BOWERS & WILKINS HOMING IN ON NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONE MARKET
Bowers & Wilkins needs little introduction to sound enthusiasts. Shifting their loudspeaker focus just slightly to capture the headphone market only a few years back, the British brand has certainly made inroads.
The P7 headphones were taken seriously, then the flagship P9 Signature set a new benchmark in the luxury headphone market.
A series of price reductions across the headphone range followed, then they cut the cable on the P7 ‘phones, bringing wireless connectivity and 17-hour battery life to the table.
Yet in the headphone mass-market there was still one massive slice of the pie B&W was missing, until now.
While there are hundreds of noise-cancelling headphones on the market, there is no doubt Bose have firmly and quite deservedly captured this market. On a number of long and short haul flights this year, I stopped to look around at what headphones were being used. Yep, an overwhelming amount of Bose donned the heads of travellers.
When StereoNET first heard a new headphone release was imminent we were certain it would be the long overdue, seemingly obvious new flagship that would slot into brand's top of the line, 800 series.
But for now, the P9 Signature will remain on the top of the perch, buffered by the all-new PX Noise Canceling Headphones.
Despite being their first noise-cancelling offering, it becomes very clear that the model has not only been well thought out, it brings with some amazing new tech.
As well as delivering best-in-class sound quality, PX responds intelligently to the wearer’s behaviour, for a seamlessly intuitive listening experience.
B&W's engineers have taken what they have learned with the P9 and applied it to the 40mm drive units of the PX with the same angled design.
According to B&W, a smart drive unit suspension system allows PX to produce precise high frequencies up to 30kHz, as well as the compliance needed for deep and dynamic bass.
John Martin, Sales Director for Bowers & Wilkins Australia, told StereoNET:
The innovative placement of the transducers results in a more natural listening experience and vastly improved stereo performance.
After a reported "thousands of hours" of development and research, B&W's implementation of noise cancellation provides optimum isolation without "crushing the music". They've employed the latest aptX HD Bluetooth technology which supports up to 48kHz 24-bit resolution, and also offers full digital audio through a USB connection. The signal is also then further upsampled and processed at 768kHz, "preserving the best possible audio quality."
Referring to their PX release as "smart" headphones, they also feature built-in sensors that allow the listener to control music in a way that feels completely intuitive.
PX works by responding intelligently to natural user behaviour. Pick them up and the headphones will switch on immediately and automatically resume playing your music. Put them down and they return to stand-by mode. Lift an ear cup to talk, or hang them around your neck, and PX will pause the music, resuming playback when you’re ready to listen.
Via the dedicated iOS and Android app, PX has three adaptive noise cancelling selectable modes. ‘City’ allows through traffic noise so you can cross roads safely, ‘Office’ allows through voices so you can hear colleagues when they talk to you, while ‘Flight’ suppresses ambient engine noise.
Further functionality and improvements will be possible thanks to future firmware updates via the app.
Bowers & Wilkins say the PX headphones will offer an impressive 22 hours of wireless playback in noise-cancellation mode, or 33 hours via a wired connection.
As we've come to expect from B&W, the PX uses only high-quality materials, feature ergonomically designed elliptical ear cushions for superior comfort and the best possible acoustic seal, and come with a soft leather headband and a robust ballistic nylon ear cup exterior.
They'll be available from October '17 in either Space Grey or Soft Gold etched-aluminium finish for $549.95 RRP.
Will the Bowers & Wilkins PX knock the hugely popular Bose QC35 off the perch? We'll wait and see.
For more information visit Bowers & Wilkins.
StereoNET's Founder & Publisher and still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers and headphones. Marc is also the founder of the annual International HiFi Show.
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