Reviews: Bowers & Wilkins C5 Series 2 In-Ear Headphones

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Product Breakdown

  • Presentation:                     4   out of     5
  • Innovation:                          5   out of     5
  • Usability:                              5   out of     5
  • Comfort:                               8   out of   10
  • Design:                                13   out of   15
  • Quality:                               14   out of   15
  • Value:                                   19   out of   20
  • Performance:                   23   out of   25
  • Total:                                    91   out of 100

Design and Comfort

Long story short, these headphones are worth every penny. Having owned the first version of Bowers & Wilkins’ C5 in-ear headphones, I was extremely eager to try the C5 Series 2. Looking at the earbuds, your eyes are drawn to the silver steel balls on the outer plane of the earbud. Truly a unique design, the Micro Porous Filter is more than a pretty design. Bowers & Wilkins claim that the filter acts as a “diffuser, enhancing clarity and making the music feel spacious.” Bowers & Wilkins was able to seamlessly integrated design and functionality with the C5 In-Ear Headphones.

Comfortable earbuds are extremely hard to find and I usually have a difficult time finding earbuds that can fit into my small ears and like many other earbuds, the Bowers & Wilkins C5 Series 2 fit a bit tight. However, after using these in-ear headphones on an 8+ hour flight, I barely noticed that I was wearing them. Another unique feature to the C5s, are the Secure Loops that fits in the ear canal. These take a bit of time to get used to since it fits differently than most conventional ear canal holders. The Secure Loops also have a tendency to fall down and require re-adjusting to take them in and out.

Bowers & Wilkins has always been known for their craftsmanship and high production standards, which is noticeable through small details like the metal housing and stitched carrying case. Aside from some minor issues, like a small piece of plastic falling loose from the Secure Loop, the C5s are extremely well made. In comparison to the design of the C5 Series 1, the only noticeable design difference is the new black cable compared to the first version’s transparent cable.


In my experience, having owned everything from Audeze iSine 20s to Apple EarPods, the C5 Series 2 have remarkable sound quality. Unlike most In-Ear Headphones, the C5s have a noticeably larger sound stage in comparison to its competitors. The larger sound stage is a result of Bowers & Wilkins’ Micro Porous Filter adding depth to the music. The C5 Series 2’s new 9.2mm drivers have a very pronounced low end but lacks a high to mid-range response. The distortion in the high to mid-range is quite obvious, but for those wanting more bass, these in-ear headphones will be a perfect match. In my opinion, these headphones sound like they should cost a lot more than $150.

Final Verdict

Would I recommend buying these headphones? Well, it always depends. If you can afford the $150 price tag, care about portability and sound quality, then yes you should buy them. These in-ear headphones offer a very good value for their design and performance. Not to mention that these headphones sound better than most on-ear headphones in the same price range.

However, I would not recommend these in-ear headphones for those who own the first series of C5 in-ear headphones because the change in design and sound signature has not increased drastically. Also, audiophiles may find the sound signature of these headphones a bit too emphasized on the low end and lacking in the high to mid-range.

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