With the continued popularity of Beats Audio products, many manufacturers have felt forced in recent years to release high-end plastic headphones with ridiculously bassy tones. One of the few holdouts in this audio migration has been U.K-based Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), which has been making audio products since 1966.
Earlier this summer, B&W introduced the P5 Wireless, a Bluetooth version of last year’s highly successful P5 Series 2. Like the wired model, the P5 Wireless retains the company’s iconic design elements, which mixes chrome and brushed aluminum with soft, elegant, sheep’s leather. The result is a pair of classic premium headphones that come highly recommended.
- Company: Bowers & Wilkins
- Product: P5 Wireless
- Price: $399.99
- Compatibility: Bluetooth 4.1
- Colors: Black only
The P5 Wireless looks a lot like something Apple would produce. Ironic, of course, since Cupertino now owns Beats Audio. The headset features a black brushed aluminum frame, silver bezel ear-cups, and adjustable chrome arms. The headband and removable ear pads are surrounded by padded black leather that is soft, yet durable.
On the right earpiece, you’ll find a three-button control panel, which allows you to pause, skip tracks, and take phone calls. A pair of microphones are also present, plus an on/off button and slide, and a mini USB 2.0 jack.
When fully charged, the lithium battery should give you around 17 hours of playback time, according to B&W. With my P5 Wireless review unit, three charges were performed. Playback times were 16, 18, and 18 hours, respectively.
The P5 Wireless ships with a standard 3.5mm stereo mini jack for those times when you might want to use a cord, and also a stylish, black carry case for easy transport.
When registered with B&W, P6 Wireless owners receive three months free membership to Society of Sound. Here you’ll find classical albums, which are downloadable in multiple formats, including Apple Lossless, FLAC16, and FLAC24. After three months, you can continue your Society of Sound membership for $60 per year. For this, you’ll receive access to two new albums each month, plus all the current titles in the catalog.
The P5 Wireless works with any Bluetooth device, including a smartphone, tablet, or computer. You can pair up to eight devices. The first device paired serves as the default.
The sound quality on the P5 Wireless is impressive, which is saying a lot for a Bluetooth device. The sonic balance offers satisfactory highs and impressive mid levels. The low bass notes are okay, which is very nice in my book. If you’re looking for more bass, it’s probably wise to stick with Beats.
There were no dropouts during my tests — at least when my iPhone was in the same room. However, when I moved to another room, especially on another level, the sound dropped off rather quickly. This limitation shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, however.
Finally, phone conversations sounded excellent with the headphones. Crisp, clear, and awesome.
Once you get past the simple beauty of the P5 Wireless, you’ll notice that it’s been designed with practicality in mind. Other Bluetooth headphones, for example, make it downright difficult to change the volume or skip to the next song.
The Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless, for example, uses a lackluster touch control panel to perform these tasks. By contrast, the three-button control panel on the P5 Wireless is sturdy to stand the test of time.
I’ll also credit B&W for making the P5 a comfortable set of headphones. Even after a few hours of use, I don’t feel like a rod has been tapping at my skull like other headphones have done.
- Elegant and functional design, beautiful look, durable
- Wired and wireless option
- Nicely designed carrying case
- No color choices
- No noise cancelation
- $400 is expensive
If you’re looking for a beautiful set of headphones that offer impressive sound, you can’t go wrong with the B&W P5 Wireless, which is available through the B&W website, Amazon and at other retailers.