Image Credit: Bowers & Wilkins
British audio equipment manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins’ flagship true wireless earbuds PI7 are the most expensive pair I’ve ever seen.
Famous for their high-end home speakers, Bowers & Wilkins have held off from true wireless earbuds, fearing a compromise in sound quality for such a small device. After a lot of development, Bowers & Wilkins think they’ve cracked it.
The PI7 are the company’s flagship pair of true wireless in-ear headphones. The 9.2mm driver in each bud feature “Dual Hybrid Drive” units, with individual amplifiers, for high-resolution audio performance, that adjust dynamically to optimise the connection to the device. The buds support 24-bit/48kHz wireless connection, perfect for hi-res music streaming.
Six microphones ensure good call quality and adaptive noice canceling. Perhaps the weakest point on the PI7s is the battery life. The earbuds will last just four hours on a single charge, while the fast wireless charging case will provide four additional charges. A unique feature on the PI7’s case is audio retransmission. Connect the charging case to an external audio source without Bluetooth, such as an inflight entertainment system, Nintendo Switch or office computer, via 3.5mm jack or USB, to wireless transmit audio from the case to the buds. This is a fantastic feature that would otherwise require additional hardware.
Both the PI7 and PI5 below can be configured with the Bowers & Wilkins app. A single capacitive button on the outer housings adjusts music playback and summons the voice assistant. Multipoint pairing should ensure switch between devices is a breeze.
The buds and case come in White and Charcoal, are available today, and cost… $399.99! That makes these the most expensive true wireless earbuds I’ve ever seen. At $400 they are over $120 more than market leaders such as Bose QuietComfort Earbuds and over double AirPods Pro.
Bowers & Wilkins PI5 are the little brother to the PI7. They also feature a 9.2mm driver in each bud, as well as TWS+ technology to ensure a stable and reliable connection between the earbuds. Like the IP7 they feature Qualcomm aptX technology and adjust dynamically to optimise the connection reliability, for all-day uninterrupted sound.
The advanced noise-cancelling can be adjusted to let in some noise, or go for ambient passthrough mode for maximum awareness. Four microphones ensure your voice is picked up clearly for calls, while intuitive wear sensors will automatically pause the music when removed. The PI5s unfortunately suffer with similarly poor battery life, with 4.5 hours on a single charge. The fast wireless charging case holds the same four full recharges.
PI5 are also available in Charcoal and White, are available today, and cost $249.99. This places them more inline with other high-end true wireless earbuds.
Both pairs deliver a decent set of features, but at $250 and $400, a subpar battery life cannot be overlooked.