Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition headphone review

The PX7 Carbon Edition headphone from audio titan Bowers & Wilkins is a special version of the PX7 headphone the company introduced in late 2019. It features the same carbon-fiber construction, but with a new finish. We didn’t have an opportunity to review the original PX7, so we welcomed the chance to give this new edition an in-depth listen.

These premium active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones carry over the same 43.6mm drivers, 30-hour battery life, and software features for a list price of $400. Are they worth the $50 bump over Sony’s WH-1000XM4 (when Sony’s cans aren’t on sale, that is)? Sony’s offering is our current top pick for ANC headphones, but the PX7 are more comfortable to wear, and they deliver more accurate audio reproduction. Their higher list price, however, can be attributed mostly to luxury.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best headphones, where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Premium fit and finish

From a design perspective, the PX7 Carbon Edition adds just a bit more class to the original PX7. The original Space Grey and Silver finishes look refined and classic, but the new model’s Carbon finish, combined with the diamond-cut detailing around the B&W logo plates on the ear cups, take the design up a notch—for some people. I find it to be a bit too flashy, and the band of textured fabric around each ear cup tends to gather particulate debris, which isn’t super easy to wipe away. But those are about the only aspects of this headphone that I’m not in love with.

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Two very different styles: Sony WH-1000XM4 (left) vs. Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition

Wearing the PX7 for long listening sessions is a fantastic experience. They’re smaller and lighter than Sony’s WH-1000XM4, yet their ear cups are even deeper, and their memory-foam ear cups compress less. This resulted in a tight seal around my ears without putting any pressure on my outer ears or the sides of my head, allowing me to forget I was wearing them even after hours of listening.

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Sony WH-1000XM4 (left) size and style vs. Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition.

Pressing a single easy-to-locate button on the left-hand ear cup cycles through the various noise cancellation modes. There are almost too many buttons on the right-hand, though. You’ll find a sliding power switch that doubles as the Bluetooth pairing trigger, plus three control buttons that tend to blur together under your fingertip.

There are two buttons for adjusting volume up and down, but the one in the middle performs a host of tasks, starting with play/pause (one press), track forward (two presses), and previous track (three presses). This same button is also used for answering, muting, ending, toggling between two phone calls, and merging two calls—all depending on how many times you push the button. I never got completely comfortable with it or its location.

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Button and port placement is mostly on right earcup.

There’s a USB-C port for charging the headphone’s battery, and an LED indicator reports the battery level (green, amber, or red). B&W says you should expect 30 hours of battery life, but my experience was just short of that mark (listening with active noise cancellation at its highest setting 80 percent of the time). A rapid-charge feature yields five hours of listening with just a 15-minute charge—and you can listen to music while charging if you plug the USB cable into a computer (the headphone will operate as a USB audio device).

If you have a favorite outboard DAC, you can plug the headphone into it using a 3.5mm analog audio cable, but the headphone’s battery will need to be charged. All this falls close to what Sony offers on the WH-1000XM4, so B&W has nothing on the competition on that score.

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