back to article Bowers and Wilkins P5 headphones

Renowned for it high-end hi-fi, Bowers and Wilkins’ decision to make headphones is a bit of a departure for the company. At first glance, its debut set of cans, the P5s, certainly appear an impressive addition to its respected range of audio porn. Bowers & Wilkins P5 Sonic sender: Bowers and Wilkins' P5 While rather heavy …


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  1. Stephen 10

    Tech specs?

    Do you have a plot of the frequency response and what is their sensitivity?

    Frankly I'll stick with my AKGs ( K 271 MK II - monitoring headphones, I use them for engineering) and I'd probably buy Grados for pure music listening - B&W have become an English version of Bang & Olufsen. Pretty but underwhelming for the money.

    Oh yeah - you're microcephalic, 63cm here ;-)

    1. Evil Graham
      Thumb Up

      Me too

      I also have a 63cm head. This is not usually a problem unless I am trying to buy a hat (one size most definitely does not fit all) or a crash helmet.

  2. lecson


    Yeah, a little over priced compared to respected monitoring headphone brands.

    Before getting excited about the pricey stuff (£25k glass speakers for example) you really should try the sensibly-priced professional alternatives.

    In this case, give the Sennheisser SP25s a go.

  3. PugRallye

    Pointless with compressed music...

    Expensive headphones, hi-fi and docking station things (like the Zeppelin) seem really odd to me when most of them are fed with compressed music, typically from an iDevice.

    Not only do you have the "is it really worth running MP3s through a £1000 amp", you also have the effect (as the reviewer mentions) that the better the equipment, the more likely it'll be able to show all the floors in the source material - and therefore actually end up being detrimental to the listening experience.

    I buy hundreds and hundreds of CDs and rip them all to FLAC and for anyone who'd actually site down and listen (rather than just letting the music wash over them) the benefits of a lossless format become clear on even modest equipment.

    IMO, MP3 has become the new cassette tape. It's an old, outmoded format who's raison-detre no longer really exists - we all have fast broadband and copious storage, both at home and when mobile. But it has become ubiquitous, in the same way cassette did - it's "lowest common denominator" now.

    People's "dedication" to MP3 is also at odds with them all seeming to have HD TV, Blu-Ray etc - visually people are all about high def. When it comes to audio it seems they're not at all bothered...

    Oh and my 2p for good value headphone - Sony MDR-V6, they're about £60, bomb-proof and sound superb (another set of "monitoring" headphones with a really flat response). I've got a couple of pairs, one is used all day, every day and still look and sound great.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      I hate MP3s

      Most of them sound terrible. However try buying any HD music, all seems to have disappeared. I can listen to both HD-DVD and SACD and both seem to have more depth than CD, and this is through consumer AV kit with decent (Castle) speakers.

    2. stucs201

      Just like cassette indeed.

      Wasn't one of the great advantages of digital music (such as the CD, DAT) meant to be that copies could be made without any further degradation of quality?

      Used to work fine, then some 'genius' invented mp3 and popularised a way of making a copy that was worse than the original (and can even continue to degrade further with repeated conversion between different bitrates and lossless formats).

    3. Lamont Cranston


      I rip all my music at the lowest bit-rate possible, so as to cram as much as possible onto my 4GB ZenV. I've no desire to invest in extra hard drive capacity for my home PC, either. Most of my music listening is done on the move (either through the Zen or in the car) so premium quality is a waste of time for me. I'm also not made of money.

      Similarly, HD-TV strikes me as a waste of money - yes, it does look better, but not so much so that I'd feel the need to junk my telly and DVD player and re-purchase all of my films. Analogue broadcast is fine for day to day viewing, although I do appreciate the extra crispness of a well mastered DVD.

      Perhaps when I retire, I'll find that I have the time to just listen to music, and the spare cash for the appropriate equipment...

  4. Mr__H
    Thumb Down

    I don't agree I'm afraid

    Having tried these cans I must say I didn't want to buy them at all. They look fancy but because of their design the shape of the earpads just didn't quite feel right. The leather is down to personal taste but I just find it gets hot and sweaty and nasty really quickly. (although I may just have sweaty ears, yeurgh!).

    The sound is nice but nothing to write home about at this price point. For £250 I'd recommend either Shure SE315 IEMs if you're out and about or a pair of Grado SR225i cans if you're listening at home (the Grados particularly if you like the bassier, warmer sound).

    Either set of headphones will also leave you enough spare from £250 to buy a half decent headphone amp which will drastically improve the sound compared to going further up the headphone pecking order without an amp.

    This is alsothe same price as the Sennheiser HD650 and the B&Ws get no where near these excellent cans. Not even close. Decent enough 'phones from B&W but certainly not the class-leaders the reviewer seems to think and certainly not at this price point.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    "...the P5s, certainly appear an impressive addition to its respected range of audio porn."

    Audio porn?? Am I missing something here?

  6. Wibble
    Thumb Up

    Utter quality

    Pondered these for ages and finally got the chance to listen to them at the Apple Temple to Tech. Hundreds of yoofs filling the store. Put these on my head, plugged in my iPhone and.... like entering a different world. Now had them for three months and have never regretted buying them.

    The attenuation of external noise is superb. Train journeys are a pleasure. The sound quality sublime. The comfort, like an old pair of slippers.

    But it's the quality that just can't be understated. Cannot be compared with the plastic tat from the likes of Bose, et al. Like getting into a Bentley in a car park full of blinged up todger-mobiles.

    Not to be underestimated, the box opening experience is one to rival Apple. Superb, and one that reinforces your decision to spend money on decent head gear.

    And then there's the natty soft quilted case with magnetic flap to store them in once you've finished.

    Only criticisms are they're heavier than their plastic counterparts. Not that heavy, but you do notice them after a day. They're also not particularly comfy when hung around your neck, such as when you slide them off your head to speak to someone.

  7. Iain Bagnall

    Nice but...

    Anyone in the know in the recording industry seems to use Beyer Dynamics DT100s- they have incredibly frequency response, come in whatever impedence you need, and are entirely made from replaceable parts. And they only cost about 90 quid compared to the £250 here. Anyone looking for good cans should at least give them a listen and try them out...

    For Hi-Fi I agree with above posters that Grado make probably the best cans, but please be aware that all the good Grados are open-backed so everyone around you will have to listen to your music too- by contrast the BD DT100s are close backed and cut out environmental noise like a pair of aviation cans.

  8. TkH11

    Frequency Response

    Frequency response doesn't mean jack s**t. If you're really that keen on knowing the frequency reponse then you're an amateur. Just go and listen to them.

    There speaks me that used to work for Neve.

  9. TkH11

    DT 100's

    I've never tried the Beyer DT100's, I have a pair of Beyer DT250s which are pretty good, but I really need better.

    I guess, I've got so used to listening to by Dynaudio active near field monitors, that I've become fussy. Too damn fussy.

    1. Robert Hill

      Own fault...

      If you've become overly fussy, that's your own danged fault.

      Let me help.

      Just bring those Dynaudios to W6 in West London, I'll text you an exact address when you are close...

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Bit over the top for listening to MP3 shit.

    Quite nice for Lossless stuff though.

    Mine's the one with the portable CD player in the pocket.

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