AT A GLANCE
Excellent sound quality
Beautiful fit and finish
Very good noise-cancellation algorithms
High-quality streaming codec
Expensive, and even more expensive for the James Bond special edition
Very snug fit might not be comfortable while wearing glasses
Increased bass boost in noise-cancellation mode
tried, honestly, I did. I closed my eyes; I listened in the dark. However, try as I might, I could not separate the absolutely stunning fit and finish of the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 headphones from their sound quality. That initial feeling that this would be something special pervaded throughout my review experience. Bottom line: the Px8 sounds exactly as good as you would expect from something that looks and feels so luxurious.
There’s a certain expectation when you pay up for a product. Buy a premium car, and you’ll expect a certain feel, fit and finish to every aspect, from the dashboard to the tailpipe. Buy a luxury watch and every component—the links, clasp, and crown—feels deluxe. The Px8 gives you that instantaneous expectation of quality. The Bowers & Wilkins Px8 headphones are the newest flagship over-ear noise-canceling headphones, firmly placed at the top of their “reference” quality lineup. While the price is a gut-punching $699, the build and sound quality just might be worth it.
Every touch surface of the Px8 oozes luxury. Available in black or tan and gray, the soft surfaces are all Nappa leather, including the padded headband. There is also a special-edition 007 version that celebrates 60 years of Bond ($799), finished in Midnight Blue as a tribute to the dinner jacket worn by Roger Moore in his first onscreen appearance in 1962’s Dr. No. (Perhaps my favorite feature on this version is the gun-barrel graphic inside each earcup surrounding the L and R indications.) The leather is extremely soft and pliable, and I imagine will only improve with wear. The surface of the earcups is brushed metal with a polished ring around the edges and the raised Bowers & Wilkins logo.
The adjustable and pivoting metal arms are made of cast aluminum. They feel strong and sturdy, yet adjust easily and smoothly. The metal conceals most of the cabling, but if you look closely, you can see into the guide channel and notice that even the cables are wrapped in quality fiber. There is an area of open venting to accommodate the 6 microphones utilized for the active noise-canceling and phone calls; four of the microphones are for ANC and two are used for calling. The earcups pivot so the headphones can lay flat for easier storage.
The left earcup has a single, assignable Quick Action button. The right has the power/pairing button, separate volume up and down buttons, a track advance/play/pause multi-function button, and the USB-C port. The Px8 has a USB-C to audio 3.5mm jack for hard-wired listening.
All of this beauty may only be skin-deep, but the luxury of the Px8 extends into the drivers as well. The Px8 has newly designed 40mm, full-range drivers. Everything is new, from the angled carbon cone drive unit to the magnet, voice coil, and surround.
The Px8 can be used with a direct audio connection from USB-C to a 3.5mm audio jack, but it also comes with a USB-C to USB cable so you can connect directly to a laptop computer. I loved having my entire reference library accessible this way. There is also extremely high-quality streaming available. The Px8 uses aptX Adaptive, aptX Hybrid, AAC, or SBC with Bluetooth 5.2 for streaming and 24-bit DSP for high-resolution audio wirelessly. Battery life can play for up to 30 hours with noise cancelling active, but that is variable based on listening modes; streaming, playback volume, and using noise cancellation will impact playback time. A quick 15-minute charge will provide up to 7 hours of playback from the rechargeable lithium-ion battery.
There are three environmental controls, which can be set up on the Quick Action button on the left earpiece. The three modes are Noise Cancellation, Ambient Pass-Through, or noise-cancellation off—which still creates a quiet listening environment thanks to the snug fit of the cushioned earcups. The Quick Action button can also be set up to interact with the Voice Assistant. Changing that selection is simple through the Bowers & Wilkins Music app.