Bowers & Wilkins PX review: B&W's first noise-canceling headphone rocks high-end looks, sweet sound

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The Good The Bowers & Wilkins PX headphone offers impressive build quality and excellent sound. Wireless operation is nearly flawless, battery life is very good, and a premium carrying case is included. Works well as a headset for making calls.

The Bad Competing models from Bose, Sony and Beats are less expensive, more comfortable and offer better noise cancelling. -- and its noise cancelling is quite on par with those same competitors. Battery isn't user replaceable.

The Bottom Line Although not quite as strong as some competitors, the Bowers & Wilkins PX still ranks among the top wireless noise-canceling headphones available right now.

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

High-end audio brand Bowers & Wilkins has made a few different wireless headphones in the past, but the PX is the company's first headphone to feature both Bluetooth and noise canceling. It's actually B&W's first noise-canceling headphone of any kind.

That feature puts it in direct competition with my two favorite wireless headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and Sony WH-1000XM2. The B&W costs a little more than those two at $400, £330 or AU$549, and while overall it's not quite as good, there are plenty of reasons to consider it a contender, too.

The biggest is design. Available in two color options, space gray and soft gold, the PX has that sleek, sophisticated look that Bowers & Wilkins headphones are known for, with some metal parts and ballistic nylon on its ear cups. It's a great looking headphone that's also very sturdily built.

I also liked how its memory foam-equipped, elliptical ear cushions adhere magnetically and are easily replaceable, although there's no word yet on how much replacement ear pads will cost. The 336-gram headphone is comfortable to wear, though it's not as light as Bose (236 grams) or Sony (272 grams). I found the weight difference particularly noticeable over longer listening sessions. 

Like earlier wireless Bowers & Wilkins headphones, the PX comes with a quilted carrying case and a cable for listening in wired mode so you can plug into an in-flight entertainment system. This headphone charges via USB-C, not Micro-USB, and its battery life is rated at 22 hours with wireless and noise canceling turned on (the battery isn't user replaceable). That number may not be tops for the category, but it's in the same league as competitors.

As for the integrated controls, I like how the middle multifunction button on the right ear cup is raised higher than the volume controls, which lets you operate the headphone by feel alone.

The PX with its carrying case, headphone cord and USB-C charging cable.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Multiple noise-canceling settings

Overall, B&W's adaptive noise-canceling isn't quite as strong or effective as that offered by Bose's QC35 II, Sony's WH-1000XM2 or Beats' Studio3 Wireless. Using the free companion app for iOS and Android devices, though, you can toggle through three modes of noise cancellation based on the environment you're in: office, city or flight.

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