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You don't buy headphones out of practicality. Most people shopping for noise-canceling headphones will not choose the cheapest pair of headphones from the company. The small details are what distinguishes the British audio brand from its competitors. The design of these headphones is just as important as the sonic performance. Improvements in comfort, noise cancellation, and sound fidelity are promised by this new model. Even if there are still weaknesses, the company still delivers.

The PX7 S2 headphones are very similar to the outgoing PX7s and have the same style. They look premium and stay that way, fending off the smudges and fingerprints of their rivals. The focus is on comfort and not fancy materials like carbon fiber. The PX7 S2s are lighter and smaller than the previous model and sit closer to you. The leatherette headband didn't cause any pain on my large head, even during long listening sessions, and the replaceable ear cushions used for better extended comfort. The headphones come in a variety of colors.

The main controls on the right ear cup are a power switch and a button. The buttons are dedicated to play, pause and volume. There is a button on the left ear cup that can be turned on or off. If you want, you can reprogram this to use your phone's voice assistant. The PX7 S2s are compatible with two devices at the same time.

I’ll take physical controls over swipe gestures every time.

The sound quality has been improved by the 40-millimeter drivers and other acoustic improvements. aptX, aptX HD, aptX, AAC, and SBC are supported by the PX7 S2's. The company says they have drivers that result in superior spatial placement, total consistency, and stereo images. The S2s have restored some of the audio magic that was lost when the drivers on the older PX7s had a shallow angle.

The soundstage is large and wide for closed-back headphones, and the vocals cut through with great clarity. The PX7 S2s are large and emotional. It feels like you have a pair of small speakers wrapped around your ears when you listen to them.

For the first time, the company gives you some control over the sound profile in their app for mobile devices. Basic adjustments to bass and treble are all you can do. I didn't feel like I needed to change the out-of-box sound. The headphones I got from Bose or Sony were not as good as the ones I heard from Muna. When it comes to detail, Apple's AirPods Max and the PX7 S2s are close, but the PX7 S2s feel more lively.

The case isn’t particularly small, but it’s manageable.
Bowers & Wilkins includes a regular USB-C cable and also a USB-C-to-3.5mm cable.

You can only use theusb-c port if you want to listen wired. Unlike Apple and the Air Pod Max, the headphones from Bowers & Wilkins do not include a 3.5mm input. Don't lose the cable if you plug into a headphone jack that way. I don't think it's a good idea for $400 headphones to be without the 3.5mm connection, and it feels like companies are learning from Apple's mistakes. Most haven't taken such a drastic step towards all-digital audio.

Explaining the move, Bowers & Wilkins said that 3.5mm is a less used input in 2022. The headphones will charge when you use a wired connection. The PX7 S2s don't support passive audio because they need battery power. The company believes that wireless transmission is the most likely use case. It pointed out that it has a longerusb-C cable than most headphones to help with different use cases.

The PX7 S2 headphones look similar to their B&W predecessors.

The noise cancellation on the PX7 S2s is better than before. I didn't have a chance to try out their skills, but they did a great job of keeping the city quiet. It is good enough for my use case that they cut 30 decibels from the outside world. Even if the S2s still fall short of best-in-class noise cancellation from Sony, Apple, and Bose, what is here is more than adequate. The transparency mode is pleasant-sounding and does the trick, but no one has come close to matching the sound of the feature on the AirPods Max.

Every smart device has a set of terms and conditions that you have to agree to before you can use it. It is not possible for us to read and analyze all of them. We started counting the number of times you have to agree to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people can't negotiate.

Any wireless headphones can be used without agreeing to anything in software. By using the Bowers & Wilkins Music mobile app, you agree to the following.

  • Bowers & Wilkins privacy policy

There is a semi-mandatory agreement.

The voice call performance is not bad. These aren't headphones I'd want to use for a day full of zoom meetings because of the repositioned microphones. The battery life is the same at 30 hours. It takes three hours for the headphones to charge, but they charge in two hours. A 15-minute top-off will give you a lot of time to watch.

I would take the PX7 S2s over my old headphones if I could. There are still valid reasons to prefer Sony or Bose. If sound and substance are what you're after, these headphones show that Bowers & Wilkins can still hang with the best of them, with an extra dash of elegance and sophistication that you won't find from most competitors.

Chris Welch is a photographer.