Free at last! The B&W P7s go wire­less

FOR Stylish de­sign; great au­dio qual­ity; easy us­abil­ity AGAINST Noth­ing of note

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

If you’re look­ing for over-ear Blue­tooth head­phones, you’re prob­a­bly go­ing to be mak­ing your se­lec­tion based on four main fac­tors: their sound qual­ity, their aes­thet­ics, their com­fort and their price.

These B&WS have the same de­sign as the stylish wired P7s that won the What Hi-fi? Award for ‘Best por­ta­ble on-ear’ head­phones in 2013. A case, it would seem, of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it" from B&W.

A chip off the old block

These wire­less equiv­a­lents have all the best ini­tial qual­i­ties of their wired sib­lings: the earpads are very com­fort­able and can be worn all day. They have the same 17-hour lithium bat­tery as the wire­less P5s, charged via USB, so it’s un­likely you’re ever go­ing to run out of power dur­ing the day as long as you start fully charged.

The P7’s aptx Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity is con­trolled via the power but­ton: slide it across to turn on and off, and push it in­wards to make the head­phones dis­cov­er­able to new de­vices. Once paired with a de­vice, these cans don’t need to be made dis­cov­er­able again to con­nect.

The head­phones pro­vide au­dio feed­back too, by play­ing a dif­fer­ent sound when they are be­ing turned on, made dis­cov­er­able or turned off, in case you’re con­nect­ing the P7s while still wear­ing them.

On the right earpad lie the con­trols for vol­ume and play­back, each of which are clearly dis­tin­guished from the other by the raised de­sign of the mid­dle but­ton that tog­gles play­back.

As we would ex­pect, the mid­dle but­ton is able to play and pause any me­dia via Ap­ple Mu­sic, Net­flix and Ama­zon Prime Video across lap­tops, smart­phones and tablets, and can be used to trig­ger voice-con­trolled as­sis­tants such as Ap­ple’s Siri.

We start with Where Is My Mind by Pix­ies – the test here be­ing whether the P7s can keep the con­trast be­tween the quiet back­ground echoes and the dis­tor­tion in the gui­tar bal­anced and or­gan­ised. Turns out they man­age to do both, keep­ing the high-pitched wail­ing un­der con­trol with­out ever try­ing to over­cook the tre­ble. The midrange is clear and Black Fran­cis’ haunt­ing rhetor­i­cal ques­tions are given the space to linger in the air be­fore div­ing down into the lower oc­taves. And they do so with­out any no­tice­able lack of con­trol that would take away the eerie essence of the song.

Chang­ing to some­thing more pop, Pit­bull and Ke$ha’s col­lab­o­ra­tion Tim­ber stays up­beat and fun, with a lot of emo­tion in both the artists’ vo­cals. These head­phones do a good job of con­vey­ing the deep growl in Pit­bull’s voice and re­veal­ing a harsh edge to it, mak­ing you be­lieve he could be singing this hav­ing just come out of a club.

Great head­phones should be able to point your at­ten­tion to­wards new de­tails in songs, even those you’ve heard a num­ber of times. Sure enough, we find the P7s ex­pose undis­cov­ered facets in tracks we know back­wards via lesser me­dia.

The P7s have a good con­trol of the dy­nam­ics too, able to smoothly build from the har­mon­ica at the start of Tim­ber to the crescendo of the loud club. The mes­sage is these head­phones can ef­fec­tively recre­ate the at­mos­phere of a range of mu­sic with ease.

Bass bal­ance

“We can’t say we’re sur­prised, but the fact is the P7 Wire­less head­phones set a high stan­dard for other com­peti­tors in this price range to reach”

The deep bass beats are gen­er­ous, per­haps a touch overly so, yet are man­aged par­tic­u­larly well in the way they keep the sound taut and tune­ful while sus­tain­ing plenty of at­tack.

At the other end of the spec­trum, the high notes have a rich tex­ture to them with­out erring on the bright side, and on the whole the P7s de­liver a com­fort­ably full-bod­ied sound.

Should you need to, you have the op­tion of con­nect­ing the wire­less P7s to your de­vice via a sup­plied lead. As we would ex­pect, this re­sults in im­proved trans­parency and de­tail – in ex­change for the free­dom of Blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity.

We can't say we're sur­prised, but the fact is the P7 Wire­less head­phones set a high stan­dard for other com­peti­tors in this price range to reach. B&W has built a very im­pres­sive pair of Blue­tooth head­phones that we’d cer­tainly rec­om­mend for their sound qual­ity, stylish de­sign, and user-friendly Blue­tooth con­trols.

Blessed with the same bat­tery as in the P5 Wire­less, the P7s can play for up to 17 hours. Good job they're comfy then

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