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Bowers and Wilkins P7 headphones review

Tony Ibrahim | July 8, 2014
Leather has been liberally used on the P7 headphones. It drapes the large headband and cushions the over-the-ear cups. The cups press right up against the scalp, but much like leather shoes that take shape over time, the P7's cups will too mould.

What's part of the kit

Unboxing the P7's is an occasion. Slide the cover off the box and the headphone's sit folded on a platform. Keeping these headphones in the box is a great idea as they can be grabbed when wanted and displayed to passer-bys when not.

The P7's are larger than most headphones which should raise problem for people who want to use them on the go, but Bowers and Wilkins has included a chic leather case to protect them. The case is slender, lined with plush leather (that smells fantastic) and acts as an extension of the P7's elegant design language.

Two cables are found in the box: one ordinary and another designed for use with Apple products. Swapping the cables is easily done by lifting the magnetically sealed cups. Also included is a 6.5mm adaptor.

Beauty in the details

Leather has been liberally used on the P7 headphones. It drapes the large headband and cushions the over-the-ear cups. The cups press right up against the scalp, but much like leather shoes that take shape over time, the P7's cups will too mould. The snug fit of the headband and cups take their toll during long listening sessions.

Styled provocatively are stainless steel arms. Two small and cylindrical spokes criss-cross until they meet chamfered B&W nameplates. Petite these arms might be, but the stainless steel construction ensures they're nothing short of sturdy. Then there's the P7's party trick: these sculpted arms fold inwards for convenience when on-the-go.

More than three weeks have passed since we received these headphones and not a day has gone by without them stealing glances and leaving us to wonder how B&W fused technology and art so effortlessly.

Pristine audio, all genres welcome

The plush headphones create a cocoon free from outside distractions with such success that, if you were to speak while wearing them, you would scarcely be able to hear your own voice. The clean soundstage means the P7's 40mm drivers can do wondrous things with melodies.

Some headphones skew the low end for exaggerated bass. Others don't pay the low-end enough attention. As a result not every set of headphones can cater to every musical genre. Bowers and Wilkins' P7s are genre agnostic. Whether you're listening to Beethoven's Für Elise or to Samuel L Jackson narrate Chester Himes' audiobook of A rage in Harlem, they'll be the only headphones you need.

ATB's When it ends it starts again, a track kicking off with punctuating bass, progresses to the wailing vocals of Sean Ryan and then rides electronic notes, was handled with masterful tact and balance. Rarely will you need to up the volume beyond half-way — mainly because the cups rid extraneous sounds so effectively — but when we listened to this song at max, there were no signs of distortion and even fewer signs of strain. Bass was crisp, the vocals were piercing and there was just the right amount of space for the frequencies to layer without encroaching. It was the kind of balance familiar to Sennheiser's Momentum, only from a pair of headphones that look even better.

 

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