The Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) P7 headphones get near-unanimous top marks for sound, comfort and build quality. The only point on which reviewers disagree is whether these positives justify its near-$400 price tag given that other headphones -- such as the Best Reviewed Sennheiser Momentum -- offer equally good performance for less.
Fairly balanced, with a kick. Reviewers describe the sound of the Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones as fairly neutral, but with a noticeable boost to the bass. Editors at TheWirecutter.com say their overall sound quality is comparable to that of the Sennheiser Momentum, but different in character: "the P7s sound a little more open and spacious, while the Momentums have a little more bass." Michael Calore of Wired says the P7 has "wonderful clarity" and "a big bottom without sacrificing anything up top." User reviews at Amazon.com warn that, like most expensive headphones, these require some time to "burn in" before reaching their full sound potential, but afterward the sound is, in one user's words, "revelatory."
Heavy, but still comfortable. At 10.2 ounces, the Bowers & Wilkins P7 is significantly heavier than its chief competitors. However, most reviewers find these headphones so comfortable, they hardly notice the extra weight. Mike Kobrin of Laptop magazine says, "The P7's ear cups are so roomy and comfortable that we found ourselves wearing them even after our playlist finished." David Carnoy of CNET notes that the headphones "offer a tight seal around your ears but don't put too much pressure on your head." Only Tim Gideon of PCMag.com finds the headphones' weight can translate to pressure on the top of the head after a particularly long listening session.
Not for penny pinchers. At $400, the Bowers & Wilkins P7 is anything but cheap. However, many reviewers think their impressive build quality and design (which many reviews compare to a luxury car's) justify the price tag. The headphones come with a decent two-year warranty, and accessories such as cables and ear pads are replaceable, improving their long-term value. Kobrin's verdict is that even at this price, "very few headphones compete with the P7 in looks or sound." However, Calore and Geoff Morrison of TheWirecutter.com conclude there are other headphones available that sound comparably good for less money.
Editors at TheWirecutter.com select six sets of $300-and-up headphones nominated by experts and have them tested by a panel of listeners. They name the B&W P7 as a runner up, saying its "punchier" sound is less balanced than their favorite, the PSB Speakers M4U 1.
Review: The Best $300 Over-Ear Headphones, Geoff Morrison, Feb. 25, 2013
ConsumerReports.org evaluates the B&W P7. It's part of a review of headphones spanning the price spectrum from $10 to $400. Each is carefully tested for sound quality, sensitivity and, where appropriate, noise reduction.
Review: Headphones, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not Dated
The B&W P7 is an Editors' Choice at PCMag.com, with an overall rating of 4 stars out of 5. Gideon says these headphones offer "superb sound at normal listening levels," though they can distort slightly at high volume. He also describes the headphone's leather-and-aluminum design as "luxurious."
Review: Bowers & Wilkins P7 Mobile Hi-Fi Headphones, Tim Gideon, Sept. 26, 2013
4. What Hi-Fi?
This British magazine gives the B&W P7 headphones a perfect five-star rating, plus the title of "Best portable on-ears £300+" for 2013. Editors say they're "big on design but even bigger on performance," with superior detail and dynamics. They also praise the headphones' "solid" build and comfortable fit.
Review: B&W P7, Editors of What Hi-Fi?, Not dated
5. Laptop Magazine
The Bowers & Wilkins P7 is an Editors' Choice pick at Laptop, with an overall rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. Kobrin says they "look and sound like a million bucks," and their over-ears design is comfortable and blocks out external noise. Even at $400, he says, they're worth the price.
Review: Bowers & Wilkins P7 Review, Mike Kobrin, Nov. 22, 2013
Wired awards the B&W P7 headphones a score of 9 points out of 10, which translates to, "Excellent, with room to kvetch." Calore says their sound is excellent, and their all-leather build is stylish, comfortable and portable. However, he's not convinced their high price is justified.
Review: Bowers & Wilkins P7 Headphones: The Truffle Pairing Costs Extra, Michael Calore, Dec. 14, 2013
The B&W P7 has only received about 40 reviews to date from Amazon.com users, but its ratings so far are stellar, with five stars from most users and no reviews below three stars. Owners say the headphones' sound is "revelatory" and the styling comfortable and luxurious.
Review: Bowers & Wilkins P7 Mobile Headphones, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of May 2014
CNET has not yet posted a promised full review of the B&W P7, but this initial look is highly positive. Carnoy says he was "impressed" with their build quality and comfort. While their sound is superior to the cheaper B&W P5, Carnoy still prefers the Sennheiser Momentum.
Review: Bowers & Wilkins takes it up a notch with swanky new P7 headphones, David Carnoy, Updated Sept. 18, 2013