Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless review

British behemoth's over-ears go wireless

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Our Verdict

The P7 Wireless headphones deliver the great design and construction that Bowers & Wilkins is famous for, and the quality of their sound is fantastic when paired with the right music.

For

  • Stunning looks
  • Great build quality
  • Energetic, chunky sound

Against

  • Lack of mid presence
  • Frustrating volume button placement

You have to admire Bowers & Wilkins. While other headphone manufacturers take turns adding increasingly complicated model numbers or abstract nouns to their headphone names, the British-based company has stuck to its guns with its simple naming scheme.

You've got B&W’s P3 headphones, the most slimline and 'style-focused' in the range; the P5s, a pair of slightly larger on-ear headphones; and finally the P7 headphones, the company's over-ear offering.

Last year saw the arrival of the company's first set of wireless cans, the P5 Wireless, and now the P7s have received the wireless treatment; it feels like the company is really hitting its stride in the wireless sector.

P7 Wireless

Design

The P7 Wireless headphones follow the same design template established by B&W in its existing lineup.

A large oval sits on the outside of each earcup, adorned with the company's name embossed in a premium-feeling metal, and the rest of the earcups are covered in sheep leather that’s very soft to the touch, if a little warm in hot weather.

The leather on the removable magnetic earpads is filled with memory foam, which provides a small amount of noise isolation, although it's nowhere near what you'd get from a pair of active noise-cancelling headphones.

Connecting the two cups is a band, also wrapped in leather. Although cushioned, it's a little stiff, and can be uncomfortable if you wear the headphones with it resting on your head.

Thankfully however, its design means that it tends to clamp the headphones onto the sides of your head, meaning that most of the time the top of your head doesn't come into contact with the band at all.

Like most wireless headphones, the P7s can be used in a wired configuration, and the means by which you plug in the cable is really excellent.

You start by removing the left ear-cushion entirely, which reveals a socket into which you plug the included cable. Once you've re-attached the cushion the headphones look no different to a pair of wired cans.

P7 Wireless

It's a neat and tidy solution, and means the headphones look good however you choose to use them.

Finally, the right earcup houses the headphones' remote. It's a simple three-button affair, but this avoids the difficulties that touch controls can present. A simple on/off/pair slider is located on the bottom of the right earcup, and is easy to use even when you’re wearing the headphones.

The only issue we had with the location of the volume buttons is that they’re exactly where our thumb lay when we reached up to take the headphones off, leading to occasional accidental presses.

It's hardly a deal-breaker, but it stands out when the rest of the construction is as good as it is.

The headphones do have a low-battery warning indicator, but we prefer wireless headphones to give you a battery status update when you turn them on, so that you can plan to charge them before they start to run low.

Another minor niggle is that the three sounds that are played to indicate the headphones being turned on, turned off, and paired with a device are a little too similar and ambiguous sounding, meaning that we sometimes couldn't immediately establish whether the headphones were paired or whether they'd just been turned on.

This is especially frustrating when the headphones weren't able to automatically pair with our phone. We had to dive into the Bluetooth menu to get them paired each time we wanted to use them.

Performance

Spinning up Chandelier by Sia reveals the sheer control the Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless headphones have over their bass.

The headphones have a chunky sound to them. Their bass has real punch, and this leads to an energetic presentation overall.

This is further evidenced by a quick listen to Drumbones, a solo drum track from the drummer behind Three Trapped Tigers, Adam Betts. As you'd expect, the track contains more than its fair share of bass, and the P7 Wireless deals with it all with an excellent amount of control.

This track also shows off the headphones decent treble control; snare hits are crisp and defined, but aren't unnecessarily harsh.

We next switched to an old classic: Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The introductory guitar riff had a great amount of detail, with every imperfection audible – and we mean that in a good way, as it added a great deal of character to the track.

Once the bass kicked in it became clear that thanks to the sound profile of the P7 Wireless, the guitar line is definitely secondary to the bass.

P7 Wireless

This can lead in some cases to a loss of detail in the mids, just because they get a little buried in the mix.

Switching to Arioso by Brontide confirms this. While the drum and bass of this three-piece band is well represented by the sound of the headphones, the guitar is a little hidden in the mix.

The headphones performed admirably over aptX, but what was even more impressive is that they performed almost identically over a standard Bluetooth connection, to the extent that we'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two.

The headphones performed admirably over aptX, but what was even more impressive is that they performed almost identically over a standard Bluetooth connection

The reliability of the Bluetooth connection was good, which is especially reassuring when compared with B&W's previous wireless effort, the P5 Wireless headphones, which we found dropped their connection very easily.

During the several weeks over which we used the P7 Wireless headphones they didn't once lose their connection to my phone, indicating that B&W has seriously upped its wireless game since the P5s.

Battery life was also good. B&W advertises that the headphones should give around 17 hours of listening from a single charge, and we were able to use them over multiple days without needing to charge them.

P7 Wireless

We liked

The Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless headphones offer a chunky and rich sound experience. Bass and trebles are clear and defined, and music has a good amount of weight to it as a result.

The physical construction of the headphones is also excellent. The signature B&W look is no less pleasing here, and we're big fans of how the cable port is hidden from view by the magnetic earcups.

We disliked

These are definitely a pair of headphones that prioritise bass, and as a result more nuanced tracks can get just a touch lost in the mids.

In terms of build construction we’d have liked to see a better placement of the volume controls, away from where we'd naturally want to place our thumb when taking off the headphones.

Pairing was also a minor annoyance, with the headphones unable to connect to our device automatically.

Final verdict

The Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless headphones are a great pair of Bluetooth headphones for fans of the right music genres. Their sound is nice and weighty, and punchy when it comes to genres like drum and bass and hip hop.

If you like your headphones to sound more impartial however, then these might not be for you. They have a sound profile that's skewed towards lower frequencies, which can work badly with some rock music and classical.

The build quality and design are excellent, but the P7s should definitely be auditioned before purchase.