Bowers & Wilkins Px8 review: One step higher and two steps better

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Bowers & Wilkins has been on a mission to improve its wireless ANC headphones. The company announced its Px7 headphones and quickly followed up with the improved Px7 S2. While we liked the Px7, we thought they lacked the bite needed to compete with the rest of the pack. The Px7 S2, on the other hand, was an improvement and came closer to its competition. Now the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 has arrived, and the company has further refined its formula.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

The Bowers & Wilkins Px8 are the company’s big daddy of wireless ANC headphones, which you want to add to your mix when looking for an excellent pair of ANC headphones. Improvements in quality, comfort, ANC, and sound make these on par with Sony and Apple. Let’s jump right into our full Px8 review and find out more!

Specifications

Net weight320g (without carry case)
Dimensions (Carry Case)189mm (w) x 63mm (d) x 233mm (h)
Wearing styleBluetooth Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
Technical featuresHybrid Noise Cancellation
Ambient Pass-Through
Wear-Detection Sensor
Bluetooth® audio – Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX™ Adaptive
USB-C charging & audio interface
Bluetooth codecsaptX™ Adaptive
aptX™ HD
aptX™
AAC
SBC
Bluetooth profilesA2DP
AVRCP
HFP
HSP
BLE GATT (Generic Attribute Profile)
Drive units2 x 40mm dynamic full-range carbon driver
Microphones4x mics for ANC
2x mics for telephony
Distortion (THD)<0.1% (1 kHz/10mW)
Battery typeRechargeable Lithium Ion
Battery life & charging30 hours playback
15-minute charge for 7 hours of playback
Inbox accessories1.2m USB-C to 3.5mm stereo jack audio cable
1.2m USB-C to USB-C cable
Carry Case
FinishesBlack Leather
Tan & Grey Leather

What’s In The Box

  • Bowers & Wilkins Px8
  • 1.2m USB-C to 3.5mm stereo jack audio cable
  • 1.2m USB-C to USB-C cable
  • Hard Shell Carry Case
  • Manuals and Documentation

Design

Bowers and Wilkins Px8
Beauties

The Bowers & Wilkins Px8 closely resembles the Px7 S2 but with far superior materials and comfort. That’s not to say that the Px7 S2s are not well-made or comfortable; they are, but the Px8 kicks it up a notch. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, like the Px7 S2 review; allow me to begin with the case.

Bowers & Wilkins improved the case included with the Px7 S2. It was a bit bulkier but more functional, which was a fair trade. The case included with the Px8 looks and feels identical to the Px7 S2, which is fine, but I was hoping for something to differentiate it from its little brothers.

The case is covered in a lovely fabric with the Bowers & Wilkins logo in a raised rubber material centered on the front. It’s a rounded square shape and easy to hold, though a carrying strap would be a welcome addition. It fits nicely into backpacks, has an excellent zipper, and protects the headphones. The inner storage compartment remains the same, with ample room for the included cables. Speaking of cables, both included cables are plenty long.

The Bowers & Wilkins Px8 will look very familiar, sharing design language with the Px7 S2 and a bit with the Px7. The same oval design is present here but gone is the fabric covering replaced with leather instead. The aluminum has a different look and feel from the Px7 S2. It appears brushed aluminum, giving the metal a bit more character. The leather extends up to the headband, so the woven fabric material from the Px7 S2 is not here at all, and that’s great because this leather feels very nice.

The padding on the headband’s underside is about the same as the Px7 S2; I wish they had given it a bit more cushion. It’s not uncomfortable, mind you; it’s very comfortable. But given the much higher price, it would have been nice to see a little extra comfort.

The adjustable arms are still as nice as the Px7 S2 but with far better build quality and better materials used. These are solid aluminum, have excellent movement, no binding, and articulate well. It is undeniable that the aluminum here is of a higher grade than anything used on the S2.

Like the Px7 S2, the Px8 have front earcups made of aluminum with the Bowers & Wilkins logo. The aluminum portion of the earcup is raised above the perimeter of the leather-wrapped part of the earcup. The ANC and Transparency Mode mics are on this portion of the earcups.

The same controls, with that awesome sliding on/off switch, are on the right side. Finally, the earcups are, once again, super comfortable. The earcup holes are also roomy and spacious enough for more prominent ears.

Overall, the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 are designed nearly the same as the Px7 S2, so the same beautiful aesthetic remains. The most significant and most noticeable difference is the build quality and materials. These look and feel on the same level as the Apple AirPods Max.

Bowers and Wilkins Px8
Controls

Ease of Use

Once again, Bowers & Wilkins makes operation and connection simple and to the point. Flip the headphones on, look for Px8 in your Bluetooth settings and click connect; that is it. Once the Bluetooth connection is established, the app will find them, and you can use that; more on the app in the next section.

The buttons I mentioned in the design section are handy and straightforward. I especially love that the power button slides. Here’s a diagram of the functionality of these buttons.

Bowers and Wilkins Px8 Media Controls-min

The Bowers & Wilkins Px8 also have wear sensors in both earcups enabling intelligent battery conservation by entering standby when removed from the head. When worn again, the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 automatically wakes and connects to the last connected Bluetooth device.

The Px8 will auto-pause during media playback when either earpiece is lifted from the ear. Playback will auto-resume when the earpiece is placed back on the ear. I appreciate this feature as I get interrupted multiple times a day when working, and it is nice to have that auto-pause feature. I had an issue on the Px7 S2 where music would pause if I moved my head, that was fixed with a software update, and the Px8 had no such problems.

Overall, the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 are very simple to operate and connect to. The physical buttons are better than touch, and I appreciate that the company made them easy to use.

App Software

Nothing has changed with the app from the Px7 S2, so most of the information in this section is recycled.

The app allows you to name your headphones, adjust the wear sensors, turn voice prompts on or off, set the standby timer, update the software, and reset the headphones.

You can also adjust the notice cancellation and ambient passthrough in the app and choose from soundscapes. This version now includes a simple EQ. You will likely only use the app at the initial setup and then forget about it. Apple Music integration is absent again here, which is a bummer.

Overall, the app is easy to use, and no one should have any issues with it. The most important part of this app is keeping your Bowers & Wilkins Px8 headphones updated with the latest firmware.

Sound

Bowers and Wilkins Px8
40mm dynamic full-range carbon drivers.

When I first put the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 on, I expected a similar soundstage to the Px7 and Px7 S2, considering those were nearly identical. I found a more balanced soundstage that wasn’t tilted to the bass frequencies.

That being said, the Px8 still does favor the bottom end more than other headphones in this class, but I found it more tolerable than its little brothers. I appreciate that these headphones didn’t have me jumping into the EQ constantly to adjust the bass levels. I still think bass lovers will love these headphones, given they have the EQ option to bump up the level to their liking.

Mids and highs were perfect, and a slight tweaking to the bass put everything where I loved it. Volume levels are great as well. The Bowers & Wilkins Px8 can be pushed to the max without breakup or sound degradation. But I always keep my volume at 50 – 60%, which sounds perfect on these headphones. Even though you can push the volume past 60% with no issue, I wouldn’t recommend that for anyone’s hearing.

Ambient passthrough, which I don’t use very often, also works nicely. The mics engage and allow the room to come into your ears while still allowing you to enjoy your music. It works just as well as most of its competition.

A high-resolution 24-bit DSP is partnered with all-new driver technology from B&W that helps bring subtle nuances from the music played through them. Bowers & Wilkins says its angled Carbon Cone drive units reduce distortion, resulting in massively improved clarity.

The Bowers & Wilkins Px8 uses aptX Adaptive wireless technology and Digital Signal Processing to bring 24-bit high-resolution sound quality from suitable streaming services. You can also connect via USB to your laptop for high-resolution sound.

My sharpest criticism of the Px7 was its abysmal noise-canceling ability. The Px7 S2 improved on ANC by leaps and bounds but still fell short of some of the competition. The Bowers & Wilkins Px8 brings the ANC performance up to standards and firmly competes with other major brands.

I give Bowers & Wilkins big props for improving their ANC to this extent, but we also would be remiss not to mention that some of the competition has a slightly lower price point with equally excellent performance. There is the matter of looks and design, though; the Px8 are nice-looking headphones and nicer than much of the competition. So ANC is only one factor that people will consider.

Overall, most of what is in the Px7 S2 is here in the Px8 but with significant improvements in noise canceling and soundstage. I said that the S2 headphones were almost the same level as the competition, but the Px8 brings them to the top of the mountain with improved ANC and a better overall sound balance.

Reception/Call Quality

Bluetooth reception is industry standard, no surprises here. It works fine; it will start cutting out 30-40 feet from the source, which is perfectly normal. The call quality is also excellent.

Battery Life

Thirty hours of battery life remains the same and is the claim made by the Bowers & Wilkins Px8, and they live up to that just fine. This battery life is competitive and on par with other headphones in this range and with this feature set. Bowers & Wilkins has improved the charge time from 5 hours with 15 minutes of charge on the Px7 to 7 hours with a 15-minute charge on these Px8 headphones.

Price/Value

The Bowers & Wilkins Px8 are significantly more expensive than the Px7 S2 and are priced at $699. The upgraded materials, comfort, build quality, sound, and ANC capabilities warrant the higher price tag.

Wrap Up

The changes between the Px7 and Px7 S2 were significant in both design and sound. The story is similar to the Bowers & Wilkins Px8. These headphones are almost one-for-one in design and look, but they are exceedingly better in build quality, materials used, and, most importantly, sound. If you’re searching for an alternative to Sony’s XM series, Apple’s AirPods Max, and other ANC headphones in this price range, the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 will not disappoint.

Last Updated on December 7, 2022.

Bowers & Wilkins Px8

$699

Design

9.5/10

Ease of Use

9.5/10

App/Software

9.5/10

Sound

9.5/10

Reception/Call Quality

9.5/10

Battery Life

9.5/10

Price/Value

9.5/10

Nailed it

  • The design language remains overall the same but with much nicer materials
  • Very comfy earpads and spacious for larger ears
  • Always easy to setup and operate
  • The app and user experience is simple
  • Excellent reception and call quality
  • Great battery life
  • Excellent sound and a huge improvement in ANC

Needs work

  • These are very pricey
  • There are other options in the same price with slightly better sound and ANC
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