Bowers & Wilkins Px8 McLaren Edition
Over-Ear Wireless Headphones w/ Bluetooth, Noise Canceling, USB Port & Voice Control
Celebrating the long-standing, award-winning partnership between Bowers & Wilkins and McLaren Automotive and the McLaren supercars and hypercars in which Bowers & Wilkins has been integrated, the Px8 McLaren Edition headphones fuse McLaren-inspired styling with high-performance wireless sound synonymous with Bowers & Wilkins’ flagship headphones.
Custom 40mm B&W Driver
B&W’s custom 40mm bio-cellulose drivers allow you will hear a broader presentation of low-to-high frequency content across the board.
Trickle Down Tech
Each drive unit is carefully positioned & angled in the earcups to better direct sound into your ears. This attention to detail is usually only found in more expensive audiophile-grade headphones.
Inspired By Luxury Vehicles
Inspired by the gorgeous designs of luxury automobiles, B&W's top-of-the-line noise-canceling headphones give you the edge over the competition.
Company & Product Overview
Bowers & Wilkins, the iconic high-end speaker manufacturer from England just released another new, redesigned flagship model for their P Series of wireless noise-canceling headphones—the Bowers & Wilkins Px8.
The previous Px7 S2 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphone took us by surprise—but it has quickly become one of our Best-Selling Wireless Headphones at Audio Advice since its debut.
Every year, the luxury Px series constantly tops our list of Must-Have Audio Gear for Remote Workers, so we were excited to be the first—again—to receive the new flagship model from Bowers & Wilkins, and review the Px8 ahead of its official release.
The B&W Px7 S2 was completely redesigned inside and out—but this flagship model is taking the series to the next level. Like the S2, Px8 continues B&W trend of drawing inspiration from the really gorgeous designs of high-end luxury sports cars—but Px8 is all about living, lavishly.
We will talk about the Px8 throughout this review—but bear in mind that the build quality and performance is not the same as the Px7 S2 that was released prior to this model. Px8 is the new flagship headphone that offers a brand-new drive unit technology from Bowers and Wilkins—plus the engineers have doubled down on the use of premium materials for this model.
The software and electronics are the same as the Px7 S2, so if you are considering one of the new P Series of wireless headphones with noise-canceling from B&W, then this review is for you.
Keep in mind that when you buy from Audio Advice, not only do you get free shipping, lifetime support, and price guarantee, but you’ll also receive our exclusive Tips & Tricks setup guide to get you up and running with your new B&W Px headphones in no time.
Packaging, Design & Build Quality
In our review on the Px7 S2, we told you how much we loved the swiveling ear cups, so we are very happy to find this same design in the flagship model. This allows your headphones to lay flat on a desk whenever you don’t have a headphone stand close by. It’s a smart design that makes a lot of sense for travel-friendly headphones—and we continue to see this trend in the latest noise-canceling headphones from even the most popular brands this year.
Similar to the Px7 S2, Bowers & Wilkins bundles a nice headphone case that will protect your investment while you are on-the-go. Similar to the travel case that comes with the Px7 S2, there is some extra room inside that accommodates the Px8’s larger ear cups—and we like how the deep central pouch magnetically shuts to stow all of the accessories with your headphones. One difference we should mention about the travel case that comes with the Px8 is that the zipper tab is made with Nappa leather, another nice luxury touch. Inside the pouch, there is a very long 4-foot USB-C to 3.5mm headphone cable and another generous 4-foot USB-C charging cable just like Px7 S2.
In terms of looks, the engineers at Bowers & Wilkins have really doubled down with their use of premium materials for Px8. Similar to the Px7 S2, the headphones have a modern, high-end style—however, instead of just cloth & aluminum for materials—the Px8 features fine Nappa leather detailing and a diecast aluminum construction, which really helps these headphones create a special feeling as you wear them.
Bowers & Wilkins were not conversative in their use of premium materials, either. For their flagship model, the engineers covered almost the entire surface with soft Nappa leather, which you will find on the headband and the exteriors of the earcups, too.
The smooth-surfaced aluminum frame and yoke were produced as a single cast aluminium arm structure using a special metal-forming process called “diecasting.” This pressurizes hot, molten metals into accurately defined, incredibly smooth surfaced metal parts. One of the most significant benefits of aluminum diecasting for travel-friendly headphones is that it helps create lighter parts with more surface finishing options that will also resist corrosion.
The Px8 is available in two colors—including dark black and a light tan leather finish. Both color options feature the lightweight cast aluminum frame that is available in either dark or light metal finishes.
Unique to Px8 are its shiny diamond-cut edges that surround the matching Bowers & Wilkins logos on the exterior plates of the ear cups. The style and craftsmanship reminds us of their P5 headphone design—and this distinctive contrast creates a crisp “pop” of high-end “sheen” against its fine leather and single cast aluminum finishes.
From a user experience point of view, everything electronically about the design is the same as the Px7 S2. On the left ear cup, there is a multifunction button that you can customize to activate the Active Noise Canceling and Ambient Aware transparency modes—or, this can be set to automatically activate your phone's built-in voice assistant.
On the right ear cup, there is a toggle switch that powers the headphones on/off and this also activates the Bluetooth pairing modes. There is also an indicator LED that flashes or illuminates a solid white light to let you know the status of the Bluetooth connection and the battery. Next, there is an easy-to-find ribbed button for controlling playback in between dedicated buttons for raising and lowering the volume and these all function exactly like the Px7 S2.
Finally, there is a USB-C port for charging the headphones, and the indicator LED that will glow amber to show you that it is time for a charge. It’s important to note, Bowers & Wilkins is one of the few who make their USB-C port capable of both charging and passing hi-res audio through the wired connection. Exactly like the Px7 S2, we see the USB-C audio cable as an added bonus for those wanting the best audio quality from their laptops.
The redesigned form and shape for the new Px series took many months of research and development to deliver a better clamping force around the head and even better acoustic sealing that locks in the B&W’s premium sound. The engineers spent many months perfecting the level of comfort you get to ensure both Px7 S2 & Px8 remained comfortable for longer.
In terms of weight, both Px8 & Px7 S2 are slim, compact headphones. The Px8 weighs slightly over 11 ounces—which is less than half an ounce heavier compared to Px7 S2—and this means Px8 weighs in just slightly over half a pound. When at work or on a long flight, every little bit of weight counts. However, after about 30 minutes of wearing the Px8, pressure on top of the head was evenly distributed around the ears, and this helped reduce pressure points.
We attributed the level of comfort to Px8’s strong, but lightweight single cast aluminium arm structure. The smooth cast aluminum doesn’t just look cool—it made the smart compromise between a secure fit that stayed on our heads, while also providing a flexible clamping force that remained comfortable with a fantastic sealing condition.
Both Px8 & Px7 S2 feature the same pressure-relieving memory foam that covers plenty of surface area around the ears with thick, extra soft padding in the ear cushions and headband. Just like Px7 S2, Bowers & Wilkins designed the earcups on Px8 with an oblong rectangular shape. Especially for people who wear glasses, the ear cushions covered more surface area around the ears, and this distributed the clamping force evenly around the head for a more consistent, snug seal. So, if you wear glasses, its nice to know the arms of your glasses will not create an acoustic leak or add pressure points against the sides of your head. Very cool!
Finally, for the new Px series, the engineers spent a lot of time designing the earcups chambers to give your ears more room to breath. Like Px7 S2, the drive units are carefully positioned at an angle inside the earcups to better direct sound into your ear canals—and this also creates more depth inside the earcup chambers so your ears stay cooler for longer.
Features & Technology
Bowers & Wilkins Music App
Px8 utilizes the Bowers & Wilkins Music app on your smartphone to adjust noise-cancelling and ambient pass-through modes. This is the same app that also integrates with B&W’s newer products—such as the B&W Panorama 3 Dolby Atmos Soundbar and the B&W Zeppelin Hi-Res Wireless Speaker System.
Apps like these enable the manufacturers to update software, so your investment is constantly improving over time. It’s also nice to see all of B&W’s products integrated into a single app instead of spread across multiple apps that you have to install for each product. Our favorite feature, however, is the new 2-band EQ that will let you tailor the sound. So cool!
Advanced Hybrid Active Noise Canceling (ANC)
The Px8 features an advanced Hybrid ANC algorithm developed by Bowers & Wilkins that utilizes a new DSP hardware platform and algorithms to optimize the audio for better musicality, and call quality performance.
Six microphones work together to deliver the best results—two measure the output of each drive unit, two listen to ambient noise from the outside world and two provide outstanding voice performance with enhanced noise suppression from Alango.
Ultra-High-Resolution Carbon Drivers
One area where Bowers & Wilkins slightly outshines other headphones in the noise canceling category is the superior sound. For the Px series, B&W consistently utilizes the same engineers behind their prestigious 800 Series Diamond speakers. These are the same speakers used at Abbey Road Studios, and this is what sets the Px Series apart.
Sharing the same advanced acoustic platform used in Px7 S2, Px8 adds an all-new ultra-high-resolution carbon drive unit that is based on similar tech developed for the tweeters in the 700 Series loudspeakers.
Instead of bio-cellulose diaphragms used in Px7 S2, Px8 features a 40mm B&W driver with an ultra-low distortion carbon fiber diaphragm (<0.1%(1kHz/10mW)). Additionally, a 20mm voice coil that B&W says is based on their Kapton former—the same kind of voice coil former that is also used in Px7 S2 and their premium loudspeakers. Although the Px8’s voice coil is 30% larger than the 15mm voice coil used in the Px7 S2. B&W explained these are positioned alongside updated magnets (or motor systems) that reduce overall distortion in the Px8 for improvements in resolution & detail.
The new carbon cone drivers offer low distortion similar to the bio-cellulose diaphragms in Px7 S2. However, since carbon is extremely rigid, the diaphragm will remain stiff even up into the higher range of frequencies. What this means is that the stiffer carbon cone diaphragms can respond to transient attacks in a more pistonic manner as instruments and other nuances hiding in your music reach up into the higher frequencies.
The result is less distortion across a wider range of frequencies with substantial improvements to the resolution of details hiding in the top-end extension—especially on music where there are a lot of instruments playing all at once. Compared to the great-performing Px7 S2, the improvements in accuracy and timing were immediately apparent after testing the Px8.
Angled Drive Units
The drive units are then carefully positioned and angled inside of the earcups to better direct sound into your ear canals. This attention to detail is something we usually only find in more expensive audiophile-grade headphones to create the ideal stereo image with the most open, spacious soundstage. These headphones usually cost hundreds or thousands of dollars more.
The angled design helps deliver superior imaging and a sense of stereo “focus” that presents Px8’s soundstage slightly in front of the listener. The result is superior imaging and focus. At Audio Advice, we love it when companies use trickle down tech to make their less expensive gear even better, so we are really excited to see some of that premium audiophile-level performance trickle down into a wireless noise-cancelling headphone.
Premium B&W Sound Quality
Getting music into Px8 is achieved wirelessly over Bluetooth with support for AptX Adaptive for higher-resolution transmission of audio compared to standard Bluetooth. This promises class-leading, 24-bit/48kHz Bluetooth transmission, and low latency. Think of music with tighter bass, clearer mid-range, and more details in the overall sense of presentation.
You could also connect the Px8 to your laptop using the included USB-C headphone cable and use its built-in DAC to conveniently enjoy hi-res audio up to 24 bit/48kHz quality through the wired connection. Fans of hi-res audio will appreciate having a wired connection that supports lossless 24-bit audio for when you want the very best sound possible.
Px8 Microphone Pattern w/Powerful DSP ProcessingB&W takes the signal from your music source and runs it through its new optimized DSP algorithm to ensure high-resolution audio no matter what you are listening to. B&W then teams its powerful DSP processing technology with a new microphone pattern which consists of six microphones. The Px 8 has four microphones dedicated to the ANC system while a dual voice-calibrated mic system is dedicated and angled to capture your voice better.
Px8 Call Quality: Crystal Clear Phone Calls — Anywhere.
Bowers and Wilkins designed the Px7 S2 & Px8 microphone arrangement with the aim of significantly improving the quality of phone calls.
There are two external microphones closer together to improve how the noise suppression algorithm works. For active noise-cancellation, there is one microphone dedicated in each earcup listening to the output of the drive units—while another in each earcup is dedicated to listening to the outside world—and finally two more dedicated voice-calibrated mics on the outside of the earcups are positioned and angeled to better capture your voice while also suppressing outside noises such as wind—so your voice always sounds clear while on a call no matter what is happening around you.
Px8 Battery Life
Px8 has cut down the total time to charge to 100% from 3 hours to just 2 hours of charge time!
With active noise-canceling turned on, Px8 will run 30-hours on a single charge. Of course, this will be great news for travelers. When you start talking over 25-hours of active noise-canceling, it really opens the door for these to become daily headphones you can actually use regularly for work, home, or really anywhere in between. Plus, in terms of quick-charging, Bowers & Wilkins gives you 7-hours of charge in just 15-minutes, which is just fantastic!
Px8 Wear Detection
There’s also a handy wear detection feature that automatically powers off the Px8s for you after enough time has passed. A proximity sensor will detect when you are wearing the headphones, so when you take them off, you don’t have to worry about draining the battery. The standby timer can be turned on/off in the app. After about 15 minutes your Px8 will power off automatically for you. This also works with music—so, whenever you remove the headphones, the Px8 pauses the music for you. Once you experience wear detection, you’ll never want to go back to headphones without it!
In terms of controls, some headphones use intuitive touch-controls on the earcups, so you can swipe your finger across it to pause, play, or increase the volume. However, capacitive touch tends to have issues with consistency and being dependable in certain types of weather. So, Bowers & Wilkins went with physical-buttons that are always dependable, always there, and really easy to find. We find having physical buttons really do offer the most consistent experience in all types of weather no matter what the temperature is like outside.
Now that we've had the Px8 for more than a week, we’ve done a lot of listening. We even had the opportunity to bring them along for a road trip that let us put it through the paces. We used them in a variety of scenarios like riding in the car, walking around the neighborhood and hanging out in a busy park. Most people considering the Px8’s will probably have looked at the Px7 S2’s. So we compared these head to head to see what you’re really getting in terms of acoustic performance when you step up to the Px8’s.
Px8 Sound Quality
When you look at both headphones, you’ll see that they both can handle the same codecs, deliver the same frequency range, and we really thought B&W had nailed the Px7 S2’s with the angled drive units that better direct sound into your ears so we were happy to see them once again in the Px8’s. They even both look almost identical! So what’s the biggest difference besides the luxury look? It’s all in the carbon dome dynamic drivers!
When we found out they were switching the bio-celluose driver to a carbon cone driver, we couldn’t wait to put them to the test. With a more rigid and stiff driver made from carbon, we tested some music out to see how they responded to those quick transient attacks from from different instruments.
I used the Bowers & Wilkins app and connected to my iPhone 14 via Bluetooth and then logged into my Qobuz account directly in the app. I really love the layout of the app and the way it allows you to access all of your music streaming services all within one app. It also has all the EQ settings, devices to connect to, and environment controls all on one screen. I was able to switch from the Px7 S2, a Zeppelin, and the Px8’s with ease.
The first track I tried out was Vibin Out by FKJ on their French Kiwi Juice album from 2017. This is an awesome track that, with the right set of headphones, can easily take you into another world and let you really kick back and enjoy the music. Right away, the synth fills the entire soundstage and the vocals have incredible detail. I really enjoyed listening to this song with the Px8’s. At about 1:15 into the song, the drums come in and have some really snappy snare hits between the thumps of the bass. This is where I noticed the most difference between the two headphones. With the Px8’s, these snare hits seemed quicker, more powerful, and effortless than the Px7 S2’s. It is definitely something you have to listen for to really notice but if you’re going for a more audiophile grade headphone, you will definitely appreciate this subtle upgrade.
I also tested each environment mode between and microphone the Px7 S2 and Px8 and they both performed very similarly. I will give a very slight edge in the noise canceling department to the Px8 simply because I thought the Nappa leather creating a little tighter and more natural seal around my ear. I found the adaptive noise canceling to be very natural on both headphones without being too overpowering but still able to cancel out most of the low end car humming noises or background talking in a cafe when I needed to focus. The Pass-Through mode performed great on both as well and I used this multiple times when walking my dogs where I needed to be able to be aware of my surroundings while listening to music.
The next track I dove into was Hideaway by Jacob Collier from his In My Room album in 2016. If you know this song, you know it has some great bass that really fills in the background of the song. I was listening for not only how hard it would hit but also how well controlled and precise the big bass hits were. At about 3:25 the tempo picks up and the bass guitar plays a great riff in the background of the rest of the instruments. I was pretty incredible just how well the Px8’s retrieved the subtle details from his bass guitar and handled it with such finesse and precision. It just makes this song so much fun to listen to with it’s broad presentation of lower frequencies especially when you have a lot of natural instruments playing all at once. Again, when compared to the Px7 S2’s, the Px8 still has the slight advantage, feeling just a bit more resolute and precise in their timing.
Overall, we were very impressed by how well the Px8 canceled out high-frequency sounds too. When we were out and about in a noisy park with a lot of environmental sounds, and people talking all around us, the B&W Px8 did an even more fantastic job reducing the noise.
The sonic gains you get with the Px8’s over the Px7 S2’s are minor. But they are definitely there. Upgrading to the carbon dome driver is a huge advantage and if you are looking for the best of the best – these are some of the best wireless headphones we’ve ever tested.
Not only do you get the slightly upgraded sound, but Bowers & Wilkins is also known for the beauty of their products. It’s clear they know how to make aesthetically pleasing gear that looks gorgeous decade after decade. With the Px8’s, you’re making a statement. These are finely crafted and steps above the over-ear headphones you see everyone else wearing. The diamond cut logo, Nappa leather, and elegant design will have you standing out in the crowd.
The price jump between the Px7 S2’s and Px8’s is 100% justified to our eyes and ears. If your budget allows, and you want the best possible sound along with upgraded luxury materials, the choice is clear – go for the Px8’s. However, the Px7 S2’s are still an outstanding option at their price point and we don’t think anyone will be disappointed in them. Unless you’re in a serious listening session and are a huge audiophile, most people will not hear the subtle sonic differences between the two.
Either way, you’ll be really happy you made the choice with a headphone from Bowers & Wilkins. We hope you’ve enjoyed this review, but if you have any questions about the new Px8, feel free to give us a call, chat with one of our experts at audioadvice.com, or stop into one of our Raleigh or Charlotte North Carolina showrooms—we’ll be happy to help you out!
Bowers & Wilkins is defined by a compulsive desire to make a better product and, when it comes to wireless headphones, they’ve never made a better product than Px8, their new flagship. Engineered to excel in every area, it’s the ultimate combination of exceptional sound quality, premium materials, intelligent technology and smart features.
Thanks to its innovative new 40mm Carbon Cone drive units, Px8 can capture those crucial musical details that other headphones simply miss. The Px8 features exceptional noise cancellation, call clarity and full smart feature set, including up to 30 hours of wireless listening. Cast aluminium arms, fine Nappa leather trim and diamond -cut bright edge detailing leave you in no doubt that here is a headphone every bit as special as it sounds.
Celebrating a relationship which has been in place since 2015, the Px8 McLaren Edition is finished in elegant grey leather with Papaya orange details inspired by McLaren’s supercars and hypercars.
Integration of McLaren Automotive cues is subtle but stylish, with a Galvanic grey finish and Papaya orange highlights, the latter inspired by the famous Papaya orange which originated on founder Bruce McLaren’s early racing cars. A discreet tone-on-tone McLaren logo on the headband completes the headphones’ distinct and striking design.
The partnership is built on firm technical foundations, something that has already been recognized with three iF design awards for the system integrations of Bowers & Wilkins in the McLaren Speedtail, McLaren GT, and most recently, the hybrid McLaren Artura, which has again raised the bar for audio performance thanks to close engineering collaboration and optimization.
A new reference in headphones
Px8 combines its high-resolution 24-bit DSP brain with all-new 40mm Carbon Cones that deliver outstanding resolution. By reducing distortion and improving high-frequency detail, the carbon cone captures nuances in your music that other headphone drive units miss – and in Px8, that means more of the music that matters, more of the time.
Angled Carbon Cones
Px8 uses a new and breakthrough drive unit technology: the Carbon Cone. The stiffer carbon-fibre cone reduces distortion compared to a standard headphone drive unit, resulting in lower noise on the cone and massively improved clarity. Coupled to a fully optimised drive unit ‘motor’ system’, with revised magnet, voice coil and surround, the result is unparalleled accuracy from a headphone drive unit.
High-resolution sound with advanced DSP
Px8 uses aptXTM Adaptive wireless technology to automatically optimise wireless music transmission from suitable phones, tablets and computers. Coupled to powerful Bowers & Wilkins-developed DSP (Digital Signal Processing), the result is outstanding 24-bit high-resolution sound quality from suitable streaming services. Connect to your laptop via USB, and you’ll enjoy just the same high-res quality.
Cancel the noise, not your music
Px8 uses a total of six microphones for outstanding noise cancellation performance that shuts out unwanted intrusions yet does no harm to your favourite music’s dynamics and energy. Careful positioning and angling of those microphones ensures outstanding call quality too, even in noisy environments.
Comfort, for longer
PX8 features luxurious materials and purposeful design. Its cast aluminium arms are supremely light and stiff for superior durability: its sumptuous Nappa leather combines with perfectly crafted memory foam earpads to provide effortless all-day comfort plus supreme durability. Diamond-cut bright metal detailing perfectly finishes the luxurious, premium look.
Bowers & Wilkins Music App
The Bowers & Wilkins Music App puts you in full control. Use it to pair your headphones to your preferred devices, adjust the sound EQ to your preferences, adjust the noise cancelling transparency mode to let in more or less of the outside world and monitor your charge levels. Physical controls on each earcup ensure you’ll always be in control even if your phone isn’t readily to hand.
- 40mm Dynamic Full Range Custom Carbon Driver
- Hybrid Noise Cancellation
- High-resolution 24-bit DSP
- Ambient Pass-through Up To 30 Hours Battery Life
- Wear-detection Sensor
- Bluetooth 5.2 With aptX Adaptive Premium Materials
- USB-C Charging & Audio Interface
- Black Leather Finish
- Approx. Battery Life: 30 Hours
- Type: Over-Ear
- Connection Type: Wired, Wireless
- Android Controls: Yes
- iPhone Controls: Yes
- Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <0.1% (1 kHz/10mW)
- Codec: aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, aptX, AAC, SBC
- Bluetooth: Yes
- Bluetooth Type: 5.2
- Bluetooth Profiles: 2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP, BLE GATT (Generic Attribute Profile)
- Battery Charge Time: 2 Hours
- Noise Cancelling: Yes
- Microphone: Yes
- Number of Microphones: 4 for ANC, 2 for calls
- Quick Charge Time: 15 Minutes
- Quick Charge Play Time: 7 Hours
- On-Headset Controls: Yes
- Volume Control: Yes
- NFC: No
- Charging Interface(s): USB-C
- Driver Size: 40mm
- App Controlled: Yes
- Detachable Cable: Yes
- Port(s) / Connections: USB-C, 3.5mm
- In the Box: 1.2m USB-C to 3.5mm stereo jack audio cable, 1.2m USB-C to USB-C cable, Carry Case
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, 3.5 mm, USB-C Audio
- Ambient Sound /Transparent Hearing: Yes
- Fast Charging: Yes
- Foldable: No
- Case Height (in) 9.2
- Case Width (in) 7.4
- Case Depth (in) 2.5
- Unit Weight (lbs.) 0.7
- Shipping Weight (lbs.) 2
- Parts Warranty 2 Years Limited
- Labor Warranty 2 Years Limited
|Connection Type||3.5mm audio cable|
|Sound Profile||Noise Cancelling|
|Cable Type||Standard Audio Cable|