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Published on August 8th, 2015 | by Greg


Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless: Fall In Love With Bluetooth

Until recently, most consumer wireless audio had a poor reputation amongst audiophiles, or even folks who had high expectations for their speakers and gear. Beyond a couple of systems that were, and remain, expensive, most folks knew wireless audio by the most popular system out there- Bluetooth. And while it worked well for keyboards and input devices, earlier versions of the protocol weren’t quite up to the demands of audio. Thankfully, that all has changed for the better, and it’s safe to say that Bluetooth is more popular than ever at least mostly thanks to the rise of wireless speakers and headphones.

Case in point- the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless headphones, allowing you to cut the cords while staying connected, all using aptX for high-resolution audio from your mobile device or laptop. Intuitive on-board controls allow you to play or pause your music, or take calls thanks to the dual microphones. As with most portable wireless sets, the only downside is that you’ll need to pay attention to battery life. Like most competitors, recharging is pretty easy- you can top up using the included USB cable. But unlike others, the P5Ws (as we began calling them) offer a whopping 17 hours of playtime on a single charge, without adding much weight compared to their siblings.

The most important aspect of the set is that they don’t sound wireless at all. We had a pair of the B&W P5 S2 headphones so that it was easy to compare and contrast- we reviewed them late last year and they helped make our holidays a little brighter. At first glance and even on pretty careful inspection, they appear basically identical- aside from the playback controls and the lack of a wire (though a cable is included for wired listening, with a cute hidden socket). Even inside they are pretty similar, with more than your typical headphone driver- diaphragm-like, akin to traditional loudspeakers. The results are fuller and richer sound that is surprisingly lifelike and spacious. We’ve already listened hard to them in the past so won’t belabor the point- you’ll love the way they sound. The P5Ws are reasonably portable and won’t weigh you down, but they aren’t foldable and don’t have active noise cancellation. They do have decent passive isolation, however, if you need over-ears you’ll like their sister P7s. Comfortable even in long listening sessions, your ears will be happy thanks to cushy authentic sheep’s leather padding and a soft headband.

After releasing a solid Bluetooth speaker in the T7, Bowers and Wilkins have clearly been putting their wireless expertise to work. They took their time, but got it right- from their trademark their sleek brushed metal and black design to the lovely packaging. Bowers and Wilkins gear is always premium- it’s closer to audiophile ideals rather than your average pair- but while few headphone sets that we have seen are worthy of a $400 price tag, these are. If you don’t need or prefer the wireless functionality, the wired version will save you a bit of dough. Both are available now, online and in stores.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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