Not content to rest on their laurels for the year, Bowers & Wilkins released the Px8, which boasts some upgrades to the already impressive Px7 S2. But are the new additions worth the increased price, which clocks in at a staggering $699? The brand sent over a pair to test for our Bowers & Wilkins Px8 review — this is what we found.
- Incredibly luxe construction
- Truly mind-blowing sound
- Easy to use
- ANC could be stronger
Setting Up the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 ANC Headphones
The Px8 is simple and straightforward. Upon removing the headphones from the box and powering them on, I selected the device on my list of Bluetooth connections on my iPhone and paired them right away. I already had the Bowers & Wilkins application installed on my iPhone from testing the Px7 S2, so I just quickly toggled over to the app to set up some critical additional features like the wear sensor and implement multipoint connectivity. The entire process didn’t take more than five minutes, so you’ll be up and running pretty quickly.
Bowers & Wilkins Px8 ANC Headphones Design
Aesthetically speaking, the Px8 looks almost identical to the Px7 S2. But the crux of the Px8 is to take the bare bones of the S2s and make them as luxe as possible. To wit, Bowers & Wilkins designed the headphones with Nappa leather, memory foam ear cups and headband, cast aluminum arms, a swanky diamond-like detailing around the ear cups, and more. These additions don’t come with increased weight, as the overall heft is a perfectly comfortable 320 grams. That’s a bit heavier than the Sony XM5s, but not enough to make listening to the Px8 for extended periods of time uncomfortable or unpleasant. The controls you’re used to (i.e., the three-button placement on the right ear cup and the on/off slider) remain unchanged.
There are upgrades under the hood as well. While the 40mm drivers from the S2 are still present, they’re slightly reworked, moving from paper to carbon fiber. As such, the carbon cones are meant to cut down on distortion and thus help to improve overall transparency and sound. The rest of the parts remain no different than what’s in the S2, but as the old adage says, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
Bowers & Wilkins Px8 ANC Headphones Features
As mentioned above, the Px8 retains most of its feature set from the S2. There aren’t any touch controls on the Px8, opting for individual buttons. Individual mileage may vary, but now that I’ve gotten used to using them, I don’t actually mind having the physical placement for toggling off active noise cancelation, as well as respective buttons for volume control. The B&W app lets you control more of these features, allowing for specific treble and bass adjustments, the aforementioned multipoint connection, and more.
The headphones also come with a USB-C to USB-C charging cord and a USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack. You’ll still get around 30 hours of battery life on each charge, which is pretty impressive.
Bowers & Wilkins Px8 ANC Headphone Performance
Considering the S2 already had our vote for being a superlative-sounding set of headphones, how much different is this updated version? As it turns out, listening just feels different. The improved construction makes the overall experience of music much more luxurious, as the improved materials make putting on the headphones feel nicer. There’s a subtle change in the audio experience as well. The 1975’s “The 1975” from Being Funny In A Foreign Language features a pretty frenetic soundstage populated by the hammering of piano keys and the slashing of violin strings. As such, there’s a lot of density to the construction of the song, and the Px8 rendered it fantastically. Even as the track swells towards its conclusion, I could pick out each of the song’s desperate elements and not in a way that made it feel disjointed by in a manner that made me appreciate the depth of its construction. One of my favorite bits of score from Destiny 2 is that of “Deep Stone Lullaby,” which features sweeping strings, minimalist piano touches, and harmonious vocals; the track soared and swept, evoking its in-game use as players traverse the outer edges of a space station.
These changes aren’t radically different from the Px7 S2s, but when you combine that subtle tweak with the improved, luxe touches of the construction, the Px8 does feel like something worth investing in if you have the funds to do so. Investment is the critical word here: the Px8 clock in at a staggering $699. That’s quite the asking price, but it’s offset by offering what remains a superior and superlative audio experience. The ANC remains the same as the Px7 S2, which is to say it’s strong but not quite as strong as the Sony XM5s. It’ll cut through most plane noise with ease, however. But those looking for something that basically functions as over-the-ear earplugs may need to reconsider.
The Verdict: Should You Buy the Bowers & Wilkins Px8?
If you’ve got the cash to splurge on an extremely swanky set of ANC headphones, without a doubt. The Px8 takes the foundation of the Px7 S2 and improves it enough to warrant its upgraded price tag. If you’re in the market for a set of B&W headphones, the Px8 is the model to get. However, getting to that threshold might be a tough pill to swallow for some. But an unparalleled listening experience awaits those who snag a pair.