Review: Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e

The best just got even better

Their predecessors were already the best-sounding pair of headphones in their class. The new Px7 S2e are even better.

Published 2023-10-18 - 3:15 pm
Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e
Geir Nordby

Bowers & Wilkins has recently discontinued its best headphones in their price range, the Px7 S2. The exact reason is unclear, because they were truly a great pair of headphones. And while Sony still offers the best active noise cancellation with their WH-1000XM5, the Px7 S2’s deliver a level of sound quality that’s a head above the rest.

The new Px7 S2e, where the “E” stands for “evolved”, replaces the Px7 S2e. The manufacturer is not claiming that it’s a completely new model, which is a good thing. They are indeed very similar. Same drivers, same audio codecs, same battery life. And the same design and fit.

Even the quick pairing with Android is the same as last time, there’s not much new here.

B&W - Px7 S2e Forest Green Beauty
New, fresh green color. Photo: Bowers & Wilkins


The difference, aside from a brand new green color, which unfortunately does not apply to our review unit, lies in the digital processor. The DSP, which has become more powerful and advanced.

Bowers & Wilkins claims that the new DSP squeezes even more detail and dynamics out of the 40 mm drivers. Like its predecessor, the headphones support 24-bit/48 kHz audio via USB.

However, I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason for switching to a more powerful DSP is to be future-proof, so that you could, for example, upgrade to support spatial sound with Dolby Atmos at some point in the future. I’m actually a little surprised that this isn’t already in place now that it’s becoming standard in the premium class.

App control

The B&W Music app has received a small update with better functionality when playing music directly in the app. You can now connect the app to your Tidal or Qobuz account, which means you can also see the digital resolution of the music file being played. Personally, however, I prefer to use the native app from the service I subscribe to.

B&W Music app 1 B&W Music app 2
Improved Music app. Screenshot: iOS

Noise cancellation and ambient sound

As with its predecessor, there are a total of six microphones in the headphones, two of which are used for speech and four for noise reduction.

There is a microphone inside each cup that listens to the headphones. One on the outside of each cup listens to the outside world, and the sum of these is interpreted by the DSP, which produces the counter-phase signal to the noise – removing it as best as possible.

The noise reduction can be reversed to let the noise in instead. So-called ambient sound or transparency. Like its predecessor, the S2e version has a separate button for noise management, where you can switch between noise reduction, ambient sound or nothing.

There are no steps between zero and maximum power on the new version either. It’s all or nothing, and there is no so-called adaptive noise reduction.

Also check out Best at noise cancellation

The Sony WF-1000XM5 continues the legacy of the popular M4 model, delivering even better noise reduction and sound quality.


The premium memory foam ear cushions fit comfortably around your ears. It already dampens noise quite well mechanically, so you can listen to music without active noise reduction. You only need to activate it if you are in a noisy environment, such as on a plane or train.

Battery life and charging

Battery life is stated to be 30 hours, just like both predecessors. The headphones are fully charged in two hours, and 15 minutes of fast charging provides a full seven hours of playtime.

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e-Graabein
The Px7 S2e offers top-class comfort. Photo: Geir Gråbein Nordby

The sound of the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e

The sound is so unmistakably Bowers & Wilkins. There is a nice warmth to the music, while the dynamics are well controlled. The transients have excellent response, perhaps even better than before, and in comparison, the Sony WH-1000XM5 sounds rather dull.

Just listen to Mathilde Storm’s interpretation of The September Whens’ old classic Cries Like a Baby. There’s a nice tone from the guitar body and Mathilde’s voice is nice and airy in the middle. The Sony’s can’t pull this off with the same magic.

Bruce Springsteen’s beautiful ballad Addicted to Romance is well rendered with Springsteen’s characteristic raspy voice, which however doesn’t get too much attention. All the ‘building blocks’ of the soundscape are given due attention and you can decide what you want to focus on.

There is extra fullness in the lower midrange here, which is pretty typical for Bowers & Wilkins. But I don’t think it’s at the expense of pace. Unless you compare it to the much more expensive Focal Bathys, which really show where it’s at when it comes to speed and detail.

B&W - Px7 S2e buttons
Physical buttons and a dedicated slider for Bluetooth pairing. Photo: Bowers & Wilkins

Limited EQ

Something I’ve always wanted from B&W headphones, and where the Px7 S2e also disappoints, are the EQ settings. You only get bass and treble, there is no option to set precise frequencies. This means you’re pretty much locked into B&W’s sound philosophy. For better or worse – but mostly for the better.


I don’t have the predecessors available for comparison, but I have compared it to its big brother, the Px8. And I have to say that they are very close. The sound balance is very similar, and even though there is probably more detail and more lightness at the top of the Px8, it’s hard to justify the 40 percent higher price. The Px7 S2e is a much better buy.

The aforementioned Sony WH-1000XM5s have better noise cancellation, but nowhere near the sound quality of the Px7 S2e. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are also pretty good and probably have even better speech quality than the B&Ws. But music doesn’t have the same midrange magic as here.

And then there’s the Bose Quiet Comfort Ultra, which at the time of writing has not yet found its way to the editorial office.

B&W - Px7 S2e Ocean Blue Beauty
Photo: Bowers & Wilkins


The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e are, as the e in the name suggests, a further development of the Px7 S2. There aren’t many new tricks here, but the more powerful DSP may provide even slightly better sound. It’s certainly very close to the sound of its much more expensive Px8! We have a feeling we’ll hear more about why the DSP has been upgraded later on. Maybe we’ll get support for spatial audio at some point?

The headphones sound great with Bluetooth and even better with a USB cable connected directly to your PC. Here you get full sound quality up to 24-bit/48 kHz.

The Px7 S2e are incredibly comfortable, feel truly premium and have a sound quality that few others can match. Unless you’re looking for something even more expensive. If sound quality is more important to you than the very best noise cancellation (which is also very good here), these are probably the best headphones for the price right now.

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e

We think

Still the best sound in its segment. Exceptional comfort. Great noise cancellation, but still not the best. Limited EQ functionality.
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