Bowers & Wilkins P3 review: Bowers & Wilkins P3

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design: 9.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 7.0

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 3 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Bowers & Wilkins P3 headphones have an impressive design, strong performance, and an iPhone-friendly integrated microphone/remote. They also come with a hard-shell carrying case and an extra "straight-wire" cable that can be easily swapped in.

The Bad They're fairly pricey and the integrated, remote isn't compatible with all smartphones, and you'll get some sound leakage from open-back earcup design.

The Bottom Line The Bowers & Wilkins P3 headphones' impressive combination of design, sound quality, and features put it near the top of the class for portable headphones in its price range.

Editors' Top Picks

Bower & Wilkins' P3 is the third headphone model to hit the market from the venerable British speaker company and it shares some common traits with the earlier on-ear P5 and in-ear C5.

Like those products, the P3 features a striking design and strong performance. It doesn't come cheap at $199.99, but it is more affordable than the swankier P5.

The P3's design is both modern and retro, with sleek lines and rectangular earpieces that give it a distinct look (the headphones come in a black or white finish). At least for me, the first word that comes to mind describing them is "classy."

The P3 is more lightweight than the P5, has a fold-up design, and comes with a hard-shell carrying case that functions almost like an oversize jewelry or glasses case. I can't say I liked the case design as much as the headphones' design. The clamshell can snap shut on your finger and since the case is made of hard plastic, it's going to get scuffed up over time. On the other hand, it is very protective and the headphones will likely hold up well over time. I did find myself wanting to treat them with care, perhaps because I didn't want their slick exterior to become blemished.

The Bowers & Wilkins P3 comes in black or white. Bowers & Wilkins

Along with the carrying case, the headphones come equipped with a cable that has an integrated remote/microphone that's designed to work with the iPhone. The microphone will work with other phones, including Android models, but the remote features are hit and miss with non-Apple smartphones.

If you're an audiophile who wants to eliminate the switch for "straight wire with gain" performance, B&W provides a second cable that leaves off the microphone and inline remote and is easy to swap in (the earpads adhere magnetically to the earcups and can be removed to expose the detachable wire).

Editors' Top Picks

 

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Color black
  • Weight 4.6 oz
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Additional Features foldable
  • Type headphones
  • Headphones Form Factor on-ear
  • Connector Type mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm
About The Author

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music and The Big Exit. Both titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, and Nook e-books.