Review of the Bowers & Wilkins PI5: beautiful design, great sound

(29 customer reviews)
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Review of the Bowers & Wilkins PI5: beautiful design, great sound
Review of the Bowers & Wilkins PI5: beautiful design, great sound

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The Review of the Bowers & Wilkins PI5: beautiful design, great sound

For anyone looking for some of the best true wireless earbuds, this Bowers & Wilkins PI5 review is worth a read. While they may not be perfect, they have a lot going for them and aren’t crazy expensive either.

The Bowers & Wilkins PI5 earbuds are the more affordable sibling of the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 – a very pricey pair of earbuds with excellent sound quality and solid noise cancellation. They were so good they chose up a whopping 5 stars in the official T3 review. If you like the look of these but can’t bear the thought of spending $400/£350 on a pair of headphones, the Bowers & Wilkins PI5 is a great alternative.

In this Bowers & Wilkins PI5 review, I’ll run through everything you need to know before splashing the cash on these true wireless earbuds — from their price point, features, design and fit for their sound performance and ultimately, whether they are worth buying or not.

BOWERS & WILKINS PI5 REVIEW: PRICE AND AVAILABILITY You can buy the Bowers & Wilkins PI5 direct from the brand for £199, but they are available from a number of other retailers on the web. Check out the widgets on this page to see more recent prices.

In addition to using Qualcomm aptX to deliver high-quality audio wirelessly, the Bowers & Wilkins earbuds also have feature Active noise cancellation, two microphones on each earbud for clear conversations, support for voice assistants and an intuitive wearing sensor. The smart charging case also enables fast wireless charging. They come in the box with a USB-C to USB-C cable and three sizes of silicone earbuds tips.

So how does the Bowers & Wilkins PI5 differ from the Bowers & Wilkins PI7? Well, for one, they have active noise cancellation instead of adaptive noise cancellation. The PI7 uses six internal mics to filter out noise from your particular environment, while the PI5 only has four, so it won’t be great for immersing you in music.

The PI5 charging case is also a bit different in that it doesn’t have the capacity to be used as a wireless adapter. The PI7 charging case allows you to stream music in aptX when connected to a compatible analog audio output.

When it comes to sound, you’re unlikely to get the same level of sound quality from this cheaper pair, as the PI7 has a dual driver setup in each knob, while the PI5 has just a single 9.2mm driver in each knob. .

While Bowers & Wilkins PI5 true wireless earbuds are much lighter featuresHowever, there’s one area where they’re actually a little bit better than their more expensive counterparts: battery life. It’s not a huge difference, but you get an extra half hour of music with ANC turned on.

Available in white or charcoal, the Bowers & Wilkins PI5 looks pretty neat when you take them out of the case. They have an oval shape with silver round buttons on the outside of the button. Honestly, they don’t look great when you have them in just because they stick out a long way from your ear. It’s not a big deal, but it’s hardly discreet. When it comes to build quality, they feel sturdy and premium, you don’t get the impression that they can break easily.

The matching charging case has Bowers & Wilkins on the lid and an LED light strip on the front that indicates battery level. Measuring 5.7 x 6 x 2.8cm, the case is larger than some of the other tops, but weighs just 55g. The case is made of matte white plastic, so feels a bit more fragile than I expected, it’s definitely to choose up some dirty spots here and there.

In the box, the Bowers & Wilkins PI5 comes with three sizes of silicone ears tips in small, medium and large. I used the smallest size and found they were comfortable to wear for a long time, they stayed put which I did which is always a bonus. You can easily train or go for a run in it. The only problem was that because they stick out quite far from your ears it was easy to accidentally run your hand over them and pause the track without wanting to, this has happened to me a few times.

You can control the music through the touch controls on the earbuds, it’s very easy to remember every gesture: touch once to pause or play the music, twice to skip forward and three times to skip back. You can also answer your calls by double tapping, holding the left button for a second to turn on noise cancellation, or holding the right earpiece to call your phone’s smart assistant.

Using the controls on the earbuds themselves, you can only turn the noise cancellation on or off. To switch to ambient pass-through mode or choose how much sound to let in, you’ll need to go through the Bowers & Wilkins smartphone app.

Each button gives you about 4.5 hours of music, with the charging case for another 20 hours, so you get about 24.5 hours of playback time in total. That seemed right when I tried them out. It’s not the best battery life you can get from a pair of true wireless earbuds, some will give you as much as 10 hours on a single charge – check out the Master & Dynamic MW08 if you need a lot of playtime. But despite that, it’s comparable to the AirPods Pro and it’s more than you get from the much more expensive Bowers & Wilkins PI7 buds.

What’s good is that if the battery life is short, you can quickly charge for 15 minutes up up to two hours of music, and the case also supports easy wireless charging if you have a compatible Qi-certified charger.

When it comes to sound quality, the Bowers & Wilkins PI5 won’t match up to the incredible sound offered by the PI7 earbuds, but considering these are $150 / £150 cheaper they still sound pretty damn good.

The bass is powerful without being too overbearing, you can still hear the lyrics clearly and instruments come through with impressive accuracy too. Even in songs like Bassline Junkie by Dizzee Rascal, the low end doesn’t take over, although there was slight distortion at the very highest levels. When you listen to songs like New York I Love You by LCD Soundsystem you can hear how balanced the sound is, you can easily distinguish each instrument while the vocals are still in the spotlight. One issue I did have was the lack of manual equalizer settings, which is always nice feature to have with headphones, especially when they cost so much money.

To avoid losing one of the earbuds, the sound will automatically pause if one is dropped or removed, and will play again when you reinsert the headphones. It is a useful tool feature that will certainly give you peace of mind. One little thing I noticed was that when you put one of the buttons back in the case they will still stop the music so you have to physically press play on your phone if you want to keep listening with just one earbud in.

The Bowers & Wilkins PI5 feature Active noise cancellation and they manage to cut out a fair amount of noise like road traffic or office chatter. That said, I’ve heard more effective ANCs, these don’t eliminate my own annoying keyboard tapping, nor would I rely on them to get rid of airplane noises.

Wrap up Review of the Bowers & Wilkins PI5: beautiful design, great sound

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29 reviews for Review of the Bowers & Wilkins PI5: beautiful design, great sound

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