If you’re looking for over-ear Bluetooth headphones, you’re probably going to be making your selection based on four main factors: their sound quality, their aesthetics, their comfort and their price.
These B&Ws have the same design as the stylish, wired P7s that won the What Hi-Fi? Award for ‘Best portable on-ear’ headphones in 2013. A case, it would seem, of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" from B&W.
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Comfort and build
These wireless equivalents have all the best initial qualities of their wired siblings: the earpads are very comfortable and can be worn all day.
They have the same 17-hour lithium battery as the wireless P5s, charged via USB, so it’s unlikely you’re ever going to run out of power during the day as long as you start fully charged.
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The P7’s aptX Bluetooth connectivity is controlled via the power button: slide it across to turn on and off, and push it inwards to make the headphones discoverable to new devices.
Once paired with a device, these cans don’t need to be made discoverable again to connect.
The headphones provide audio feedback too, by playing a different sound when they are being turned on, made discoverable, or turned off, in case you’re connecting the P7s while still wearing them.
On the right earpad lie the controls for volume and playback, each of which are clearly distinguished from the other by the raised design of the middle button that toggles playback.
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As we would expect, the middle button is able to play and pause any media via Apple Music, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video across laptops, smartphones and tablets, and can be used to trigger voice-controlled assistants like Apple’s Siri.
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We start with Where Is My Mind by The Pixies – the test here being whether the P7s can keep the contrast between the quiet background echoes and the distortion in the guitar balanced and organised.
Turns out they manage to do both, keeping the high-pitched wailing under control without ever overcooking the treble.
The midrange is clear and Black Francis’ haunting rhetorical questions are given the space to linger in the air before diving down into the lower octaves. And they do so without any noticeable peaks and dips that would take away the eerie essence of the song.
Changing to something more pop, Pitbull and Ke$ha’s collaboration Timber stays upbeat and fun with a lot of emotion in both the artists’ vocals.
These headphones do a good job of conveying the deep growl in Pitbull’s voice and revealing a harsh edge to it, making you believe that he could be singing this having just come out of a club.
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Great headphones should be able to point your attention towards new details in songs, even those that you’ve heard a number of times. Sure enough, we find the P7s expose undiscovered facets in tracks we know backwards via lesser media.
The P7s have a good control of the dynamics too; able to smoothly build from the harmonica at the start of Timber to the crescendo of the loud club. The message is these headphones can effectively recreate the atmosphere of a range of music with ease.
The deep bass beats are generous, perhaps a touch overly so, yet are managed particularly well in the way they keep the sound taut and tuneful while sustaining plenty of attack. At the other end of the spectrum, the high notes have a rich texture to them without erring on the bright side and on the whole, the P7s deliver a comfortably full-bodied sound.
Should you need to, you have the option of connecting the wireless P7s to your device via a supplied lead. As we would expect, this results in improved transparency and detail – in exchange for the freedom of Bluetooth connectivity.
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