B&W P9 Signature headphones offer sumptuous sound (if you've got the cash)

P9 Signature

To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Bowers & Wilkins is releasing an all new pair of flagship headphones, the P9 Signature.

Positioned as a means for the company to show off the full extent of its technologies, the headphones are filled to the brim with audio innovations.

While the drivers themselves are the same size as those found in the P7 headphones, there are a number of significant differences.

Unique drivers

With the headband de-coupled from each earcup, the drivers are allowed to move more as they vibrate, providing a flatter response from low to high frequencies. This also means the sound is less distorted by any vibration from the headband.

The drivers are also wired from both sides to attempt to limit any interference from the wiring.

The transducers, which on headphones tend to be positioned parallel to the head, are slightly angled on the P9 Signature to match the direction of the ear.

B&W claims that this creates the impression that the music is coming from loudspeakers in front of you rather than from inside your head (as is the case with normal headphones), but so far we've found the effect to be minimal.

Sounds good

But enough about the technical specifics, how do they sound?

In a word, phenomenal. The amount of detail these headphones are capable of producing is simply staggering, with extra subtle levels of reverberation audible on cymbals. You can even easily discern individual plectrum scrapes on guitar strings.

The P9 Signature are definitely aiming to be reference headphones, meaning that they do no favors to poorly recorded or mixed music. There is no 'sweetening up' of sound here, only an attempt at producing the most accurate reproduction of a recording.

P9 Signature

In our early listening tests this has meant that certain synthesized beats can sound harsh and artificial, but with live recordings these headphones have seriously impressed us so far.

Although the sound is stunning, we're less sold on the look of these headphones, which is a shame since Bowers & Wilkins normally produce some fantastic looking cans. The headband is a little chunky for our liking, while the Bowers & Wilkins stamp on each ear cup looks a little less polished than on previous models.

As standard the headphones come with a 3.5mm headphone cable, but B&W will soon be producing a lightning-equipped cable for any iPhone 7 owners out there. In the future this will be included in the box, but anyone that buys the headphones before that point will receive the new cable free of charge.

All this functionality won't come cheap however. The P9 Signature will retail for $899.99 (£699.99 / around AU$1175) when they're released this month. Check out our full review coming soon.

  • We can't wait to find out if the P9 Signature find a place on our list of the best headphones.
Jon Porter

Jon Porter is the ex-Home Technology Writer for TechRadar. He has also previously written for Practical Photoshop, Trusted Reviews, Inside Higher Ed, Al Bawaba, Gizmodo UK, Genetic Literacy Project, Via Satellite, Real Homes and Plant Services Magazine, and you can now find him writing for The Verge.