation in bass delivery across our human subject, especially with the one who wears glasses. This shows that the bass of the P5 S2 is sensitive to fit and seal and could cause as much as 6dB of drop in bass at 100Hz, which is quite noticeable. The treble delivery however, is a lot more consistent.

8.5 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.22
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.87
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
1.79
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
4.36
3.6 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
4.92 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
-0.22 dB
PRTF Distance
:
6.22 dB
Openness
:
4.6
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
2.4
Correlated Crosstalk
:
-0.1 dB
8.0 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
0.369
Weighted THD @ 100
:
2.22
6.2

Isolation

The P5 S2 like the P5 Wireless, are not active noise cancelling headphones. The passive isolation they provide blocks some high-frequency sounds but it's not enough for the level ambient noise of a busy commute or noisy flight. On the upside, they don't leak much and won't be audible to anyone except at considerably high volumes. 

5.3 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-11.38 dB
Bass
:
0.73 dB
Mid
:
-7.22 dB
Treble
:
-28.23 dB
Self-Noise
:
0 dB

Poor overall isolation. However, considering these headphones don't have active noise cancelling, the passive isolation provided by the ear cups is decent. Treble isolation is good but as expected, the passive isolation only becomes effective past 400HZ and does not really block any low/bass frequencies. Isolation in the mid-range is also below average.

7.9 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
34.71 dB

Average leakage performance. The majority of leakage is in the 2KHz-6KHz frequency range, which is relatively narrow. The overall level of the leakage is also decent, making these headphones perform aboout average in Leakage.

6.6

Microphone

Integrated
:
No
In-line
:
Yes
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
N/A
7.2 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
354.04 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
4.19 dB
HFE
:
12177.48 Hz
Weighted THD
:
0.795
Gain
:
22.15 dB
6.0 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
12.76 dB
0

Active Features

No active features.

N/A Battery
Battery Type
:
N/A
Battery Life
:
N/A
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
N/A
Audio while charging
:
N/A
Passive Playback
:
N/A
0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

No compatible app.

5.3

Connectivity

0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
N/A
8.5 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
iOS
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone
0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A
0 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
10 Latency
Default Latency
:
0 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

In the box

  • Bowers & Wilkins P5 S2 Headphones
  • 1/8" to 1/4" Adapter
  • Audio cable 
  • Carrying pouch
  • Manual

Compared to other Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M60x
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Audio Technica ATH-M60x are better sounding on-ears than the Bowers & Wilkins P5 S2. The P5 have a much better build quality that not only feels more durable but also looks a lot more premium than the M60x. The P5's design is also a bit more compact and easier to use with mobile devices, since they come with an in-line remote. On the other hand, the M60x have a better-balanced sound and a more comfortable on-ear fit. They also come with three audio cables which make them a bit more suitable for a recording studio.

6.2 Mixed Usage

The P5 S2 are decent everyday headphones. They're well-designed and have a solid build. Their sound quality is above-average and caters well to most tracks. However, their poor noise isolation makes them not versatile enough for loud environments.

6.8 Critical Listening

The Bowers & Wilkins P5 S2 are above-average on-ear headphones for critical listening. They sound a little bit closed due to their small ear cup design but reproduce the bass, mids, and treble frequencies quite well. Their sound will be a bit tinnier than the P7 and P5 Wireless, but they should still please most listeners with their better-than-average audio reproduction.

6.0 Commute/Travel

Decent for commutes. Their noise isolation is weak and will let the ambient noise of a noisy commute seep into your audio.

6.3 Sports/Fitness

Decent for Sports use. They're compact and moderately stable enough for jogging and some light exercising. However, they're not the most comfortable, and the on-ear pads get a little steamy when you sweat a lot.

6.0 Office

Average for office use. They won't leak enough to be audible except at higher volumes. However, they won't isolate you from the ambient noise of a lively office.

5.7 TV

Average for Home Theater use. They have a decently well-balanced sound for watching movies. They also have no latency unlike their wireless counterpart since they're wired. However, they won't have the best range unless you have an extension cord for the audio cable and they're also a bit tight on the head.

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