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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 don't have any virtual soundstage features.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 have an integrated mic.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These headphones can only be used wirelessly with a Bluetooth connection.
Update 06/11/2021: We have changed USB Audio to 'USB Type A' to reflect the source port instead of the headphones' port. When using their USB cable, the USB-A connector can be connected to any device with a USB-A port. The scoring of this box hasn't changed.
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.
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.
The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 only receive audio if you plug the included 1/8" TRS cable into an Xbox One controller.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.