Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2e Headphones Review
Matthew Jens listens to the very latest version of these popular noise-cancelling wireless phones…
Bowers & Wilkins
PX7 S2e Over-ear Noise Cancelling Headphones
US$399 | S$699 RRP
I am the world's biggest Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 fan. Since the inception of the PX line, I've always appreciated the luxury approach the brand has taken to its portable noise-cancelling phones. Instead of making grim, plasticky, foldable travel companions that will disappear into a bag, the British-born brand has created a supremely comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and solid offering that would appear more at home in any flight's business (or first) class cabin.
This new evolved version (denoted by the E at the end of the model number) is a slight upgrade, but a welcome one. There's a new colourway, new tuning, and new DSP gadgetry. So, has B&W given the PX7 S2e enough of a makeover to warrant a new edition being put on shelves?
Whereas Sennheiser has done away with fancy stitching, premium materials and svelte styling in its flagship Momentum 4 offering, Bowers & Wilkins has doubled down on the luxury approach. The same leather pads, stitching, and light weight remain – all of which were a strong drawcard for me for the original PX7 S2 model. Yet now, they come in a green colour, too. Much like the colours that the original S2 came in, the paint has a clean matte finish but is still vibrant enough to pop. It's neat and sophisticated and suits the headphones nicely.
Despite the luxurious materials and soft touch, these are surprisingly durable; when comparing this brand new S2e model to my original S2 – now over a year old – you would have to look closely to determine which one was brand new. If it's not broken, for the love of God, please don't try to fix it. Under the hood, the same 40mm drivers are in place but have now inherited some of the poised prowess of the flagship PX8 headphones in the form of DSP gadgetry and stellar tuning.
The difference between the latest PX7 S2e and its predecessor is more significant than expected – bass extension is considerably lower, and the rumble is incredible. When doing a direct back-to-back comparison using Grandma's Stove by Freddie Gibbs, I was shocked at how much sub-bass rumble they managed to squeeze out of those same drivers.
The lower midband sounds ever so slightly subdued now, but not enough to be offensive. The general balance is slightly warmer and tighter, with a little extra soundstage and detail squeezed out. The string elements in Sweet Lies by Wilkinson were a prime example; while the female vocals remained front and centre between both versions, the bassline was a touch more pronounced on the newer model, with a little more air between the samples.
The much-adored EQ has made a triumphant return, as well. If you ever get a pair of these on your noggin, do yourself a favour. Fire up Antihero by Technimatic, open the Bowers & Wilkins Music app, crack out the EQ, and wiggle your finger over the bass adjustment from high to low. It's a drastic difference, rumbling your head into next week on one end and sucking the life out of the song on the other, with twelve steps of adjustment between the two.
Noise cancelling is decent. While the PX7 S2e is not the strongest noise defeater in this price bracket, it's still well above what I deem acceptable. Thankfully, the Holy Trinity of travel remains intact in this new iteration, namely supreme comfort, decent noise cancelling, and a seemingly eternal battery life of around 30 hours.
This one is an easy win for me. It's one of my favourite noise-cancelling headphones, but with some 24-bit streaming functionality added, some new DSP, great new tuning and a new colour, all for the same price as its predecessor. You don't see Porsche making sweeping changes to its flagship vehicles every year, nor do you see the iPhone's newest models completely reinventing the wheel. Now, you can add the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S7e to the list of engineering feats that only require a modest revision every so often to remain outstanding.
StereoNET’s resident rock star, bass player, and gadget junkie. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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