On paper, there’s little to separate Bowers & Wilkins’ new PX8 headphones from the PX7 S2 model released earlier this year. Battery life is still rated at 30 hours, they still contain six microphones (four for active noise cancellation plus two for calls), and there’s still no dedicated 3.5mm jack.
And yet, the new PX8 costs $699, a whole $300 more than their midrange counterpart. What gives?
Well, B&W argues that “what gives” is its new flagship headphones’ sound quality, thanks to a pair of new 40mm Carbon Cone drive units. These use a similar design to those found in the company’s 700 Series loudspeakers, which start at over $1,000 per pair. “The result is resolution, detail and timing that surpasses the high bar set by the PX7 S2,” B&W’s press release claims. As with the PX7 S2 before it, both drivers are tilted slightly toward the back of your head to try and match the angle of your ears. Supported audio codecs include aptX Adaptive, AAC, and SBC.
The second advantage the PX8 has over the PX7 S2 is build quality. Compared to the largely plastic and faux leather finish of the PX7 S2, the PX8 features aluminum arms and Nappa leather ear cushions with a memory foam filling. They’re also available in a sleek-looking tan finish in addition to a more traditional black.
We’re yet to try out the PX8 headphones for ourselves, so it’s hard to say if their sound or build quality comes close to being able to justify their premium price point. But there’s no mention of fixes for the issues we had with the more affordable PX7 S2 headphones we reviewed earlier this year. There’s still no dedicated 3.5mm input for wired listening fans (you have to use a USB-C adapter instead), and B&W’s press release doesn’t mention improved voice call performance.
That means the PX8 will still face stiff competition from some very capable — and more affordable — wireless headphone competitors. We found the PX7 S2’s couldn’t quite match the noise canceling performance of the $399.99 Sony WH-1000XM5 or the $329 Bose QC45, and, of course, the $549 AirPods Max have the advantage of their deep integration with Apple’s hardware ecosystem.