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BOWERS & WILKINS
PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones Review
B&W's top-of-the-line noise-cancelling headphone gives you the edge over the competition with a new high-performance look.
THE HIGH NOTES
- Black & Diamond-Cut Edges
- Custom 43.6mm B&W Drivers
- Anti-resonance Carbon Fiber Design
Company & Product Overview
Bowers & Wilkins, the iconic high-end speaker manufacturer from England, just released a new special edition version in their top of the line P Series noise-cancelling headphones to celebrate their 10th anniversary in the headphone category — the PX7 Carbon Edition.
This new black and diamond-cut special edition version of the highly successful PX7 Over-Ear Noise-Cancelling headphones are inspired by the beautiful designs of high-performance race cars. Needless to say, we were excited to be the first to receive it and review the new PX7 Carbon Edition from Bowers & Wilkins ahead of the official release.
We will talk about the PX7 Carbon throughout this review but bear in mind that all of the build quality, performance, and software is the same for the Carbon edition as the black and silver versions, so if you are considering any of the PX7s, this review is for you.
Packaging, Design & Build Quality
Like the original edition PX7, Bowers & Wilkins bundles a nice headphone case to help protect your investment while on-the-go. The case is well designed, slips easily into a backpack or a bag, and has a little more depth than most bundled cases to accommodate the PX7 Carbon Edition’s slightly larger ear cups.
We love that the PX7 Carbon Edition features swiveling ear cups, allowing the headphones to lay flat on a desk in case a headphone stand isn’t close by. This smart design also allows you to stow the headphones inside the carrying case with enough room to fit the included accessories alongside. Inside the case, a 3.5mm headphone cable and a USB-C cable are included.
In terms of looks, the headphones themselves have a modern, high-end design. It features a composite carbon fiber, cloth, and aluminum construction that gives it a striking appearance, reminding us of a high-performance race car. The new Carbon Edition has shiny diamond-cut edges that surround the ventilation ports on the exteriors of the ear cups.
B&W tells us the new distinct aesthetic celebrates Bowers & Wilkins's 10th anniversary in the headphone category and harkens back to the P5 headphone design. At Audio Advice, we really like the crisp contrast between the diamond-cut edges and the durable cloth on the Carbon Edition’s ear cups. Since the diamond-cut edges affect airflow around the drivers, the engineers spent many months perfecting the new eye-catching design while preserving the iconic B&W sound signature fans know and love from the original PX7.
The original edition B&W PX7 headphones are available in Space Gray and Silver. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, we think B&W produced a high-end look that’s a step better than the competition, but this new Carbon Edition takes the high-performance look to a whole new level of luxury.
In terms of build quality, all the Bowers PX7 editions are crafted with a special carbon fiber composite material that’s extremely flexible and lightweight. Carbon fiber is 1/5th the weight of steel and a fraction of aluminum. B&W uses short strand carbon fiber in the yoke which makes them incredibly strong and durable to withstand pressure and pull from all directions. Carbon fiber also has anti-resonance properties that have acoustic advantages as well, so unlike the cheap plastics that are standard in most noise-cancelling headphones, the superior build quality here doesn’t interfere with the headphone’s sound signature.
On the right ear cup, there’s a USB-C port for charging the battery. However, it’s important to note, Bowers & Wilkins is one of the few who make the USB-C port capable of both charging the unit and passing hi-res audio through the wired connection. Since many people will be using these to work from home with a laptop that no longer includes a 3.5mm jack, we see the USB-C audio cable as an added convenience for those wanting the best audio quality from their laptops.
In terms of weight, the PX7 editions weigh just over 10 ounces. After about 15 minutes of wearing these, pressure on top of the head was evenly distributed around the ears which helps reduce pressure points.
The pressure-relieving foam pads will also cover plenty of surface area around your ears. Having slightly larger earcups usually means there’s more room in the chamber for your ears to stay cool. So, we are really happy to see nothing has changed here with the new PX7 Carbon Edition. The Carbon Edition allows us to wear them just as long as the original edition before our ears start getting clammy or sweaty.
Overall, we are really impressed with how well the PX7s strong but lightweight materials make the smart compromise between a secure fit that stays on your head and a level of comfort that stays comfortable longer.
Features & Technology
The PX7s utilizes the Bower & Wilkins Headphones app on your smartphone to customize noise-cancelling levels, adjust ambient pass-through, rename the device, and adjust other features. Apps like these enable the manufacturers to update software, so your investment is constantly improving over time.
The PX7 Carbon Edition also inherits the same adaptive noise-cancelling features from the original PX7 where the active noise-cancelling automatically adjusts to your environment. So, if you’re sitting in a plane listening to music, they’ll cancel out the plane noise, but as you walk through the terminal, they’ll re-adjust to the noise in the new environment.
One area where Bowers & Wilkins slightly outshines most of the competition in the noise cancelling headphone category is the superior battery life. With active noise-cancelling turned on, the B&W's will run 30-hours on a single charge. Of course, this will be great news for travelers, but when you start talking over 25-hours of active noise-cancelling, it really opens the door for these to become daily headphones you can actually use regularly for work, home, or anywhere in between. Plus, in terms of quick-charging, Bowers & Wilkins gives you 5-hours of charge in just 15-minutes which is fantastic.
There’s also a handy wear detection feature that automatically powers off the PX7s 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. You just set up the standby time in the app, and your PX7’s will power off, automatically. This also works with music — so, whenever you remove the headphones, the PX7 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, B&W 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 PX7 Carbon Edition for more than a week, we’ve done a lot of listening. We even had the opportunity to bring it 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, crossing a busy street, and taking calls at the office. Since audio quality is something that’s typically overlooked in a lot of other wireless noise cancelling headphones, we listened to a lot of different styles of music with the new PX7 Carbon Edition.
Since carbon fiber has anti-resonance properties, audiophiles will appreciate having a slight acoustic advantage with all of the PX7 editions. If you leave all the settings neutral, we think the PX7s are just a touch closer to matching the original source material and depth of bass.
Overall, B&W PX7 editions present a wide soundstage and deep bass reproduction across a wide range of frequencies from 10Hz to 30kHz. B&W utilized the same engineers as the team that was behind their prestigious 800 Series Diamond speakers. These are the same speakers used at Abbey Road Studios, and we think this is what sets both the original edition PX7 and the new Carbon Edition apart.
All PX7 editions utilize B&W’s custom 43.6mm drivers which are larger than the 40mm drivers used in virtually every other headphone in this class. With the new PX7 Carbon Edition, you will hear a broad presentation of lower frequency content across the board especially on recordings where there’s a lot of natural instruments playing all at once. Dave Matthews Band “The Best of What’s Around,” is a really good track that will let you hear this natural presentation of details.
Also, if you like streaming hi-res music, the PX7s are compatible with Qualcomm’s high-resolution AptX which is designed to sound substantially better than 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.
Next, we tested the noise cancellation. In terms of low-frequencies like the low-end “hum” of a car or the sound of a train passing, the PX7 Carbon Edition performs really well here. We found the performance was comparable to the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market. We compared them directly to the Bose 700 and the Sony WH-1000XM4 top-of-the-line noise-cancelling headphones in our 2020 Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Comparison — so be sure to check that out, if you want to know how the PX7 Carbon Edition performs against the best.
In terms of noise-canceling on phone calls, we tested them in the car, walking across the street while taking business calls and in the office. In all of these scenarios, people on the other end consistently told us the reduction of background noises was substantially better, especially when we were walking around in a busy downtown environment. People told us our voices sounded clear during the call, and on conference calls, fewer people were asking us to mute if there was wind or other noises in the background.
Overall, we were impressed by how well the PX7 Carbon Edition canceled out high-frequency sounds too. When we were out and about in a noisy street with honking cars, sirens, and people talking all around us, the B&W PX7 did a fantastic job reducing the noise.
At Audio Advice, we were the first to receive the new Carbon Edition PX7 from Bowers & Wilkins before the official release and we were the first to review it. After more than a week comparing the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition vs the best noise cancelling headphones of 2020, we are seriously impressed. If you want the top of the line wireless noise-cancelling headphones with the best sound quality available, and you’ve got the money for a really cool looking pair, the Carbon Edition PX7 is the best option out there.
Having the best pair of noise-cancelling headphones that can deliver exceptional sound quality from B&W with excellent noise-cancelling performance will more than pay for itself. All PX7 editions will give you the ability to pause the music when you take them off, unpause it when they go back on, and go into standby mode all on their own with a long-lasting battery that can last all day long.
We think the biggest advantage of all the PX7 editions is the cool carbon fiber design. It’s flexible, durable and it has a slight acoustic edge over other noise-cancelling headphones. Compared to the original edition PX7, the new Carbon Edition is like jumping into your high-performance race car.
If you're making the investment, and you have an appreciation for beautiful design, and the best sound quality available, you might as well get a great looking pair with high-performance carbon-fiber aesthetics. You’ll still get that same great B&W performance and features with any of the other PX7 editions for the same amount of money — but, truly, if you want a slight acoustic advantage, the high-performance composite carbon fiber in the new PX7 Carbon Edition is the coolest looking pair and it will give you that slight edge in performance.
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 PX7 Carbon Edition or the original edition PX7 from Bowers & Wilkins, 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.
HIGH NOTES UNPACKED
Black & Diamond-Cut Edges
Custom 43.6mm B&W Drivers
B&W’s custom 43.6mm drivers are larger than the 40mm drivers used in virtually every other headphone in this class. You will hear a broader presentation of low-to-high frequency content across the board.
Anti-Resonance Carbon Fiber
Superior build quality that doesn’t interfere with the sound signature. Audiophiles will appreciate having a slight acoustic advantage.
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