Mis à jour le 20 October 2022.
Not long after the release of the second generation of the B&W PX7 S2 headphones, Bowers & Wilkins revealed the new flagship model of its wireless headphones range: the B&W PX8. The British brand presents an elegant pair of headphones equipped with large dynamic transducers and a high-quality DSP that ensure excellent sound, even for wireless listening. The PX8 also have a noise cancelling system, a transparent mode and a long battery life. Available for €699, will the B&W PX8 become the new reference high-end noise-cancelling headphones? Will they be able to beat the Apple AirPods Max or the recent Focal Bathys?
B&W PX8: packaging & accessories
The B&W PX8 headphones come in a white cardboard box adorned with the logo of the British brand. Inside, a hard carrying case protects the gorgeous B&W PX8 headphones and two cables: USB-C to 3.5mm mini-jack and USB-C to USB-C. Each cable is 1.2 meters long. The box also contains a quick start guide and a warranty leaflet.
B&W PX8: presentation
Design and comfort
The B&W PX8 Bluetooth headphones have the same aesthetic as the PX7 S2 model. However, their more premium finish makes them unique. Their minimalist and elegant design is similar to that of the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95 Bluetooth headphones. The B&W PX8 are finished to a high standard, with shiny diamond-cut edges and an embossed logo for a sleek look. These headphones come in two colors: black and white/caramel.
This appealing design benefits not only the sound, but also the user’s comfort. This over-ear model features large earpads that provide good passive isolation. They are padded with memory foam for optimal comfort. To be even more pleasant to wear, the PX8 headphones only weigh 320g. The headband and earpads are covered with an elegant and very soft nappa leather. The height and position of the earcups can also be adjusted to offer a perfect fit for all users. Lastly, the cast aluminum yokes allow you to pivot the earcups 180°, making them easy to store.
The B&W PX8 are equipped with new 1.6” carbone cone transducers that are directly inspired by those used in the new B&W 700 Series 3 speaker range. This design aims to reduce distortion and provide better responsiveness, greater stability and an even more detailed sound.
These transducers are supported by a drive unit “motor system” that has been entirely optimized to deliver unparalleled precision and realism. Moreover, the drivers are tilted at a precise angle to ensure that the distance between the transducer and the ear is the same across the entire surface of the latter.
aptX Adaptive Bluetooth and advanced DSP
To deliver a wireless high fidelity sound, the B&W PX8 headphones feature a powerful DSP as well as a Bluetooth 5.2 module compatible with the AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX HD and aptX Adaptive codecs. The latter ensure wireless transmission up to 24-bit/48kHz, which is superior to CD quality.
Naturally, these headphones are equipped with a rechargeable battery. This battery provides up to 30 hours of playback in Bluetooth mode and with the ANC activated. A quick charge of 15 minutes provides an extra 7 hours of listening time.
Conveniently, these wireless headphones can be used in wired mode. The 3.5mm mini-jack stereo cable allows you to connect them to a device with an analog output. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to use the headphones passively with this type of connection as the battery must be charged in order to transmit audio streams. However, the B&W PX8 work as a USB audio output when used with the USB-C cable. This way, the battery is recharged simultaneously.
In addition to the buttons present on the earcups, these headphones can be controlled using the Bowers & Wilkins Music Control app (iOS and Android). As well as the usual features (equalizer, ANC/Transparent mode activation, support…), it is now possible to integrate a music streaming service. This convenient feature allows you to find everything in one place and stream tracks stored on Deezer, Qobuz or Tidal directly from the app. Finally, it makes it easy to switch from a B&W wireless device, like the B&W Zeppelin, to the PX8 for mobile listening.
ANC and Transparent mode
Like their predecessor, these B&W headphones feature active noise cancelling technology. The latter erases background noise so that you only hear your music. This mode is very useful in noisy places and when traveling (airplane, metro, train, etc.). The transparent mode allows you to hear surrounding noises and remain fully aware of your environment while listening to music. The button on the left earpiece lets you activate or deactivate the ANC.
Note: the same button can also be configured in the app to activate the voice assistant installed on the smartphone.
To do this, six high performance microphones are built into the B&W PX8. Two measure the output of each transducer inside the earpiece. Another two respond to ambient noise. The last two microphones ensure clear vocals by cancelling noise. We tried making phone calls outside with wind and traffic noise. The microphones reproduced voices well and made it possible to have a quiet conversation.
B&W PX8: key specifications
Closed-back over-ear headphones
1.6” carbon transducers
ANC + transparent mode
SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX hd, aptX Adaptive
30h battery life (BT + ANC)
Hard carry case
B&W PX8: listening conditions
To use the B&W PX8 headphones, we connected them to an aptX compatible Android smartphone. We played Hi-Res tracks from Qobuz. We then connected the headphones to a smartphone and a computer using a cable.
Bluetooth pairing is simply by using the push button that also turns the headphones on. The wireless connection with the smartphone was very fast without any loss of signal, even after several hours of listening. The B&W PX8 Bluetooth headphones are very intuitive to use, with easily accessible control buttons and a texture on one of the buttons that makes them easy to identify with your fingertips. In addition, a sound is emitted when the headphones are turned on, paired or turned off.
B&W PX8: impressions
In addition to their stunning design and comfort, which allowed us to wear them for hours, it was their musicality that impressed us the most. On the track Wind of Change by Scorpions, the whistles were present without being sibilant, the vibrating strings of the guitar and the bass blended perfectly with the artist’s voice. The percussion instruments were more in the background, but still brought a lot of energy to the music. The B&W PX8 noise cancelling headphones succeeded in immersing us in a real sound bubble where the vocals and instruments were perfectly positioned. On Shaka Ponk’s I’m Picky, the drum hits were vivid while the vocals remained in the foreground.
In both Bluetooth and wired mode, the bass added punch to the songs, especially when we added 1 or 2 dB via the equalizer. The highs also had a nice presence that enhanced the details of certain elements, such as the piano notes on Adele’s Easy On Me. We had no difficulty visualizing the singer and musicians on stage in front of us.
The Bowers & Wilkins Music App has a limited equalizer with sliders for bass and highs only. Although it is not very extensive, it does allow for slight adjustments that can make a difference on certain songs. Please note that this app is only compatible for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, but will not work on a computer.
The B&W PX8 headphones were impressive regarding the noise cancellation. In the tram, the discussions of other users were completely erased, and the same was true in the bus where the engine was no longer audible. However, we would have liked to have been able to adjust the intensity of the noise cancelling, as we did during the review of the Technics EAH-A800 headphones. The Transparent mode was also very effective, allowing us to have a quick conversation without removing the headphones.
B&W PX8: compared to…
€100 more expensive, the Focal Bathys also feature effective noise cancelling, a battery life of 30 hours and compatibility with the aptX Adaptive codec. However, in USB DAC mode, the Focal Bathys have the advantage with support for Hi-Res audio files up to 24-bit/192kHz compared to the B&W PX8’s 24-bit/48kHz. The Focal Naim app equalizer offers more sound customisation with 5-frequency adjustments. The B&W PX8 have a wider soundstage, are more comfortable to wear and are a more practical size to carry.
Read: Focal Bathys review: the first hi-fi noise-cancelling headphones from Focal
In addition to being able to use them in passive mode (wired listening even when the battery is flat), the Mark Levinson No. 5909 headphones benefit from adjustable noise cancellation. The support of the LDAC codec in addition to aptX Adaptive and the playback of 24-bit/192kHz Hi-Res files justify the extra €300. Nevertheless, the B&W PX8 Bluetooth headphones offer a good performance for everyday listening.
B&W PX8: who are they for?
For those looking for versatile Bluetooth headphones, the B&W PX8 are a great choice. Offering a rich, detailed and natural sound, even wirelessly, these B&W Bluetooth headphones embellished every track in our playlist. aptX Adaptive compatibility and ANC make them ideal for listening to your favorite music everyday at home and in public. Moreover, due to the quality of their microphones, these headphones will also be suitable for those who regularly make phone calls. Finally, the comfort and the XXL battery life make the B&W PX8 headphones ready to follow you all day long.
B&W PX8: conclusion
This new generation of Bowers & Wilkins Bluetooth headphones is a worthy successor to the award-winning PX7. Carbon transducers, aptX Adaptive Bluetooth, active noise cancelling, a battery life of 30 hours… These wireless Bluetooth headphones combine musicality, comfort and ease of use, without forgetting their high-end design. They are also an excellent alternative to the bulky Apple AirPods Max…
- The comfort
- The very efficient ANC
- The sound reproduction
- The luxurious design
We would have liked
- Passive use in analog mode
- Adjustable ANC
- A more versatile equalizer