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If there is one thing I really appreciate its quality headphones. I’ve been living with significant hearing loss for many years now and it takes really amazing headphones to make music sound good. I’ve been fortunate to be able to try out many different styles in recent years and to be able to find some models that do provide some musical entertainment for me, but I’m still seeking out “the” one that will be the last pair I ever want to wear. While I’m sure I’ve found them now. The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition headphones might be as close as one could find to perfect.

DETAILS

The PX7 Carbon Edition headphones is the product of the success of the original PX7 headphones and Bowers & Wilkins’s 10th anniversary. Bowers & Wilkins decided to release these special edition headphones as a celebration of those two achievements. The Carbon Edition headphones use carbon-fiber composite in its construction and shares the same specs as the original PX7. Bowers & Wilkins designers were inspired by the carbon-fiber engineering found in high-performance sports cars when they added it to the PX7. “Its stiff yet lightweight construction maximizes sound quality by reducing unwanted resonance without the burden of excess weight.” 

The headphones are designed to provide True Sound, which offers maximum resolution while maintaining complete neutrality and tonal balance. They also support the latest codecs including Bluetooth aptX Adaptive technology. “The PX7 Carbon Edition’s immersive soundstage is the result of a specification that includes bespoke 43.6mm drivers, specially designed, developed and tuned by the world-renowned Bowers & Wilkins engineering team responsible for the legendary 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers as used in such world-famous professional environments as Abbey Road Studios and Skywalker Sound.”

The headphones feature a 30-hour battery life on a single charge. They also have the ability to collect up to 5 hours worth of battery life after charging for only 15 minutes. With a long battery life, the headphones needed to be comfortable. So, Bowers & Wilkins designed them with memory foam ear pads for long-lasting comfort. Additionally, the headphones will automatically stop playing sound when you lift an ear cup and begin playing again when you replace the ear cup against your head. 

One of the biggest features of these headphones is their noise-cancelling abilities. The memory foam ear pads are included for comfort and to provide passive noise isolation, which works in tandem with the active noise cancellation feature. “PX7 Carbon Edition’s adaptive technology is capable of intelligently sensing the background environment and automatically selecting the appropriate type and level of noise cancellation. Users can also use the companion App to select an Ambient-Pass-Through feature that allows certain external sounds to be heard without removing the headset.”

In addition to all the aforementioned features, the PX7 Carbon Edition headphones also have voice assistant support for Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant. 

USER EXPERIENCE

The PX7 Carbon Edition headphones came in a very clean premium-looking package. Most of the box features a white background which makes the black text pop off the container. The front of the box has an image of the headphones included. Inside the box, you’ll find the headphones tucked away inside a hard shell storage case along with a 3.5mm stereo cable and a USB-C charging cable. There is a pamphlet that contains some safety information and regulations, but aside from the illustrated quick start insert, that is no user manual provided.

My first impression of the headphones was, “Wow.” Usually, when I pull headphones out of a box I feel like there is something missing from their ‘kit.’ Bowers & Wilkins did a great job of providing the required cables and even included the hard shell storage case that I’m always looking for with headphones. The kit looks classy. The headphones themselves have a wonderful modern design to them and the carbon fiber finish with diamond-cut detailing on each ear cup is a great touch. It really makes the headphones stand out because they don’t look like every other pair in the market.

Before I even put the headphones on my head, I connected them to the app. Bowers & Wilkins provides a companion app for their headphones that allows users to customize features of the headphones, easily manage multiple headphone models from a single screen, access product info and support, keep headphones firmware up-to-date, and adjust settings for an optimal listening experience. Users can also use the companion App to select an Ambient-Pass-Through feature that allows certain external sounds to be heard without removing the headset.

Along those lines, you can also adjust the sensitivity of the wear sensor, which manages power and playback based on whether the headphones are on your head. I found this to be extremely helpful because at first, the only complaint I had with these headphones was that music didn’t automatically pause when you removed the headphones. Then I discovered in the app that the sensor was turned off. After I turned it back on and adjusted the sensitivity to ‘more,’ I haven’t had any problems with that feature sinse. Another really fun feature of the app is the pre-installed Soundscapes. These are natural relaxation sounds like ocean waves or a crackling fire that are designed to help you while you are meditating or just want some background noise. I thought that this was a nice touch from Bowers & Wilkins to their users.

Finally, while it seems like a given feature, the app shows the battery level of the headphones. Even though most mobile phones will show the battery level of their connected headphones, this is a really nice reminder especially if you use them frequently. You can use this to manage when you charge the device rather than being caught off guard. The navigation of the app is intuitive and the layout is very clean. Normally, I don’t see the need for a companion app for headphones, but Bowers & Wilkins added enough content to theirs that it actually makes a good companion for the user.

Once I had the headphones connected and completely set-up through the app, I placed them on my head. At first, they felt a little stiff and were slightly tight around my head. I’ve used them quite a bit since that time though and it seems as though they just needed to be broken in because that tightness has since loosened up. The ear cups are luxurious. The memory foam ear cups are like pillows for your ears. They are very soft and I’ve not had any issues with my ears over-heating from using the headphones for long periods of time.

The on-ear controls are pretty easy to master. If you are familiar with the different controls that headphone manufacturers are using these days you will catch on easily to how they work. I really like how the main controls are tactile but have subtle visibility on the ear cup. The buttons include a +/- and a multifunction center button. If you press the center button once, tracks will play and pause. If you press it twice, the track will advance and three times, it will reverse the track. If you receive a phone call while wearing the headphones the multipurpose button will act as an answer/end button. The +/- buttons will only increase or decrease the volume.

So, how do they sound? Well, in a word – incredible. There are very few headphones that make me feel as though I’m actually experiencing a music track rather than just hearing it and the PX7 Carbon Edition headphones do that for me. Highs and lows are all extremely well-balanced and there is a lovely fullness to the sound that is produced by the headphones. I felt as though the mix was heard as intended and not watered down like some headphones make music sound. I listened to several styles of music including Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, and even a variety of Holiday tunes while using the headphones. In some cases, it was like hearing the song for the first time.

While I was very impressed with the sound quality of the PX7 Carbon Edition headphones, for me, the real listening experience came when my grandmother put on the headphones. She was walking through my office and saw the headphones laying on my desk. “Oh, those look nice,” she said. I motioned her to come closer and I placed them on her head. “These are comfortable.” I then pushed play on my iPhone and watched tears form in her eyes as the sound of Tony Bennett streamed through the headphones. She has loved Tony Bennett for years because he reminds her of my grandfather who passed away nearly 15 years ago. After a few minutes of being consumed by the music and the memories, she pulled the headphones off and said, “That’s about the best I’ve ever heard it. Those sound so good.” 

CONCLUSION

When it comes to music-inducing memories, you can’t beat premium headphones like the PX7 Carbon Edition from Bowers & Wilkins. They are comfortable to wear and produce amazing sound. The companion app has great features and is functional. The headphones are proof of what premium headphones can provide for a person. Not only do they give you an escape from the world around you, but they can also bring back memories of loved ones if the sound quality is as good as the PX7 headphones. 

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