Audio

Worth every cent for its price, design and sound

Bowers & Wilkins' PX wireless headphones are probably the best contender in the market today for the fashion-conscious audio lover.
Bowers & Wilkins' PX wireless headphones are probably the best contender in the market today for the fashion-conscious audio lover. PHOTO: BOWERS & WILKINS

Bowers & Wilkins makes some of the most stylish headphones in the audio market, and the British firm has scored yet another design victory with its latest PX wireless headphones.

These are its first active noise-cancelling headphones, and they sound as good as they look, making the PX probably the best contender in the market today for the fashion-conscious audio lover with some cash to spare.

The headphones retain the effortlessly minimalist look Bowers & Wilkins is famed for, with a grungy and industrial stripped-down appearance that looks very polished while on the ears.

I absolutely adore the chamfered aluminium hinges that connect the earcups to the headband, which exposes a single nylon-braided cable that's tightly wound into the earcups.

The leather lambskin of the earcups and headband feel utterly luxurious, although they don't play nice in Singapore's humid weather if you are outdoors with them for too long.

Considering that Bowers & Wilkins tends to price its products at a premium, the PX's $569 retail price is surprisingly affordable, in line with most of the other top noise-cancelling cans in the market. Couple that with its sleek design and sound quality, and the PX starts to look like it's worth every cent.

It features the signature Bowers & Wilkins sound - a rich, natural soundscape that's a hair on the dark side. There is a full-bodied warmness to the headphone, which should endear it to a wide range of mass-market consumers.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $569

    DRIVER DIAMETER: 40mm

    FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 10Hz - 20kHz

    WEIGHT: 335g


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

It has elevated mid-bass, which is readily apparent when playing tunes from electronic synth-pop band The Chromatics, where every beat resounds and resolves pleasingly.

Even so, treble performance is exceptional, with exceedingly clear high notes that never run the risk of being painfully shrill or piercing.

However, the PX's noise cancellation is not the best in the market. It definitely suffices in everyday situations such as drowning out the engine noise on public transport and keeping noise out while next to busy roads. But listen intently and you can still hear a slight background noise even with noise-cancellation turned on.

It streams via Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX HD support, which is the minimum requirement for wireless headsets today.

Like other smart headphones in the market, the PX comes with motion sensors that detect it when you remove them from your ears and pauses the song, resuming it when you put the headphones back on.

But the sensors are much, much too sensitive for my liking. The slightest bit of movement - like adjusting the earcups for comfort - triggers them and pauses the song, which is unnecessary, given that I was making only minor adjustments. A yawn can even trigger the sensors which tells you just how ridiculously overzealous they are.

• Verdict: The PX is a well-designed pair of headphones, marrying style with sound quality and decent noise-cancelling tech. However, its minor quirks, such as over-sensitive motion sensors, might prove annoying over time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2017, with the headline 'Worth every cent for its price, design and sound'. Print Edition | Subscribe