Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones

Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless ($399)
Oh boy, I love it when a headphone ticks all the boxes and doesn't have a fatal flaw shiv strapped to its ankle ready to strike at an inopportune moment. Yep, the Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless is a dandy daily driver for all your mobile headphone needs.

Build Quality and Styling
Ever lust for an ambling bimble through the countryside on a bluebird day with perforated lambskin driving gloves grasping the wood and chrome steering wheel of a vintage English sports car? If you even understood that last sentence, these might be just the headphone for you.

The P7 Wireless has a classic, masculine look appointed in glove leather, anodized aluminum, and chromed steel. The are a few plastic bits visible, like the buttons and baffle plate edges, but to my eyes it's only used when it is, in fact, the best material to use. The only thing even close to a gripe I have is the black leather padded headband is just a bit on the bulky side. This is a terrific looking and well built headphone.

Ergonomics and Comfort
At 321 grams I'd call this a middle weight headphone. Headband pad is ample but slightly too stiff and doesn't conform to the shape of my head, so it does tend to touch a fairly small spot on the top of my head.

Earpads are possibly dual-density memory foam with glove leather covers. Earpad openings are rectangular and a cozy 35mm X 56mm; depth is 16mm. The size was roomy for my slightly smaller than average male pinna, but I do think people with large ears might find them touching. Fortunately, the soft leather interior of the pad is comfy, and the baffle plate is perfectly flat with no pokey features to annoy.

I found the ear pads initially a bit stiff, but as they warm and take on shape they became quite comfortable. Similarly at first I thought the headband touching the top of my head might be troublesome, but I found extended listening reasonably comfortable though present.

Headband adjustment is accomplished with two chromed steel rods on either side sliding in and out of the headband with a friction fit (no detents). I found the slightly stiff friction of the adjustment readily adjustable yet secure when in place.

Front to back ear capsule rotation is elegantly accomplished by the springy action of the gracefully sweeping chrome metal bars of the single sided yoke. Up/down tilt adjustment is effected by a single pivot on the oval aluminum part of the outer earpiece.

In my experience headphone comfort is a fine balance between weight, caliper pressure, earpad fit, and weight distribution across the top of my head. The P7 feels like it is securely hugging my head without excess pressure; though its presence is always felt, it didn't become bothersome over time. It's relatively easy to make a plastic headphone light and comfortable. The P7 is a headphone of substance and high quality materials; I think B&W did an above average job making it comfortable to wear...above average, but not great.

The P7 has hinges on either side of the adjustment rods that allow it to be folded for storage and transport. There is an included carry pouch with magnetic closure. The case provides ample padding to protect the headphones, but is clearly a artificial leather material and is slightly disappointing given the very high quality of the headphone materials. It is perfectly adequate to the task, however.

Also included is a 50" cable for wired, passive use. The player end is a straight, 3.5mm TRS plug; the headphone end is a 2.5mm TRS plug with specially molded strain relief. The headphone end of the cable can be removed and reinserted by removing the magnetically attached left earpad and using the unique jack hidden beneath. I like this design because it provide very good strain relief on the headphone end of the cable and probably reduces the likelihood of damage from an inadvertent yank on the cable.

One downside of this cable for wired use of the P7 is that it doesn't not have the needed connections nor cable mounted mic/remote to allow use as a smartphone headset when in wired mode. Just like the Bose QC35, I think this is a silly oversight. Yes, I know they'd need to offer two cables to be compatible for all phones, but hey, that's not too hard. Tisk tisk.

Wireless Mode
To enter wireless mode on the P7 you must first remove the magnetically attached left earpad with a simple, firm tug, and then remove the cable. The headphones will not turn on with the cable attached. The P7 are charged though its USB port on the right earpiece; charging USB cable is included.

Wireless controls are intuitive and simple. The main power button is a small momentary slide switch on the bottom of the right ear capsule. Momentarily sliding the switch forward will turn the headphones on; pushing the button inward for two seconds instantiates initial pairing.

Three narrow buttons in a vertical row on the rear of the right earpiece provide play, pause, and volume control, as well as phone answering and volume control. These button act exactly as one would assume; a full description of button actions is on page 5 of the P7 manual.

The center control button has a sculpted bump on it, and I found all controls, though visually discrete, were very easy to find and and actuate by fingertip feel. All headphone audio notifications (power on/off, Bluetooth paired, call incoming, etc) are done with pleasent and reasonably indicative chimes. Personally, I like voice prompts, this may be an unusual bias as I have to test so many wireless headphones that I never get used to what the chimes mean, but I always know what the voice prompt means. At any rate I liked the chimes in the P7; thier meaning seemed reasonably intuitive.

Battery life is claimed to be 17 hours, and takes about three hours to charge.

COMPANY INFO
Bowers&Wilkins
54 Concord Street
North Reading, MA
marketing@bwgroupusa.com
(978) 664 2870
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
--------------'s picture

You didn't mention anything about the channel imbalance shown in the wired measurements.
How come?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Because I uploaded the wrong graph. That first one had some problems with pad seal, and some noise on the THD. I remeasured but uploaded the wrong one. Try again and you'll get the better measurements. Sorry about that.
gLer's picture

...to the wired P7? I've read reviews that it improves on it a bit, and others that claim they're virtually identical in character. One of your 'gripes' with the wired version were the non-memory-foam earpads. Are the P7W earpads different in this regard (being memory foam), in which case a straight swap of the P7 for P7W earpads should be a comfortable upgrade. On a different note, would love for you to test the new P9 flagship to read how it compares to the P7/P7W. Thanks for a brilliant and resourceful site!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Just checked it and the pads are swappable. They are different; the new pads have different acoustic damping structure on the pad plate.
gLer's picture

Thanks Tyll. Given your comments about the "stiff" P7 pads, do you think getting a set of P7 Wireless pads for the P7 would be an "upgrade" wither comfort wise or acoustically? Could the pads be influencing the performance of the headphones?

music4life's picture

Thanks for the great comprehensive review as always Tyll. I wanted to suggest to you to review the Sony MDR 1000x. I've heard a lot of hype about it, including that it is superior to the QC35 wireless in both SQ and NC.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
They're on the way.
bogdanb's picture

I did ended up buying a second pair of NAD viso hp50 after a 1 year brake from the old one which broke.

bogdanb's picture

published the comment by misteke
any way, I have the new hp50, seems like they have made some changes to the packaging, and I really hope on the build quality (I hope this one will last me a long time).

I started however to feel like I need a good wireless one... so yeah, I'll be watching closely future reviews of wireless headphones.

Thank you!
(3 headphones bought based on your reviews, admittedly one twice :) ) 750 euros and counting!

Token Gesture's picture

I have the Sonys and love them. I consider them to be the best NC wireless option currently avaialable. Hope Tyll reviews them soon.

Jayhawklaw's picture

How do these compare with the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless? The P7s aren't on the WOF yet so I'm wondering if they'll knock of the Sennheisers or if not, which is the better sounding HP.

norb's picture

Hi Tyll, can you please tell us why the original P7 didn´t make it on the WoF and the wireless version does? Have B&W changed the tuning, too? (or just the memory foam pads?) Why did you back then say that the original P7 model had too much bass (and therefore did not make it into the WoF) but this one with the same bass problem does make it? Thanks for clarification.

BaggedMilk's picture

Tyll's preferences have changed a tad to prefer a bit more bass, and this is also a Bluetooth headphone. It's a different category altogether from the wired P7. The competition isn't as strong.

BaggedMilk's picture

You posted this review under the "on ear" section.

RPGWiZaRD's picture

One of the few wireless headphones which actually looks like it would be measuring better in wireless mode, very impressive frequency response imo for bluetooth.

lenbell's picture

Hello tyll... just purchased the bose quiet comfort recently based on your review... how would you compare or rank versus P7?

thubes's picture

I've found your site extremely helpful as I've been trying to research for my next headphone purchase. I have a pair of ATH EW9s that I've enjoyed for a couple of years. I love music, but am more interested in investing music dollars into saving for a setup at home than headphones (which I know is probably sacrilege here). I've recently changed jobs though and am in an office setting with lots of cubes around. I want to switch to a closed back over-ear to seal out some of the sound around me and not leak to my colleagues. It doesn't need to be a perfect seal as I'd like to not be oblivious when my boss calls my name. I won't use them walking around. It'll likely be home, office, starbucks, or travel and I don't care about noise cancelling. I'm going to be using spotify premium and either my iPhone 7 (stupid lack of jack) or work computer - which is nothing special.

The idea of wireless is really appealing from a usefulness standpoint and I've done a lot of research on the p7s. I've read some disconcerting reviews on Amazon on distortion after a couple of months that I hope are unfounded. I really want to enjoy my sound though even if critical listening is not the end goal. So I've considered giving up my wireless dream and getting the Meze Classics 99 possibly paired with a simple Fiio E10k out of my work computer. Couple of questions then because I can't find a comparison, how do the Meze sound compared to the Wireless P7s? Have you heard of reliability issues with the p7s? And, if my total budget is $300 to $400 are there others you would consider?

Would appreciate any advice you're willing to share.

Thanks.

Jayhawklaw's picture

Have the P7 wireless headphones been discontinued? They're available on Amazon, Crutchfield, at Best Buy, etc., BUT on B&W's website they are not to be found except for refurbished models in the "outlet" section. If you go to the website and click on the link/tab for headphones you get the new PX, the P9, the P5 wireless, the P3 and the C5. That's it. If you go to the section for wireless headphones you, predictably, see the new PX and the P5 wireless. No wired P7 or P7 wireless. It seems odd to discontinue a fairly new and well reviewed headphone, but there you go

X