The Bowers and Wilkins PX7s make a great travel companion – a class-leading 30-hour battery for BT/ANC. Like the Sony WH-1000XM3, this is 30 hours with adaptive noise cancellation over Bluetooth, so you can use them on your flight from Sydney to San Francisco and back, all on the same charge. 30 hours is also considerably more than the Bose 700’s and Sennheiser PXC 550 II’s 20 hours charge with ANC and Bluetooth enabled.
If you do get stuck with a low battery, there’s a handy fast charge feature that will give you 5 hours from just 15 minutes of charge time. However, you’ll need to grab a smartphone charger as there’s none in the box.
Also, it’s good to see that Bowers and Wilkins use the omni-directional USB-C type connector on the cups rather than the horrible one-sided micro USB. And, if your PC doesn’t have a 3.5mm audio jack, you can use the USB cable to connect and listen to music and charge at the same time.
As you might expect, there’s a Bowers and Wilkins PX7 companion app for iOS and Android phones. It controls noise cancellation levels, stored device connections and a variety of settings.
However, one thing that’s missing is any ability to adjust sound profiles or create custom EQ settings. While the PX7 is tuned for optimal sound performance, it would be nice to have some personalisation. Perhaps this will come in a future software update.
Adaptive Noise Cancellation
Adaptive noise cancellation (ANC) is a standout feature of the PX7s. We tested in a variety of conditions including on a busy street, in an office with the AC blowing overhead, with a television blaring and on a commuter train.
In all conditions, the ANC performed very well. You can cycle between low, high and ‘Auto’ (adaptive) settings from a dedicated button on the left earcup or via the app.
For the most part, we left ANC on either high or Auto with impressive results. Also, some headphones tend to compromise the quality of audio when noise cancellation is enabled. We didn’t experience any noticeable degradation in sound reproduction even in the high ANC mode, which is saying quite a bit about how good this system is.
The Ambient Pass-Through feature brings outside noise into your earcups. This is ideal for when you want to tune into a conversation or be aware of, say, airline departure announcements while listening to your music. This mode can be enabled via a 2-second press of the Adaptive Noise Cancellation button or via the app. The app also allows you to configure how much external noise to let in.
How the PX7s sound
The 43.7mm drivers, combined with expert tuning really elevate the PX7s. There is an incredible amount of detail thanks to clearly defined mids and high frequencies, and a heavy bass kick that can wake your senses to elements of music that you hadn’t noticed before. This was my experience while listening to the familiar shapes of Maggie Rogers’ velvety Alaska, along with the fierce, angry punch of A$AP Rocky’s Wild for the Night and Drake’s distractingly eclectic Nice for What.
The acoustics provide a broad soundstage with excellent left/right separation, and I was lifted by the bright and energetically expressed High and Low by Empire of the Sun, and taken to deep, soulful places via the gravelly textures and the earnest voice of Charles Bradley in Changes and Victim of Love.
Listening tests were conducted using the BT 5.0 Qualcomm aptX codec in factory default mode.
The PX7’s maximum volume is 80dB, which is quite loud. We witnessed a slight harmonic distortion in the high-treble area but backing off to 75dB brings this nicely under control.
- Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – none
- Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – building
- High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – flat (that means good)
- Low-mid: 200-400Hz – flat
- Mid: 400-1000Hz – building to a new flat
- High-mid: 1-2kHz – flat
- Low-treble: 2-4kHz – slight decline
- Treble:4-6kHz – flat
- High Treble: 6-10kHz – flat (hence some harshness at full volume)
- Dog whistle: 10-20 – peak and decline after 15kHz
One of our favourite features of the PX7s is its clever Wear Detection. A couple of proximity sensors in the earcups can determine when you pull one or both away from your head or remove the headphones completely. Once detected, it will pause your music, video or movie, and resume it the moment you put your headphones back on.
You can also set via the app how long the headphones will wait in pause mode before they enter standby. This is a great way to conserve battery life for times when you forget to switch them off.