The TWS earbud market has grown steadily over the past few years. I fondly remember the early days of TWS earbuds when connectivity issues plagued almost every brand. Connectivity was a significant technical issue that needed fixing, and brands like Bowers & Wilkins wisely chose to wait rather than jump in too soon. That choice has resulted in much better products from established brands like B&W. The company has its flagship Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 headphone on the market and ready for purchase.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
The Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 is the company’s flagship TWS earbuds with adaptive active noise canceling and that sweet B&W soundstage. But are these flagship earbuds good enough to stand out among the crowd? Or do they join the pool of buds doing more of the same? Let’s jump into our full review of the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 TWS headphones.
Table of contents
The Quick Take
Our new section here at Techaeris is The Quick Take. You can read our thoughts from the full review in a few quick sentences or paragraphs here.
The Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 sound fantastic. In terms of sound, these are some of the best TWS earbuds on the market, and if you are looking for TWS earbuds purely for sound only, these will suit you very well. I was disappointed with the build quality of the charging case and the awkward removal of the buds.
If one of your main purchasing points is excellent ANC, well, in all honesty, the Pi7 S2 are only average. While the ANC works and does a decent job, it falls short of other brands in the same price category. I personally wouldn’t say this means they aren’t worth buying. Based solely on the soundstage, I would purchase these because ANC is a nice addon but not an essential feature for my use case.
The Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 has the following features and specifications:
|Net weight||Earbuds: 7 g (each)|
Charging case: 47 g
|Dimensions (Carry Case)||61 mm (w) x 28 mm (d) x 56 mm (h)|
|Wearing style||In-ear noise-canceling True Wireless headphones|
|Technical features||True 24-bit audio connection|
2-way drive unit design
Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX™ Adaptive technology
Audio retransmission from the charging case
Wireless and USB-C charging
Fast charging support
|Bluetooth codecs||aptX™ – Adaptive|
aptX™ – HD
aptX™ – Classic
|Bluetooth profiles||A2DP v1.3.1|
BLE GATT (Generic Attribute Profile)
|Frequency band||Tx mode: 2402MHz to 2480MHZ, ISM Band|
Rx mode: 2402MHz to 2480MHz, ISM Band
|RF output power||<10.0 dBm|
|Drive units||9.2mm Dynamic Drive with Balanced Armature|
|Microphones||Three microphones per earbud for calls and ANC|
|Battery life & charging||Up to 5 hours for earbuds (with ANC off)|
Additional 16 hours from charging case
15 minute charge = 2 hours playback
|Battery type||Rechargeable Lithium-ion (earbuds and charging case)|
|Wireless Charging Support||Yes|
|Waterproof||Yes – IP54 (earbuds only)|
Charging case: USB-C & 3.5 mm analog jack (wireless audio retransmission via charging case)
|Inbox accessories||80 cm USB-C to USB-C charging cable|
80 cm 3.5 mm jack to USB-C audio cable
Small / Medium / Large ear tips
What’s In The Box
- Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2
- Charging Case
- 80 cm USB-C to USB-C charging cable
- 80 cm 3.5 mm jack to USB-C audio cable
- Small / Medium / Large ear tips
Let’s start the design section with the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 charging case design. Frankly, I wouldn’t say I like this case’s design. The rounded bottom with the USB-C charging port is my first beef with the case. Making this round makes it impossible to set this case down upright. You have to lay it flat or place it upside down on its lid. I would have liked to see the bottom flat, so I could easily set the case down upright if I wanted to.
My second beef with this charging case is its cheap-feeling build quality. The plastics used here feel like an afterthought, which is sad because the earbuds are fantastically built. There’s not much else to the case, one USB-C port for charging, wireless charging on the flat back, a transmit button on the front, and an LED charge indicator.
The transmission button is interesting, allowing you to use an audio transmission feature. You can connect the case using the USB-C-to-3.5mm cable to an external source to stream audio to your earbuds, such as a touch-screen console on a plane.
Pulling the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 is also a bit awkward and cumbersome. I had to wrestle with them to get them out, and the case hinge could use a bit more play to the back to allow fingers to get in better.
The Pi7 S2s are well-designed and built and look fantastic. They feel premium and are super comfortable with a variety of different-sized ear tips. I love that Bowers & Wilkins took a different design approach to the earbuds. They don’t have a bean shape, and they don’t have the AirPods Pro shape. Instead, they are an interesting oval with a rounded metal cap shape, which probably doesn’t make sense. They look good, is the best I can say.
The metal portion houses the touch controls, more on those later, and you can see the ANC mics on the body of the earbuds. The Bowers & Wilkins logo is nicely placed along the side of the metal portion of the earbuds.
Overall, I think the earbuds’ design and build quality are fantastic. The build, look, and feel are all spectacular. The charging case is another matter. I feel a little cheated here; I may have been able to deal with the design quirks of the case, but the low quality is unforgivable, especially from such a gold-standard audio brand.
Ease of Use
Bluetooth TWS headphones have become incredibly easy to use these days. It used to be that you would have to push a button on one earbud and pair that to your smartphone. Then push another button on the second earbud to pair the earbuds together.
With the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2, all you have to do is open the charging case’s lid and look for them in your Bluetooth settings. Pair them with your device, and you are on your way. After the Bluetooth pairing is done, you can open the app and connect them to the app to add functionality; more on this in the next section.
The Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 have touch controls on the sides of each earbud. I am not a fan of touch controls on earbuds because it is too easy to invoke actions accidentally. But the design of the Pi7 S2s prevents this, as you can easily adjust the buds by grabbing the round metal portion and not touching the controls. Touch controls aren’t my favorite, but they are tolerable on these earbuds. As for the controls, here is what you can do with those controls:
- Play or pause: Tap the Multi-function button once.
- Play the next track: Tap the Multi-function button twice in quick succession.
- Play the previous track: Tap the Multi-function button thrice quickly.
- Answer call: Tap the Multi-function button once with an incoming call.
- End call: When the call is complete, quickly tap the Multi-function button twice.
- Decline an incoming call: Tap the Multi-function button twice quickly with an incoming call.
- Noise Canceling: Press left earbud for 1s
- Voice Assitant: Press right earbud for 1s
Overall, these are straightforward in terms of operating and using them. I’m not a big fan of touch controls anymore, but these do not bother me so much.
The app included with the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 headphones is straightforward and clean. 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. It’s the same app used with the fantastic Px7 S2s, which I loved!
You can adjust the noise cancellation and ambient passthrough in the app. You will likely only use the app at the initial setup and then forget about it.
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 Px7 S2 headphones updated.
In terms of sound, the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 are fantastic. They are tuned very differently than the over-ear Px7 S2s, with a better placement of bass. The mids and highs are leveled nicely, and the bass is not overpowering but placed precisely in the mix to support the other frequencies.
I would say that the soundstage is not quite neutral, but it is very close. Volume levels are also excellent; I generally only go to about 60% volume on most audio products. The Pi7 S2s were fine at 60% with no breakup or sound degradation.
Ambient pass-through worked fine, it does what you need it to do, and I don’t use this feature on any headphones. I love the wear sensor feature; every headphone should have this. Being able to take an earbud out and have the music pause is an excellent feature.
The adaptive ANC is my one complaint about these earbuds. It works fine, but that’s just it; it works fine. The ANC here does not outshine any other brands. It seems to be content with being average, and at these prices, consumers expect more. I had a similar complaint about the over-ear Px7 S2s, and Bowers & Wilkins Px8 over-ears solved the problem.
The fitment of the earbuds was great. The provided ear tips did a good job of sealing in my ear, but I could still hear noises through the ANC that I could not with some competing earbuds.
Overall, I think the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 sound amazing. They have a nice array of features that are useful, and a great value add. But the adaptive ANC needs a bit of work to better differentiate itself from the rest of the competition.
I am increasingly considering removing this section from headphone reviews; even bad headphones are getting this part right. I had no issues with Bluetooth reception or call quality; everything is excellent on the Pi7 S2s.
Bowers & Wilkins claims up to 5 hours of battery life for earbuds (with ANC off) and 16 hours from the charging case. A 15-minute charge will give you 2 hours of playback time.
Battery life is going to vary wildly with each person’s use case. I got a little less than 4 hours of battery life for the earbuds and enough to get me through a day with the charging case. The battery life is not spectacular on the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2, but it is decent and competitive enough. Besides, these earbuds are moving four drivers, each with a dedicated amp. So there is some wiggle room to allow for.
The Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 earbuds are priced at $399—these land with AirPods Pro and several other competing TWS earbuds. The value in terms of sound is certainly there. The value in terms of ANC is OK. There are better ANC performers out there, so it may be worth looking around.
The Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 earbuds are fantastic for those worried only about sound. They sound fantastic, with a nice natural soundstage with a comfortable bass boost that does not overpower. If you’re looking for ANC performance, then the Pi7 S2s will be fine, but there are better ANC options to think about.