Ugh. I’m a sucker for a good-looking pair of premium headphones. Where some people accessorize with jewelry or a fresh pair of kicks, my must-have are a pair of beautiful cans. And with their carbon fiber and metal housing, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition headphones have earned a place in my steady rotation. But the $399 headphones are more than eye candy. The cans serve up some forward-facing, warm yet balanced audio that can easily make you feel like you’re front row at a concert. And you’ve got strong active noise cancelling technology, great call quality and over 30 hours of battery life.
The price tag is a little steep for entry-level music lovers, but those looking for a pair of headphones that sound great, look even better and pack a powerful ANC, should give the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition headphones, the latest addition to our Best Noise Cancelling Headphones page, a listen.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones pricing and configurations
Premium products demand premium prices. That’s why the PX7 are priced at $399. The cans are available in three colors: Carbon, Silver and Space Gray. That’s somewhat more expensive than its top competitors, the $329 Bose 700 and the $349 WH-1000xM4.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones design
All black everything –– well almost. You’ll see gleaming silver accents adorning the headphones’ earcaps, with a Bowers & Wilkins logo on the metal caps and a sliver of silver lining the Carbon black oval. It’s a small thing, but when the light hits it, there’s a nice bit of sparkle. The metal caps and the black anodized aluminum yokes and extenders are cool to the touch, which contrasts against the rest of the headphones.
The top of the headband and the outer portion of the earcups are made of soft black carbon fiber. The underside of the band and interior earcups are made of pliable memory foam wrapped in supple black leather. Each cup has a wear sensor that pauses whatever you’re listening to when the cup is not around your ear and resumes the fun when the cup is returned to its rightful place.
It has all the trappings you’d expect from a premium pair of headphones. There is a small strip of black matte plastic wrapped around the right earcup, housing the USB Type-C port, 3.5mm audio jack, multifunction, Bluetooth/power and volume buttons. You’ll find another small piece of plastic panelling along the left earcup where the noise cancelling button resides.
But all those premium materials do make for a heavier pair of cans, with the PX7 weighing 10 ounces and measuring 3.1 x 6.9 x 8.7 inches. That is heavier than both the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (9 ounces) and Sony WH-1000xM4 headphones (8.9 ounces).
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones comfort
I’ve worn the circumaural PX7 for three months now and they’re uber comfortable. There was never a need to break them in, as the leather-wrapped memory foam gently nestled around my ears, creating a nice seal that helps the ANC. I never felt any uncomfortable pressure with the PX7, allowing me to wear the over-ear cans for the entirety of my work day.
And while I have a rather small head, my 20-year-old locs make for some big hair, particularly with the faux pompadour I’ve been rocking as of late. The PX7’s extenders were enough to accommodate my poofy do, camouflaged by purple, blue and pink locs.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones setup
Connecting your PX7 to a Bluetooth-compatible device is as simple as holding a switch. OK, there’s a little more involved, but not much. After turning the PX7 on, I held the switch in the upright position for five seconds to initiate pairing mode. From there, I went into my Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra’s Bluetooth menu, selected the headphones from the list and I was good to go. The process was just as seamless on my office MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 17.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones controls
I’m torn between design and functionality on this one. I would absolutely love for Bowers & Wilkins to incorporate touch controls in the earcaps. However, that would probably entail adding big plastic pieces, which would take away from the premium design.
Wrapped around the right earcup are the majority of the PX7’s controls. Starting from the top, you have the Power/Bluetooth switch, and the multifunction button sandwiched between the volume buttons. The multifunction button works similar to others in the category with a single press controlling play/pause while listening to content or answer/end when a call comes in. A quick double tap skips tracks forward while a triple hit skips backwards. The noise cancelling button on the left earcup switches between the headphones three levels of ANC.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones app
Just like most headphones on the market, the PX7 has a companion app to enhance your listening experience. The free app is available on both Android and iOS and offers a clean, intuitive interface. Once paired with the headphones, you can check battery status, switch between the ANC levels or turn ANC off altogether. It’s here that you can also adjust the Ambient Passthrough level.
You can also use the app to switch between devices connected to the cans, check device history, rename the headphones, adjust the wear sensor sensitivity, set the standby timer and enable or disable the voice prompt. The app also offers six distinct soundscapes to give you some mindfulness inducing calm. You can choose between the sounds of the ocean, a rainy day, a crackling campfire in the forest, rustling leaves, a babbling brook and a waterfall.
And while the soundscapes are pretty cool, I wish the company included an equalizer so listeners could adjust the tuning to better suit their listening habits similar to what Bose and Sony offers.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones active noise cancelling
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition headphones are equipped with 6 microphones –– 4 mics for active noise cancelling and 2 for Clear Voice Communication for taking calls. I’m happy to report that like any premium pair of ANC cans, the PX7’s mics are seriously quiet, meaning that when they were hard at work keeping the hustle and bustle of New York City at bay, there wasn’t any subtle white noise. Instead, it’s like the world put on a powerful muffler.
Are the mics powerful enough to totally silence the city? No, as I walked to the fish market, I could still hear the train go by overhead and the conversation between the couple standing in front of me in line outside the shop. However, both instances of noise were severely dampened, as I only heard bits and pieces of conversation while the train’s clattering sounded like it was a world away.
When it’s on high, the PX7’s ANC is pretty strong, I found it fell a bit short of the Bose and the WH-1000xM4 which blocked out my LG TV with no music playing compared to the PX7 silencing things with the volume on 10.
The PX7 has three levels of ANC (High, Low and Auto) with a sliding Ambient Pass-Through scale that allows you to adjust how much of the outside world is allowed into the soundscape. It’s more limited than Bose 700’s 10 levels or even the WH-1000xM4’s 20 levels. Still, the PX7’s get the job done. On High, with the music or one of the soundscapes playing, outside distractions were kept at bay. But when I took my daily walk around the block, the Ambient Pass-Through allowed me to strike a comfortable balance between Sade’s “The Sweetest Taboo” and incoming traffic.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones audio quality
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition headphones are equipped with 43.6mm custom drivers –– the biggest in Bowers & Wilkins headphone line. The result is rich, balanced audio across the highs, mids and lows.
My testing began with SYD’s “Missing Out,” where the steady hum of an electric keyboard laid the groundwork for an airy presentation. Softer details like the triangle were easy to pick up as the vocalist sang in a resigned mezzo-soprano. When I switched over to the Bose 700, I noticed that the PX7 were louder at 50% than the Bose. Still, the headphones were pretty evenly matched in terms of quality with one exception –– the percussion section on the track was a bit punchier on the Bose.
When I switched to Chapel Hart’s “Jesus & Alcohol,” the PX7’s rather spacious soundscape allowed me to hear the range of instruments in the upbeat track, including both the acoustic and electric guitars, organ, piano and drums. Despite everything going on, the vocals were nice and clean, especially when the harmonizing backup vocal came in. Listening to the same track on the Bose 700, details such as the twang of the guitar strings were more pronounced, but it lacked the warmth of the PX7.
For my last track, I chose Aryon Jones’ “Mercy,” and reveled in the gritty electric guitar, powerful drums and crisp cymbals on the PX7. While the guitars were quite bracing, there was a bit of diffusion, but it didn’t take away from the powerful, aggressive vocals. Again, the Bose 700 delivered more nuance, eliminating that diffusion I heard on the PX7, and cleaner chords and sharper cymbals, but it wasn’t as forward as the PX7.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones battery and Bluetooth
Bowers & Wilkins estimates that the PX7 Carbon Edition headphones have a 30-hour battery life with the ANC enabled and 33 hours when disabled. That’s on a par with the Sony WH-1000xM4 (30 hours ANC, 38 hours ANC disabled) and far longer than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (20 hours ANC).
The cans held up to the hype as I listened to the PX7s for 8 hours everyday for 3 days, with the headphones sounding the low battery alarm around the middle of the 4th day. When it’s finally time to give the cans a recharge, the quick charge technology delivers 5 hours of play time in 15 minutes.
The PX7 has Bluetooth 5.0, which has a theoretical range of 800 feet, meaning I had no problem leaving my phone on the entertainment set and going downstairs in my office. I also made it into the backyard to liberate my barbecue grill from the snow. The sound only started to cut out once I left my house and hit the sidewalk.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones call quality
The remaining two mics on the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition headphones have Clear Voice Communication technology, which is there to pick up your voice during phone or video conferencing calls. I made several calls and I was impressed with my callers’ reports on how I sounded. Everyone stated that they heard loud, clear audio, with one person commenting that the timbre of my voice sounded very warm. As for my end, everyone remarked on how the warmth and depth of the voices on the other end of the line. I even heard someone sneeze in the background of one of the calls.
Come for the design, stay for the audio quality. The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition headphones are worth the $399 price of admission. The premium pricing gets you a pair of cans that don’t look like anything else on the market. No plastic here, just beautiful carbon fiber, metal and leather. But even better, the PX7 sound just as good as they look, delivering warm, balanced audio regardless of genre. Plus, the headphones have powerful ANC and 30 hours of battery life.
However, for the money, I wish Bowers & Wilkins would add an equalizer to the app so listeners can have some measure of control over the sound. You can get that and a host of other features from both the Sony WH-1000xM4 ($349) and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 ($329), plus even more powerful ANC for a few dollars cheaper. But if you want headphones that look just as premium as they sound, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition headphones are the way to go.