B&W aims to set a new standard with true wireless earphones debut
British high-end audio brand Bowers & Wilkins has announced its late entry into the true wireless earphones space with the PI7 and PI5 models, but is suggesting that mobile music lovers will find the wait worthwhile.
"We are excited to be venturing into the True Wireless category with our new headphones," said B&W Brand President, Geoff Edwards. "It’s long been our philosophy, established by our founder John Bowers, that we would only enter a new category if we believed that we could set a new standard for audio performance in that space. With PI7 and PI5, we truly believe we have achieved that."
The B&W true wireless earphones have been developed by the same team responsible for the company's 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers, which should translate into top-notch high-resolution sound quality.
Both models support wireless charging, rock a frequency range of 10 Hz to 20 kHz and less than 0.3 percent distortion, are waterproof to IP54 standards, can be tweaked via a mobile companion app, have a one-button touch interface, and are compatible with Siri or Google Assistant.
The range-topping PI7 earphones boast a 24-bit audio connection, high-performance digital signal processing, and dual-hybrid drive units comprising a 9.2-mm dynamic driver and a balanced armature driver in each earbud.
Adaptive Noise Cancellation technology is featured, which utilizes three microphones in each earbud to block distractions from the outside world during music playback, while also holding the promise of crystal-clear calls.
Connection to an audio source is over Bluetooth 5.0, with support for aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, aptX Classic, AAC and SBC codecs. Listeners can look forward to up to four hours of playback from each earbud, plus an additional 16 hours via the included charging case. A 15-minute fast charge will give users two hours of use.
Interestingly, B&W has included a novel audio transmission feature that allows listeners to cable up an audio source to the charging case and the case will wirelessly transmit the signal to the earphones – useful for keeping the beats pumping when on a flight.
The PI5 earphones come with a 9.2-mm dynamic drive unit in each earbud, two microphones for taking calls and active noise cancellation, and Bluetooth 5.0 with just aptX, AAC and SBC code support. Each earpiece should be good for up to 4.5 hours per charge, with 20 more hours available via the charging case. And this model also supports fast charging.
As you might expect from a luxury audio brand, these true wireless earphones are expensive – really expensive. The PI7 earphones are priced at US$399, while the PI5 earphones come in at $249. This puts both models above Apple's current AirPods Pro earphones, and the PI7 way above models from luxury brands like Devialet.
Product page: B&W Pi7 and PI5