CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Bowers & Wilkins Releases Flagship PX8 Headphones, Price Jumps to $699

The company's flagship noise-canceling headphones cost $150 more than the AirPods Max. They were originally supposed to be the same price.

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.
Expertise Mobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
3 min read
Bowers & Wilkins PX8 in the lighter tan color

The PX8 headphones come in this tan color as well as black.

Bowers & Wilkins

Back in July, when Bowers & Wilkins unveiled its new PX7 S2 noise-canceling headphones ($400, £380, AU$650), it also teased its upcoming flagship PX8 headphones, saying they would cost $549. Well, now the PX8 have hit the market, but Bowers & Wilkins says they cost $699 (£599, AU$1,150) or $150 more than Apple's $549 AirPods Max noise-canceling headphones, which typically get discounted to $479 or less.  

Here in the US, Crutchfield has the PX8 available for preorder for $549. I'm not sure if the price will change, but if you had your eye on this model, you may want to jump on that deal right away in case the price goes up (I'll update this post if it does). No ship date is listed, and while the headphones are on Bowers & Wilkins' site, only the black version seems to be available.

I wish I could say I've tried the PX8, which has upgraded drivers from the PX7 S2. Bowers & Wilkins says the PX8 "sets a new reference standard for sound, build and finish in the active noise canceling wireless headphone category." The headphones have all-new 40mm Carbon Cone drive units that are "inspired" by the Carbon Dome drive units used in the company's 700 Series loudspeaker line. Bowers & Wilkins says these units help deliver superior resolution, detail and timing with even more accurate sound than the PX7 S2. 

I liked the PX7 S2 -- it's one of the top new noise-canceling headphones of 2022 -- but I wasn't as blown away by its sound quality as some reviewers were, and I speculated that the PX8 would be at another level. We'll see if that bump is worth almost $300 more compared to the PX7 S2 or $150 more than the AirPods Max. Also in the mix is Master & Dynamic's MW75 ($600), the Sony WH-1000XM5 ($400) and Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless ($350).


The PX8 feature impressive build quality.

Bowers & Wilkins

At 320 grams, the PX8 weigh a little more than the PX7 S2 (307 grams) but have many of the same specs, including Bluetooth 5.2, 30 hours of battery life and support for Qualcomm's Adaptive aptX audio codec for devices that support aptX (many Android phones do). Bowers & Wilkins says that aptX Adaptive wireless technology and "powerful digital signal processing" allow the listener to get 24-bit high-resolution sound quality from streaming services like Tidal and Qobuz that offer it. 

When paired with an iPhone, the headphones would use the AAC audio codec. For the best sound quality, you'd probably want to go wired -- you can also connect to your laptop or desktop computer via USB to get high-resolution sound. 

The headphones have six microphones in total, with two dedicated to telephony. For $699, you want a Bluetooth headphone that's top-notch on all key fronts -- design, sound quality, noise canceling and voice calling. The PX7 S2 showed improvements in sound, noise canceling and voice calling, with better voice pickup and noise reduction during calls. For both noise canceling and voice calling, the PX8 appears to use the same systems as the PX7 S2.

Bowers & Wilkins' headphones are sturdily built, and the PX8 certainly have an eye-catching design. Based on what we got with the PX7 S2, I expect the PX8 will be comfortable to wear despite being slightly on the heavy side. The significantly lighter Sony WH-1000XM5 are probably the most comfortable of the competing headphones I mentioned above, but Bowers & Wilkins did make some design improvements to the PX7 S2, incorporating better ear pads and trimming down the headphones slightly (they're more comfortable than their predecessors). 

As soon as I get my hands on a review sample of the PX8, I'll let you know how they sound and if they really do set a new reference standard for Bluetooth headphones. One can only hope for the price.