Bowers & Wilkins The New Benchmark For Noise Cancelling Headphones
Back in May 2019 we banged on about how good the Jabra Elite 85H noise cancelling headphones were, but six months is a long time when it comes to premium headphone and the evolution of new sound technology.
Now UK Sound Company Bowers & Wilkins has launched several new noise cancelling headphones that deliver superior sound and brilliant styling to the Jabra offering.
What’s interesting is that despite praise from several reviewers including SmartHouse, Jabra have not been able to hold their premium pricing instore with JB Hi Fi discounting the Jabra Elite 85 noise cancelling product out just to shift slow selling stock.
When launched back in May 2019 the Jabra Elite were priced at $499, now they are being discounted out at $349 a $150 drop from what the same headphones were being sold for six months ago.
This was more about Jabra price gouging while also trying to give the impression that they are a premium sound brand something that consumers made their judgement on pretty quickly.
Jabra is a spin off from a hearing aid Company who after moving into call centre headphones up against German rival Sennheiser decided to move into the consumer headphone market where the experience of sound Companies like Bowers & Wilkins, Bose, Sony and Denon show through.
Bowers & Wilkins are a diehard UK audio Company who build $50,000 speakers that get rave reviews from audiophiles.
They also recently released their top end formation network speakers. Like Jabra in the headphone market Bowers & Wilkins is now challenging the Sonos sound system with significantly superior networked speakers that are both 24bit Vs the 16bit Sonos offering but also deliver superior sound output and configuration for consumers wanting an in home networked sound system that includes speakers and soundbar.
They are two standout noise cancelling headphones from Bowers & Wilkins that are set to seriously take on both Sony Bose and Jabra they include the PX7 and the PX5.
Unlike the old Jabra headphones these headphones have proprietary Bowers & Wilkins develop driver technology and Qualcomm’s new aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codec which makes pairing a breeze.
They also deliver a minimum of 30 hours of battery life and if you are on an aircraft and want to tap into the onboard power supply via a USB port of separate charger in some cases these headphones deliver 5 hours of charge in 15 minutes.
I used these headphones on a trip to China recently and the difference between my Jabra headphones and these were significant.
What I am noticing is that after time the noise cancelling in some headphones including the Jabra Elite85H and the AKG N60 starts to deteriorate and I don’t know why.
Back in June the Sydney Morning Herald said of the Jabra Elite 85H that ‘Unfortunately, the ANC isn’t that strong. On an international flight, they didn’t block out nearly as much as the Bose QC35 II or even the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, which would be the main competitors for these $500 headphones, along with Sony’s WH1000 series”.
So how do the new Bowers & Wilkins Active Noise Cancelling stack up. On both an aircraft and at home where I sometimes want to cut out ambient noise they performed superbly.
I am now confident that the B&W are the best wireless headphones on the market right now.
Adaptable noise cancelling has come a long way since the Jabra ANC devices were released due in part to improved chip technology from the likes of Qualcomm.
The new Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless Headphones are a classic example of how quickly headphone technology is moving.
The sound output to the ears with the PX7 is silky smooth a tad like being in a noise chamber or listening room.
In the past I have been a critic of the weight of the prior Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones they were also very stiff on the ears with some females finding them difficult to wear.
Bowers & Wilkins must have been listening because these new PX7 headphones are not only lighter they come across as like an understated luxury accessory. While the Jabra casing is big and takes up a lot of space in a bag the PX7 case is sleek and hard, so the cans don’t get damaged when you do push them into a bag.
This is the same Company that delivers the in-car sound for premium BMW cars as well as for Maserati and McLaren vehicles.
The decrease in weight has been achieved because B&W chose carbon fibre Vs metal in the sliders this reduced the weight by 25 grams.
Stretched fabric now covers more contours, while the matte-finish aluminium ovals remain on the outside of the earcups giving it that sophisticated look that’s missing from the Sony, Bose and Jabra headphones.
I tested these headphones using Tidal and Spotify streaming, I then cheated and connected them using a Sennheiser wireless transmitter to watch a couple of Ultra High Definition movies. The sound output could not be faulted, in fact I am now using them to listen to TV series with lots of dialogue because they deliver significantly clearer audio than a soundbar.
Clef Hi Fi in Melbourne are selling the PX7 for $529 while the recommended price is $599.
If you are prepared to spend this sort of money on a set of wireless noise cancelling headphones, the sound quality had better be good. They are with the latest Bowers & Wilkins offering, but as they say in the TV infomercials that’s not all you get.
Firstly, you get a pair of headphones from a Company who are committed to great sound and have the pedigree to support their audio capability.
Secondly these cans are light, highly functional and are designed from the ground up to be a luxurious accessory at home or when travelling.
The PX7 do not disappoint and if we had got them earlier, they would have won the SmartHouse Best of Best Premium Headphones of the year.