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Reviewed on May 22, 2018

Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Bowers and Wilkins PX are decent mixed-usage, wireless headphones, with great isolation for commuting, and a sturdy premium design. They are easily one of the best-built over-ears we've tested, and they have a good enough sound quality for most listeners. Unfortunately, their best noise isolation profile negatively affects their sound quality, they're slightly bulky and heavy, and they're uncomfortably tight on the head at first. They won't be the ideal over-ears for all listeners, but they're a suitable premium option for commute and travel.

Pros
  • Great build quality.
  • Easy to use controls.
  • Great isolation and low leakage.
Cons
  • A bit too tight on some heads.
  • Slightly bulky and cumbersome design.
  • Bass delivery varies significantly across users. Sensitive to glasses.

Test Results
Design 7.4
Sound 6.9
Isolation 8.4
Microphone 5.7
Active Features 8.8
Connectivity 5.8
  1. Update 7/22/2019: We've updated the battery comparison to better reflect a typical user's expeirence.

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Summary

  • 7.1 Mixed Usage
  • 7.1 Critical Listening
  • 7.6 Commute/Travel
  • 7.0 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.4 Office
  • 5.7 TV
  • 5.4 Gaming
Mixed Usage 7.1

Decent for mixed usage. The Bowers & Wilkins PX have a sturdy and high build quality and great isolation for noisy environments and busy commutes. They sound above-average depending on the noise isolation profile selected, but they won't sound as balanced as some of the other wireless over-ear and they have no EQ. Unfortunately, they're a bit too tight out-of-the-box which may be an issue for some listeners, but on the upside, it makes them somewhat stable enough for jogging. Overall, they are decent for most use cases but are best used as premium traveling headphones or at the office thanks to their strong isolation and low leakage. They just won't be the most comfortable option for long listening sessions.

Critical Listening 7.1

Decent for critical listening. The sound quality of the PX changes quite a bit when using different noise canceling profiles. They pack a good amount of bass, but their mid-range is a bit muddy and their treble range lacks a bit of brightness. Overall their slightly cluttered and dark sound might be a little disappointing for more critical listeners. They also can't create the soundstage of open back over-ear despite having fairly spacious ear cups and angled drivers. On the upside, they should sound good enough for most, and you can always sacrifice a bit of isolation for a better sound by changing the noise canceling profile or disabling it. Unfortunately, they are quite tight on the head which may be an issue during long listening sessions, and it also feels like a missed opportunity that they do not have an equalizer included in their app

Commute/Travel 7.6

Above-average for commuting. These headphones have great noise canceling for noisy commutes, easy to use controls and they barely leak, so you can mask even more ambient noise by playing your audio at higher volumes. Unfortunately, they're a bit bulky and tight on the head which might not be as comfortable as the QuietComfort 35 II on long flights.

Sports/Fitness 7.0

Average for sports. They are tight enough on the head to be stable for jogging, and they're wireless with an easy to use control scheme. However, they are also bulky headphones that will hinder your movements during more high-intensity workouts, and they do not have the moist breathable design for sports.

Office 7.4

Above-average for office use. They have a good noise isolation performance and they do not leak much so they will block a lot of noise in a lively office environment and not distract your colleagues at higher volumes. Unfortunately, they are very tight on the head which will get a bit uncomfortable to wear during long listening sessions at work.

TV 5.7

Mediocre-at-best for home theater. The PX have a lot of latency so they won't be ideal for watching videos but they have a decent sound and a good wireless range. They also come with a simple audio cable if you want to use them wired to reduce latency. However, the cable is relatively short so you may need an extension cord, and they're very tight on the head which might get a bit uncomfortable when watching movies.

Gaming 5.4

Below-average for gaming. These headphones have a good wireless range, and they're easy to use. Unfortunately, they have a subpar mic that is not compatible with consoles, they're not as customizable as most gaming headsets, and the high latency will be a deal breaker for gaming.

Compared to other Headphones

The Bowers & Wilkins PX are great noise canceling headphones with a sturdy and premium build quality but a tight fit and an average sound. They do not sound quite as balanced as some of the other wireless over-ears compared below and they don't have an EQ so you can't customize their sound profile to your liking. On the upside, they cancel a lot of noise and barely leak, which makes them a great choice for commuting and traveling. They're also much better built than most of the competing models. Unfortunately, their tight fit might be a bit of an issue for some. See our recommendations for the best wireless headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones and the best headphones for bass.

Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WH-1000XM3 are slightly better wireless noise cancelling headphones than the Bowers & Wilkins PX. The Sony are a lot more comfortable than the B&Ws out-of-the-box. They're lighter and have better-padded ear cups that do not clamp your head like the PX. The Sony also have a longer battery life, a better noise cancelling performance, and a more customizable app that makes them a bit more versatile for different listeners than the PX. The PX, on the other hand, are much better-built, look a bit more premium, and feel more durable. They also leak a less at high volumes, so they're a bit more suitable for noise-sensitive environments like using them at the office.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are a better more versatile headset than the Bowers & Wilkins PX. The Bose have a more comfortable over-ear fit than the PX. They also have a better-balanced sound out of the box that is a bit more consistent than the PX regardless of noise cancellation profile. The PX, on the other hand, have a better build quality that feels more in line with their price range. They also leak a little less, which makes them a bit more suitable for noise-sensitive environments like being at the office.

B&O PLAY Beoplay H9 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bowers & Wilkins PX are a slightly better headset than the B&O PLAY H9. The PX have stronger noise isolation, which makes them a bit more suitable for both loud and quieter conditions like commuting or being at the office. They also have a slightly more premium-looking build quality. On the upside, the B&O H9 have an easier to use and a more casual design than the PX. They also pack more bass and have a customizable sound profile, which feels lacking in the PX's app support.

Bose 700 Headphones Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bose 700 Headphones are better headphones for most uses than the Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless. While the PX feel better-built, the Bose 700 are much more comfortable and have more modern features, like voice assistant support. They also sound better than the PX, which have a rather muddy, cluttered sound. The B&W PX do have better noise isolation performance than the Bose NC 700, though, and their leakage also sounds less full. That said, their microphone performance isn’t as good and they take 4 hours to charge, which is disappointing for a premium headset and swings the balance in favor of the Bose 700 in terms of overall performance.

Beats Studio 3 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bowers & Wilkins PX have a fairly similar performance to the Beats Studio3 Wireless. The PX isolate a lot better in noisy environments than the Beats, so they will be a bit more suitable for traveling and commuting. They also have a better more premium looking build quality that most will prefer over the Beats. The Beats, on the other hand, have a more consistent sound than the PX despite their adaptive audio reproduction. They also have a sleeker over-ear fit that's more comfortable and a bit more suitable for physical activities than the PX. The Beats also have a longer battery life and charge a lot faster, making them slightly more practical for everyday casual use.

Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Bowers & Wilkins PX are more versatile headphones for everyday casual use than the Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT are. The PX have a great noise cancelling feature, a longer battery life, and their metal build is very sturdy. On the other hand, the sound quality of the PX is more suited for bass-heavy genres. The Audio-Technicas have a flatter frequency response and are more comfortable. However, they can’t be used wired with phones since you can’t use them with a 1/8” cable. The PX also offer more battery life and can connect to multiple devices simultaneously.

Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Sony WH-1000XM2 are a slightly better wireless noise cancelling headset than the Bowers & Wilkins PX. The Sonys are a bit more comfortable and not as tight on the head as the PX. They also have a more customizable app that gives them a lot more control over their noise cancellation, and a better sound profile than the Bowers & Wilkins. On the upside, the Bowers and Wilkins are better built and look and feel more premium than the Sonys. They also have a lower leakage level, which makes them more suitable for noise sensitive environments than the WH-1000XM2.

Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Microsoft Surface Headphones are similar for mixed usage to the Bowers & Wilkins PX, but both take the edge in different categories. The Microsofts are more comfortable for long listening sessions, have a better control scheme, and deliver a more consistent sound quality. On the other hand, the PX are high-end headphones with a premium build quality and slightly better sound quality, but without an EQ isolate more ambient noise, especially at lower frequencies. This is useful for commuting. They also have a great 25-hour battery life.

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Test Results

Style

The PX have the same design language as the rest of the B&W line-up but with an updated frame design that looks sturdier and more luxurious. They have dense and slightly rounded ear cups with decently thick pads. The headband is also generously padded and wider than that of the P7. They come in two color schemes; a dark gray matte finish that looks elegant and high-end and a slightly flashier gold that will still work for some and also looks very premium. However, the headband is not as low profile as some of the other wireless headsets like the H9 or the Crossfade 2 Wireless, so they do stick out quite a bit once on your head. They won't be the most trendy looking headset, but they look and feel like classy travel headphones, which a lot of listeners may prefer.

7.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.8 lbs
Clamping Force
:
1.5 lbs

The B&W PX are very tight on the head but decently well padded. They have large oval ear cups that are fairly deep and spacious enough to be comfortable around most ears. The headband and ear cups are also well padded with genuine leather that feels nice on the skin. Unfortunately, the PX are slightly heavy and uncomfortably tight out-of-the-box. The ear cup pads are thick enough to make the clamping force less noticeable after wearing them for a while, but they will still be slightly too tight on some heads even with the headband fully extended. They won't be as comfortable as the Bose QC35 II or the Beoplay H9 for long listening sessions, and this might be a deal breaker for some.

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

The Bowers & Wilkins PX, like the rest of the wireless B&W line, have a simple and efficient control scheme. They have a straightforward 3 button set up for volume control, call/music and track skipping. They also have a similar power switch to the P5 wireless that doubles as the Bluetooth pairing button if you press and hold. They have a dedicated noise canceling button to enable and disable the noise cancellation feature, but unfortunately, there is no aware/talk through mode. Overall, it's an easy to use control scheme with decent feedback.

7.0 Stability

The B&W PX are wireless and quite tight on the head, so they're fairly stable for most activities. They won't be the best headphones to take to the gym, and they're fairly bulky, so they will move a bit when tilting your head. They should be stable enough for most casual uses and even jogging but the ear cups are fairly heavy and will sway a bit when you run which is not ideal. On the upside, the lack of a cable means they won't get yanked of your head because the audio cable got hooked on something.

6.1 Portability
L : 7.4 "
W : 5.5 "
H : 2.3 "
Volume : 94 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The B&W PX, like relatively large over-ears, do not fold into a more compact format. The ear cups lay flat which may come in handy in some situations, but they're still a bit too cumbersome to comfortably carry around on your person without a bag.

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

These headphones come with a well-made pouch that will protect them from scratches and scuffs when in your bag but won't shield the headset from impacts or water damage. Also, considering the price of these headphones, a simple pouch instead of a hard or even a soft case feels a bit cheap.

9.0 Build Quality

The build quality of the B&W PX is one of the best we've tested. They feel very durable, and they're made with a good combination of high-end plastic and a sturdy aluminum alloy frame that can easily withstand a couple of accidental drops and impacts. The ear cups are dense and durable, and unlike some of the other premium wireless headsets like Sony WH-1000XM2 or the WH-1000XM3, they do not have any folding joints which means they are less likely to break under physical stress when carried in your bag. The ear cup pads magnetically attach to the cups so you can quickly swap them out for new ones if ever the original set gets worn out. The headband isn't as malleable as that of the P7, but unless there is a major defect that we have yet to take into account, they are easily one the best built wireless over-ears that we've tested. Unfortunately, all that metal does make them a bit heavy.

6.2 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 6.5 C

These headphones get fairly hot once on your ears. They have decently roomy earcups but also have leather pads and a tight fit that seals your ears within the cups and makes them sweat a bit more than average during long listening sessions. They won't be the best headset to workout with or for running in terms of breathability but they should be okay for regular casual listening.

Cable
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

These headphones come with a 1/8'TRS audio cable and USB-C charging cable.

Top
Headshots 1
Headshots 2
7.9 Bass
Std. Err.
:
3.13 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
10 Hz
Low-Bass
:
1.23 dB
Mid-Bass
:
2.43 dB
High-Bass
:
5.01 dB

The bass is very good. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 10Hz, which is excellent and the low-bass range, responsible for the thump and rumble in music, is within 1dB of our target. Mid-bass, responsible for the body of bass guitars and punch of kick drums, is over our neutral target by more than 2dB. High-bass, responsible for warmth, is overemphasized by 5dB, making the overall bass a bit boomy and muddy sounding. Also, their bass delivery varies significantly across users, and is sensitive to the quality of fit, seal, and whether you wear glasses. The response here represents the average bass response and your experience may vary.

7.3 Mid
Std. Err.
:
3.6 dB
Low-Mid
:
5.31 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-0.67 dB
High-Mid
:
-1.65 dB

The B&W PX have a decent mid-range performance. The bump in low-mid is actually the continuation of the high-bass overemphasis. This thickens the vocals and makes mixes cluttered sounding. Mid-mid ad high-mid are also a bit recessed, nudging the vocals and leads towards the back of the mix.

6.0 Treble
Std. Err.
:
5.04 dB
Low-Treble
:
-1.98 dB
Mid-Treble
:
-3.14 dB
High-Treble
:
-6.82 dB

The treble performance of the Bowers & Wilkins PX is below-average. The response is rather uneven, and consistently under our neutral target. The dips in low-treble and mid-treble, especially, negatively affect the level of detail and brightness in vocals, lead instruments, and cymbals.

5.4 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
1.28 dB

The B&W PX have a sub-par frequency response consistency. In the bass range, the maximum amount of deviation at 20Hz is more than 18dB. However, most of the deviation was measured on the human subjects who wears glasses. On the upside, the treble delivery is much more consistent, and doesn't change significantly across different positions and re-seats. For noise-cancelling headphones with a more consistent response, check out the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM2.

6.2 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
4.18 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
5.09 dB
PRTF Distance
:
18.49 dB
Openness
:
1.5
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
2.2
Correlated Crosstalk
:
0.0 dB

The B&W PX have a below-average soundstage. The shape of the PRTF response isn't quite accurate but does show some amount of activation. This results in a soundstage that is perceived as relatively large but maybe a bit unnatural. Also, due to the closed-back design, their soundstage may be perceived as less open and spacious than that of open-back headphones.

7.8 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.24
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.34
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
2.46
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
19.12

The imaging is very good. Weighted group delay is at 0.24, which is very good. The GD graph also shows that the entire group delay response is below the audibility threshold. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were very well-matched in frequency and amplitude response, but showed some mismatch in the treble range. This could make the stereo image a bit unnatural, but won't negatively affect the placement of objects (voices, instruments, video games effects) in the stereo field.

7.0 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
4.754
Weighted THD @ 100
:
3.223

The harmonic distortion performance of the PX is above-average. The overall amount of harmonic distortion is within decent limits. We also noticed that at 100dB SPL the measured THD in the bass range is less than 90dB SPL, which could be due to the behavior of the driver, or the ANC system.

8.5 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-27.11 dB
Bass
:
-21.68 dB
Mid
:
-23.31 dB
Treble
:
-36.3 dB
Self-Noise
:
20.76 dB

The PX has a great isolation performance. With ANC (active noise canceling) enabled and set to Flight, they achieved about 22db of isolation in the bass range, which is where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sits. This is excellent, and one of the highest values we have measured so far. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, the reduce outside noise by more than 23dB, which is also excellent. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they achieve 36dB of isolation, which is very good.

8.1 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
33.51 dB

The leakage performance of the PX is very good. The significant portion of the leakage is spread between 1KHz and 3KHz, which is quite a narrow range. This means that the leakage will sound high-pitched and thin. On the upside, the overall level leakage is not very loud either. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 34dB SPL and peaks at 54dB SPL, which is just above the noise floor of most offices.

5.4 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
380.55 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
17.35 dB
HFE
:
23322.39 Hz
Weighted THD
:
7618.296
Gain
:
36.32 dB

The recording quality of the integrated microphone is sub-par. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 381Hz. This results in a recorded/transmitted speech that sounds noticeably thin. In the treble range, the response cuts off at 3.5KHz suggesting a speech that lacks detail and sounds muffled.

It should be noted that the mic of the PX didn't respond normally to our test signal (pink noise) and this resulted in a bump in frequency response around 600Hz, which is not present the provided speech recording.

5.9 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
9.19 dB

The noise handling of the PX's integrated microphone is sub-par. In our SpNR test, they achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of less than 10dB. This means that this mic is best suited for use in quiet environments, and it'll struggle to fully separate noise from ambient noise in loud and even moderately environments.

7.7 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
32 ft
Line of Sight Range
:
176 ft

The B&W PX headphones have a very good wireless range. Indoors when obstructed by walls and other objects, the range is about 32 ft, which is good enough to walk around an average apartment or house without the audio cutting out. Outdoors or in large open spaces the maximum distance is about 176 ft, which is decent.

2.2 Latency
Default Latency
:
199 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

Poor latency performance for watching movies and gaming, but on par with other Bluetooth headphones.

The PX headphones do support aptX HD, which improves sound quality but typically has worse latency.

9.0 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
:
25.3 hrs
Charge Time
:
1.5 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
Auto-Off Timer
Audio while charging
:
Yes
Passive Playback
:
No

Update: 07/22/2019 We've retested and updated the charge time for battery life after a user pointed out that there may have been an issue with our initial test. The review and text have been updated accordingly.

The Bowers & Wilkins PX have good battery performance. They last over a day with continuous wireless playback. They also charge faster than we initially measured at 1.5 hours instead of 4 which puts them in the same ballpark as other noise-canceling headsets with a USB-C charging port. They also have an auto-off timer which makes them overall a long-lasting headset that will easily provide enough music for most use cases and commutes.

6.5 App Support
App Name : Bowers and & Wilkins Headphones
iOS : Yes
Android : Yes
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
No
ANC control
:
Adjustable
Mic Control : No
Room effects
:
No
Playback control
:
No
Button Mapping : No
Surround Sound : N/A

The PX have a decent app. It has a sleek design, but very limited functionality. There is an option to switch between the different noise cancelling modes, as well as a toggle for the smart pause feature. When enabled, smart pause will pause music playback when the headset is removed.

The app is available for iOS and Android, and there are no differences between the two. It lacks more advanced features like the ones in the Sennheiser Cap Tune app for the PXC 550 Wireless headphones. There is no EQ, no options for room effects, and no power saving feature.

6.8 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
4.1
Multi-Device Pairing
:
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
:
No

The PX headphones will remember the previous 2 devices they have paired with, and will automatically connect with the most recent of the two when switched on. Unlike the Sennheiser PXC 550, there is no NFC support, and pairing is a little more difficult than with the Bose QuietComfort 35 II since they must be turned off before holding the power button to enter pairing mode. They are not compatible with game consoles.

8.7 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
Yes
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
Audio + Microphone

The B&W PX headphones come with a 1/8" TRS audio cable, but it is only a two-pin connector so the microphone doesn't work with a PS4 or Xbox One controller. When connected to a PC with the included USB-C cable, audio and the microphone work without issue while the headphones are charging.

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

These headphones do not have a base/dock. If you are looking for a versatile headset that can also be used wired, check out the SteelSeries Arctis 7.

In the box

  • Bowers & Wilkins PX Headphones
  • Audio cable
  • USB-C cable
  • Manuals
  • Carrying pouch

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