Review: Bowers & Wilkins P7 Headphones

In the vast jungle of fancy headphones, some trees stand taller than others. The Bowers & Wilkins P7, a gorgeous $400 pair of over-the-ear headphones, is one such specimen.

I use “fancy” in the way one would speak of a Bentley or a Morgan. It gets you there just as well as any other performance-minded piece of equipment, but it does so with a unique flair, and with great attention paid to the luxurious bunting.

B&W is a British hi-fi company. It’s been tickling the ears of the audio elite for decades, but in the last few years it’s been turning its focus toward the high-end consumer. How? By consistently delivering amazing-sounding, beautifully designed personal audio products at a relatively modest price point. And yes, in high-end audio, $400 is relatively modest.

These new P7 headphones continue the trend. The design and the build quality are very close to the company’s best-selling on-the-ear P5 headphones, including all the black leather, the metal frame, and the magnetic clasps that let you remove the pads. Everything is just bigger on the P7s. The most obvious difference is the design of the earpads, which are fully circumaural. The P7s are the first over-the-ear headphones B&W has ever made, and of course, the build quality and the choice of materials is exquisite, bordering on decadent.

The big, leather pads are super-soft (think of all the cliched things we usually compare soft leather to, then double them) and they scoop around the ear to create a comfortable, tight seal. Inside are 40mm aluminum-copper drivers, and the sound they put out is just phenomenal.

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