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Bowers & Wilkins Launches Px7 S2 Bluetooth Headphone, Upcoming Wireless Flagship Px8

by June 29, 2022
B&W Demos: Px7 S2 & Px8

B&W Demos: Px7 S2 & Px8

From its headquarters in Worthing UK, Bowers & Wilkins presented two products that look to be worthy successors to its line of wireless over-ear closed-back headphones. As of today, B&W’s top-shelf wireless headphone, the Px7 has been replaced by the new and improved Px7 Series 2. The new headphone will be the British loudspeaker company’s finest wireless headphone until early September, when B&W estimates its newest flagship wireless headphone will arrive, the Px8.

If you’re familiar with the development path of B&W’s wireless headphones, an update to the Px7 was expected eventually. What wasn’t expected was that B&W will raise the bar on its suite of wireless headphones by one numeric iteration. Px8 is a newly designed wireless headphone inside and out that maintains the familiar B&W over-ear, closed back look-and-feel.

B&W Sound in a Headphone

B&W has carved a niche in the headphone market as a forerunner in what we might call the “luxury wireless headphone”. It may seem anathema to associate audiophile aspirations with wireless. But we may be on that threshold with high-bit Bluetooth codecs and energy-efficient digital amplifier technology providing more discerning sound quality. When wireless headphones first became a thing, it was all about convenience and portability. The serious-about-sound need not apply. But this is slowly changing and Qualcomm has made some impressive advances in its aptX platform. Meanwhile B&W already has years of experience developing and improving on wireless headphones that consistently adopt current technology, while putting as much attention into comfort and esthetics as it does to a sound quality.

For many of us dedicated headphone-heads, wireless is still no substitute to passive headphones connected to a DAC/Amp. But there’s no denying the gap in sound quality is shrinking. And if you’re willing to pay a little more than average for quality wireless, B&W is already there with a higher-quality options than budget candy for your skull. There are other fine wireless headphones out there by the likes of Sony and Audio Technica, but neither brand has the cachet of Bowers & Wilkins proudly etched into the sides of each ear-cup.

Px7 Series 2

Available: June 29

Price: $399 USD

Weight: 310-grams (about 11-ounces)

Battery Life: 30-hours

The first thing that jumps out while gazing upon these new headphones is the stylistic return to B&W’s first noise cancelling wireless headphone, the PX. It's a slight departure from its immediate predecessor, Px7. Each outer ear-cup is centered by a slightly protruding driver-housing within a ballistic nylon cover. The outer ear-cups are emblazoned with the flex-worthy Bowers & Wilkins brand mark. I personally find this a nicer-looking choice than the Px7’s contoured plastic outer ear-cup. The angular driver housing really pops, conveying solid-build and the right air of quality befitting the B&W brand.

B&W Px7S2 Blue-GoldPx7 by B&W

The all new B&W Px7 Series 2 (left) VS.  The original B&W Px7 (right)                

Series 2 memory-foam & leatherette ear-pads are thicker and deeper than Px7. This should translate to more comfort while lending a better acoustic seal. Thicker pads gave designers a little more creativity in the position of the drivers inside each ear-cup, B&W tends toward slightly angled drivers inside the ear-cups. Having modded several headphones with thicker aftermarket pads, my experience tells me to expect a slightly more bassy presentation than the PX and Px7. Although I’m confident this was part of the design. B&W also says Px7 S2’s ear-pads are designed to be replaceable, a welcome change for modders or anyone looking for many years of use. Stephanie Willems, Brand President of Bowers & Wilkins, said:

“I’m incredibly proud of our new Px7 S2 headphones. They’re supremely comfortable, beautiful to look at and sound great. They’re the perfect way to take True Sound with you everywhere you go.”

Color choices will include B&W’s old standby in black (similar to Px7 carbon) or you can choose the white-and-grey that really stands out, but will likely be a magnet for scuffs. A first for B&W headphones is the new blue-and-gold color combo shown here. Not quite the Michigan State blue, but it's sure to stir the heart of Wolverines everywhere.

B&W says Px7 S2 has a “revised” driver measuring 40-mm. Driver-size is down from the Px7’s 43-mm driver, perhaps thicker ear-pads compensate for the 3-mms loss by extending the chamber around your ear. B&W says the driver’s angled orientation inside the ear-cup creates a wider, more spacious sound. The tilted driver position has become a B&W staple, first employed by the team that built B&W’s P9 Signature headphones back in 2016. Both Px7 S2 and Px8 have oriented the driver at a similar angle to the P9.

Backing-up the Px7 S2 driver is a newly revised 20-mm voice coil that employs the same kapton former design found in B&W loudspeakers. B&W says the new driver and voice coil will deliver even greater sensitivity, resolution and detail with even lower distortion than Px7. B&W’s new designs continue to trim weight. The all-in the weight of Px7 S2 is only 307-grams, or about 11-ounces. The original Px7 was 310-grams, B&W’s first noise cancelling wireless headphone, PX was 335-grams.

Another Px7 S2 improvement is microphone performance. A welcome update that many reviews felt needed attention. The new headphones will now employ 6-mics throughout. Two mics on the outer ear-cups for pass-through environmental sounds (depending on adaptive noise cancelling setting), two are inside the ear-cups for noise cancelling and DSP performance and lastly, two additional mics are designed to capture your voice with improved clarity.

All of B&W’s recent wireless headphones include plenty of features in a slick, customizable user-experience through the B&W Headphone app. It lets you setup voice activation for your phone’s virtual assistant and includes a sensor that can automatically pause the music when you pull your headphones off your head. B&W's new headphones will now be customized through the B&W Music app in another significant area of improvement for B&W.

B&W Music App

B&W MusicThe launch of Px7 S2 and Px8 are a next step in the growth of the B&W Music app. The company is moving toward complete wireless-product integration into the app, B&W Music wants to be the center of your sound ecosystem.

B&W wireless speaker users already know about the B&W Music app; it lets Android or iOS devices control and stream music to products like Zeppelin, Formation Duo loudspeakers and Panorama soundbars. Starting with Px7 S2 and Px8, you will integrate your wireless headphones inside B&W Music. It’s a nice convenience if you happen to own any of the aforementioned hardware, even if only because it means one less app to install. B&W says it plans to eventually do-away with its B&W Headphone app in favor of full wireless-product control via the more robust B&W Music. The rep we spoke to assures us that integration with its legacy wireless headphone models is in the mail. Obviously, none of its hard-wired headphones, like P9 Signature, will receive the Music App treatment.

Finally, EQ?

The good news about transitioning to B&W Music is that its new wireless headphones will finally get tone control. Details were scant at the presentation but it sounds like the tone control options will, at least for now, fall short of a broad multi-band EQ. The Music app will now feature all the controls found in the Headphone app, including preferred ANC settings that promise to filter out up-to 30dB of noise. The app will turn on/off and adjust settings to various features such as music-pause/motion sensor and programming for a customizable hardware-button on the headphone.

When you open the app, your new B&W headphones will appear among your multi-zone music spaces as its own audio space. Although, you won’t be able to share multi-room content with the headphone directly through your wi-fi network as you would with your network-aware B&W speaker systems. This is simply because the headphones receive wireless music via Bluetooth only. However, the Music app is directly compatible with a growing list of popular music streaming services, including all the usual suspects: Tidal, Deezer, Qobuz and more. Of course, the list does not include compatibility to Apple Music because as yet, Apple Music does not play nice with others. But this won’t deter you from using the Apple Music app directly. It’s no great loss, my experience that 3rd party renditions of streaming music apps are always a compromise that’s only useful if there’s a specific feature you’re looking for, such as integration with a local network share. B&W said at its presentation event that the Music app will continue to grow, so future development will include additional features for headphones.


Both Px7 S2 and Px8 will feature B&W’s latest on-board Bluetooth platform. B&W is a long standing licensee of Qualcomm’s aptX format for improved Bluetooth sound quality and both feature the latest version. Compatible devices will stream all the way up to aptX Adaptive, which includes aptX HD’s 24-bit capability. While aptX Adaptive is capable of all the way up to 24-bit/96-kHz, the B&W rep stated that the new headphones can (only) decode up to 24-bit/48-kHz. I don’t know if that detail was misspoken or if there is a hard-cap on B&W’s decoding, it’s the first thing I’ll test if I get my hands on them. Either way it’s a minor quibble, what’s a handful of kHz on a compressed audio signal?

aptX AdaptiveDecoding

  • SBC
  • AAC
  • aptX Adaptive

B&W was asked if its new headphones will provide decoding for Dolby Atmos Music formats used by popular streaming services, such as Apple Music Spatial Audio. The short answer is no. The headphones include no hardware decoding for Dolby Atmos Music/Spatial Audio, nor did B&W include MQA unfolding. Although, none of this means the headphones won’t benefit from the binaural effects of a Dolby Atmos Music mix via Spatial Audio or other Atmos Music streams. The only other audio processing, after Bluetooth decoding, involves B&W’s own DSP and any adjustments made from the tone controls in the Music app. Outside of that, you’re hearing only the purest all-natural, organic sound just as the algorithms intended.

B&W Px8: Everything We Know So Far…

Available: Sept. 2022

Cost: $549 USD

Weight: 320-grams

Battery Life: 30-hours

Unfortunately, B&W hasn’t provided much information about the upcoming Px8, but the presentation gave us one important detail: At launch Px8 will be B&W’s new flagship wireless headphone. Similar to its P9 Signature development project, Px8 is a complete redesign from the inside out. Its design will take influence from the P9 Signature development, including the angle of the drivers. It will carry the design esthetic of the Px7 S2 and B&W’s most recent crop of cans. But Px8 will be the wireless expression of its finest headphone yet, with all the sound quality and luxury comfort that entails.

The memory foam pads will be wrapped in soft Nappa leather and will feature a newly designed drive unit. The Px8 will have sturdy retractable aluminum arms connecting the ear-cups and leather headband. The outer ear-cups are composed of a diamond-cut brushed aluminum, etched with the familiar Bowers & Wilkins brand mark on either side. The newly designed drive unit, including driver and voice coil are said to be built in the image of a particular, as yet unknown B&W loudspeaker line. The new flagship is set for release in September, we’ll receive further details near the end of August.

B&W Positioned to be Serious Wireless Luxury Headphone Competitor

Whether by accident or strategy, B&W finds itself breaking ground in an interesting market that it arguably helped to create, luxury wireless headphones.

B&W entered a growing headphone market in 2010 with its first-ever headphone, the P5. It was a boxy on-ear headphone soon followed up with an over-ear counterpart, P7 in 2013. By 2016, someone at B&W must have looked at the market research and saw an opportunity to go hard into wireless. Its updated P7 S2 design was transformed into its first-ever wireless headphone, P7 Wireless. Meanwhile the same year, B&W would release the P9 Signature, its first truly high-end headphone that would influence future B&W designs.

B&W P7 WirelessP9 Signature

P7 Wireless B&W's first wireless headphone (left) - P9 Signature B&W (right)

Upon P7 Wireless’s release in 2016, some critics said B&W was just jumping the wireless bandwagon. But in coming years B&W would prove to be a paying passenger with updates and new releases that followed the market’s growth and new technology. Growth in wireless headphones is expected to continue non-stop through the 2020s, reaching $70-billion by 2028.

Wireless Headphone Market Growth

Global wireless headphone market projection

Of course, a majority of this market are true wireless earphones and the pie is so thoroughly dominated by Apple and Beats that in 2017 it was said that:

“49 cents of every dollar spent on wireless headphones in the U.S. landed in Apple's pockets during the holiday shopping season.”

Wireles Headphone Sales

Apple domination: Global wireless headphone sales

Fortunately, for those of us with better taste than in where our wireless dollars go, there’s a growing list of competition from brands you can wear with some measure of dignity.

Cost and Competition

B&W is competing for space inside a small slice of the pie-chart of total global wireless headphone sales, but leaning into your niche isn’t a bad strategy. Keeping costs for its premium wireless headphones between $300 & <$1K gives B&W a slight competitive edge, priced just tantalizingly outside the mainstream budget. Further opening your wallet to the $1K-cost milestone introduces stiff competition among the high-end wireless headphones made today. Mark Levinson (Harman) just entered the market with № 5909, a compact closed-back design. HIFIMAN, maker of many excellent planar magnetic headphones, has Ananda to fill a more extreme niche. Ananda is a very large open-back planar magnetic headphone that sends a signal that the wearer is unsuitable for reproduction.

Mark Levinson No5909HIFIMAN Ananda

Mark Levinson No.5909 wireless headphones (left) &  HIFIMAN Ananda planar magnetic (right)

With wireless technology moving toward lossless sound, we can expect a high-end niche market for wireless headphones to continue growing. B&W is already in a good position with brand recognition built on sound quality while slightly underselling its high-end competitors. It already has deep experience building and revising headphones since 2010, so we can expect the Px7 S2 and Px8 to be yet another step toward even better things in the future.

About the author:
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Wayde is a tech-writer and content marketing consultant in Canada s tech hub Waterloo, Ontario and Editorialist for Audioholics.com. He's a big hockey fan as you'd expect from a Canadian. Wayde is also US Army veteran, but his favorite title is just "Dad".

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