Personal Tech | August 8, 2022 9:54 am

Review: Bowers & Wilkins Just Released the Ideal WFH Headphones

The audio brand’s new Px7 S2 headset offers excellent noise cancellation and ideal comfort for long streaming sessions

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 headphones
If you spend a lot of time on your laptop, the new Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 headphones might be an ideal companion
Bowers & Wilkins

Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, InsideHook may earn a small share of the profits.

Bowers & Wilkins is behind the speakers you’d find anywhere from Abbey Road Studios to Skywalker Sound — a cool selling point for the audio brand, which launched in 1966, but one that makes it seem geared toward professionals.

But the company also offers up a line of over-ear consumer headphones and earbuds, though I’d heard little about them until recently when the Px7 S2 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones were released in three different colorways. Even in the tech/audio community, Bowers & Wilkins is still finding its footing — Tom’s Guide already lists the Px7 headset as its second-favorite pair of wireless headphones, while the Wirecutter didn’t include the headgear in a recent (and quite massive) headphones roundup. 

I was able to test the Px7 S2 out at a launch party/demo session, as well as over a few days at home. I was pleasantly surprised by its comfort and noise cancelling capabilities. 

The specs:

  • 40mm drive units
  • 30 hours of playback per two-hour charge
  • Hybrid noise-cancellation
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • USB-C charging and audio interface
  • Six microphones

What works:

  • These are incredibly comfortable headphones, featuring memory foam earpads and a reassuring snugness that I don’t often find in over-ear cans, which often feel a bit lightweight.
  • While not “eye-catching” the blue colorway features gold detail in the lettering and around the rim of the ear cup. It’s subtle but definitely more handsome than your average black headset (meanwhile, the black and grey versions here are … fine).
  • Let’s hear it for tactile buttons! Here, there are a couple of dedicated buttons for volume, power/Bluetooth and a Quick Action option that switches between the ambient and noise cancellation settings or activates a voice assistant.
  • Set-up, downloading the app and pairing to the first device couldn’t have been simpler (but see below).
  • Noise cancellation did a good job of blocking out the surrounding environment. Meanwhile, the other environment settings let in just enough noise to allow me to, say, notice a knock on the door or a person talking to me. 
  • Oddly, the best sounding moments here came from connecting the headphones (via Bluetooth) to my laptop and watching movie trailers. This headset provides a theater-like quality and seems ideal for TV/movie streaming. 
Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 headphones on a man (left) and a close-up of the control buttons (right)
The use of tactile, not touch, controls is a plus (at least for this writer)
Bowers & Wilkins

What kind of works:

  • The sound overall is clear, balanced and fairly detailed, but occasionally also quiet and distant. I found the “pass-through” ambient sound setting opened up the audio and added a little more warmth and character while still blocking out enough outside noise. The noise cancellation setting made everything sound tight and compressed.
  • The app has a minimalistic design, allowing for bass or treble configuration (no presets, either). In a way, that’s a relief but also limits the amount of customization. 
  • I noticed very little difference between the “pass-through” setting and turning off the environment control, at least in an office/home setting. 
  • The Wear Sensing tech was hit or miss (the music is supposed to shut off when you remove the headset), although you can adjust the sensor settings (low/normal/high) to make the headphones more sensitive to your actions. 

What needs work:

  • Even in a cool and heavily air-conditioned room, my ears got very warm after a few minutes of listening. 
  • The headphones can connect to two devices. But setting them up on my iPhone after pairing ’em with my iPad was frustrating, as the app would continually need to be reconnected or not react to certain commands — sometimes I could play but not adjust the noise cancellation setting, other times the headphones wouldn’t connect at all. Oddly, connecting to the iPad and a laptop at the same time seemed to work just fine.
  • The volume and play/pause buttons will not function when you are using the 3.5 mm interface. 

Verdict:

The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 headphones don’t do anything poorly but aren’t the “best” in any single category — still, outside of a few minor frustrations listed above, this is a handsome pair of headphones with good battery life, above-average sound, excellent noise cancellation and a really comfortable fit. If you watch a lot of movies on your computer, they might be your best option — and even if you don’t, these are pretty close to what you’d find quality-wise in recent Bose or Sony noise-cancelling headphones, although the $399 price point is a little above what I’d pay for a primary set of headphones. But if you’re gonna have something on your head and ears all day, this might be the best option when considering the combination of looks, fit, comfort, ease of use and battery life.