AV Quick Takes: Bowers & Wilkins Upgraded Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2 True Wireless Earbuds
In 2021, Bowers & Wilkins launched the Px7i S2 Bluetooth headphones and ts first True Wireless earbuds, the Pi7 and Pi5. But competition from the likes of Sony, Apple, and Sennheiser has only gotten tougher in the last couple of years, so now Bowers & Wilkins is back with two upgraded, next-generation versions: the aptly-named Pi7 S2 ($399) and Pi5 S2 ($299). Both new models promise improved battery life, with five hours of listening time. The charging case for the Pi7 S2 delivers another 16 hours, while the Pi5 S2 case provides 19 hours.
A quick-charge function on both models delivers an additional two hours of listening time after just 15 minutes of charging. Both new models take advantage of a re-engineered antenna design delivering increased Bluetooth range — up to 25 meters — and a more stable connection. (Occasional audio dropouts were among the few common complaints about the original Pi7 and Pi5.) Both models are fully integrated with the Bowers & Wilkins Music App, which offers easy setup and configuration of noise cancellation modes and a range of other user adjustments, for a “seamless user experience,” according to the company. The Music App also supports “hi-res” streaming, direct from your mobile device to your earbuds, via Tidal and Qobuz. (As with any Bluetooth audio device, claims of hi-res capability should be taken with a grain of salt.) In addition to app control, the Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2 can be controlled via a single capacitive button on each earbud that can be used to perform multiple tasks, from answering calls to skipping tracks. The Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2 can also play nice with both Siri and Google Assistant, depending on the connected device.
Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 Advanced Features
While both models carry over the active noise cancellation of their predecessors, only the Pi7 S2 offers Adaptive Noise Cancellation, which automatically monitors, analyzes, and adapts to its environment. The Pi7 S2 also features three microphones per side to improve the sound quality of phone calls. (The Pi5 S2 has two mics per earbud.) Like its predecessor, the Pi7 S2 also offers a breakthrough feature called Wireless Audio Retransmission, which allows users to connect the Smart charging case, via an included cable, to an audio source such as an in-flight entertainment system. The case can then retransmit the audio from that source to the earbuds. The Pi7 S2 has other flagship-worthy specs, including support for Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive codec, and a 24-bit/48kHz wireless transmission between the two earbuds. Each Pi7 S2 earbud features a custom 9.2mm dynamic driver mated to a single balanced armature driver for superior high-frequency performance. Each driver is driven by its own amplifier. The more affordable Pi5 S2 keeps things simple, using a single, full-range 9.2mm dynamic driver in each earbud. The Pi5 S2 connects via the original, less sophisticated aptX codec, but still boasts “high-quality earbud-to-earbud synchronization” and “the best audio performance in its class,” according to Bowers & Wilkins.
One area in which Bowers & Wilkins has always excelled is design, and these new offerings are no different, offering new finishes across the board. The Pi7 S2 is available in three new colors: Satin
Black, Canvas White, and Midnight Blue. Meanwhile, the Pi5 S2 comes in four colors: Cloud Grey, Storm Grey, Spring Lilac, and Sage Green. Both models are available now from www.bowerswilkins.com and select retailers such as Audio Advice.
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