Published on November 3rd, 2014 | by Greg0
Bowers & Wilkins P5 S2: Better Than Ever
It’s the season for audio gear- that period of time when companies release all sorts of exciting equipment that we’ve been waiting in some cases a full year to actually get our hands on. We’ve reviewed multiple sets of headphones in the past few weeks, and have several more pairs that we can’t wait to tell you about. Today’s company practically defines the portable luxury headphone market, and offers a complete line of products to meet a wide range of needs.
The Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2 is actually an update to the original- part of the P3, P5, and P7 family. We’ve tried out plenty of B&W gear, from their top-of-the-line P7s and the folding, lower-end P3s, but also their lovely Zeppelin and even the A-line Airplay models like the A7. Across them all lies a consistent set of ideals: simplicity in design, top-notch comfort, and a black and metallic style that fits well in just about any environment. The P5 Series 2 headphones fits well in this group, sitting nicely between their bulkier over-ear pricier big brother and the lighter-weight small sister. They look like a spitting image of the originals, but feature an updated audio driver, similar to the P7s.
One of our favorite parts hasn’t been altered- the cozy sheep’s leather earpads with magnetic covers- and also untouched is the ultra-soft headband, perfect for wearing over long journeys or even while kicking back and enjoying at home. The earcups are pretty good at blocking out external sounds (passive noise isolation), and the balance between weight and power is just right, with metal components that are durable and sturdy. Hold the P5S2s in your hand and you’ll immediately noticed how well-engineered they are, sexy and supple without being ostentatious. If you have the original versions, there probably isn’t a need to upgrade- but for anyone who doesn’t need wireless or noise canceling technologies, there aren’t many portable on-ear pairs that can top these. Over-ear sets like the P7s are less portable but can offer a bit fuller sound- the mids and highs sound remarkably similar between them, but there is a little less depth and a bit thinner low end on the P5 Series 2s. The differences were minor, though, an impressive feat considering the size (and even price) difference.
Detailed, rich, and warm, we never noticed the gear itself but could focus on the music- there was no distortion and no noise or fuzz, even when the music was turned down. Many units struggle at high or low volumes, but not the P5s. The cabling wasn’t great, and we’ve seen better remotes, but they worked just fine and are MFI (iPhone certified). The bottom line: there are few on-ear pairs this size, at any price, that sound as good. Bowers & Wilkins kept everything that worked, and tweaked the audio formula a bit, updating the engine essentially. And the P5 Series 2s (or v2s or 2.0s) deserve to be heard. Available now, online and in stores, for $299.