Bowers & Wilkins is stepping up its headphone game. In the past year, the company has unveiled a series of super high-end headphones, including the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 headphones and the PI3 headphones. But along with those over-ear and in-ear headphones, the company also launched a new pair of on-ear headphones — the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 headphones.
But at $300, these aren’t cheap headphones. Are they worth the cash, or should you steer clear? We’ve been testing the headphones for a while now to find out.
Bowers & Wilkins has long made great-sounding products that also look good, and these headphones are no exception to that rule. The headphones aren’t necessarily built to turn heads — instead, they look subtle, classy, and strong.
The PX5 headphones are available in two color-schemes, including black and Space Gray, and black and Blue. We’re reviewing the model with blue highlights, and it looks quite good — offering a little more flare than other standard black headphones out there.
Generally, the headphones offer a strong build, ensuring that they can handle most of the abuse that you can throw at them. At first glance, you might assume that the frame is plastic — but on the contrary, it’s a carbon fiber that’s both lightweight and strong. Apart from that, there’s a nice memory foam in the ear cups and headband.
On the right ear cup is where you’ll get most of the controls and ports. There’s a standard three-button control setup for playback controls, along with a switch to turn the headphones on and enable pairing. You’ll also get a USB-C port and an aux port. On the left ear cup, there’s one button — and it controls noise cancellation. You can turn it on and off, but you can also set it to “auto” mode, which means that it’ll adjust depending on your surroundings. There are other smart features on offer here too — like the fact that playback pauses when you take the headphones off, and resumes when you put them back on. Most of the time, anyway.
The headphones come with a few accessories, including a hard carry sleeve, a USB-C charging cable and an aux cable. It’s not a huge range of accessories, but it’s everything you’ll need.
On-ear headphones usually aren’t as comfortable as over-ear headphones, but they’re definitely more comfortable than in-ear headphones — and that seems to be true here. That said, there’s plenty of padding and the clamp isn’t too tight, so we were able to wear the headphones for hours without running into any major comfort issues.
If you’re planning on using these headphones for long-distance travel and wearing all day, then it’s worth looking into over-ear headphones, like the PX7 headphones, instead. If, however, you’re buying the headphones to use for a few hours at a time at most, they’ll be more than comfortable enough.
Ultimately, sound quality is the most important thing to consider — especially if you’re a music junkie and plan on using the headphones for that instead of things like podcasts or audiobooks. Thankfully, the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 headphones excel in all those areas.
The bass response, for starters, is well-tuned, allowing kick drums room to breathe, and bass guitars a smooth tone. Bass could be described as natural, rather than “heavy” — so if you’re a mega-bass fan, it may be worth looking elsewhere.
The mid range is relatively well-tuned too. Low mids are warm without being muddy, and while there does seem to be a slight bump in high-mids, it doesn’t make the headphones sound cheap by any means.
Of course, the good sound has more to do with the ample high response than anything else. There’s plenty of detail to go around, and coupled with the relatively wide soundstage, instruments all had their own space.
These headphones also offer noise cancellation, which is decent, but not groundbreaking by any means. If noise cancellation is your primary reason for buying a pair of headphones then it’s worth turning to the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones or Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones instead — but if noise cancellation is secondary, then these will do the job perfectly fine.
The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 headphones connect to your listening device through Bluetooth 5.0, and they support AptX, which should make for a clearer, better sound quality in supported cases.
The battery life on the headphones is great — coming in at 25 hours on a single charge. They have fast-charging tech too — 15 minutes of charging will get you five hours of use.
The Bowers & Wilkins PX5 headphones have a lot to offer — but you would expect as much from a pair of $300 headphones. The sound-quality here is good, the headphones offer a comfortable fit, and they’re lightweight.
But are they the best on-ear headphones in their price range? Well, if noise cancellation is important to you, then perhaps so. If you’re more into heavy bass, then it’s worth considering the Beats Solo Pro headphones too — which also offer noise cancellation, and deeper integration with Apple products.
That said, if you want a natural sound and good noise cancellation, we recommend the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 headphones — and because of their premium quality, we’re awarding them the Headphone Review Silver Medal.
|Bowers & Wilkins||$299.99|
|Frequency response||10Hz – 30kHz||Active noise cancellation||Yes|
|Driver size||35.6mm||Noise attenuation||Unknown|
|Driver type||Dynamic||On-ear controls||Yes|
|Sensitivity||Unknown||Earpad material||Memory Foam|
|Rated impedance||20Ω||Magnet material||Unknown|
|Total harmonic distortion||<0.3%||Water resistance||No|
|Rated input power||Unknown||Battery life||25 Hours|
|Maximum input power||Unknown||Wireless distance||10m (33ft)|
|Wireless connection||Bluetooth 5.0||Cable length||1.2m (4ft)|
|Wired connection||Yes||Case type||Hard sleeve|
|Weight||241g (8.5oz)||Colors||Space Gray, Blue|