Bowers & Wilkins PX8 headphones review. At the moment, Bowers & Wilkins PX8 is the most expensive in the brand’s lineup, especially if you take limited editions. Not only that, these are generally one of the most expensive wireless headphones on the market, on Amazon the price is $700 – only Bang & Olufsen is next to it, but higher is already various Hi-Fi. Is it possible to expect miracles from such a device? I’ll tell you more – you need it! Here, with miracles, there is complete order, but there was also a fly in the ointment. Let’s figure out together what kind of animal we got.
As always, Bowers & Wilkins do not let you down: it is pleasant to pick up the headphones, stroke them, touch them. Of course, they are very pleasant to wear. Unlike the recent Focal Bathys, the PX8 doesn’t look big on the head, it fits softly and coolly, the ears don’t sweat — sometimes I sat in the office for a couple of hours.
Materials are great. Real leather, aluminum, there are all sorts of interesting little things. There is a corrugation on the main control button, perforation in the place where the microphones stand looks great, aluminum parts differ in the way they are processed. And the outer part of the cups was covered with soft leather! In general, everything is as usual with Bowers & Wilkins: technical, concise, with a slight touch of bourgeois.
Another question is that we have already seen this design – after all, there were PX5, and PX7, and the first PX. There were also wired Bowers & Wilkins P9 – by the way, there were serious differences in design from the rest of the then line, the flagship model should have its own chips. What does the PX8 have? I still haven’t found an answer.
I suppose all old fans of the brand will unpack the PX8 with the same bewilderment. Yes, stability is very pleasant, but I also want something new. If Bowers & Wilkins is constantly coming up with something in the legendary 800th series, why can’t the headphones be upgraded?
In general, I want freshness, but there is no freshness here. It is clear that if you have these first Bowers & Wilkins, you will be delighted with metal, leather, how the cup rotates on a hinge, how everything is fitted and assembled here. Yes, great. But I personally, a B&W fan, liked the slightly sloppy Focal Bathys more.
From the point of view of iron inside, everything is also cool here. The drivers used are carbon fiber cones, designed by Bowers & Wilkins specifically for the PX8 and have never been used in headphones before, only in large speaker systems (talking about the material).
This is said to provide better detail, accuracy and speed (check). The set of codecs is also top: there was a place for aptX, and aptX HD, and even aptX Adaptive, owners of Android smartphones will be very, very happy. The AAC codec has not been forgotten either, so iOS people are not deprived of attention either. The operating time depends on the functions used, the volume, but you can count on almost 30 hours. And these same functions are also in order here: noise reduction, transparency mode, the ability to connect to a source using a cable.
And finally, I can’t help but say: if you don’t like the black model, you can choose beige. Looks great, at least in the photos:
A Bowers & Wilkins version was also announced, created in conjunction with McLaren. It also looks very nice:
There is also a model made for the anniversary of the 007 film series, the Bowers & Wilkins PX8 007 Edition. Of the features of the diaphragm on the fabric that protects the drivers; red power button; metal color, like Walter’s; dark blue skin. Bliss.
I don’t remember that so many limited editions were released for some Bowers & Wilkins headphones.
I advise you to definitely install the Bowers & Wilkins application – it is necessary to update the software, configure the button on the left cup, and use it to control noise reduction and transparency. Well, here you can also twitch the equalizer – it will come in handy for someone, I didn’t touch it.
Noise reduction and transparency
No matter how Bowers & Wilkins tells us about six microphones and a super-duper system, in fact we must say thank you to the designers: when music plays, soft leather ear cushions perfectly hide all the surrounding sounds, you can work, play, watch YouTube – everything is just super , no one will get you.
Transparency is made unnaturally, the voices of colleagues from the next room sound somehow ironic, strange. And in the noise reduction mode, the sound quality changes. So it’s best to use the headphones as is, turn off all the chips and enjoy.
Fun with a laptop
Headphones can be used with players and computers – they put a tricky USB-C to 3.5 mm cable and a USB-C to USB-C cable in the kit. I tried listening to headphones with the iBasso DX240 player and a MacBook Air.
But first, I’ll tell you about PAIN: when connected to music seemed to start playing on the laptop, but as soon as the headphones were removed, playback was interrupted and everything had to be reconnected to continue. It turned out that this is a buggy sensor in the headphones. In ordinary life, when connected via Bluetooth, there are no problems: you take off your headphones, the music pauses, and then in the reverse order. In the case of a USB connection, playback does not start without dancing with a tambourine. Therefore, the advice is simple: if you use headphones with different technology, go to the application and turn off the sensor. Another reason to install the app right away.
Drivers need time to get up and running, and you can’t think of anything better than connecting to a laptop, ideally with a stray like Dragonfly. I use the red version, but you can take any – even black, even “cobalt”, all top. A miniature amplifier enhances any track as well as possible – in any service, online or offline.
I listened to PX8 along with Dragonfly paired with iPhone 14 Pro Max, MacBook Air – wow! Little things are heard, overtones, there is a stage, the music “breathes”. Very cool. It’s just a pity that there was no place for a 3.5 mm input on the PX8 cup – so it would have been possible to pair the Dragonfly with a normal cable. And here, it turns out, you can pick up an expensive USB-C for use with a laptop, but for portable equipment, either look for a rare USB-C – 3.5 mm, or make do with what you have.
Well, or there is another forgotten good way to listen to music. Take an iPad with USB-C, a proprietary AudioQuest Dragontail adapter, hook a Dragonfly here and your headphones with an audio cable. This is wonderful!
And my main impression is this: Bowers & Wilkins PX8 are excellent headphones, but only one thing spoils them, the Bluetooth connection. It’s like drinking a delicious drink through a straw two hairs thick: it’s like drinking something, but obviously you could drink much more efficiently.
Naturally, when using Bluetooth, there is no dependence on the service. Tracks in Spotify and Qobuz sound similar, another question is that in Qobuz you can dig up rare well-digitized music and enjoy the find. The wonderful Lossless in Apple Music is also good and often better optimized – but here the feeling of straw does not leave.
Although, I’m sure for most people PX8 will seem amazing from the first minutes of use in any form. But pay attention: in the first days, you will seem to hear the main part of the track, the core, the main part. All details are lost! Over time, the driver works better and better, even when connected via Bluetooth. If you want to understand carbon fiber and the idea of Bowers & Wilkins engineers, welcome to the world of audiophile. Fortunately, China gives us a bunch of all sorts of inexpensive DACs for smartphones, tablets and laptops. With this feature and when using a cable connection, the potential of the PX8 is revealed to the fullest.
Well, if you don’t like the cable at all, then welcome to the world of Android – since PX8 supports aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, then in theory they can sound better than iOS devices. But I have doubts about this – it all depends on the brand, components, tinctures, playback application, and so on. And, if on average, even the iPhone 14 will sound better than the mega-flagship with Android and aptX HD. Alas, this is a fact.
A little about the sound. It seems to me that headphones are not about low frequencies. They are tuned quite neutrally, it’s nice to listen to vocals, jazz, and classical music, especially with a cable connection. But since I mainly listen to electronics of different genres, it was interesting to drive with all sorts of high-speed tracks. The bass does not break the head, but it is quite good. I know this worries a lot of people. But be careful: I also checked the sound on the track The Streets – Wrong Answers Only and the best master lies in the depths of Qobuz, and in Spotify or Apple Music there is a very strange version, with some kind of ringing at low frequencies, this is especially noticeable in the second half of the composition. But Shiba San – Okay sounds like a reference, straight legs in a dance and all that. And in the end I will repeat once again: the model is omnivorous and loves any genres. Huge plus!
As always, Bowers & Wilkins PX8 fans will mostly vote for the Bowers & Wilkins PX8 – those gentlemen and ladies who already had or have speakers or headphones of the brand. Your intuition did not deceive you, everything is in place: chic materials, thoughtful design, high-quality filling. Quality to the smallest detail – even the range of operation with a Bluetooth connection pleased. And there is excellent sound quality here, too, that’s right. I also liked the finish, the size of the cups – they do not look like mugs on the head, the application is well done.
Another issue is that the PX8s don’t offer anything particularly new. The design code has not changed for many, many years, all functions are clear and well-known, use with a cable is mentioned in passing, although I would strongly suggest that customers refuse Bluetooth connection and warm up the drivers for at least a day. And why was it necessary to remove the 3.5 mm jack? It is not clear, they only added hemorrhoids to lovers of high-quality sound.
Well, let’s not forget the price issue. Honestly, it’s better to buy Focal Bathys, I liked the sound better there, and the 3.5 mm jack is in place. On the other hand, it is useless to convince fans of Bowers & Wilkins, I know this from myself. And, if you are one of them, you can safely either save money, or take it and buy it. You definitely won’t be disappointed. One thing I beg you: try listening to them with Dragonfly and cable. Have fun.