Bowers & Wilkins PI7 Review
At the end of the line
Bowers & Wilkins PI7 are quite possibly the best performing true wireless earbuds on the market. The charging case can even be plugged into any 3.5mm headphone jack to wirelessly stream any source to these headphones. Overall, the PI7s have a lot going for them, but there are some notable caveats to consider before shelling out nearly $400.
- Incredible sound quality
- Comfortable and secure fit
- 20 hour battery with charging case
- Wireless charging and USB-C charging
- Audio streaming box lets you connect to any device with a headphone port
- IP54 water and dust resistance
- Clear microphone
- Active noise cancellation
- Support Google Quick Pair
- Wear sensor with auto play/pause
- The battery life of the headphones is only 4 hours
- No EQ or tuning presets
- No volume buttons or ability to configure touch buttons
- Some connectivity issues when pairing
- Active noise cancellation is lightweight
The Bowers & Wilkins PI7 true wireless earbuds deliver exactly what you expect from this company: truly premium audio quality and design. The PI7 features active noise cancellation, 6 microphones for crystal clear call quality, dual drivers for powerful sound, IP54 dust/water resistance and one of the features the coolest things we’ve ever seen on a charging case: “audio streaming”.
The buds are shaped to match the contour of your ear. They are neither big nor tiny. For buds that don’t have an ear hook or wing hook, they adapt and stay in place exceptionally well. We appreciate the high quality look and feel. Each bud has a unique touch button embedded in the circular logo on the outside of the bud. The touch buttons are easy to press (and accidentally press) and control tracks, ANC and voice activation. They can’t control the volume, unfortunately.
The charging case also has a premium look and feel. Like buds, it is neither large nor miniature. It’s palmable and pocketable. The case has one of the coolest features we’ve seen on any true wireless product. It comes with a USB-C to 3.5mm audio cable that can be plugged into any audio source with a headphone jack. This instantly lets you listen to music from any device; no pairing required! Plug it into your laptop or computer and skip the hassle of Bluetooth pairing. Or, better yet, you can now use true wireless headphones on the plane to watch movies from the seatback screen! The nice thing is that the buds themselves are still completely wireless. It works great too; there is no need to press any button or special pairing process. The headphones recognize that the cable is plugged in and instantly switch audio sources. B&W goes even further with “media streaming” and lets you use this feature to stream audio to another pair of Bowers & Wilkins Bluetooth headphones.
The case charges with USB-C or even wirelessly with any standard wireless charger. The battery life of the headphones is only 4 hours, which is a bit weak by today’s standards. It’s long enough to get you through any commute or exercise, but won’t get you through a day’s work. Luckily, a quick 15-minute charge will get you two hours of listening time. The case adds 4 additional full charges for a total of 20 hours.
There is a basic Bowers & Wilkins app which is nice but lacks key features. As of writing, it lets you control active noise cancellation, ambient passthrough, and whether music stops/plays when you put the headphones in your ear. Plus, there’s a battery indicator and a handful of “soundscape” noises. It lacks an equalizer and sound profiles. It also lacks the ability to customize what the touch keys do, so there’s no way to configure the volume controls as keys or long presses.
Bowers & Wilkins doesn’t mess around when it comes to audio quality. These are the best in-ear wireless headphones we’ve tested to date. You don’t have to be an audiophile to immediately recognize how rich and clear the sound is. They really pack a punch. There is a noticeable power behind the music; you can feel the bass and hear subtleties you might not usually notice. The buds feature dual hybrid drivers with individual amplifiers. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tune them, so it’s good that they’re very well balanced out of the box. Anyway, there isn’t a genre that doesn’t sound good with PI7.
PI7s have pretty good passive noise isolation, but they also come with active noise cancellation (ANC). ANC isn’t the strongest we’ve heard, but it’s clean and effective at noticeably reducing background noise. We generally prefer ANC on to help us hear even more detail in the music. If ANC is an important factor for you, you’d probably be happier with a higher-end pair from Sony. There’s also ambient pass-through so you can still hear some background noises like voice. This listening feature is pretty clean too, but if we want to be a bit more aware and present we’d rather just turn ANC off.
There are 3 separate microphones in each earbud to help you focus on the voice during phone calls. The mic is pretty much awesome. The voice is clear, clean and the background noise is limited. We found that our voice wasn’t being played back as loudly as it could have been, but that wasn’t an issue for any of our callers. Overall, its microphone is above average compared to other true wireless headsets.
Bowers & Wilkins PI7 review verdict
Our ears fell in love with Bowers & Wilkins PI7 for their pristine sound quality and comfortably secure fit. We’re also very impressed with how effortlessly you can connect them to any audio source with the included cable and ‘audio pass-through’ box.
That said, there are a few notable downsides to consider. The battery won’t get you through a working day of listening without an in-between charge. The app will not let you adjust the audio equalizer or allow you to customize the touch button controls. The tactile buttons are no stranger to accidental presses when adjusting the buds. Finally, we experienced infrequent connectivity issues where they didn’t immediately pair to our iPhone when taken out of the case.
East Bowers and Wilkins PI7 worth the money?
Bowers & Wilkins sells for $399 and is currently available for $380 on Amazon. As they ring this much better than the competition, they are also more expensive than their competitors and lack some important features. If you care about audio quality the most and the mentioned drawbacks do not apply to you, then you and your ears will not be disappointed.