On paper there is little to separate Bowers & Wilkins’ new PX8 headphones of the PX7 S2 model released earlier this year. The battery life is still 30 hours, they still include six microphones (four for active noise cancellation plus two for calls), and there’s still no dedicated 3.5mm jack.
And yet the new PX8 costs $699, a whole $300 more than their mid-range counterpart. What gives?
Well, B&W states that “what gives” is the sound quality of the new flagship headphones, thanks to a pair of new 40mm Carbon Cone drive units. These use a similar design to those found in the company’s 700-series speakers, which start at over $1,000 a pair. “The result is resolution, detail and timing that exceed the high bar of the PX7 S2,” the B&W press release states. As with the PX7 S2 before it, both drivers are tilted slightly towards the back of your head to try and adjust the angle of your ears. Supported audio codecs are aptX Adaptive, AAC and SBC.
The second advantage of the PX8 over the PX7 S2 is the build quality. Compared to the mostly plastic and leatherette finish of the PX7 S2, the PX8 has aluminum arms and Nappa leather ear cushions with memory foam filling. They are also available in a sleek looking brown finish alongside a more traditional black.
We’ve yet to try the PX8 headphones for ourselves, so it’s hard to say whether their sound or build quality comes close to their premium price point. But there’s no mention of fixes to the issues we had with the more affordable PX7 S2 headphones we reviewed earlier this year. There’s still no dedicated 3.5mm input for wired listening fans (you’ll need to use a USB-C adapter instead), and B&W’s press release doesn’t mention improved performance for voice calls.
That means the PX8 still faces stiff competition from some very capable – and more affordable – wireless headphone competitors. We found that the PX7 S2s couldn’t quite match the noise-canceling performance of the $399.99 Sony WH-1000XM5 or the $329 Bose QC45, and of course the $549 AirPods Max benefit from deep integration with the hardware. Apple ecosystem.