Laptop Mag Verdict
The $399 Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 is the second-gen version we’ve anticipated, blending high-end sound and ANC into a refined design.
Powerful, depth-filled sound
Strong battery life and wireless performance
Could use more features
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Bowers & Wilkins is synonymous with luxury audio, having crafted some of the finest-looking and sounding home systems and headphones ever created. The PX7 was a sonic powerhouse revered for its warm, balanced audio and robust active noise cancellation (ANC). Nearly two years after its launch, we’ve gotten its successor, the updated PX7 S2.
Colors: Black, Blue, Grey
Battery life (rated): 30 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Water resistance: None
Weight: 10.8 ounces
- Our expert picks for the best noise cancelling headphones, per budget and style
- Check out our Sony WH-1000XM5 review
- …and our Bose 700 review
This overhauled version brings forth better ANC, sound, call quality, and charging times, along with new features and wireless technologies that were noticeably absent from the original. B&W even took the liberty of refining the design.
All these additions come with a high price tag, but as past B&W releases have proven time again, you get your money’s worth. Read on to see why the PX7 S2 is a noise-canceller made to compete with the category’s top contenders.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Availability and price
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 goes for $399 and can be purchased at major online retailers, including Amazon and Best Buy, or directly on the company’s website. It is sold in three colors: Black, Blue, and Gray. Bundled with the purchase are a woven carrying case, USB-C to USB-C cable, USB-C to 3.5mm audio cable, and manual.
For comparison, the PX7 S2 shares the same MSRP as the recently launched Sony WH-1000XM5. These headphones also more expensive than the category-leading Bose 700 ($379), which is regularly on sale, as well as other elite performers like the Sony WH-1000XM4 ($349) and Shure Aonic 40 ($249).
Be sure to bookmark our headphone deals page for the latest sales.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Design and comfort
B&W didn’t need to implement any design changes to their second-gen model, but they did. The PX7 S2 is lighter, slimmer, and comes with “more luxurious” memory foam ear cups. Signature details like the arc-shaped yoke and aluminum deco plate with semi-matte finish remain intact. Tightly woven fabric is also applied to the hardshell and headband.
All three colors are gorgeous, especially the blue version with gold accents, which is something the Bose QuietComfort 35 II popularized.
The carrying case is just as exquisite, covered in woven fabric and conveniently designed to store everything. There’s a compartment that houses the wired cables. What makes the case essential is its convenient size and light weight; having it in your laptop bag won’t take up much space.
Comfort is moderately pleasant. The memory foam provides more cushion for your ears and head. B&W claims that fit was improved, but the tight clamp force put pressure on my ears and trapped heat under the ear cups after about two hours of wear. You’ll want to use the PX7 S2 sporadically throughout the day to spare your skull from any discomfort.
The extenders achieve a reasonable length to accommodate different head sizes. Once adjusted, the headphones will remain put.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Controls and digital assistant
Physical buttons, motion detection, and digital assistance make up the PX7 S2’s control scheme. The right earcup is where most of the action takes place, featuring a three-button setup with a multifunctional button (playback, call management) flanked between volume buttons, as well as a power/pairing slider above it. These buttons produce solid tactility, and the slider has a nice recoil effect when pushed up.
The left earcup has an action button that either ANC or the digital assistant. B&W programmed the button with one-press functionality, so it’s either one or the other. Why not allow us to enable Siri or Google Assistant by performing a long press?
On the plus side, both Apple and Google’s AI bots operate flawlessly. B&W’s mic array demonstrates superb speech recognition, picking up every syllable and long-winded voice command, while Siri and Google Assistant return accurate results.
A wear sensor was stuffed into the headphones for auto-pause/play functionality and must be turned on in the companion app. There are sensitivity levels you can choose from in the companion app: Low, Normal, and High. While greatly appreciated, the feature suffers from serious lag, no matter what level you select. It takes about 2 seconds for music to pause or replay.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Audio quality
With a 40mm dynamic bio-cellulose driver sitting in each cup, aptX codec support (HD, Adaptive), bass/treble customization, and a new DSP hardware platform, the PX7 S2 is the epitome of powerful, elegant sound. You’re getting an accurate and expansive listening experience that reveals the subtle nuances in complex recordings with minimal distortion.
Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness” sounded serene on these cans. The laidback drums were tight and given more kick as the song progressed, while the built-up synths soared with such depth that it gave the impression of hearing them through professional loudspeakers. Even small details like the steady cymbal taps were consonant and crisp.
On upbeat neo soul tracks like Miguel’s “Told You So,” where the stabbing guitar electric guitars and trembling synth-bass come on strong, the PX7 S2 stabilized bass and maintained the production’s thumpy resonance. Turning on ANC gave the low end a slight boost. I was also shocked by how well the headphones balanced frequencies; the elevated midrange made me feel the affection in the singer’s voice on the hook.
Highs shine bright on Jazz classics. Every instrument performed on McCoy Tyner’s “When Sunny Gets Blue” sounded distinctive. The double bass and hi-hats were incredibly clear, and the melodic piano chords were placed front and center, which made for a more immersive listen.
You can adjust the bass and treble settings in the companion app, but the B&W’s sound profile is already impeccable.
aptX Adaptive allows for near-lossless streaming on compatible services (e.g., Tidal, Qobuz) at up to 24-bit/48 kHz. Those who favor wired listening can either use the USB-C to 3.5mm or USB-C to USB-C cable on compatible devices. I can say the latter performs terribly when connected to a smartphone, dropping the volume drastically, though sound is much stabler on a MacBook Pro.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Active noise cancellation
B&W’s noise-cancelling technology is top tier. Their six-mic array has been upgraded to effectively shut out unwanted sounds: two are used for measuring the output of each drive, two react to ambient noise, and two increase voice clarity while enhancing noise suppression.
Working outside in the gazebo, low- and mid-frequency sounds went unnoticed. I couldn’t hear any of the chatter happening around the pool area, nor my toddler’s giddy laughs when circling my chair. The same can be said about the airplanes that flew over the house (keep in mind I’m not far from the airport). Landscaping tools and portable speakers didn’t break my concentration either. The PX7 S2 performed similarly indoors, blocking out the noises produced by kitchen appliances and loud TVs at a high level.
Not all ambient noises are tamed. The PX7 S2 would often allow high-frequency sounds to enter. Baby cries and sirens were transparent enough to draw my attention. Luckily, these noises and wind effects were minimized well enough not to compromise the soundscape.
Pass-Through was the more impressive mode and served well for keeping tabs on my son in the playroom. The mics picked up every babble, giggle, and cry, along with whatever educational programs played on the iPad. It was very useful for communicating with the missus, especially since her voice came through clearly. Enabling the feature outdoors was also beneficial during morning strolls. Construction sites and oncoming traffic were highly transparent. There wasn’t a moment where I felt unsafe or unaware of my surroundings.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: App and special features
The PX7 S2 supports the newer B&W Music app. You can perform actions that were previously mentioned, such as adjust bass/treble, assign the action button, activate wear detection, and cycle through ANC modes. That’s about it in terms of key features.
Rounding out the app are an Auto standby setting, battery level indicator, firmware updates, and a connections tab showing what devices have paired with your headset. Popular extras such as music presets, a soundscapes mode, and a Find My Headphones function are all absent.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Battery life
B&W has only confirmed that a full charge equates to 30 hours. We don’t know whether this is with ANC on or off. Our testing showed the advertised playtime was close to accurate when noise cancellation was disabled. Turning it on dropped playtime down to 26 hours. That’s still sufficient for 4 to 5 hours of use daily over the course of a workweek.
The PX7 S2 has some of the best quick charging technology in the category. A 15-minute charge generates 7 hours of listening time. The Sony WH-1000XM5 can do 5 hours in 10 minutes and luxury models like the $1,000 Mark Levinson No. 5909 net you 6 hours in 15 minutes.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Call quality and connectivity
The PX7 S2 is reliable for voice and video calls. Every indoor conversation was met with positive feedback, with most friends saying I sounded loud and crystal clear. Background noises were silenced by the mics. Using the headphones outdoors was pleasant for the most part. Client calls in the gazebo went smooth, though clarity took a hit once stepping towards the front yard. Wind and speeding cars caused muffle on my end. Luckily, my wife was able to understand everything I said despite the background interference.
Connectivity is spot on. Bluetooth 5.0 runs the show and grants up to 60 feet of wireless range. Google Fast Pair speeds up the pairing process for Android users. Pairing to Apple and Microsoft devices is a breeze as well.
B&W also added multipoint technology to pair to two devices simultaneously, a feature that business users will appreciate since it lets them seamlessly switch from their phone to laptop (or vice versa).
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review: Verdict
At $399, these headphones don’t come cheap, but beauty and greatness never do. B&W didn’t sacrifice craftsmanship or components when downscaling the PX7 S2’s size. Sound is as pristine as ever, thanks to newly engineered 40mm drivers, and ANC isn’t too far off from category leaders like the Bose 700 and Sony WH-1000XM5. Features aren’t as abundant as what you would find on other luxury models, but B&W doesn’t short you of significant ones like aptX Adaptive/HD, Bluetooth multipoint, and quick charging.
The PX7 S2 isn’t free of imperfections. I found the clamp force tighter than it needs to be, though it has loosened a bit after two weeks of use. Some may not the like the lack of extra app features either.
If these are the only two legitimate complaints, then B&W has very little to fix when working on its successor. Until then, the PX7 S2 is hands down one of the best wireless headphones money can buy.