Bowers & Wilkins Px8 ($699): A flagship enters the ruckus.

Bowers & Wilkins Px8 ($699): A flagship enters the ruckus.

Pros: Near exquisite build
Mature sound
More laid back sound (to me)

Cons: Expensive?
Some will not like mature sound (to me)
Sony is nipping on B&W’s heels
So is Focal…

Bowers & Wilkins Px8 ($699): A flagship enters the ruckus.


W. Jennings eCoustics review.



As a follow up to Senior Headphone Editor W. Jennings excellent wireless headphone reviews, we would like to present another view. While both reviewers have similar tastes in sound offerings, they do present different responses to how that is achieved. Always the technical one, Jennings prefers crisp, vibrant, detailed sound. Miller prefers a richer, warmer tone to the headphones he chooses along with good spatial characteristics and clarity. Both do agree that the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 is a formidable competitor to the Focal Bathys, our top choice in wireless headphones in the “luxury” category. Read on for an alternate view to the still excellent pX8.

The precursor to the Px8, the very good Px7 S2 provides the listener with a very good sound, ANC technology as good as the competing Sony or Bose equivalents, and a fit; which many feel is superior. In making the Px8 though, B&W nearly reinvented the category with the product. Or more likely, raised the level at which the top tier competes for your dollar. With the competition of the aforementioned Focal along with the Mark Levinson 5909, and Master & Dynamics MW75, the Px8 had better have its top game presented.



Wearing styleBluetooth Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
Technical featuresHybrid Noise Cancellation
Ambient Pass-Through,Wear-Detection Sensor, Bluetooth® audio – Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX™ Adaptive, USB-C charging & audio interface
Bluetooth codecsaptX™ Adaptive, aptX™ HD, aptX™, AAC, SBC
Bluetooth profilesA2DP, AVRCP, HFP HSP, BLE GATT (Generic Attribute Profile)
Drive units2 x 40mm dynamic full range carbon driver
Microphones4x mics for ANC, 2x mics for telephony
Distortion (THD)<0.1% (1 kHz/10mW)
Battery typeRechargeable Lithium Ion
Battery life & charging30 hours playback, 15-minute charge for 7 hours playback
In box accessories1.2m USB-C to 3.5mm stereo jack audio cable, 1.2m USB-C to USB-C cable, Carry Case


Focal Bathys ($799)
Sony WH-1000XM5 ($399)

The Skinny

Simple, organized packaging is greatly appreciated in this day and age by many. A simple white box has a color printed white sleeve to run over it, replete with specifications and real pictures. Some prefer a more lavish presentation in the box, but the B&W is just right. As is the carrying case. Oblong in shape, and very efficient of space, one can easily carry the case in their day bag whether it be your backpack or sling briefcase. Having many of the other models on hand, a comparison of the case would put it behind the Bathys (there will be many comparisons here) in quality and protection. Where the Focal breeds luxury, the B&W carries utilitarianism. Unzip it and you find quality suede felt lining the insides. What is also nice is a dedicated “pocket” for holding the two offered cables: a USB-C to USB-C (for computer use) and a USB-C to 3.5mm single ended jack (for Smartphones or DAP’s). The flap is magnetic and holds its place nicely.


The Px8 is on the lighter side of the spectrum with regard to its competitors, but that lightness does not equate to a cheaper feel. Premium of feel and construction, the B&W could teach a couple of the more well-known brands a thing or two about overall construction and feel. The ear pads alone would be welcome on an equivalent wired headphone in my opinion. With dark gray stanchions and the yokes, there is an understated elegance to the unit, especially in conjunction with the silver accents and laser-etched “Bowers & Wilkins” set on each side’s faceplate. Alas, there are no touch controls on the plates, but those controls are easily accessible on the right cup for most, except the ANC (programable), which is on the bottom of the left cup. With the all-metal construction wedded to the leather headband the premium feel is very evident. I do wish for a bit more padding on the underside of the headband in the memory foam but fit still allows for long sessions. Especially with those padded cups, which are also a smidge bigger than the Px7 S2’s.

Fit is afforded by sliding the adjusters, with enough friction to hold the unit in place once you hit your sweet spot. Cups rotate a full 180 degrees on the vertical axis for storage and the 20-degree horizontal movement allows for top/bottom fit on the user’s head. A unique feature is the single sided yoke attaching to the gimbal (stanchion), so you do not have to worry about contacting any buttons erroneously. I know I have on other models. Clamping force is quite good, but unlike Editor Jennings, I did feel a bit of pressure, while wearing my reading glasses. Regardless, long-term fit is very adequate, and can be worn for those long commutes or flights without worry.

Those wonderful earpads snap off revealing the forward-canted 40mm carbon drivers, putting the sound closer to one’s ears. The carbon driver has been explored in B&W’s loudspeaker segment, and as mentioned, look for that possibility in the home segment in the future. Microphones are excellent, and call quality top notch with no issue in windy conditions, as evidenced by a call outside to our son. Grilling him for voice quality and impedance to sound quality; he mentioned it was almost as good as my UE Drops Custom; which to me are the best voice call unit I have experienced.

A single power switch is slid from the top, to a middle position to be turned on. If the unit has not been previously connected via Bluetooth, you continue pushing it down for two seconds, then release; which puts the Px8 into pairing mode. Easily done and I had no issues connecting to either my iPhone 13 Pro Max or the Astell & Kern ACRO CA1000. Three switches reside below the on/off button and going from “top to bottom” you get volume up, play/pause/answer/end, and volume down. The middle button has ridges, which help to identify it by touch. The USB-C jack site below the three buttons. The Px8 supports aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, AAC, and SBC. LDAC is not offered.


As mentioned by Jennings, the new model has a new app. So those who also might have the older Px7 (or others) will use the old app. The Px7 S2 and Px8 utilize the new Bowers & Wilkins Music App. It is fairly basic, with some customizable features. I find that having so many headphone apps, I have a dedicated folder on my phone for them. Something I would like to see is labeling with the company, instead of a fancy name. Thankfully, when the Px8 is connected, the app automatically launches, and connects. I rarely use the provided apps, except to adjust ANC technology, though. You can also switch the ANC button for your respective virtual assistant, but that is all. Work does need to be done on the app, though. It does now offer a five band EQ, unlike when Jennings had the unit. Updates to firmware come across the app as well.

ANC Performance

Jennings laid out a thorough review of the performance, so my input will be minimal; except to verify or slightly alter what he said. I do like how the impact towards sound quality is minimized here, even when compared to the Px7 S2. The low and high exterior sounds are filtered out, but not to the detriment of sound quality. This to me is an aspect that many companies have worked diligently on, since many of us complained about, A. overly intrusive ANC, and B. ANC, which covers up too much of the music being played (muddiness). Ambient listening is quite good, as I could easily hear my wife talking while using the headphone. I did tell her what I was doing, so she would not think I was ignoring her, nor alter her voice characteristics. Situational awareness is a big factor, and as mentioned companies are working hard on this factor. Overall, the ANC capability was bettered by the Sony WH-1000XM5 (pretty much, the industry standard), but well ahead of the Focal Bathys. That said, the Bathys goes its own way, using a “softer” approach, so sound quality is hurt less.


Battery Life

Claimed to be 30 hours, with a charge time of 2-3 hours can be verified to be about 26-29 per my usage. A long charge time hinders this; but a fifteen-minute charge will yield you another 7 hours of playback (verified in my test on purpose). But as Jennings mentions, volume levels will either hold that line of 30 hours or hinder it. Bettered by some manufacturers, and better than some.


Immediately apparent when going between the Bathys and the Px8 is the need for more volume in the B&W. Not quite as easily driven as the Focal, and with what I would call a smoother, more laid-back signature you can easily discern which model you will like more. Listening at lower volumes will hurt the Px8 more than the Bathys, due to its lack of overall crispness. But, the Px8 still sounds quite good. To the point that we are approaching the point where wired and wireless options at the same price will be harder to differentiate.


Bass rumble is very evident, especially on original “Pink Panther” song from Henry Mancini. The bass lays down copious amounts of sub bass and it comes through as deep and rich. A richness pervades the lows, which to me are the best of this lot. Large quantities of bass are one thing, but when controlled like the Px8, they make for the foundational set of the whole signature. While not the speediest decay, it does not dawdle into the mids, something I greatly appreciate. As a result, tenor sax notes ring with a richness that seems velvety at times, but not lazy. The weight of the sax affords excellent girth and depth to the note, filling the space in an enveloping goodness.

Vocals come across as thick in depth, but not bloated. Taylor Swift’s vocals have a rich, warm character that adds excellent weight to the notes. But does so, without becoming slow or molasses-like. This is a very good treatment to the mid sounds, and male vocals come across as detailed with very good clarity. Note weight carries into the next without becoming lost or encumbering. As a result, separation is quite good, reminding me of the Campfire Audio Cascade closed-back headphone, one of our unsung heroes in the portable bass-heavy wired headphones. Female vocals do tend to be more forward than male, but that is not an uncommon trait with this tuning.

Spanish guitar comes across as vibrant without being strident as witnessed on “Mediterranean Sundance” by DiMeola, McLaughlin & DeLuca. Live versions can become too high strung or baying, but not here. That note weight allows each guitar to come across individually, and support when needed. But when the artists switch lead-solos, the B&W plays nicely, allowing for a speedy transition. The highs of their solos reach excellent levels as well without too much sparkle. Sharpness of note as witnessed in the above-mentioned song allows for individual notes to be discerned on par with the best in this luxury category. Percussion rings as tight and taut as the strum of Spanish guitars as well, which help keep the sound tidy without becoming analytical.

Soundstage is good, but not great. Three dimensionally accurate, the PX8 allows for separation and instrumentation to come across as “spatially aware,” without becoming brittle or thin. As a result, the song rings with good weight again, and imaging does not suffer as a result. This is quite good, in fact.


B&W Px8 ($699) v Focal Bathys ($799):

The B&W Px7 V2 was a designated target for Focal. Widely regarded as one of the best out there, including against the vaunted Sony WH-series, the target makes sense. This was also one of our most highly anticipated competitions as well. For audiofool’s excellent review on the Bathys, we followed that with a YouTube video. We both agreed that as good as the Px8 is, the Bathys is slightly better. Better sound characteristics as well as a less intrusive ANC technology makes for a tough act to beat. But the Bathys has all of that and more.

Better clarity comes across as a very clean, crisp signature; which is not usually the case for wireless headphones. That said, the Px8 has excellent bass quality, with better guttural grunt down low. Fit is a bit better to me personally as well. The Focal is very good, but those thicker leatherette ear cups tend to make for a larger fit. The Px8 simply disappear on my head.

Vocals on the Px8 comparatively are very good, where the Bathys are sublime. Upper end reach to me is a draw. The Bathys reach a bit higher and lend better clarity as a result; but the Px8 are smoother and more pleasing to my palette. If you want superb detail, the Bathys is the winner. If you prefer a smoother character, then the Px8 is the winner.

B&W Px8 ($699) v Sony WH-1000XM5 ($399, sales for $298):

Widely regarded as the leader in the combined character of ANC technology and sound capabilities in the wireless headphone market, the Sony is the target most shoot for. While not a true fair competition due to the price difference, it is still worthy due to that target.

The Sony is eminently easy to drive, the best of the lot. Fit is more on the economy side, though. So is the material construction. I understand why Sony did this, though. Making the unit affordable tends to pay dividends when looking at these (and testing) in the Big Box Store setting against its viable competition from Beats & Bose. That should not detract from what Sony has done here. It is remarkable. If a fun signature was the top category (and only), the Sony would win hands down. Excellent ANC technology and deep reaching bass makes for an excellent package.

It is when we delve deeper into the details that the Px8 separates itself. The Sony is good. The Px8 is great in terms of sound quality. Where the Sony pushes the mids forward to the front of the stage (good for commuting) the Px8 takes in the whole, enveloping the user in a finished product, with a smoother character. The Sony is good. Very, very good. The Px8 is excellent.

Fit to me is below average on the Sony as well. Those cheaper ear pads simply need more thickness and cushioning. The bottom tends to dig in when properly placed. Or when the stanchions are drawn in, while the pressure is even, the sound leaks. I am sure some aftermarket Dekoni pads would help, making this a better fit. Quality of materials is on the economy side as well.

All of that said, to me the Sony is the market leader at the sub-$500 price. Hands down.



For those that did not skip right to the conclusion to see what I say about the comparison between the Px8 and the Bathys, thank you. But now you will read what the others already knew who skipped ahead. If you prefer excellent, detailed sound with clarity that is accurate and on par with a wired version, then go with the Bathys. It is the best wireless headphone I have ever heard.

But, if you prefer or need better ANC technology, only bettered by Sony, and a sound, which lies on the smoother, rich side of life, the Px8 would be the choice. Plus, it is $100 less expensive. I prefer a smooth, laid back signature, and fell hard for the Px8, even if the Bathys has a slightly “better” audiophile sound signature. But for those who can listen to both before purchase, please do so. They approach the music from two different perspectives, which gives you, the consumer excellent alternatives.

To drive the Px8 at higher volumes, you could easily make the case for them to win. At lower levels, the Bathys wins, hands down. But that extra $100 would have to be justified by the consumer. This comes down to a personal choice, and I know which one I would take, but will leave that up to you and your decision. Both are excellent at what they do, and coming from slightly different angles, makes for a good decision to have.


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