Reviews: Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless On-Ear Headphones

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Product Breakdown

  • Presentation:                  4   out of    5
  • Innovation:                      3   out of     5
  • Usability:                          4   out of     5
  • Comfort:                           7   out of   10
  • Design:                            15   out of   15
  • Quality:                           14   out of   15
  • Value:                               18   out of   20
  • Performance:               22   out of   25
  • Total:                                87   out of 100

Design and Comfort

The Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless headphones are elegant and understated making them perfect for everyday use. I bought my first pair of Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones over five years ago and I still have them today. I’m an audiophile by trade, but can’t bear to lug around my bulky planar-magnetic headphones to and from work. My P5s have always been great because they slip right into my backpack, and are able to take a beating.

The P5 Wireless headphones utilize the same design as the P5 Series 2 (Wired), which looks very similar to my first generation P5 headphones. The only design difference I noticed between the second-generation and the first is the black paint on the brushed metal headphone plate. When comparing the Wired (Series 2) to the Wireless, there is a bit more bulk on the ear cups because Bowers & Wilkins had to stuff a Bluetooth receiver and a 17-hour battery in the headphones. Although I miss the smaller profile of the Wired versions, it’s the price one pays for going wireless. Another point worth mentioning, the ear pads on the second generation have a much better seal on my ear, creating a more immersive sound stage while blocking out ambient noise.

In terms of comfort, I flew back on a 5+ hour flight and began to notice discomfort around 2.5+ hours of having the headphones on my ears. I started to feel the pressure and soreness from the headphones squeezing my ears. This is a common problem with the P5 headphones and can be mitigated through flexing the headphone band. These headphones are unquestionably portable but aren’t the best for long flights. Instead, I would recommend the Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones with ear cups that sit around your ear relieving the pressure (about $100 more).

Performance

Overall, the sound quality from the P5 Wireless headphones is nothing short of spectacular. The sound signature is fairly well balanced with an extra kick of bass. In comparison to the previous generation, the P5 Wireless is a bit more detailed in the mid to high range. Bowers & Wilkins has always been known for their strong bass, but this has always left me wanting more detail from the high to mid-range.

Sound quality will increase marginally once the headphones are used in their wired mode. Details are more noticeable and distortion is lessened. In comparison to other Bluetooth headphones within this category like V-Moda or Bose, the change from wired to wireless is much less noticeable. The issue with wireless headphones isn’t the fault of the manufacturer, as much as a problem with Bluetooth and its ability to transfer a limited amount of data. However, Bowers & Wilkins does a great job at mitigating this issue.

Final Verdict

Originally the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless started at $400, but have come down in price significantly. For around $300, you can order the P5 Wireless from Amazon.com making them a great value for their design and performance. These lightweight and portable headphones are great for everyday use but will fatigue your ears after more than 2.5 hours of listening. Overall, Bowers & Wilkins have always been my go-to headphones when it comes to everyday use and I plan on replacing my first generation P5 headphones with the updated P5 Wireless.

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