Bowers and Wilkins P5 Series 2 review: A premium on-ear headphone that looks the same but sounds even better

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MSRP: $299.99

The Good The Bowers and Wilkins P5 Series 2 headphones have excellent build quality and rich, well-balanced sound that's now more transparent and accurate. Its earpads are removable and the two included cables are detachable (one has a built-in Apple friendly remote/microphone). The tight seal shuts out a lot of external noise and the headphones don't leak sound. A protective carrying case is included.

The Bad Somewhat pricey; leather earpads will cause your ears to get steamy on warmer days; not all remote features will work with Android and Windows devices.

The Bottom Line The Bowers and Wilkins P5 Series 2 has the same winning design of its highly rated predecessor, but now it sounds even better.

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8.1 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Sound 8
  • Value 7

Bowers and Wilkins' P5 Series 2 headphone is both new and not really new.

That's because, except for a color change from silver to black on the earpieces, it looks identical to the original P5 and also costs $299.99 (£249.99 UK, AU$449.95). But on the inside, the new P5 has a driver that's more in line with the driver of its big brother, the step-up P7 , an over-the-ear model.

For an on-ear headphone, the P5 is comfortable (though not exceptionally so) and we've always liked its swanky design, a mix of retro and modern styling. For some, the headphone may fit too snugly at first, but you can release some of the pressure by flexing the headband (I hesitate to say you're bending it, but that's more or less what you're doing). It's not so different from working in a baseball glove.

The headphone folds flat and comes with a nice carrying case. It's also worth noting that the cord on the headphone is detachable. However, the P5s don't have your typical headphone input jack at the base of one (or both) of the earpieces. Instead, the connection is built into the driver and is accessed by pulling off the earpiece, which adheres magnetically (watch the video to see what we're talking about).

You get both a standard cable and one that has an integrated remote and microphone that plays well with Apple devices, which simply means not all the remote features will work with Android and Windows devices, but you'll still be able to make calls just fine using the microphone (sound quality was decent).

On the new model the earpiece is finished in all black instead of silver and black.. Sarah Tew/CNET


The first thing you notice about the P5 Series 2 is that it's a more transparent headphone than its predecessor, which had a warmish sound profile and was easy to listen to for hours at a time.

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