Home Closed Back Headphone Reviews Bowers & Wilkins P7 Review – A Closed Back Elear?

Bowers & Wilkins P7 Review – A Closed Back Elear?

by Stuart Charles Black
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Howdy friend and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the Bowers and Wilkins P7 review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!!

What I will bring you in this review

  1. Specs/Price
  2. Build & Comfort
  3. Sound
  4. Pros & Cons
  5. Video Review
  6. Amp/DAC requirements
  7. Who Benefits
  8. Thoughts from Stu’s Notepad
  9. Consensus/Conclusion
  10. Final Word

Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!

Bowers & Wilkins P7

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay!

Specifications

  • Type: Closed back.
  • Fit: Circumaural (Over-ear). This is debatable, due to the fact that they will touch certain parts of your ears.
  • Impedance: 22 ohms.
  • Sensitivity: 111dB.
  • Frequency response: 10 – 20,000 Hz.
  • Material: Aluminum, sheepskin leather, stainless steel.
  • Color: Black & Silver.
  • Weight: 290g.
  • Plug: 3.5mm.
  • Cable length: 1.2m.
  • Folding: Yes, but not flat.
  • Carrying Case: Yes

Build & Comfort

What do you get when you combine a sub-par sound with sub-par comfort and above-average build?

Let’s find out.

Comfort

One thing you’ll notice right off the bat is that they will get uncomfortable after a short time.

They kind of have a tendency to dig into the top of your head and you’ll likely be making adjustments or taking them off after about 45 minutes to an hour.

Clamping force is about right, and the cups envelop your ears, sorta.

You will feel them quite a bit, but the main thing to keep in mind is the headband dig.

The depth of the cups is pretty good as well, and they’re deep enough that your ears may touch slightly but shouldn’t be an issue.

The one problem with the pads themselves, even despite being leather, is that they’ll get hot and sweaty depending on how much you perspire, the weather, etc.

Build

Build quality here is definitely a high point.

The B&W P7 exude luxury and they really feel like a premium product.

While the comfort factor is a bit iffy, the build is extremely solid and the headphones themselves exude pure elegance.

This was pretty much unanimous across all of the reviews I’ve read and I also experience it firsthand demoing them in my local Audio Advice.

It’s a simple, no-frills, no-nonsense design that looks extremely classy yet utilitarian.

I would have no issues wearing these out in public.

The chord is also a nice length for that as well.

Sound

Coming from cans like the HD600s and HD25s, I really had to get myself acclimated to the P7’s sound.

It kind of feels boxed in at first, and I don’t know if that’s because the bass is a little overblown or not, but I really got a weird vibe with these right away.

The treble is a bit overdone as some people say, and I do agree that the mid-range can become a bit lost at times.

A little recessed perhaps?

As a whole, with certain tracks, there’s this thin blanket of mud that covers the sound and it makes me not want to listen at all.

The issue I have with the sound overall is that the bass can get a bit muddy, and the mid-range kind of reminds me of what I experienced listening to Focal’s Elear – it’s simply sucked out in certain areas which contributes to a strange overall experience that could have been a lot better for the asking price. 

In fact, the Elear and P7 suffer from almost the exact same issue after 2kHz and even 5 years ago I could sense something was off without having looked at any graphs.

That said, they do provide an excellent amount of detail which for me was one of the only high points with regard to sound.

The bass reaches down deep as well, but at times it feels like it’s trying too hard and definitely leans toward the Harman Curve – that is, there’s an elevated shelf that just doesn’t sound great with certain tracks and I think it could be toned down a bit.

Pros

  • Will reveal details in tracks that you haven’t heard before. It’s a mostly live, dynamic sound.
  • Ruggedly built. No plastic. Immaculate construction. Premium hand-stitched leather headband.
  • Folds nicely into a leather pouch.
  • Deep bass, but can get muddy at times.
  • Compact, great for travel. The cable is conducive to portable use.
  • 1/4″ adapter included and 2 sets of cables.
  • The Soundstage is pretty good for a closed-back model. The speaker-like design of the ear-cups is very conducive to a theater setting.
  •  

Cons

  • Bass is tight, present, and low, but sometimes a little boomy.
  • Ear cups are a little bit hard. Smaller than your average headset.
  • The right speaker may go out. This is a somewhat common issue.
  • The chord’s inline volume control may not work.
  • Highs may become over-exaggerated or somewhat sibilant. What does sibilant mean?

Video Review

Credit to Booredatwork!

Amp/DAC requirements

At 22 Ohms Impedance and 111dB Sensitivity, the P7 does not need an amp to sound good, but you may opt for one anyway.

I don’t recall actually pairing an Amp/DAC with these, but if I were to recommend something, FiiO’s E10K or K3 is more than enough (both pictured below).

Anything beyond that and you’re wasting money in my opinion.

Who benefits?

Endorsed for all of the following:

I really love them with the above 3 genres and feel like they excel best with those.

With hip-hop, it’s hit-and-miss.

Because the bass tends to get kind of muddy, some nicely mixed/mastered tracks sound fine, while others sound bloated as crap (like after you’ve just eaten at PF Changs).

This same issue manifests in AKG’s K371, and I think it’s definitely something to keep in mind before purchasing.

The thing to take away from this is that they will sound decent with most genres, but not amazing.

FiiO K3 vs. E10K

FiiO’s E10K & K3.

Thoughts from Stu’s notepad

These are just random musings I had during and after my listening sessions.

Jazz

I noticed that they really sounded good with Jazz. The instrument separation and imaging are spot on.

Volume Control

The volume control on the model I tried didn’t work. Something to keep in mind. This doesn’t necessarily apply to all of them though.

Detail

While the sound is by no means perfect, they reveal a fairly nice amount of detail and as mentioned earlier, it’s one of their greatest strengths.

For as long as I’ve been listening to the song “Reelin’ in the Years” by Steely Dan, I could never quite make out that he was saying “Are you gathering up the tears?” It always sounded like “teas” to me.

With the P7 I can actually hear what he’s saying which is pretty cool.

It’s subtle, but something to note: The song as a whole really just snaps, which goes along with the Consensus I’ve read from others; They provide more of an exciting, fun listening experience.

Price

That said, they’re definitely not worth the price tag. I’m sorry. It’s just not happening. The asking price is way too much.

They simply don’t measure up to other cans in a similar vein and there’s nothing about them that warrants the extra money. I would probably pay around $150 max for the P7.

Forgiving

They are definitely more forgiving of source quality than a headphone like the HD600.

Headphone Jack

The headphone jack on this model is a bit unconventional, in that it rests underneath the ear-pad rather than sitting outside of it.

Earpads

Both of the ear pads can be removed.

Termination

Oftentimes, headphones terminate in a 3.5mm jack. The P7 sports a 2.5mm one, which is angled appropriately.

Both of the cables provided are of high quality, built with a shielded cable and a gold-plated 3.5mm connector coupled with a chrome plug.

One cable contains an in-line remote/mic for phones. It has a play/pause/call, playback control, and Google NOW triggering.

Amplification

They will do well with an amp/DAC combo but don’t need one. As always, I think your source file is of the utmost importance here.

Smell

The smell of the leather pouch is off-putting to some.

Drop Outs

As mentioned in the Cons section, there is an issue with the P7’s durability as far as sound going out.

B&W will honor the warranty without question, but as soon as it ends, so does the service.

One person made a good point in that if they have only been making headphones for a few years, why do they have so many pairs of refurbished models for sale?

Bass

If you find that the bass is too much, the mod is to place small rectangular cloth strips in between the magnetically attached ear pads and the base they connect to so that the seal between the pad and the rest of the headphones is broken and some bass can bleed away.

Try at your own risk.

Comfort

The comfort factor is a bit of a mixed bag here.

Some say they are very comfy, others claim that they become bothersome after a couple of hours.

I happen to be in the latter camp.

The general consensus seems to be that they are a bit “stiff” and dig into various parts of your dome piece.

In other words, the clamping force is a bit much.

Consensus/Conclusion

Gorgeous and well constructed, but ultimately uncomfortable. The sound is hit-and-miss. The bass is a bit overdone, as well as the treble.

The mid-range is practically lost, but overall the sound can be exciting with certain genres. It’s definitely a fun listen, but a flawed one.

Final Word

Because I would never actually purchase the P7s, I cannot recommend them today.

While I did enjoy them in some capacity, they’re simply not good enough to fork over the kind of money that Bowers & Wilkins is asking for.

There are simply too many issues.

A much better option in this price range and an easy recommendation would be the Oppo PM-3.

It has a similar warm sound to the P7, but the bass is tight and deep without being clammy or bloated. Interested in learning all about them?

CHECK OUT MY OFFICIAL OPPO PM-3 REVIEW!!

For an open-back headphone with an exciting sound signature, I think the Beyerdynamic DT990 fits the bill quite nicely.

It has a V-shaped frequency response, which basically means hard-hitting bass, bright treble, and a recessed mid-range. The difference is that the bass doesn’t become bloated like on the P7. Interested in learning more? Check out my:

BEYERDYNAMIC DT990 PRO VS. PREMIUM COMPARISON!!


Well that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed my Bowers and Wilkins P7 Review and came away with some valuable insight.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please Contact me!!

Are you convinced that the P7’s aren’t quite worth it? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

Save

Bowers and Wilkins P7

3.85

Comfort

3.3/5

Build

4.9/5

Sound

3.4/5

Pros

  • Portable
  • Good amount of detail
  • Live sound

Cons

  • Bass can get bloated at times
  • Uncomfortable over long periods
  • Treble can be harsh
  • Mid-range sucked out

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