With the disappearance of the jack sockets on some of our smartphones, Bluetooth compatible noise reduction headsets have multiplied in recent months. After Bose, Sony or Beats, it’s Bowers & Wilkins’ turn to give in to this trend with the release of its model, simply called PX.
No surprise in terms of design, the British brand takes back the one that made the success of its previous models. The oval shape that covers each earpiece has become its trademark. We are also very satisfied with the impeccable finish and the use of leather on the hoop and cushions (detachable thanks to a clever magnetic system).
Much too discreet treble
Despite the use of this noble material, they offer despite a comfort that is deemed a little too “stiff”. Their padding is indeed very thin. It is a good idea to use a shape memory material, but the very narrow pads do not distribute pressure well enough around the ear. You quickly feel unpleasant touch points after a few tens of minutes of use.
And Bowers & Wilkins cannot boast of absolutely flawless sound quality to compensate for this. Our measurements show that he excels in mediums, delivering a rather convincing first impression. The mediums especially are well put forward and flatter the voices. The damage is limited in the bass which has the advantage of not munching on the other frequencies, even if they lack impact in certain styles of music. Treble is, however, the big losers of the PX: they seem far away. The little that we hear suffers, moreover, from a distortion effect from a certain volume. Without being an ideal solution, the use of an equalizer may partially remedy the problem.
Effective active noise reduction
If our verdict is mixed with regard to the sound quality of the PX, its noise reduction turns out to be very effective. Going back to the pads, we can only regret that they are not a little thicker to increase the passive attenuation of the device. The PX could then have squarely overshadowed the Bose QC 35 II, as, in its time, the Sony MDR-1000X had managed to overshadow the first QC 35. And this, especially since the model of Bowers & Wilkins has an application (Android and iOS) to refine this noise reduction to suit its needs.
Three modes are thus proposed. “Office” ensures minimum noise reduction by continuing to capture the frequencies corresponding to voices so as to hear colleagues; “City” increases noise reduction, while keeping an eye on the environment and vehicle traffic. Finally, “Plane” offers maximum noise reduction by not letting any sound other than music pass. On the headset, a physical button activates or deactivates noise reduction, but it does not allow you to switch successively from one mode to another. Too bad, this management of the different modes could have been made possible, without having to take your smartphone out of your pocket each time.
In use, we are satisfied with the possibility of modulating the intensity of the noise reduction, but the system which lets the voices pass is not very convincing. You often find yourself picking up the earpiece with one of your ears to really hear the outside.
Fluid use and excellent autonomy
It is in these cases, that we thank the English manufacturer for having equipped its PX with a very practical functionality: Two sensors arranged in each of the headphones detect whether one wears the helmet or not. As soon as you lift a headset, or as soon as you simply remove your headphones, playback pauses, then the headphones turn off after two minutes. As soon as we put the headphones back on, it turns on again and resumes reading. The fluidity and reliability of the system is flawless and means that you never have to manage the switching on or off of the device, making its use very practical in everyday life.
Finally, Bowers & Wilkins keeps its promise on the 22 hours of autonomy announced. Our reviews determined that the 850 mAh battery increased the use of the PX to 24 hours with noise reduction enabled. Without, we go up until 30:19. On the other hand, once the battery is flat, it will be impossible to use the headphones, even if you connect it to the sound source with the supplied jack cable. Note that if the latter is connected, the playback control buttons on the headphones are no longer active. And without additional remote control on the cable, you will have to take your smartphone out of your pocket to change tracks or adjust the volume.