Review: Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition noise-canceling headphones
Exceptional looks and sound quality.
If you are in the market for wireless headphones with active noise canceling (ANC), you’ve got two categories to choose from. Either you go for quality of ANC and sacrifice looks, or you go for looks and get ANC that’s just good enough. What if you could have both?
That’s the premise of the PX7 Carbon Edition from Bowers & Wilkins, which wraps itself in carbon fiber, woven fabric, and sleek lines. Is the ANC up to the task of my toddler-taken-over working area? Let’s find out.
Okay, so the first thing you notice when unboxing the PX7 Carbon is that Bowers & Wilkins has included a slimline, stylish carrying case. That’s important when the main use of ANC headphones is to use them when traveling. Other competitors either don’t supply anything or give you a flimsy bag to store your expensive cans in. Not exactly ideal, so it’s nice to see B&W paying extra attention to your use cases.
The new carbon fiber sections of the PX7 give them a subdued look, almost like light slinks off them instead of being reflected. I really appreciate this, where the competition is either shiny plastic or shiner metal. It goes really well with the deep carbon, woven fabric that covers half of the headband and the earcups, something that you won’t see that much because you’ll not want to take them off.
They’re lightweight, comfortable, and even fit my oversized ears, which I wasn’t sure of when I first saw them. Nice clamping force as well, secure without ever making me feel like I’m being crushed.
I like that B&W has put R and L indicators inside the earcups, as the custom 43.6mm drivers are angled for the best acoustic performance, so wearing them backward would detract from the sound. Oh, and each earcup has a sensor to check if they’re being worn, so you can pause playback just by lifting one ear and resume by placing it back on your ear. Handy.
You’ll get up to 30 hours of listening, according to B&W, and I could see it. I’ve barely had to charge them in weeks of light use. I’ve not noticed any issues with Bluetooth connectivity, such as drop-outs or crackles. You can use them wired as well, either via USB-C (which also charges the battery at the same time) or via 3.5mm, although you still need them turned on for that.
So, how do they sound?
Sound quality is fantastic, but I will caution one thing – the sound signature is anything but reference. Bass is very prominent, just not at the expense of soundstage or detail across the rest of the range.
The thing that really surprised me about the sound, though, is that turning ANC on didn’t change the sound signature that much. Even on high, the ANC just kinda squished the soundstage a little, without changing the overall sound.
And it’s great ANC as well, high made every droning noise in my apartment disappear, from the aging A/C air handler to the washing machine, to the compressor in the fridge. I have no doubt it’d be up to the task of airplane engines once traveling is safe again. Even the telltale hiss from ANC was pleasant, and not really that noticeable after a while.
Should I buy the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition headphones?
In a word, yes (if you can afford them). The $400 Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition aren’t cheap, but nothing class-leading is. They’re stylish, comfortable, have superb ANC, and the sound will please most tastes.