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Wireless headphone wearers can be divided into two camps: in-ear fans and everyone else. While some folks hate having something jammed in their ear canals, others love the ability to be discreet with the best wireless earbuds. The new Bowers & Wilkins PI7 in-ear true wireless headphones are most definitely for the more discreet camp among ye. Bowers & Wilkins was kind enough to send us a pair to review.
Below, I’ll detail their sound quality, battery life, wearability and special features and then wrap things up with everyone’s favorite question: Are these headphones actually worth buying?
These headphones are quite attractive; the pair I got is black and silver and the overall look is sleek and minimalist with brushed metal elements. These buds do stick out of the ear noticeably, but they feel secure. They are IP54 waterproof and dust resistant meaning they should be pretty durable for daily activities.
Set Up and Pairing
The Bowers & Wilkins PI7 should arrive in pairing mode as mine did, making setup quite easy. In fact, I was paired and listening to music in under a minute.
To get access to some of the headphones’ features, you’ll want to also download the Bowers & Wilkins Headphones app from the App Store or Google Play Store where you’ll be able to view battery percentage, noise cancelation status, adjust audio Pass-Through and more.
I was very impressed by the audio quality of these truly wireless earbuds. They seem quite well-balanced and allow a lot of subtlety to come through in my music. The bass is vibrant, and there’s no lean to the high or low ends. I checked out a variety of music on the PI7, from jazz to rap, pop to punk and everything sounded great. Overall, the listening experience was quite impressive.
Streaming Connections/Audio Re-transmission
These headphones will let you connect wirelessly to audio from other source devices, like a laptop, airplane jack, and even a TV or streaming box (if it has the right connection). To do this, you’ll need to connect the included USB-C or 3.5 mm aux cable to the case and then plug the other end into the source device.
The charging case becomes a de facto streaming dongle and will send whatever audio it’s physically connected to into the earbuds. With my TV it was remarkably effective. These headphones are an absolute must-have for anyone who doesn’t have a television with Bluetooth and needs an option for quiet listening.
Wear Sensing & Touch Controls
The PI7 also has Wear Sensing which is quite responsive and smart. Remove an earbud to hear what’s happening and the music automatically stops. Put it back in and the music resumes once again.
Outside of the Wear Sensing tech, the headphones pack your standard touch controls. If you’ve used wireless earbuds before, you’re likely familiar with this sort of technology. Luckily, touch controls work quite well on the PI7. After fiddling around with them for the review, I was very pleased with their ability to recognize my actions.
Noise-Cancelation and Pass-Through
These headphones have both noise cancelation, and what’s called Pass-Through, which allows you to control some audio coming into the headphones. The noise-canceling on the PI7 is actually pretty good. I’d say the PI7 cancel out 80-85% of outside noise bleed. Which, for most users, will be perfectly fine.
Likewise, Pass-Through works great. I was easily able to hear what was happening around me as the headphones let in ambient sound that would otherwise not get through the earbuds’ seal.
Battery Life & Charging
The battery life on the PI7 is, unfortunately, not great. It’s here that the PI7 lose a few points for me. With just four hours in the buds and 16 hours in the recharging case, these aren’t breaking any barriers when it comes to longevity. Even so, there are both fast charging (15-minute charge = two hours of battery) and wireless charging capabilities, too.
I am really impressed with these earbuds. The sound quality is outstanding and the ability to stream audio from televisions and other devices is an absolute game-changer. They are definitely expensive, and the battery life is far from exceptional, but for a pair of high-end wireless earbuds that look (and act) the part, the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 are tough to top.
So Should You Buy Them?
I can see these headphones being a must-have for a lot of folks, simply for that media-streaming ability alone. But when you consider the PI7 also sound amazing, boast multiple charging options, include noise-cancellation and pass-through functionality AND are comfortable to wear for long periods of time, these quickly become front runners in the high-end headphone market. If all of that sounds good to you (and you can stomach the price), these are worth their cost of admission.
- Sounds great
- Can stream TV audio
- Good looks
- Noise-canceling and pass-through included
- Touch controls work well
- Battery life could be better
What Are the Alternatives?
If you want an alternative that will offer TV streaming without any lag … you may be out of luck. However, If you’re looking for higher-end, higher fidelity, truly wireless earbuds you have a couple of other options.
Bose QC earbuds
These earbuds are a bit big and seem unwieldy but they’re supremely comfortable and offer some of the best sound quality in truly wireless earbud space.
Apple AirPods Pro
These iconic earbuds are a major favorite thanks to their seamless connections with all Apple devices.
Sennheiser Momentum 2
Sennheiser makes some pretty amazing headphones and these earbuds are no exception. They have outstanding noise-cancelation and sound fantastic.