It's a question asked time and again: are Bowers & Wilkins headphones worth it? It's no surprise, after all, given the asking price that these cans can reach. I'm currently using the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2, the hi-fi brand's best active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones for 2022, which will set you back £379/$399/AUD$599 for the pleasure of purchase.
Pleasure, however, is something these over-ears are rather accomplished at delivering: the PX7 S2 are really comfortable to wear, very well built, and the sound quality is nothing short of superb for all kinds of genres of music. So colour me impressed, on that basis the PX7 S2 is worth the lofty asking price, easily comparable to the other touted best-in-class options, the Sony WH-1000XM5.
However, they're not infallible. I'm actually sat on a plane flying over the English Channel as I write this, the PX7 S2 adorning my overly tired bonce, whilst I get them to pummel my ears with much-needed tunes after a flight delay of an hour. If, like me, you happen to travel a lot then you might've found your best favourite travelling headphones option already – I know I have, and (spoiler alert) it's not these!
If you want class-leading ANC then, well, that's when Bowers & Wilkins headphones are not worth it so much. The PX7 S2, as one example, therefore aren't great travel headphones. It's true though: these headphones come in a large carry case that's impractical, the design isn't foldable, and most crucially of all the ANC isn't anywhere nearly as strong as the most capable on the market.
Are Bowers & Wilkins headphones worth it? For sound quality, yes!
Not that you landed on this article looking specifically for the best travel headphones, of course, but for many it's an important factor. On this plane, a British Airways A320 Neo, the hiss of the flight noise isn't cut out nearly as much as it is with my go-to Bose Noise Cancelling 700 Headphones, for example. And I should know, as someone who often sleeps in headphones on long-haul flights, that my Bose QuietComfort 45 would be better still.
But think about the knock-on implication that could have on you: I'm not saying everyone is hopping on planes all of the time, that's just not feasible, but people do travel in all manner of ways. So it you jump on a train or underground service for a common commute, for example, it's easily as noisy. You still want to cut out the droll of surrounding passengers and other such noises, which I'd lean towards the Sony WH-1000XM5 to take command of.
All that said, however, are Bowers & Wilkins headphones worth it for their sound and build quality? I won't even hesitate here: absolutely, yes. The PX7 S2, in particular, really do sound stellar. That's what T3's esteemed reviewer said of these over-ears: that when it comes to out-and-out audio quality that they're the best at this price point, keeping even Sony at arm's length.
Nonetheless, you don't have to spend such lofty sums on your headphones purchase. While I personally think the investment of a good pair of headphones is worth it (a few hundred over five years, say, is a bargain if you use them enough), there are loads of best cheap headphones options to consider too. And with many of those T3 Awards winners in 2022, if you're not obsessed with ANC and can forego some of the build quality, then there are alternative options out there to Bowers & Wilkins' range.