Published on November 21st, 2013 | by Greg0
Bowers & Wilkins P7: Portability Without Compromise
Of all the endless varieties and styles of headphones, they can more or less be broken down into three basic categories. Earbuds are tiny and incredibly portable but compromise on sound quality, over-ears bigger and more sound isolating, and the on-ears tread the middle ground. The first are great for everyday occasional use, while over-ears are superior for sustained listening sessions. On-ears compromise, but generally are less comfortable, since they push onto the entire ear. What most people are searching for is an over-ear pair that isn’t too big, with excellent build quality and great acoustics.
Thankfully, the Bowers and Wilkins P7 headphones fit the bill nicely. Not much bigger than our regular favorites, the great P3s, the latest from B&W are their first over-ear pair, and the company claims to designed them in a way that “works more like the drive unit in a hi-fi speaker”. Normal headphone drivers are fairly small, which results in a condensed, often anemic audio range. Larger headphones have more space, which allows for better resonance and depth- audio qualities that are immediately apparent when you slip these one.
But even before you turn on the tunes, it’s easy to appreciate the luxury materials . The rectangular shape is distinctive, and might not seem comfortable at first glance, but works well. The cushions are incredibly soft, and both them and the headband are made from real leather. The units have a great heft to them, and are made from stainless steel for durability. They certainly weigh a bit more than the P3s or P5s, but the weight is put to good use- stable, well-balanced, with just the right amount of pressure and snugness that adds oomph to bass and ensures a seal against outside noise.
The best part of all- the P7s are foldable, so pack up small, and can fit into a purse or briefcase easily (or the included bag). The mechanism is pretty clever, with just a bit of bounce and springiness and quite a bit of adjustability. There are two cables included, either a direct connection, or with the optional remote/microphone attachment. The microphone was decent, if though not noise cancelling, and listeners on the other end of a call reported clear voices during conversation. We would’ve preferred a fiber-wrapped cable, and should note that those with larger ears might not find these the best option. But everyone else should put on a track like Purity Ring’s “Fireshrines” and enjoy the impressive percussion, and detailed high-range compares favorably with any other headphone in this class.
The Bowers and Wilkins P7 Over-Ear Headphones are available for around $400, online and in stores.