Name: P5 (Bowers and Wilkins)
Type: Noise isolating headphones
Specs: Frequency range 10Hz to 20kHz , Impedence 26 ohms, distortion @100dB I25<0.05% for 80-20kHz <0.2% for 20-20kHz
Price: £245.95 (Apple)
Bowers and Wilkins are well known for causing quite the stir when it comes to their eye-catching audio hardware. Just think back to the iPod dock mentalism that was the Zeppelin. The P5 noise isolating headphones are then unsurprisingly excellent and an audiophile’s dream if they’ve got enough readies going spare.
The subtle retro look of the P5 headphones make them as stylish as they are comfortable. With liberal use of leather and chrome, the P5s are finished to within an inch of perfection. Though slightly larger than some on-ear supra aural headphones, the rectangular foam-cushioned pads sit snugly on the head, fully adjustable with a discrete slider hidden somewhere in the headband. As large as they are for supra aurals, they are nowhere near as daft looking as oversized over-ear options tend to be.
The rectangular pads pop off to reveal a plug for interchangeable input cables. The P5s ship with both a 3.5mm jack lead and one with Apple’s in-line remote and mic attatched. The magnetically attached pads are easy to replace, and so these welcome cable connectivity options can conveniently be swapped. However, the teeth that hold the leads in place look a little sharp, and may cause damage to the cables after repeated use. The mic itself is reasonably good, but doesn’t feature the noise cancelling tech that many Bluetooth sets now offer as standard.
Bowers and Wilkins made a bold claim when they said that the P5s would reproduce audio “as close to the sound of the original recording as we can possibly take you”. Thankfully, they deliver in spades. It’s a natural, crisp sound that the P5s throw out that, while perhaps a little bass heavy, lend themselves well to all music genres. There was little to no distortion at even the loudest volume, coping well with bass even for extended periods of time. The headphones do a good job of keeping outside noise out of your tunes even without any active noise cancelling technology inside. Their shape however does mean that those around you will be able to hear what you’re listening to at higher volumes, so bear that in mind if you’re taking the P5s out on a bus trip.
At nearly £250, the Bowers and Wilkins P5 headphones aren’t cheap. But if you’re serious about your music, and want to hear your catalogue of songs played back as close as possible to the sound the artists in the recording studio intended, you cant get a much better set than these.
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