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Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless review: A luxury headphone that looks as good as it sounds

If you like the signature sound -- and design -- of Bowers and Wilkins headphones, you're going to really like the P7 Wireless.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

Executive Editor / Reviews

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 reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

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Bower's and Wilkins P7 Wireless ($400, £320, AU$600) is one of the swankier wireless headphones available, competing with such "premium" over-ear wireless models as the Bose QuietComfort 35, Sennheiser Momentum Wireless, Sony MDR-1000X and Sennheiser PXC 550. Those models all have active noise canceling on top of their wireless capabilities, but this is a straight Bluetooth headphone that includes a cord, should you desire to go wired and optimize sound quality (yes, it sounds slightly better in wired mode).

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Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless

The Good

The Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless offers impressive build quality, good comfort and smooth, rich sound in an over-the-ear headphone design that shuts out a lot of external noise. Wireless operation is nearly flawless, battery life is good and a premium carrying case is included. Works well as a headset for making calls.

The Bad

Its sound may be a little warm for some listeners, and it's a little heavy.

The Bottom Line

The Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless is an excellent wireless headphone that has the look, feel and sound of a premium wireless headphone.

I'm a fan of the original wired P7, and like that similarly designed model, the build quality and comfort level of this wireless version -- with its leather covered ear pads and sturdy metal-infused headband -- is quite impressive. What's likable about these headphones is that after a little break-in period they offer a tight seal around your ears for good passive noise-isolation, but don't put too much pressure on your head. While they're characterized as "mobile" headphones, they're fairly beefy, weighing in at 318 grams (11.2 ounces) -- 28 grams (1 ounce) more than the wired P7.

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The P7 Wireless features the same signature design of Bowers and Wilkins p5 and p7 series headphones.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The headphones fold up (though not flat) to fit into an included half-moon shaped carrying case. That they collapse helps to reduce their carrying size, but they're obviously not the most compact headphones, and I've seen better case designs. That said, some people are a fan of this case.

Battery life is rated at 17 hours of playback -- that's very good but not fantastic for this type of full-size wireless headphone -- and I didn't have any trouble pairing and repairing the headphones with an iPhone 6S and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. They were overall a pleasure to use. The P7 Wireless works well as a headset for making phone calls too, with a sidetone feature that allows you to hear your voice inside the headphone as you talk.

Sound quality is excellent for a Bluetooth headphone, though I do have some small quibbles. The wired P7 was a well-balanced headphone that delivered more treble detail and more spacious sound than the on-ear wired P5 Series II. (There's also a wireless P5 that I liked but didn't love for the money.) But Bowers & Wilkins headphones tend to be a touch warmer and more laid back than some of those competing models I mentioned earlier.

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The included carrying case.

Sarah Tew/CNET

You won't notice it as much if you're just listening to the P7 Wireless and not comparing it to anything else. But the Momentum Wireless, Bose QuietComfort 35 and Sony MDR-1000X sound slightly more dynamic and have a touch more clarity. (In terms of sound quality, the Momentum Wireless is probably my favorite, but the Bose QuietComfort 35 is more comfortable and has superior noise canceling.) The P7 Wireless has plenty of bass -- and it definitely goes deep -- but the bass may not be as sculpted and punchy as some people might expect.

Those small quibbles aside, if you like the signature sound -- and signature design -- of Bowers and Wilkins headphones, you're going to like the P7 Wireless. It's an excellent product that has the look, feel and sound you'd expect of a premium wireless headphone.

It's certainly recommendable, but it does face a lot of competition in this price range. I can't tell you it's my clear choice choice over those other models I mentioned -- particularly if you're looking for something a little lighter with active noise-canceling capabilities.

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Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Sound 8Value 7
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