Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2: high-end headphones have Sony in their sights

Several new premium noise canceling headphones have arrived in recent weeks, including: Sony’s WH-1000XM5 ($400, £380, AU$650), Master & Dynamics MW75 ($599, £549 or about AU$970) and a teaser for Sennheiser’s Upcoming Momentum 4 Wireless† Now Bowers & Wilkins has joined the fray with its new PX7 S2 noise canceling headphones, available to pre-order now for $399 (£379, AU$599). It’s also teasing its new flagship PX8 noise-cancelling headphones, which will hit the market later this year for $549.

I played around with an early test sample of the PX7 S2, which comes in three colors (grey, blue and black) and offers some significant improvements over the first generation of headphones. Not only are the headphones more comfortable – they weigh 307 grams – but they also sound better and have better noise cancellation and voice call performance with improved noise cancellation. I don’t necessarily think they are a better option than the lighter and even more comfortable Sony WH-1000XM5. But the PX7 S2 certainly looks and feels luxurious with its rugged design.

Bowers & Wilkins say the PX7 S2 has all-new high-resolution drive units “placed in each earcup to deliver an incredibly immersive soundstage,” a new active noise cancellation system, plus an improved microphone set for “improved call quality.” .


The headphones are more compact and comfortable.

David Carnoy/CNET

The headphones are generally a bit more compact than their predecessors and also have new softer and thicker memory foam ear cushions that provide a good seal along with that improved comfort I was talking about. A hard carrying case is included, along with USB-C and 3.5mm cable connections.

The PX7 S2 is powered by a Qualcomm chip and supports Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive audio streaming codec which allows you to stream virtually losslessly (up to 24-bit high-resolution sound) if you have a device that supports aptX Adaptive and can stream high-resolution audio files. Music services like qobuz and Tide offer streaming of high-resolution files.

Bowers & Wilkins has a new companion app for iOS and Android called Bowers & Wilkins Music. (I used an early version of the app that was a bit unstable.) The app lets you customize the headphone’s sound profile with an adjustable EQ, monitor battery levels, and activate or deactivate the noise canceling and transparency modes to let in ambient noise. Battery life is up to 30 hours at moderate levels – that’s good – and there’s a quick charge feature that delivers seven hours of battery life from a 15-minute charge.

The new ear pads and angled drivers.

David Carnoy/CNET

I’ll have to spend a little more time on the headphones — and more time comparing them to other models — to make a final judgment. But suffice it to say that these deliver a very good sound with a nice open soundstage, well defined powerful bass, good details and warm, natural sounding mids. That’s all you’d expect in this price range. I’m not sure if the sound quality is significantly above that of the WH-1000XM5 and I think it falls a bit behind the more expensive Master & Dynamic MW75, but the combination of strong sound quality, improved noise cancellation (it’s not quite there with the Sony’s, but it’s good) and solid voice calling performance should put the PX7 S2 on your shortlist for headphones in this price range.

While I haven’t seen or listened to the PX8 yet, I can imagine it will bring a little more depth and nuance to the sound quality. That model does have different drivers.

Just like the original version, the headphones have physical control buttons.

David Carnoy/CNET

Key features of the PX7 S2

  • Slimmer profile with improved fit and new memory foam ear cups
  • Brand new high-resolution drive units angled in each earcup
  • Improved six-microphone setup for improved call quality
  • Bowers & Wilkins Music app for setup and tuning, plus support for Voice Assistant
  • 30 hours of battery life on a single charge (including USB-C and 3.5mm cables)
  • Available in grey, blue and black
  • 307 grams without the carrying case
  • Price: $399 (£379, AU$599)

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