REVIEW – In audio (as in life), there exists what known as the legislation of diminishing returns. This legislation merely states that the costlier merchandise get, the distinction in enhancements of options and high quality diminish. As an illustration, a $300 pair of earbuds will sound significantly better than a $100 pair. Nevertheless, a $500 pair might solely sound a little higher than a $300 pair—a not-as-dramatic distinction. However this legislation is most obvious when a product undergoes an improve, just like the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 True Wi-fi Headphones. Does this improve uphold that legislation or break it?
The Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 In-ear True Wi-fi Headphones (earbuds) are an incremental improve to the unique Pi7 earbuds launched in 2021. They function Qualcomm aptX Adaptive Bluetooth, hybrid drivers with particular person amplifiers, adaptive noise canceling (ANC), name high quality utilizing six mics, and a wise charging case with wi-fi charging that doubles as an audio retransmission system (extra on that later).
There are three sizes of ear ideas and a brand new shade obtainable. Midnight Blue is now obtainable in addition to the unique Pi7’s Satin Black and Canvas White
The Pi7 S2s are a hybrid speaker design earphone—a single dynamic speaker paired with a single balanced armature driver. What’s the distinction? A dynamic speaker appears like all speaker, solely a tiny model. A balanced armature speaker comes from the hearing-aid trade and appears nothing like a standard speaker. Whereas armature audio system have a tendency to intensify increased frequencies, dynamic audio system are often extra “bass-friendly”. Pairing them collectively outcomes (theoretically) in the very best of each worlds. Word that both speaker design may be tuned to sound good to nice individually, however when each are paired every speaker strategy balances the opposite’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Weight: Earbuds: .25 oz.
- Charging case: 1.65 oz.
- Case dimensions: 2.4 in. (w) x 1.1 in. (d) x 2.2 in. (h)
- Colours: Satin Black; Canvas White; Midnight Blue
- 24-bit audio connection
- 2-way drive unit design
- Digital sign processing (DSP)
- Bluetooth 5.0 with adaptive aptX
- Adaptive ANC
- Audio retransmission from the charging case
- Wi-fi and USB-C charging
- 9.2mm dynamic speaker with balanced armature speaker
- Three microphones per earbud
- Battery life: 5 hours for earbuds (with ANC off); 16 hours from charging case; 15-minute cost gives 2 hours of playback
- IP54 water resistance
Design and options
The Pi7 S2 earbuds are visually an identical to the unique Pi7, apart from the Midnight Blue colorway—the colour used on this assessment. The case is identical blue with a gold flip-lid. The lid may be opened one-handed, however not simply—the plastic is usually a bit slippery feeling.
The earbuds magnetically snap into the case. The seal is tight sufficient that it’s generally tough to take away them. Once more the fabric is just not as simple to grip as—say—the Apple AirPods Professional earbuds.
The plastic supplies used within the Pi7 S2 earbuds really feel premium. Match is great. There’s no slipping as soon as seated within the ear and so they keep in place, even whereas transferring about.
I assume the explanation the Pi7 S2 earbuds weren’t referred to as Pi8 or one thing is that the variations are delicate. These fundamental variations are elevated battery life—5 hrs. vs 4 hrs.—and a Bluetooth vary of over 80 ft. The match is identical and so they sound the identical to my ears. That’s a actually good factor.
Bluetooth pairing is straightforward. Simply open the case and my iPhone noticed them. And as regular, as soon as paired, my smartphone didn’t must be reminded to reconnect. It was rapid.
Perceive that after I say the Pi7 S2 earbuds sound the identical because the originals, I’m going from reminiscence. Ordinarily, I might evaluate the 2 Pi7 variations side-by-side, however all of my headphones and earbuds are in storage whereas my studio is being rehabbed as a result of flood injury from final yr’s hurricane Ian.
Not having the originals obtainable turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I may assessment the S2 model for what they’re, not evaluate them in opposition to what they had been. Additionally, due to the delicate enhancements made, I can’t think about many homeowners of the unique Pi7 earbuds will select to improve. So, I’m approaching this assessment as a first-time Pi7 S2 person.
As soon as unboxed and paired with Bluetooth, the Pi7 S2 earbuds can then be linked to the Music/Bowers & Wilkins app (iOS and Android). This app was initially developed for B&W’s Formation wi-fi dwelling sensible speaker system. I can see why the app would assist management these audio system, but it surely appears like overkill for the Pi7’s.
You may entry hi-res music companies like Tidal and Deezer in addition to radio stations all over the world utilizing the B&W app. Being a fanboy nonetheless, I desire Apple Music. They now supply hi-res and Dolby Atmos, which (in my iOS world) makes these different streaming companies redundant. Lovers of music can argue the purpose, however I’m proud of Apple Music together with my assortment of ripped albums saved on my iPhone. Listening whereas wi-fi will not be true audiophile high quality, however Bluetooth by no means is.
The Pi7 S2 earbuds function Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX Adaptive know-how. This can be a higher-resolution Bluetooth, obtainable solely on Android units. Apple cell units do not assist aptX of any form. Apple makes use of AAC—in addition to the newer lossless and Atmos. I’m proud of AAC—I higher be, as a result of the Pi7 S2 earbuds will not play lossless. Right here’s a grimy secret—NO Bluetooth something will play lossless. Lossless requires laborious wiring.
Sorry for getting a bit misplaced within the weeds there with lossless and all, however perceive that B&W makes Bluetooth sound nearly as good as it could actually on the Pi7 S2 earbuds. Audiophiles might flip their nostril up at wi-fi Bluetooth, however I’ve listened to those earbuds for hours straight whereas working and revel in them immensely.
Let’s speak about Dolby Atmos. What’s it? Atmos is the brand new “factor” in immersive audio. Apple Music gives it and it’s kinda cool. It sounds virtually excellent for films, however many music albums are actually blended utilizing Atmos. It’s extra than simply stereo. Do not forget that Atmos was developed for five.1 encompass sound in dwelling theaters, however Dolby has carried out magic making use of it to “common” headphones and earbuds. “Extra Than This” by Roxy Music from “The Better of Roxy Music” was remastered in Atmos. All I can say is, “Wow”! When in comparison with the common stereo model, there—nicely—is not any comparability. The Pi7 S2 earbuds play this out splendidly regardless of it being fake encompass.
B&W has adaptive lively noise canceling (ANC). It helps the standard ANC options: On/off and Passthrough. Passthrough is adaptive—it may be set for the way a lot background you need to “slip via” the noise canceling. I desire to set it to Minimal or off permitting probably the most quantity of background noise in. In any other case, it sounds prefer it’s struggling to be ANC. It’s a clumsy combine in my ears. Nevertheless, some might respect the power to dial in—or out—how a lot noise canceling they like.
I’ve saved the very best for final. B&W has made the Pi7 case into an audio retransmission system. B&W developed this technique for commuters by permitting the listener to attach a cable to an airplane seat port—both USB or these bizarre two-prong audio plugs (not equipped)—and make it wi-fi. Nevertheless, I found in my assessment of the unique Pi7 that I may additionally join the case to my previous iPod Traditional in the identical manner. I used to be capable of hearken to music wirelessly from my iPod! That’s when it grew to become a game-changer for me.
What I like
- Glorious audio high quality
- Has up to date options vs the unique
- Good ANC
What I’d change
- Give the case and earbuds a bit extra grip
- The app is just not as developed because it may very well be
In case you are nonetheless utilizing earbuds you bought for $50-$100 a number of years in the past, the Pi7 S2 earbuds will merely blow you away. They sound that good. Nevertheless, you probably have the unique Pi7 earbuds, the delicate enhancements will not be sufficient to justify buying once more.
Are the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 earbuds value $399? Sure, they’re value it when you worth sound high quality above different wi-fi options. Are they value upgrading when you personal the unique Pi7 earbuds? No, I wouldn’t advocate it. The delicate enhancements don’t justify it. However when you haven’t but heard B&W earbuds, you’re in for a deal with.
Value: $399 US
The place to purchase: Bowers & Wilkins and Amazon
Supply: The pattern of this product was offered by Bowers & Wilkins.