We have a new contender for the best wireless headphones: the Bowers & Wilkins Px8. They take the recently launched Px7 S2 and add more advanced drive units plus a plusher build quality to position them as potentially one of the most premium noise-cancelling headphones we've encountered.
The jewel in their crown? New 40mm Carbon Cone drive units. These are inspired by the Carbon Dome drive units found in the (recently refreshed) B&W 700 S3 range of loudspeakers. According to B&W, the Px8's new drivers deliver an ultra-fast response time alongside exceptionally low distortion across the frequency range. This means they should theoretically outdo the five-star Px7 S2 in terms of resolution, detail and timing for a more engaging and musical performance.
They use the same active noise cancelling (ANC) tech from the Px7 S2, too. Also like the Px7 S2, their drive units are angled to create a consistent distance to the listener's ear from every point across the surface of the driver. The result? A more immersive and accurate soundstage, according to B&W.
The design is also new. The Px8 come in two finishes – black leather or tan leather – and have a cast aluminium arm structure that's in keeping with B&W's designs on its other products. There's also a diamond-cut bright edge on each elliptical logo plate. And if it's luxury you're after, look no further – the earcups, memory foam cushions and headband are all trimmed in Nappa leather for a premium (not to mention comfortable) feel.
Like the Px7 S2, they use Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive Bluetooth tech to deliver better sound quality over wireless from compatible devices. Prefer to plug in? A 3.5mm headphone cable and USB-C cable come in the box. And B&W's digital signal processing (DSP) delivers 24-bit high-resolution sound from compatible streaming services.
As we've noted, the ANC is the same system as found in the Px7 S2, with six microphones in total: two mics apiece to measure the output of each drive unit, to react to ambient noise from the outside world, and provide voice clarity with enhanced noise suppression.
We found the Px7 S2's ANC to be decent, but not class-leading. Higher frequencies like birdsong and vacuum cleaners tended to creep in more compared with the Sony WH-1000XM5. It'll be interesting to see if the Px8 suffer from the same issue.
The Bowers & Wilkins Music App is also getting a major upgrade for the Px8 launch. Now you'll be able to stream music directly from the app to your headphones, with Deezer, Qobuz and Tidal supported at launch (Px7 S2 owners will get the same functionality). If you have wireless B&W speakers (such as the Zeppelin or Formation Duo), you can also seamlessly switch from home listening to listening on the go with your B&W headphones using the app.
But you don't have to fish your phone out of your pocket in order to control your headphones, thanks to the physical controls on each earcup.
Battery life? A respectable 30 hours – matching the Sony XM5 – while a 15-minute charge gives you seven hours of listening.
At £599 / $699 / AU$1150, the new B&W Px8 are pricier even than the Award-winning Apple AirPods Max, so will have to deliver a pretty special performance to warrant such a high price. We'll bring a full review as soon as we can.
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