Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2

Excellent sounding wireless headphones with active noise cancelling

The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 primarily impressed us with their very good sound. But this newcomer also performs well in terms of noise cancelling, appearance and wearing comfort. Android users will have a clear advantage over iOS users with the Px7 S2.

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With the Px7 S2, Bowers & Wilkins aim to do everything better than with their previous model, the Px7, although some users might wonder what they could have improved on? And yet, there is still room for some progress. We had just under a week to test the Px7 S2 before its release and compared it with its predecessor.

In the editorial department, we use a few headphones as reference models. Among the wireless models, a Bowers & Wilkins Px7 is one of them, with the sound in particular ranking in the top spot. The headphones, which were launched in 2019, lagged behind a little compared to Sony’s WH-1000XM models in terms of noise cancelling and Apple’s AirPods Max when it comes to transparency mode.

The Px7 S2’s appearance, materials and shape

The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 comes in three colours: black with silver binding, grey with a ring, also silver, to finish off the pad and body, and a blue version with gold appliqué.

The suspensions of the 180-degree rotatable ear cups are constructed similarly to those of their predecessor, and the size adjustment can be set as comfortably as before. The Px7 S2 weigh 307 grams, the same as the older model, but they feel lighter, and this can be explained by a significant gain in wearing comfort. The somewhat rigid shape of the Px7 has given way to a softer, more flexible feel in the S2 variant, similar to that of the Bose QuietComfort 45. The controls remain on the right side of the headphones: buttons with a clearly perceptible pressure point for volume up/down, play/pause/stop/skip and an on/off switch have not been revised by the manufacturer. This was just right for me because I prefer switches and buttons to swiping motions.

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 upgraded – some technical data for the S2

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Bowers & Wilkins has worked on the driver design of the Px7 S2 compared to its predecessor. The “speakers” remain at a slight angle to the ear, but, according to the manufacturer, due to changes in the design, there is more room to make the angle a little steeper. Quite simply, the sound stage has been enlarged.

The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 are capable of aptX Adaptive if the player you’re using is likewise equipped. In my test, my Android phone signalled that it wanted to use the aptX HD codec for transmission purposes. My iPhone communicated with the Px7 S2 using Apple’s own AAC codec.

Bowers & Wilkins no longer offers an analogue jack connection but includes a mini-jack-to-USB-C cable in the – incidentally very smart – case. In addition, the Px7 S2, like the True Wireless in-ears Bowers & Wilkins PI7, offers a rudimentary audio interface function via USB. This pleased me in two ways: firstly, the Px7 S2 can be defined as an audio device in recording software. Secondly, I was able to play a software instrument via iPad Pro with a very low latency using the mini-jack/USB-C cable. In both cases, noise-cancelling could be activated, but the volume control on the headphones was disabled.

What headphones in this class really need is the ability to connect to two devices. Multipoint worked very well in a conventional office situation with both computer and smartphone. The speech intelligibility was also impressive. The Px7 S2 was reliable, both for straight telephone calls and for audio/video calls, partly because two dedicated microphones are integrated solely for telephony.

The app

Shortly before the launch, Bowers & Wilkins released a beta version of the app for iOS, which should be identical to the software that will be available once sales begin. It is not particularly spectacular, but it is functional; it offers treble and bass tone control, and the ANC mode can be controlled (this is also possible via a button on the left side of the headphones in the factory settings). In addition, there is access to the instruction manuals and the ability to manage other Bowers & Wilkins devices via the app.

Noise cancelling and transparency mode of the Px7 S2

This is where Bowers & Wilkins has caught up most with their competition. There are three modes: Noise Cancelling on, off and Transparency, which they have called “ambient pass-through”. Compared to the Px7, noise cancellation has been noticeably improved in the Px7 S2, even if the ANC doesn’t quite match the noise cancelling of the Apple AirPods Max. However, Bowers & Wilkins have really succeeded with the transparency mode here, as it is virtually on a par with the AirPods Max. With the headphones on, you can easily follow conversations, even those taking place at a distance. Here, the British manufacturer has not only used a new DSP, they have also learned how to tune it properly.

Sound quality of the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2

The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2’s sound quality also proved to be a step up from its predecessor in all respects. Thanks to the slightly increased volume, the optimisation of the diaphragm’s dispersion angle and, purely subjectively, the improved wearing comfort, the S2 seemed to do its job a bit better in terms of sound.

I’ve always liked the B&W sound texture, and this is also the case with the latest model. I have a lot of fun testing headphones with music productions from the 70s and 80s, when a lot of emphasis was placed on good sound, as well demonstrated by the playlist “The Art of Electric Piano”. The tracks, most of which were recorded live, offer a liveliness that was a great pleasure to hear through good headphones or in perfect listening situations. When routinely skipping through our Kopfhoerer.de playlist, the Px7 S2 also performed at a high level. This applied to all genres. And with high-resolution files, played back via an Android smartphone with aptX HD codec, new worlds of sound opened up depending on the music being listened to; the spatiality and airiness of the tracks was even more subtle, because much more audio information was available and it was reproduced via the Px7 S2. Noise cancelling had hardly any effect on the sound, and the Px7 S2 was not affected by the hiss that can sometimes occur when noise cancelling is activated.

The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 for everyday use

Headphones are everyday accessories that are not only used just for music enjoyment, they should also provide trouble-free performance in the office during phone calls or when travelling. During our test, the Px7 S2 were hardly ever taken off my head, to the astonishment of some of my flatmates, they could be worn for hours and, thanks to the very good transparency mode, they also allowed me to participate in conversations. The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 were able to reduce environmental or machine noises to such an extent that audio broadcasts could be followed word for word even when I was vacuuming or the washing machine was on a spin cycle. Even when on a ride on the tram through a busy city centre I was able to follow the music largely undisturbed.

Pairing and resuming a Bluetooth connection was always quick, and handling in multipoint mode worked smoothly our test. Video and audio calls worked without interference. I was particularly pleased to be able to use the Px7 S2 as a USB audio device for audio production. The latency was low enough to play virtual instruments via the keyboard. The Apple AirPods Max, for example, can’t do that.

The battery life is stated as 30 hours, which under test conditions never led to running to empty. However, I did occasionally establish a USB connection to my computer for podcast production. Naturally, the battery then supplied itself with fresh power.

The Bluetooth connection was stable as far as a walk to the coffee machine and comparable to other test candidates. It remained stable over a walk to one floor below (approx. 7 m as the crow flies) and through two walls. In an open space, ten metres was easily reached.

I would like to give a mention to the integrated wearable sensors. With three sensitivity levels – controlled via the app – the headphones can stop the music as soon as one side is lifted, or not until the other side is set down, or at the third level not at all. In this case, however, the auto-standby time should be activated after 15 minutes so that the battery does not run down.

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Ralf Willke
2 months ago by Ralf Willke
  • Rating: 4.88
  • Sound
  • Handling
  • Price/Quality
  • Function

Bowers & Wilkins did not lay it on too thick with its announcement that it would improve the Px7. The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 scores points primarily because of the excellent sound, which has been improved in a number of nuances – once again, full marks for this. But the Px7 S2 also comes close to the competition in terms of looks and wearing comfort. In my opinion, the Px7 S2 are ahead because of their USB audio function, which also makes them great for use on audio production via the USB cable.

Android users have a distinct edge if their smartphone supports aptX Adaptive: High-Res Audio lifts the listening experience to another level – an advantage that cannot be enjoyed with iPhones, which is why I would particularly recommend the Px7 S2 to the Android community, otherwise, they are in a similar league to an AirPods Max.

Technical specifications

  • Ear couplingOver-ear
  • Typeclosed
  • Transducer principledynamic
  • Impedance37.7 ohms
  • Sound pressure level (SPL)98.11 dB
  • Pressure averaged from big and small head613.5 g
  • Weight with cable319 g
  • Weight without cable307 g
  • Cable length115 cm

What's in the box

  • USB-C to mini jack cable
  • USB-C cable
  • Carrying case

Special features

  • Available in black, blue and gray
  • BT codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive
  • BT version: 5.0
  • BT profiles: HSP 1.2, HFP 1.7.1, A2DP 1.3.1, AVRCP 1.6.1

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