Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e headphones review

As the starting point to a series, the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e is no ordinary entry-level noise-cancelling headphone. Typically, ‘junior’ headphone models come at a much lower price that reflects a pared-down specification and lower-grade materials than models further up the range. But the Px7 S2e headphone is priced at £379, which is as much as some leading mass market flagship models. So what exactly are you getting for the money?

In many ways the Px7 S2e has a look and feel that’s much closer to the company’s flagship Px8 headphone. There’s a similar level of attention to detail and classy styling that makes it clear that Bowers & Wilkins knows its way around product design, and sets it apart from many of the most popular price rivals. Even on this entry headphone model you get exceptional engineering but without the lavish materials and detailing laboured on its high-end headphone design, built to satisfy the expectations of the most discerning headphone wearers.

Px7 S2e side of frame

Px7 S2e comes in four finish options with Forest Green (above), Cloud Grey, Anthracite Black and Ocean Blue to choose from

This is the second version of the Bowers & Wilkins Px7 series in 18 months, which even by the fast-paced standards of the burgeoning wireless headphone market is some going. Few other brands have updated their entry series models as frequently, and the new Px7 S2e is described as an ‘evolved’ version. It retains the same weight and 30-hour battery life as its predecessor, but the refinements introduce a re-tuned acoustic architecture and 24-bit digital signal processing (DSP) originally developed for high-quality audio signal handling on the Px8.

As well as the internal enhancements, the S2e adds forest green (pictured) to the choice of colours. The new colour option joins the traditional black, blue, and grey colour options of the Px7 S2 that continues to be listed on Bowers & Wilkins’ website. You get a zipped carry case, and wired connectivity runs to USB-C for charging and digital audio, while a 3.5mm jack to USB-C cable connects analogue sources to the headphone’s built-in 24-bit DAC.

Px7 S2e with accessories

The Px7 S2e’s protective carry case with supplied USB-C / 3.5mm cables is a cut above its rivals packaging

Affordable elegance

The Px7 S2e may lack the brushed alloy frame and embossed branding of B&W’s flagship, but build quality is remarkably high and I love their sophisticated and elegant feel. The combination of fabric and metal frame makes the Px7 S2e easily the most luxurious pair of headphones I’ve seen from similarly priced mass market models, which often look dull and plasticky by comparison.

There are some compromises though. They don’t have the range of extra features that come with more mainstream designs at the price, but how significantly these affect your buying decision will depend on your needs.

Firstly, while most noise-cancelling headphones now come with touch controls to navigate playback and features, Bowers & Wilkins has opted for physical controls. That might seem odd in today’s touch controlled world, but it’s actually a good thing. I found the physical buttons reassuringly tactile with a degree of satisfaction when activating playback controls, which is something that’s often lacking from the tap/touch functionality on certain models.

Most of the playback controls for the Px7 S2e are on the edge of the right earcup, providing power/pairing, play/pause, and volume up/down. While on the left earcup there’s a single button for enabling noise cancelling mode, or it can be assigned to activate Voice Assistant control via the Bowers & Wilkins Music app. Speaking of which, you’ll find noise-cancelling ‘on’, ‘pass-through’, and ‘off’ modes, along with the ability to adjust bass and treble levels to your tastes. Qobuz and Tidal Connect streaming services are also integrated into the Music app, neatly enabling users to access their favourite music service subscriptions from one place on their playback device.

P7 S2e connections

Right earcup hosts lion’s share of the the Px7 S2e’s physical controls

Bowers & Wilkins’ wear detection tech is called Intelligent Playback Control and comes with ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ sensitivity sensor settings. The tech was actually disabled when I first removed the headphones from my head mid-play, and the cans continued to play as they lay on my desk. Selecting low sensitivity was effective at pausing playback when swapping headphones during the audition process, but although playback paused almost instantaneously, there was often a delay of several seconds before the sensors detected the headphone was back on my head and playback resumed.

Another factor to consider is clamping force, which felt greater when wearing the Px7 S2e compared to several price rivals I tried.

P7 S2e left earcup

Left earcup hosts a single button which defaults to toggling between three noise cancelling modes


There’s no mention of the noise-cancelling tech being refined over what was available on the PX7 S2, and on my train commutes the ‘e’ version proved to be an excellent travel companion. The hybrid ANC with four active mics suppressed the background noise of busy carriages, reducing distractions and helping me to feel immersed in my music. Make no mistake though that while noise cancelling is good, it’s not the pool of silence some of the best ANC headphones are able to achieve at this sort of price.

That said, what will be more important to buyers of the Px7 S2e, is the knowledge that ANC is an effective and useful tool that doesn’t interfere with the music sound in any way whatsoever.

In terms of sound quality, the 40mm dynamic drivers with upgraded DSP results in an open soundstage that’s captivating with all kinds of music genres. In fact, I’m pleasantly surprised at how close the Px7 S2e sound is to my Bowers & Wilkins Px8 headphones.

I’ve been using the Px8 since it launched in 2022, and it’s proved useful as a performance benchmark for assessing rivals. Being from the same audio stable, both models share similar sonic characteristics with a performance that’s natural and engaging across the entire frequency range. I’d say that the Px8 manages to sound a fraction more agile than the Px7 S2e, but rest assured that the Px7 S2e is remarkably nimble and effortlessly engaging for £220 less.

Px7 S2e headband

Px7 S2e sports a woven headband and earcup outers in place of the Px8’s leather

No sacrifice

Connected wirelessly via Bluetooth 5.2 to my Sony Xperia 1 IV with aptX Adaptive support, I love the richness this headphone brings to my favourite Tidal playlist. Orchestral tracks have all the soundstage presence to make me believe that I’m sat in a live concert hall. The depth of the strings from movie soundtracks including Time by Hans Zimmer from Inception (one of my all-time favourite movies) and The Revenant Main Theme by Ryuichi Sakamato sound so rich and lush as they fill my headspace that I am unable to concentrate on anything other than the seductive music and savour the layers of the soundscape.

If you enjoy your music with plenty of bass depth then the Px7 S2e headphone is a must add to your audition list. Low frequencies are beguilingly rich, yet tight at the same time. There’s no overhang to the bass notes as every beat stops and starts with perfect timing.

Streaming my go-to bass tracks, I get all the energy I expect to hear from Lorde’s Royals, Billie Eilish’s Bad Guy, and Big Data/Joywave’s Dangerous. What’s intriguing though is that it delivers these thumping beats without a hint of strain or sacrificing any of the low or mid-bass nuance. The Px7 S2e has a level of energy and engagement that few headphones at the price can match.

There were times when I felt that the bass richness may be at the expense of vocal presence and treble detail. But playing Dream of Sheep by Kate Bush with the bass and treble set flat shows just how balanced the sound is, delivering a memorising portrayal and intimate insight into song lyrics with all kinds of vocalists and recordings.

P7 S2e cups

Angled internal earcups ensure the music is projected where its should be

In summary

I had bargained on more features for this ‘evolved’ version of the popular Bowers & Wilkins headphone, perhaps with stronger noise-cancelling performance and greater facilities to compete with the explosive number of more feature-laden price rivals. But in the Px7 S2e, Bowers & Wilkins is playing to its strengths. Its energies are focussed on sonic refinement rather than bolstering features and flexibilities and if it’s the sound of the music that matters to you the most, this is the sub-£400 headphone to beat.


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