It must sound incredible that the Bowers & Wilkins PI7–
With its exorbitant pricing, a control app that is more style than substance.
A sparse collection of touch controls.
And mediocre active noise-cancellation and battery life, have come this close to a five-star rating.
That’s because they provide an incredibly delightful listening experience.
And are a genuinely distinctive pair of wireless earbuds with a charging case that also functions as an audio retransmitter.
The PI7 from Bowers & Wilkins was well worth the wait when they finally released a pair of noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds.
Are shockingly pricey, but they are far from the pinnacle of operational or physical ergonomics.
They have a vast list of auditory talents, though, and they make for a tremendously pleasurable listen.
It also offer a genuinely distinctive selling value thanks to a charging case that may serve as an audio retransmitter.
In the end, it comes down to your priorities.
Look elsewhere and you can save quite a bit of money if you want a fully-featured control app.
Active noise cancellation that can completely block out your surroundings, or class-leading battery life.
The best-sounding true wireless in-ear headphones money can buy, however, are available right here.
Price and Availability: Bowers & Wilkins PI7
The currently available Bowers & Wilkins PI7 active noise cancelling true wireless earbuds.
Have a not-insignificant price tag of $399, £349, or AU$599.
There is no disputing, however, that Bowers & Wilkins has priced the PI7 significantly higher.
Higher than some very well-regarded competitors.
Regardless of the country in which you find yourself paying the bill.
In the past year or so, we’ve listened to and greatly loved wireless earbuds from brands as varied as Bose, Grado, Sennheiser, and Sony.
But not a single one of them has a price tag comparable to the PI7.
Audio Performance: Bowers and Wilkins PI7
But sound quality determines whether a set of truly wireless earbuds succeeds or fails.
Even pairings that aren’t outrageously expensive.
In this regard, the PI7, thankfully, are a nearly flawlessly executed device that very nearly deserves its asking price.
They don’t skimp on the details, they don’t crowd a soundscape.
And they’re boastfully dynamic, as is abundantly clear after listening to Neil Young’s Cinnamon Girl.
In a 24bit/192kHz hi-res Qobuz stream.
Compared to most true wireless earbuds we’ve tested, the PI7 offer a more thorough and clear listening experience.
Low-frequency sounds are richly textured.
And completely controlled in terms of attack and decay.
And they maintain all of the recording’s latent momentum.
They merely inhabit their part of the frequency spectrum with absolute discipline, supporting the music.
And simultaneously propelling it ahead with understated insistence.
They don’t crowd the midrange, but they’re also not distant from it either.
The midrange is incredibly communicative in and of itself.
Young’s vocal technique is shown in all of its finer intricacies, and the delivery’s directness.
And eloquence is offered up without a reservation.
The voice has lots of room around it, but just like with the lower frequencies, it is perfectly incorporated into the overall presentation.
Bowers and Wilkins PI7: Other Features
The PI7 are skilful in their use of positioning as well; the backing singer is fixed in place a few steps behind.
And a few steps to the left of the main vocal.
The guitar notes have a noticeable bite and crunch, and the hint of microphonic feedback is also made plain.
Everything else in the midrange is also nicely resolved.
The Bowers & Wilkins sound is simply unambiguous; you never get the impression that you’re being shortchanged.
Or that you’re not getting the full image.
There is significant dynamic headroom in broad strokes.
At the top of the frequency spectrum is where the PI7 come closest to sounding anything.
Other than completely assured and competent.
The PI7 can somewhat overplay their balanced armature hand while listening to recordings.
With treble sounds that are on the harsh or splashy side, such as Ageispolis by Aphex Twin.
Or A Pair of Brown Eyes by The Pogues.
Treble control is undeniably effective, but tonally it can err just a little on the airy, thin side.
As a result, an airy, thin recording will exacerbate this tendency, and turning up the volume will make it even worse.
By no means is it a fatal fault, but it’s pretty much the only aspect of the Bowers & Wilkins sound that merits a critical notice.
A mixed success also applies to the active noise-cancelling.
It certainly suffices to muffle the drone of public transportation, but it cannot produce the eerie silence.
That products like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds can.
However, calls have good call quality, and the built-in microphones are clear enough for you to have efficient conversations with your preferred voice assistant.