Audiophiles tend to prefer listening to music through wired headphones, but that hasn't stopped certain venerable audio companies, including Bowers & Wilkins, from jumping on the wireless bandwagon and introducing a Bluetooth headphone. The company's newest, the P5 Wireless, is for all intents and purposes a dead ringer for thebut at $400 (£330 in the UK and AU$599 in Australia), it costs $130 more.
Like its wired sibling, the P5 Wireless has the look and feel of a higher-end headphone, with a swanky, sturdy design that's a mix of retro and modern styling. For an on-ear model, it's comfortable, though not exceptionally so. At 213 grams, it weighs 18 grams (0.6 ounces) more than the wired P5 and comes with a two-year warranty (most headphone warranties are one year).
"If you wince at the notion of wearing a brash pair of ostentatious Beats headphones, these more demure black and silver cans may appeal," CNET's Luke Westaway noted in his initial hands-on first take of the headphone. "The twisted metal on each earcup has a vintage radio-operator feel, and build quality feels very high."
The headphone manages to seal out a decent amount of ambient noise, although for some, the headphone may fit too snugly at first and will steam your ears up a bit if you're wearing it outside in the summer. However, 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 has removable earpads -- they adhere magnetically -- which makes it easy to replace them, and a cable is included so if the battery dies or if you're not allowed to use Bluetooth on a flight, you have a backup (the cord connection is built into the driver and is accessed by pulling off the left earpad). The cable doesn't have an integrated remote/microphone, but that isn't the end of the world since you shouldn't be buying these if you plan on using them regularly as a wired headphone.
Battery life is quite good -- 17 hours of continuous music playback. It's also worth mentioning that a nice carrying case is included.
Three buttons on the right earcup allow you to control volume, skip tracks forward and back and answer calls -- yes, there's a built-in microphone and call quality was decent.
The headphone offersBluetooth streaming for devices that support AptX (the iPhone doesn't at this point, but several Android models do). AptX is supposed to deliver better quality sound though it's debatable how much of an impact it has.