The Bowers & Wilkins PI7 serves as the company’s flagship model and the in-ear equivalent to one of the market’s best noise-cancelling headphones, the PX7. High-quality sound combined with adaptive active noise cancellation (ANC) and a striking design make this pair of buds one of the finest that money can buy. The PI7 also has a special audio trick that you won’t find on any other wireless earbuds, which you’ll learn more about further in our analysis.
This Bowers & Wilkins PI5 vs. Bowers & Wilkins PI7 face-off breaks down the veteran audio brand’s two newest wireless earbuds, helping you decide which pair to buy based on overall performance and value.
Launched simultaneously, the Bowers & Wilkins PI5 boasts a noticeably different spec sheet. However, it retains similar features and the same appearance as its costly sibling, and at a lower price point. Battery life is longer, while noise cancellation and sound are top notch. There are many reasons why we consider it one of the best noise-cancelling earbuds.
These are two premium noise-cancellers that offer different, satisfying listening experiences. Which is the better splurge? Keep reading our full Bowers & Wilkins PI5 vs. PI7 breakdown to find out.
Bowers & Wilkins PI5 vs. Bowers & Wilkins PI7: Specs compared
Bowers & Wilkins PI5 Bowers & Wilkins PI7
Price $249 $399
Wireless Charging Case Yes, included Yes, included
Chip Qualcomm QCC5126 Qualcomm QCC5126
Battery Life (Rated) 4.5 hours (ANC on), 24.5 hours (with charging case) 4 hours (ANC on), 20 hours (with charging case)
Water Resistance IP54 IP54
Case Size 2.3 x 1.1 x 2.2 inches 2.3 x 1.1 x 2.2 inches
Case Weight 1.6 ounces 2.1 ounces
Special features Active noise cancellation, two-level ambient listening mode, aptX Adaptive support, Soundscapes Adaptive active noise cancellation, adjustable ambient listening mode, aptX Adaptive support, Soundscapes, wireless adapter functionality
Bowers & Wilkins PI5 vs. Bowers & Wilkins PI7: Price
Both sets of buds are expensive, but the more reasonably attainable of the two is the PI5 at $249: the same as the AirPods Pro. Unless you’re looking for buds that support all of the latest codecs and provide a unique secondary way of hearing music wirelessly, you’ll find this version to be just as gratifying as its pricier counterpart. Not to mention you’ll save $150 in the process.
At $399, the PI7 is one of the most expensive true wireless options out there. Of course, the high MSRP grants users more perks such as full aptX Bluetooth support and retransmission via charging case. Add slightly better sound and noise cancellation into the equation and it’s clear why these buds don’t come cheap.
Bowers & Wilkins PI5 vs. Bowers & Wilkins PI7: Design
Both the PI7 and PI5 are stunners, with broadly the same striking appearance and superior build quality. The protruding cylinder is a distinctive detail that also acts as a touch panel. An IP54 rating protects these two products from dirt and moisture damage (e.g., light splashes, rain, sweat). B&W’s color options are stylish, but we love the PI7’s two-tone look a little more. The charging cases look identical, sans the button on the front of the PI7 case, which the company says will take on a future function via firmware update. They each match the aesthetic sleekness of the earbuds and come in the same size, granted the PI7’s case is slightly heavier, but not too heavy to carry on the go. The soft matte finish is a nice touch, plus the buds are displayed handsomely when docked in their respective charging slots. A Bluetooth button is located on the inside as well for manually pairing.
As for functionality, the PI7 case can also double as a wireless adapter to stream music in aptX when connected to an analog audio output. The PI5 case doesn’t. Comfort and fit are similar too. Neither model will weigh down your ears, though the duration in which you choose to wear the PI7 or PI5 might be short based on your pain threshold. The elongated sound port does apply unwanted pressure to the front of the ear. At least the port nestles well on the inner ear for proper stabilization, while the silicone tips create a tight seal to keep the buds steady.
Bowers & Wilkins PI5 vs. Bowers & Wilkins PI7: Controls B&W programmed on-ear detection, voice assistance, and a wide array of touch gestures into their newest creations, but the PI7 has the more reliable controls. Operating playback and cycling through listening modes is simple, thanks to accurate input demonstrated by the PI7’s touch sensors. The six mics also make using Google Assistant and Siri a pleasure, picking up every syllable and voice command, while both AI bots respond to inquiries in quick fashion.
The PI5 performs similarly in most areas, specifically voice assistance, which is very impressive considering it’s working with two less mics. Unfortunately, the touch sensors misinterpret multi-tap gestures very often. On-ear detection works half the time as well. Winner: Bowers & Wilkins PI7
Bowers & Wilkins PI5 vs. Bowers & Wilkins PI7: Sound quality
The PI7 has set a new bar for sound on wireless earbuds. B&W stacked these buds with some serious specs, including 24-bit sound, various aptX codecs (Standard, LL, HD & Adaptive), and Dual Hybrid Drive units with individual amplifiers for each driver. It doesn’t matter if you are listening to music from your personal library or hi-quality streaming services like Tidal, the results are sonically serene. Bass is strong, mids and highs are detailed, and it’s pretty cool to be able to single out imperfections on complex recordings that you wouldn’t hear on other wireless earbuds. But it’s the charging case that makes the PI7 a one-of-a-kind product, allowing you to stream music in aptX when connected to a compatible analog audio output. That’s right. You can connect the case to anything from an iPod Classic to an airplane jack and still enjoy the same wireless sound. No loss in fidelity.
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