Did you know that for every iPod sold, on average three pairs of headphones are sold? This tells me most people have figured out different headphones are appropriate for different situations.
With this in mind I decided to try out the new B&W P5 headphones. I had previously listened to these in the store, and actually was not that impressed (but more on that later). I had a fairly long plane flight coming up, so I grabbed a pair to try out. The first thing I noticed was the smell of leather. These headphones have leather on the headband and ear pieces (which fit on top of the ear). They also come with a great protective bag that has a magnetic flap- it’s very cool!
I pulled the P5s out and plugged them into my iPod. There, I should mention, all of my music is encoded in AIFF-which is no compression at all. I adjusted them to my head and found them to be very comfortable. I then cranked up some old Joan Osborne and started listening. I immediately noticed one ear sounded much better than the other, so I fiddled around with them and discovered why I was not impressed the first time. You have to get them on your head just right, but when you do, they are great. They will stay in the right position too, it just takes some fiddling.
What I noticed as the hours passed is that I was sitting in the plane tapping my foot, really enjoying the music. The P5s are very neutral and never gave me listening fatigue. I played some of the music pretty loud, and then decided to ask the guy sitting next to me if I was disturbing him with the music. He said he could not hear anything. Unlike the open air headphones that do give more of a three dimensional effect, the P5s have no audio leakage (which is a good thing when you are sitting next to someone it might be rude to disturb).
The leather makes them very comfortable to wear as well. Now, back to my point about different headphones for different situations. These aren’t the headphones you would want to wear while outside in the summer or doing something where you might sweat, as I am sure they would start to feel pretty hot. You’d be better off with your activity pair for those purposes. But when you are traveling, these are fantastic! The first night in my hotel room, I even found myself putting them on and lying in bed listening to tunes when I should have been working on my next day’s presentation!
When I have to wear headphones at home, my very bulky, somewhat expensive Grado reference open air headphones are still my favorite for listening to music. However, there is no way you could travel with the Grados- they are too fragile. So I highly recommend the B&W P5s for the right environment. They are really an outstanding pair for headphones for the price of $299.