Can Bowers & Wilkins effectively compete with headphones heavy-hitters in the full-sized active noise cancelling wireless headphones arena? While best known for its high-end loudspeakers, B&W makes some great headphones as well. Now, the company has announced the PX headphones, its first pair of wireless cans to offer adaptive ANC.
With an MSRP of $399, a pair of B&W PX headphones costs a bit more than equivalent offerings from Beats and Bose, but B&W argues that its new model is a cut above the competition.
For many folks, it’s likely that active noise canceling is the feature of greatest interest. B&W provides three modes, which is selectable through a dedicated app. “City” is designed to be most effective when countering traffic noise. “Office” is tuned to remove the background hum you hear in the workplace, while also making it easy to hear your coworkers.
“Flight” is the perennial favorite of travelers, canceling out the engine noise on airplanes. B&W notes that there could be further innovations in this area, thanks to future firmware updates that you can apply with the app.
Other appealing features include a 22 hour battery life at the minimum (wireless plus ANC) and up to 33 hours wired with ANC. There are sensors that put the headphones in standby mode when you take them off, and automatically pause music when you lift an earcup to talk to somebody else.
With course, being a Bowers & Wilkins product means that audio fidelity is at the forefront of design priorities. The use of aptX HD Bluetooth brings 24-bit hi-res quality to wireless. Angled 40mm drivers use a design borrowed from P9 that ensures sound enters your ears in such a manner as to create a realistic soundstage. Frequency response is specified at 10 Hz to 20 kHz with under 0.3% THD at 1kHz/10mW.
The 40mm angled driver used in the PX headphones
One of the more interesting features of these headphones is voice pass-through. It uses the noise cancellation microphone to let you hear outside sounds while wearing headphones. The mode lets you choose between “natural” and “amplified” presets.
If you find these headphones interesting, you don’t have to wait. The PX is available to purchase right now, and if I get an opportunity to do hands-on review, I will.