Review of B&W P7 - Luxury Modern Audiophile headphones w/lots of pics!!!


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  1. twister6

    twister6 Guides Guide

    This is a review of B&W P7, new flagship model of Bowers & Wilkins headphones. Bowers & Wilkins P7 Mobile Hi-Fi headphones

    It's a very bold statement from me to title my review with anything beside manufacturer and model name. I'm sure by now you all got used to my specific review format, but today I'm going to break all the rules because I just indulged myself in a pure luxury of the best looking and sounding headphones I have tested to date. You can argue that a sound quality is a matter of a personal taste and a beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But the moment you lay your eyes on B&W P7 and connect them to your favorite audio source, you will become a believer like I just did. Let's keep your judgment about their pricing until the end of the review, and take a closer look at what I have found while reviewing this masterpiece.

    Unlike most of the other headphones I reviewed in the past, Bowers & Wilkins choose a more "formal tuxedo" look of their box to showcase this new P7 model. There is no flashy presentation with description of every bit and piece of functionality and the spec, they tried very hard to build a suspense!!! The job well done, and once the box cover is off - you are greeted with a smell of a brand new luxury car. Yes, you read it correctly, that was the first impression I got after opening the box, the smell of a fresh premium leather. Upon taking headphones out of the box and unfolding them, you presented with a true work of art with hand-stitched premium real leather padded headband, soft premium leather surrounding foam earcups, beautiful leather accent of outside of earcups along with a brushed metal shields with etched "Bowers & Wilkins", and a precisely crafted chrome tubing which connects earpads to the headband and interweaves with a breaded wire. Adding a smooth headband adjustment mechanism and a cylindrical hinge made out of the same chrome material - these are the best looking headphones I have ever seen. The design strikes a perfect balance between art and functionality, and will make them look great in any environment you decide to wear them, either sitting on the couch at home, or riding on a bus to work, or relaxing during your lunch break outside.

    And speaking of comfort, it's hard to believe these weight 292 grams (including cable). The padding of headband, the softness of over-ear earpads, and the perfect clamping force which brings a decent passive noise isolation - all make up for a very comfortable fitment where I was able to use it for an extended period of time without any physical fatigue. Being able to fold earpieces inward, makes these headphones very compact for traveling When you ready to travel, one of the included accessories is a premium leather quilted storage case in a shape of semi-circle. I'm still on a fence if it looks a bit on a feminine side, but considering unique style of headphones itself - they deserve a unique luxury storage case to match it. In addition to storage bag, included also 1/4" adapter, 2 sets of cables (audio only and with in-line remote/mic), and booklets with various instructions and a history of B&W which I actually found to be very educational. Having removable/replaceable cables is a signature of most of the audiophile headphones, but P7 took it to another level. Instead of a traditional 2.5mm or 3.5mm jack outside of one of the earcups, the jack is actually hosted underneath of earpad. Both of the earpads can be removed thanks to 4 strong magnets that hold it firmly attached. The Left earcup hosts a 2.5mm connector where the angled side of the audio cable goes into. Both of the cables have an identical high quality built with a nicely shielded cable and a gold plated 3.5mm connector accompanied by a chrome plug with a decent strain relief. The only difference between cables is one with a very elegant in-line remote/mic intended for iDevice control with multifunction button that works perfectly with Android phones for play/pause/call, playback control, and Google NOW triggering. In-line remote has the same chrome finish as other metal elements of headphone. Making phones call was crystal clear. Furthermore, I didn't notice any microphonics effect. As expected, volume buttons were only intended for iDevices.

    There is no doubt B&W P7 looks like a million bucks, but does it sound like one as well? You better believe it!!! I usually don't bring up comparison to other headphones until after the original review, but in this case I'm making another exception. Two of my favorite headphones from recent reviews were Sennheiser Momentum and V-Moda M-100. One had a very detailed balanced sound but lacked in stronger bass, over-ear design was right at the edge of comfort, and it wasn't compact, while the other one was basshead delight with a compact folding design but a serious V-shaped sound signature due to recessed mids. Here enters the P7 which you can consider as a lovechild of Momentum and M-100 lol!!! It took the best of the both worlds and polished it with more improvements. These are definitely audiophile quality headphones with a very detailed sound across the entire frequency spectrum. Starting with bass you get both, quality and quantity. The bass is very well defined and controlled, definitely punchy with a fast attack while also textured with a supporting layer of sub-bass. Not over powering or bloating, just perfect. Mids are a bit recessed, but still very nicely balanced in a space between bass and treble; very detailed and clear, especially with both male and female vocals. Treble is extended, clear, and doesn't have those harsh high frequencies that hurt your ears. Gotta say that width of soundstage in these is probably one of the best I ever heard. You feel like you are surrounded by a full size speakers inside of a perfect acoustic room. I have no idea how B&W was able to accomplish that, but this surround space has been fine tuned to perfection where you feel like you are at the front row of a concert. Another great thing about these headphones, no matter how I connected them, directly to my phone or laptop or E18 DAC/amp - they sounded great. I even threw at them a low quality mp3s and streamed some poorly compress audio - I found P7 to be very forgiven while playing everything perfect.

    Overall, I can't say enough great things about these headphones. They combine sound details of all of my favorite individual headphones, and deliver it in one of the best designed packages I have seen. I'm usually very careful about giving out a MUST HAVE recommendation to products I review, especially those which cost $400. But in this case I found headphones that are a pure perfection and worth every penny of that price. I know its a big investment, so I would recommend visiting either Apple or Best Buy (Magnolia show room) to preview these by yourself. In my opinion, if you do value the sound quality, looking for a durable design with a bold statement, and have a budget of $300-$400 - B&W P7 should be at the top of your list!!!

    Here are the pictures.

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  2. twister6

    twister6 Guides Guide

    Btw, I was browsing for other B&W P7 reviews today and found that Tyll of InnerFidelity posted one last night as well: The Sumptuous and Sonorous Bowers & Wilkins P7 | InnerFidelity

    When it comes to audiophile quality reviews, Tyll is a legend!!! Obviously, he is going to have more professional opinion and does a very extensive testing including the entire sweep of frequency response. In his opinion, P7 wasn't exactly true audiophile quality because of enhanced bass. He referenced Sennheiser MOMENTUM as an example of audiophile quality headphones. I do agree with that, MOMENTUM does have a classic audiophile leveled frequency response. And as I mentioned before, I really like V-Moda M-100 with their "fun" V-shaped sound and strong bass. I still feel P7 has audiophile sound, but I corrected by review title with addition of "Modern Audiophile" reference. P7 definitely has more upfront mids in comparison to M-100, and it has more bass quantity in comparison to MOMENTUM. A perfect blend.

    For those who are interested, I captured frequency response diagram from Tyll's InnerFidelity reviews of MOMENTUM, M-100, and P7 so you can visually see what I'm talking about.

    Here is a MOMENTUM with it's relatively flat frequency response:

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    Here is how it's represented on M-100 with enhanced bass and recessed mids::

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    And in my opinion, the best of both worlds by P7:

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