B&W P7 Wireless

Sound analysis.

Sound tuning of wireless headphones always takes an extra effort. While you still have two 40mm drivers with a nylon damped cone and CCAW coil, the sound no longer depends on the quality of the pair up source, but rather on the quality of internal D/A audio decoding of the digital stream. Under this operation, the source sends a digital data while internal sound processing decodes and converts it to analog signal pumping the drivers.

I put P7W through 100hrs of burn in prior to testing, and after close listening I hear a rich full body dynamic sound with a reversed-J fun signature. It’s not quite L-shaped sound, though mid-bass slam is distinct and elevated, but you also have plenty of upper mids and treble smooth clarity and details, just not elevated enough to claim V-shaped sig though with enough treble quantity to lift that reversed-J tail.

The bass goes deep with sub-bass having a moderate balanced quantity without being too exaggerated. Mid-bass is where you get a serious rounded analog visceral slam, the kind you can expect from a full size floor speaker. It’s powerful with a slower attack and a longer decay typical of a dynamic driver, but still under control without muddying the mids.

Lower mids have a full body, with a little extra thickness carried over from mid-bass, and a clear and detailed natural mids. We are not talking about analytical or crisp, these are full body organic clear mids with a natural tonality.

Treble has a nice definition and a modest sparkle, definitely not rolled off, though don’t expect too much airiness. But it has just enough quantity to be noticed.

Soundstage is pretty wide for a closed back, definitely above average, but the depth/height are only average, making sound presentation more intimate while spreading it from left to right in front of you. The sound imaging is just OK, not the greatest due to a combination of closed back design and thicker sound which is a little more congested. I mean, there is no problem separating instruments and vocals, but accuracy of the positioning is not exactly on pin-point level.

These are fun tuned modern audiophile headphones that is not intended to Wow you with super transparency or surgical precision layering and separation of the sound. But the sound is rather clear and detailed, and there is no muddiness or veil. The tuning of these headphones is perfect for acoustic, instrumental, vocal, jazzy recordings. And switching to EDM and Pop will give you a taste of a full size speaker performance with a moderate basshead slam, a sound reminiscent of B&W reference loudspeakers. Also, they are fantastic for watching movies.

Wireless vs wired comparison.

In wired mode, where P7W has a very reasonable impedance of 22 ohms and 111dB sensitivity, the sound is nearly identical to wireless mode. The sound signature and even imaging are very similar. The only noticeable difference is that in Wireless mode I hear a little more mid-bass slam while in Wired it’s less which makes sound more balanced.

In wired mode, it benefits greatly from a powerful source which scales up the sound to a more balanced signature with less mid-bass slam, better overall control of the bass, higher level of transparency, more airiness in treble, and better layering and separation of instruments. I actually really enjoyed pair up with Opus#2 and LPG.

One interesting observation, a regular non-wireless P7 has a sound signature closer to P7 (wireless), while P7 (wireless in wired mode) is more balanced with a bass under a better control.

bw_p7w-27

Comparison.

P7W vs P5W – P5W has a more balanced signature, definitely lower quantity of sub-bass and mid-bass, a little more forward mids, while treble is the same. Overall, P7W sound is more detailed and has higher level of transparency and layering. Also, P7W has a wider soundstage, and better isolation.

P7W vs Momentum 2 Wireless – P7W has a stronger mid-bass punch and more body in lower mids, while M2W has a little more balanced low end and thinner lower mids and slightly more forward upper mids. Both have a sound with equal amount of detail retrieval and clarity, but P7W is a little more resolving. But overall, these two are not too far of each other in terms of sound tuning. Mid-bass dominance of P7W is the only major difference. Even soundstage is nearly the same.

P7W vs Pendulumic S1+ – S1+ has a more neutral bass and more forward upper mids, while treble is the same. P7W has a more fun signature with a harder bass slam and more resolving sound. S1+ actually sounds a little flatter and more congested in comparison. When it comes to soundstage, S1+ is tuned wider with more depth.

Conclusion.

The first and the most important point of my conclusion is that I no longer see the need to buy regular P7 headphones because P7 Wireless cost only $50 more and does both jobs great. You really do get 2 high performance headphones in one to use it connected directly to your favorite DAP or desktop setup as well as to your smartphone or Bluetooth enabled DAP. There are no compromises, with an exception of some mid-bass quantity variation.

So many times I get asked if buying a dedicated DAP or getting OTG USB DAC/amp will improve the sound quality of a particular smartphone. In case of B&W P7 Wireless you don’t need an extra investment in order to drive these headphones to their full potential. All you need is a wireless source and you are set. Doesn’t even have to be a smartphone or do you need to install a special sound enhancement app – any DAP w/Bluetooth should work. And vice versa, if you already have a desktop setup with your favorite tube amp – just connect the cable and enjoy P7W wired.

 

2 thoughts on “B&W P7 Wireless

  1. As always, great review. I’ve got a FiiO X7ii with an AM3A amp and am currently using Meze 99 Classics headphones and FiiO F9 IEM’s.

    I want a better set of closed back headphones and had already shortlisted the P7 wireless, because of your review and the fact you can also use it in wired mode, as I also have an iFi iDSD Black.

    I have been hearing good things about the P9 with the X7ii on Head-Fi and was wondering if it’s worth the extra over the P7, or if you have any other recommendations?

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    1. I have zero experience with P9, sorry. Heard from others it just a more resolving version of P7, similar signature. But P7 gives you an advantage of wireless performance without losing too much sound quality. That should be your deciding factor, along with a price difference.

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