Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Reviewed Sep 28, 2020 at 08:14 am
Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless Picture
7.0
Mixed Usage
6.1
Neutral Sound
7.6
Commute/Travel
6.9
Sports/Fitness
7.4
Office
5.4
Wireless Gaming
6.9
Wired Gaming
6.5
Phone Calls
Type On-ear
Enclosure Closed-Back
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling Yes
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are premium wireless on-ear headphones. They're amazingly well-built, have a great ANC system, and deliver excellent battery performance. They're also decently comfortable and have a control scheme that places a lot of functionality at your fingertips. Unfortunately, their bass-heavy sound profile may not suit everyone, and their companion app gives you no way to adjust it, which is a disappointing omission. Still, if you don't mind a boomy listening experience and prefer a tight on-ear fit, these may be a good choice.

Our Verdict

7.0 Mixed Usage

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are decent for mixed usage. They're well-built, block out plenty of ambient noise, and feature an easy-to-use control scheme, all of which makes them good for commuting. Their multi-device pairing capability and long battery life make them decent for office work. Unfortunately, their bass-heavy sound profile isn't for everyone, and their mediocre integrated microphone limits their usage for phone calls.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Great control scheme.
  • Impressive noise isolation performance.
  • Good battery life.
Cons
  • No EQ to modify their sound profile.
  • No microphone compatibility when using a wired connection.
  • Sub-par microphone recording quality and mediocre noise handling capability.
  • Mediocre stability.
6.1 Neutral Sound

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are mediocre for neutral listening. Their bass response is heavily overemphasized, resulting in a boomy sound profile with muddied vocals and lead instruments. There's no EQ in their companion app either, so you can't adjust their sound profile. Also, they don't provide an especially spacious listening experience.

Pros
  • Consistent audio delivery.
  • Good stereo imaging performance.
Cons
  • No EQ to modify their sound profile.
  • Closed-off soundstage.
7.6 Commute/Travel

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are good for commuting. Their adjustable ANC system effectively filters out engine noise and their battery life should be long enough to get you through a long overnight flight. While their on-ear fit may not suit everyone, they're decently comfortable and have very low latency on mobile devices, which is good if you like to watch movies or shows on your way into the office.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Impressive noise isolation performance.
  • Low wireless latency on mobile devices.
  • Good battery life.
Cons
  • No EQ to modify their sound profile.
  • Mediocre stability.
6.9 Sports/Fitness

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are an acceptable choice for sports and fitness. While they aren't especially stable or easy to carry around, they're sturdy enough to take a few bumps and have a control scheme that easy to use when you're on the go. Their adjustable ANC system and talk-through feature allow you to let in more ambient noise if you're out on a run and want to stay aware of your surroundings.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Great control scheme.
Cons
  • No EQ to modify their sound profile.
  • Mediocre stability.
7.4 Office

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are decent for office use. They're impressively effective when it comes to filtering out the chatter of coworkers and support multi-device pairing, which is useful if you listen to content on your phone and work computer. Their 38-hour battery life should have no trouble dealing with a couple of days in the office.

Pros
  • Support for multi-device pairing.
  • Impressive noise isolation performance.
  • Good battery life.
Cons
  • No EQ to modify their sound profile.
  • No microphone compatibility when using a wired connection.
  • Sub-par microphone recording quality and mediocre noise handling capability.
5.4 Wireless Gaming

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 aren't suitable for wireless gaming due to their high latency on PC and incompatibility with PS4 and Xbox One consoles.

6.9 Wired Gaming

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are okay for wired gaming, as long as you don't plan on using the integrated mic, as neither the 1/8" TRS cable nor USB-A to USB-C charging cable support microphone usage. Their bass-heavy sound profile emphasizes some sound effects in action-heavy games but may overwhelm in-game dialogue. Thankfully, their on-ear fit provides relatively consistent audio delivery.

Pros
  • Consistent audio delivery.
  • Good stereo imaging performance.
Cons
  • No EQ to modify their sound profile.
  • No microphone compatibility when using a wired connection.
6.5 Phone Calls

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are just okay for making phone calls. They do a great job of blocking out ambient noise, so you should have no trouble following the conversation, even in loud environments. Unfortunately, their integrated mic delivers sub-par recording quality and does an unremarkable job of separating speech from ambient noise.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality.
  • Impressive noise isolation performance.
Cons
  • No microphone compatibility when using a wired connection.
  • Sub-par microphone recording quality and mediocre noise handling capability.
  • 7.0 Mixed Usage
  • 6.1 Neutral Sound
  • 7.6 Commute/Travel
  • 6.9 Sports/Fitness
  • 7.4 Office
  • 5.4 Wireless Gaming
  • 6.9 Wired Gaming
  • 6.5 Phone Calls

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are premium-looking headphones. Their construction features textured, high-grade plastic and densely-woven cloth, which surrounds the ear cups and headband. The cloth material is available in either blue or dark grey.

7.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.59 lbs
Clamping Force
0.8 lbs

These are decently comfortable on-ear headphones. The ear cups feature memory foam padding and offer a broad range of adjustability. Unfortunately, you may experience a little fatigue during longer listening sessions, as the ear cups are a little small and can put pressure on your ear. The headband also has a stiff range of adjustment, which can be annoying when trying to change their fit.

8.1
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Good
Feedback Good
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control Mute/Unmute
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control Presets
Talk-Through
On/Off
Additional Controls Bluetooth Sync

These headphones have a great physical control scheme. It's fairly easy to use and places a lot of functionality at your fingertips. It offers controls for volume adjustment, playback and call functions, microphone muting, ANC preset cycling, and enabling talk-through, not to mention Bluetooth pairing. Most inputs come with an audible voice cue, and the buttons themselves offer plenty of physical feedback.

6.1
Design
Portability
L 7.7 "
W 6.8 "
H 1.8 "
Volume 94 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are acceptably portable. While they take up less space than some over-ear alternatives, they're still somewhat bulky and don't have a folding headband. Thankfully, their ear cups rotate flat to make it easier to slide them into a bag.

6.5
Design
Case
Type Soft case
L 9.0 "
W 6.5 "
H 2.4 "
Volume 140 Cu. Inches

These on-ears come with a case that's a middle ground between a pouch and a soft case. It should protect the headphones from scratches and minor water damage, but not large impacts. It uses an elastic instead of a zipper to stay shut, meaning that it remains permanently semi-open, though the headphones shouldn't fall out.

8.5
Design
Build Quality

These headphones feel impressively well-built. They feature a high-grade plastic construction, accented with a densely-woven cloth and thick padding. The yokes and headband feel very solid, and there are no obvious weak points to worry about. They should be able to survive some minor drops and bumps.

6.0
Design
Stability

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 have mediocre stability. If you make a sudden movement or lean too far forward, they may slip off of your head. Thankfully, their wireless design eliminates the risk of having an audio cable snag on something and yanking them from your ears.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Bowers & Wilkins PX5 headphones
  • 1/8" TRS cable
  • USB-C cable
  • Manuals
  • Soft case

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
2.24 db
Treble Amount
-3.07 db

These on-ears have a very bass-heavy sound profile. While this may please listeners who prefer more thump and rumble in their music, this overemphasized bass response muddies vocals and lead instruments. Their treble response is also somewhat uneven, leading to slightly harsh and piercing high notes.

7.5
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.49 dB

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5's frequency response consistency is good. You should be able to achieve consistent audio delivery on separate listening sessions, even if you have long hair or wear glasses. That said, there are some inconsistencies in the mid to high-treble range due to fit and positioning.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
4.8
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
7.35 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
10 Hz
Low-Bass
4.21 dB
Mid-Bass
8.15 dB
High-Bass
10.13 dB

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 have poor bass accuracy. It's overemphasized across the entire range, which may please fans of bass-heavier genres. However, it results in a very boomy listening experience that makes them poorly-suited for more vocal or lead-centric genres, like jazz or classical.

7.3
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.63 dB
Low-Mid
5.7 dB
Mid-Mid
1.39 dB
High-Mid
0.51 dB

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 have decent mid accuracy. Their heavily overemphasized high-bass carries over into the low-mids, muddying vocals and leads. That said, the mid-mids and high-mids are very well-balanced, resulting in adequate clarity and detail.

7.0
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.0 dB
Low-Treble
1.64 dB
Mid-Treble
4.43 dB
High-Treble
-7.45 dB

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5's treble accuracy is satisfactory. There's some slight overemphasis in the low-treble and mid-treble ranges, resulting in some harsh and piercing high notes.

6.9
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
2.2 db
Dips
1.19 db

The peaks and dips performance of these on-ears is satisfactory. The bump in the high-bass and low-mid ranges generates some boominess and muddies vocals and lead instruments. A dip in the mid-mids pushes those notes toward the back of the mix. The sharp spike in the mid-treble makes some higher notes overly bright and piercing.

7.8
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.17
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
1.1
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
2.12
Weighted Phase Mismatch
15.75

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 deliver very good stereo imaging performance. The weighted group delay falls entirely beneath the audibility threshold, resulting in tight bass and transparent treble. The L/R drivers are also well-matched in regards to amplitude and phase response, with only minor frequency mismatch. Overall, these headphones should do a good job of accurately placing objects in the stereo image. These results are only valid for our test unit, and yours may perform differently.

3.0
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
2.58 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
1.25 dB
PRTF Distance
3.59 dB
Openness
1.7
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.5

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 have a bad passive soundstage. Due to their closed-back enclosure and on-ear design, which results in only partial interaction with the outer ear, sound is perceived as coming from the inside of your head.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 don't have any virtual soundstage features.

7.2
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.474
WHD @ 100
0.186

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5's weighted harmonic distortion performance is decent. Aside from some distortion throughout the mid-mid to the low-treble range at both moderate and high volumes, the rest of the frequency range falls within good limits. This results in mostly clean and pure audio reproduction.

Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
1.1 (1B084)
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 5.0
Codec
aptX HD, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
High
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
Integrated

These are the results used to test the Bowers & Wilkins PX5. We used the 'High' ANC preset for noise isolation tests. Our results are only valid when the headphones are used in this configuration.

Isolation
8.3
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-22.97 dB
Bass
-16.61 dB
Mid
-18.67 dB
Treble
-33.61 dB

With the ANC system set to 'High', the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 do an impressive job of filtering out background noise. The ANC system is very effective in the bass and low-mid range, as it blocks out a good amount of noises like bus engines. Meanwhile, the feature does nothing to improve upon their passive noise isolation from the mid-mid to the high-treble range. Still, you likely won't hear much of the chatter of nearby coworkers or the hum of an AC unit, even if their ANC system is turned off.

7.8
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
34.69 dB

These on-ears do a very good job of preventing audio from leaking out the ear cups. If you listen to your music at high volumes, people probably won't hear too much of what you're listening to, even in a moderately quiet environment.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 have an integrated mic.

5.6
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
315.41 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
6.23 dB
HFE
2560.0 Hz
Weighted THD
0.851
Gain
21.05 dB

The integrated mic has disappointing recording quality. While your voice should be mostly free of distortion, it also sounds muffled and lacking in overall detail.

6.4
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
16.81 dB

The integrated microphone does an unremarkable job of isolating speech from background noise. If you make a call from an especially noisy environment, like a subway station, people on the other end of the line could probably have trouble understanding you.

Active Features
8.6
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
37.8 hrs
Additional Charges
0.0
Total Battery Life
37.8 hrs
Charge Time
1.6 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Standby mode
Audio While Charging
Yes
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port USB-C

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 deliver an amazing battery performance. With roughly 38 hours of continuous playback with ANC turned on, they outperform their advertised battery life of 25 hours. They also feature a standby mode to help extend battery life. They must also be powered on to use them with the included analog audio cable, which is a little disappointing if you run out of charge.

6.5
Active Features
App Support
App Name Bowers and & Wilkins Headphones
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
Presets
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

The Bowers & Wilkins Headphone app is easy to use but somewhat lacking in features. There's no EQ and no audio presets, so there's no way to adjust their sound profile. The app allows you to cycle between the 'Off', 'Low', 'Auto', and 'High' ANC presets and provides you with a slider for their talk-though feature, letting you dial in a little more ambient noise if you want. The app allows you to see paired devices, adjust the standby timer, change auto-connect behavior, and turn the wear sensor on and off, which automatically pauses media when you take them off and resumes it when you put them back on. You can also update their firmware and check their battery status. Unusually, you can also use the app to play 'Soundscapes', which are ambient noises like rain and waterfalls to help you relax or drown out distractions.

Connectivity
8.0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
158 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
226 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
219 ms
PC Latency (aptX HD)
221 ms
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
126 ms
Android Latency
49 ms

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 have very good Bluetooth connectivity. They support Bluetooth 5.0 and multi-device pairing, not to mention a wide range of wireless codecs, including SBC, aptX, and aptX HD. While their latency on PC is too high for gaming, they perform much better on mobile devices. iOS latency is low enough to stream movies but might be a little disruptive for some. However, their latency on Android devices is outstanding. That said, it should be noted that apps and devices compensate for latency differently, so your real-world experience may vary.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A

These headphones can only be used wirelessly with a Bluetooth connection.

9.8
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
USB-C
Detachable Yes
Length 3.9 ft
Connection USB-C
Analog/USB Audio Latency
8 ms

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 come with both a 1/8" TRS analog audio cable and a USB-A to USB-C charging cable that can also be used for audio. However, these headphones need power to function, so they can't be used for passive audio playback with these cables when their battery runs out. Neither cable comes with an in-line mic.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PC/PS4 Wired USB
Audio Only
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 offer audio and microphone compatibility when connected wirelessly to Bluetooth-enabled PCs. Unfortunately, they only receive audio when you use the included 1/8" TRS audio cable and USB cable with either PCs or PS4 consoles.

Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 only receive audio if you plug the included 1/8" TRS cable into an Xbox One controller.

0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 don't have a dock.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

There are two color variants of the Bowers & Wilkins PX5. We tested the 'Blue' variant, though we expect the 'Space Grey' model to perform similarly. If someone comes across a model variant that isn't mentioned, let us know in the discussions below so that we can update our review.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 are well-built on-ear headphones. They have excellent build quality, great battery life, and a user-adjustable ANC system. Unfortunately, while some users may prefer their bass-heavy sound profile, their companion app doesn't feature presets or an EQ, which makes them less than ideal for neutral listening. For more options, take a look at our list of recommendations of the best on-ear wireless headphones, the best noise-cancelling headphones, and the best on-ear headphones.

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless

The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless and Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless are closely-matched. The on-ear PX5 have a more comprehensive control scheme, are easier to carry around, provide more consistent audio delivery, leak less audio, and have a superior integrated mic. That said, the PX7 are more comfortable and provide a far more spacious listening experience.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless

The Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless are better overall headphones then the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless. The Sony's over-ear fit is comfier and more stable, they provide a better-balanced and far more adjustable listening experience, and block out more ambient sound. That said, the Bowers & Wilkins are better-built, have lower wireless latency, are compatible with USB audio, and leak less audio.

Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless

The over-ear Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless are better mixed-usage headphones than the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless. The PX are better-built, more stable on the head, provide a better-balanced and far more spacious listening experience, and block out more ambient noise. Conversely, the PX5 have a longer battery life, a superior integrated mic, lower wireless latency, and a more comprehensive control scheme.

Beats Solo Pro Wireless

The Beats Solo Pro Wireless and Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless have different strengths. The Bowers & Wilkins are better-built, more comfortable, and have an easier to use control scheme as well as a more comprehensive companion app. They also offer multi-device pairing and wired audio playback, neither of which the Beats support. However, the Beats provide more consistent and neutral sound profile, charge faster, feel more stable, and have a much longer wireless range.

Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II Wireless are more versatile than the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless. The over-ear Sennheiser have a more comfortable and stable fit, a more neutral sound profile, a better integrated microphone, and full audio and microphone compatibility on a wired connection. They also support the aptX-LL codec for low latency audio, though the Bowers & Wilkins' audio latency is lower across most devices. The Bowers & Wilkins are better-built, have a much longer battery life, leak less audio, and have a superior control scheme.

Beats Solo3 2018 Wireless

The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Wireless are better mixed usage wireless on-ears than the Beats Solo3 Wireless. The Bowers & Wilkins have an easier-to-use and more comprehensive control scheme, are better-built, block out more ambient noise, and feature a companion app with more options. However, the Beats have a more neutral sound profile and last slightly longer on a single charge. They also offer full audio and microphone compatibility on a wired connection thanks to their 1/8" TRRS cable.

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