Bowers & Wilkins PI7s are quite possibly the best-sounding true wireless earbuds on the market. The charging case can even be plugged into any 3.5mm headphone jack to wirelessly stream any source to these headphones. Overall, the PI7s have a lot going for them, but there are a few notable caveats worth considering before shelling out nearly $400.
Bowers & Wilkins PI7 true wireless earbuds deliver exactly what you’d expect from this company: truly premium audio quality and design. The PI7’s feature active noise canceling, 6 microphones for crystal clear call quality, dual-drivers for big sound, IP54 dust/water resistance, and one of the coolest features we’ve ever seen on a charging case — “audio retransmission”.
The buds are shaped to match the contour of your ear. They’re not big nor are they tiny. For buds that lack an ear hook or wing, they fit and stay in place exceptionally. We dig the high-quality look and feel. Each bud has a single touch button built into the circular logo on the outside of the bud. The touch buttons are easy to press (and accidentally press) and control tracks, ANC, and voice activation. They can’t control volume, unfortunately.
The charging case has a premium look and feel to it too. Like the buds, it’s neither large nor miniature. It’s palm-able and pocketable. The case has one of the coolest features we’ve seen on any true wireless product. It comes with a USB-C to 3.5mm audio cable that can be plugged into any audio source with a headphone jack. This instantly allows you to listen to music from just about any device; with no pairing required! Plug it into your laptop or computer and avoid the hassle of Bluetooth pairing. Or, even better, now you can use true-wireless buds on the airplane to watch movies from the seat-back display! The beautiful thing is that the buds themselves are still completely wireless. It works really smoothly too; there’s no button presses or special pairing process required. The headphones recognize the cable is plugged in and instantly switch audio sources. B&W even goes one step further with “media streaming” and allows you to use this feature to stream audio to another pair of Bowers & Wilkins Bluetooth headphones.
The case charges with USB-C or even wirelessly with any standard wireless charger. The battery life of the buds is only 4 hours, which is somewhat low by today’s standards. It’s long enough to get you through any commute or exercise, but won’t get you through a day of work. Thankfully a 15-minute fast charge will get you two hours of listening. The case adds 4 more full charges for a total of 20 hours.
There’s a basic Bowers & Wilkins app that’s nice but is missing key features. As of writing, it allows you to control active noise cancellation, ambient pass-through, and whether music pauses/plays when you put the buds in your ear. Additionally, there’s a battery meter and a handful of “soundscape” noises. It’s missing an equalizer and sound profiles. It’s also missing the ability to personalize what the touch button taps do, so there’s no way to configure volume controls as taps or long presses.
Bowers & Wilkins does not mess around when it comes to audio quality. These are the best sounding in-ear true wireless buds we’ve tested to date. It doesn’t take an audiophile to immediately recognize how rich and clear the audio is. They really pack a punch. There’s noticeable power behind the music; you can feel the bass and hear subtleties you may not usually notice. The buds feature dual hybrid drivers with individual amplifiers. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tune these, so it’s good that they’re very well balanced out-of-the-box. In any case, there’s not a genre that doesn’t sound great with PI7.
PI7 has pretty good passive noise isolation, but they also come with active noise cancellation (ANC). The ANC is not the strongest we’ve heard, but it’s clean and effective at reducing background noise a noticeable amount. We usually prefer ANC on to help us hear music details even moreso. If ANC is a big factor for you, you’d probably be happier with a pair of premium Sony’s. There’s also ambient pass-through so you can still hear some background noises like voice. This hear-through feature is also pretty clean, but if we want to be a little more aware and present then we’d prefer to just shut ANC.
There are 3 separate microphones in each earbud to help focus on voice when taking phone calls. The microphone is more-or-less great. Voice is clear, clean, and background noise is limited. We found our voice wasn’t replayed as loud as it could be but this was not an issue for any of our callers. Overall, its microphone sits above average compared to other true wireless headsets.
Bowers & Wilkins PI7 review verdict
Our ears have fallen in love with Bowers & Wilkins PI7 for their impeccable sound quality and comfortably secure fit. We’re also really impressed with how you can effortlessly connect these to any audio source with the included cable and “audio retransmission” case.
That said, there are a few notable drawbacks to consider. The battery won’t get you through a workday of listening without some charging in-between. The app won’t let you tune the audio equalizer, and it won’t let you customize the touch button controls. The touch buttons are no stranger to accidental presses when you’re adjusting the buds. Finally, we experienced some infrequent connectivity issues where they wouldn’t immediately pair to our iPhone when taking them out of the case.
Is Bowers and Wilkins PI7 worth the money?
Bowers & Wilkins retails for $399 and is currently available for $380 at Amazon. While they do sound that much better than the competition, they’re also more expensive than their competition and lacking some important features. If you care most about audio quality and the drawbacks mentioned don’t concern you, then you and your ears will not be disappointed.