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Bowers & Wilkins' Great-Sounding PI7 Earbuds Are $100 Off

The PI7 are among the best sounding true-wireless earbuds -- and also the most expensive. But they're now on sale for $299.

Bowers & Wilkins PI7 earbuds with their case
The Bowers & Wilkins PI7 also come in white.
David Carnoy/CNET

We have a list of the best sounding wireless earbuds and the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 is near the top of that list. I always thought they sounded great, but they labor under a list price of $399, which is prohibitively expensive for most people. Still, when they were initially released, Bowers & Wilkins had trouble keeping them in stock. 

Now the PI7 and the step-down PI5, which also sounds quite good (not quite as good as the PI7), are on sale for $299 ($100 off) and $193 ($56 off) respectively. They both feature active noise canceling. 

Aside from stellar sound, the PI7 buds have a few bonus features that may or may not help you rationalize paying $300 for them. For starters, they're one of the few earbuds I've encountered where the wireless charging case converts into a transceiver, so you can plug the case into the headphone port on an airplane's inflight entertainment system, or a computer, and wirelessly stream audio from the case to the earbuds.

Read moreBest Wireless Earbuds for 2022

Additionally, Bowers & Wilkins says the PI7 supports Qualcomm's aptX Adaptive wireless transmission format (which includes the aptX HD codec) from compatible mobile devices, allowing for "high-resolution music transmission from suitable streaming services, such as Qobuz." Also, the PI7 "backs that high-resolution capability with 24-bit/48kHz wireless transmission between each earbud." That makes the PI7 one of few true wireless earbuds to support high-resolution audio "all the way from your music source to your ears," according to Bowers & Wilkins.

The PI7 and PI5 look the same and feature a IP54 water-resistance rating (splash-proof) along with Bluetooth 5.0. The PI5 has a single 9.2mm driver, while the PI7 has an identically sized driver combined with a "high-frequency" balanced-armature driver. The PI5 supports AAC and the standard aptX and AAC codecs, not aptX Adaptive and aptX HD -- thus, no support for high-resolution audio streaming. Also, the PI5's case doesn't convert into a Bluetooth transceiver, though it does charge wirelessly. And lastly, the PI7 has three microphones on each bud -- one is dedicated to picking up your voice during calls -- while the PI5 has two. 

I did think the noise canceling worked well, but was a little disappointed that the PI7 didn't offer slightly better noise reduction during voice calls. I've been waiting for a firmware update that would improve voice-calling performance in noisier environments, but so far Bowers & Wilkins has yet to release one. 

Read our Bowers & Wilkins PI7 first take.