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Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Review: A Joy to Wear (and Hear)

I remember my first quality pair of headphones. Between semesters at music school, I scored a lightly-used pair of Bowers & Wilkins P5s for $150 on Craigslist.

The P5 were the acclaimed British hi-fi brand’s first headphones, and I worked them to the bone. I wore through the leather on the magnetic earpads while discovering my love of ’90s hip-hop, idolized the trumpet lines of Booker Little, and repeated the same songs over and over (and over) until I could play them just how my teachers wanted.

Years later, the PX7, the company’s latest flagship noise-canceling headphones, have become the pair I grab most when I plan to aimlessly wander the Covid-verse.

They’re light, comfortable, and sound fantastic, and they ooze the same class that the original P5 model did, albeit with more 21st-century functionality. The PX7 aren’t brand-new (they came out about a year ago), but they still compete quite well with the best from Sony, Apple, and Bose. I think they’re overlooked by many, and Bowers & Wilkins clearly thinks so too: The company recently released this new Carbon Edition colorway to drum up more general interest.

Classic Design, Modern Features

The first thing you notice about the PX7 is how light they are. The rounded over-ears exude the same simple strength of form as my mostly metal old P5s, but they’re now made from a chalky-looking woven carbon fiber. This gives them a sturdy, non-plasticky feel that you don’t get from Bose or Sony models (despite their respectable build qualities).

Photograph: Bowers & Wilkins

That premium feeling extends to the leather headband and fabric-wrapped ear cups, with lightly shimmering Bowers & Wilkins logos to let other well-heeled audio enthusiasts know you have better taste than your Bose-buying compatriots.

Despite that hint of glitz, I actually find myself thinking of the PX7—especially in this all-black “Carbon” colorway—as understated. I feel like I’m practically flashing a fatcat’s wallet when wearing the AirPods Pro or even Bose Noise Cancelling 700 around my working-class neighborhood, but I never get that feeling when wearing the PX7.

Mostly, I love how well they work. Turn them on, pair them once, and you’re listening to your music or podcasts in no time. They remember up to eight devices in your arsenal, for easy switching between iPads, phones, and computers.

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