Bowers & Wilkins Shows Its First Noise-Canceling Headphone

The dancing robots and talking smart speakers get all the attention at CES, but there is still a strong showing of traditional audio products. They don't light up or take selfies. They just sound really good.

Case in point is the Bowers & Wilkins PX wireless, noise-canceling headphone. Of course, noise cancellation has been around forever, but this is the company's first foray into that market. The headphone has a very deluxe look and feel to it, and clearly uses high-grade materials in its solid construction. It is available in gray or satin gold. If looks were the only criteria, it would blow away most of its competition.

The Bluetooth headphone has terrific build quality, but that means it weighs a bit more than other models. At almost 12 ounces, it's a good 4 ounces more than some. The weight penalty is offset by excellent memory foam padding in its leather ear pads and headband. Speaking of ear pads, they attach magnetically and thus are easy to replace. As any headphone user knows, the ear pads are the main wear item. Try not to trash yours though - they look mighty expensive.

Controls are neatly placed on the right ear cup. An app (iOS and Android) lets you select any of three different noise-cancellation modes. Of course, ANC can be turned off. Battery life is 22 hours with ANC on, 29 hours with it off, 33 hours with wired ANC use, and 50 hours of wired listening with ANC off. Unfortunately, the headphones cannot be used in a totally passive mode. Interestingly, the headphone can automatically pause playback when you remove the headphone from your head, then resume playback when you restore it. Charging is done with a USB-C cable. A soft carrying case and cable are provided.

The PX has been in the market since late last year, but this is the first time I've seen it. The noisy convention hall precluded any meaningful audition, but I listened long enough to identify that silky warm B&W bass that I love. (That bass response has made me a B&W fanboy from way back). I was advised that the PX uses 40mm drivers that are "similar" to those in B&W's pricey ($900) P9 headphone which I have listened to and greatly enjoyed. Surely that bodes well for sound quality of the PX. The aptX codec is supported. Impedance is 22 ohms; sensitivity is 111 dB/V at 1 kHz; distortion is rated as 0.3% at 1 kHz/10W.

The PX is available now at a retail price of $400.

COMMENTS
doward's picture

Isn't a noisy convention hall the perfect place for a meaningful audition? I mean...noise cancelling?

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