Bowers and Wilkins P5 headphones
Review Renowned for it high-end hi-fi, Bowers and Wilkins’ decision to make headphones is a bit of a departure for the company. At first glance, its debut set of cans, the P5s, certainly appear an impressive addition to its respected range of audio porn.
Sonic sender: Bowers and Wilkins' P5
While rather heavy, the weight of the P5s gives sense of strength and durability. Sheep’s leather is used on the headband and the large earcushions, stuffed with memory foam, that surround each driver. This size is important though, as the P5’s design endeavours to isolate noise without the need for signal processing. The upshot being a lossless frequency range that can still be heard on the tube, with complaints from neighbouring passengers kept to a minimum. Or perhaps I just couldn’t hear them.
There are reports on-line, that the P5s are uncomfortable for those with large heads. Well, I am, ahem, endowed with a massive head – 59.6cm according to my fitted cap – and I had no problems at all. There is an initial pressure when you put them on but you soon forget they're there.
The headband adjusts smoothly and, for me, rather than just sit on my head, the P5s became part of it. OK, maybe that's taking things a bit far, but in comparison to other headphones I've tried, there is unquestionably a sense of aural intimacy to them, boosted by the overall warmth of the sound.
The P5s boast 40mm drivers with ultra-linear neodymium magnets, mylar diaphragms and a frequency range of 10Hz to 20kHz. Dropping down to 10Hz is quite impressive and goes a fair bit lower than most headphones. In fact, the bass response is a bit of a double-edged sword here. It is rather pronounced and, personally, I prefer it like this. It makes for great listening on bass orientated music, (the majority of my CDs), and delivers a refreshing breath of life into my Drum ‘n’ Bass collection. Despite this low-end emphasis, the top end still remains very clear and Hip-hop has never sounded so crisp.
Pointless with compressed music...
Expensive headphones, hi-fi and docking station things (like the Zeppelin) seem really odd to me when most of them are fed with compressed music, typically from an iDevice.
Not only do you have the "is it really worth running MP3s through a £1000 amp", you also have the effect (as the reviewer mentions) that the better the equipment, the more likely it'll be able to show all the floors in the source material - and therefore actually end up being detrimental to the listening experience.
I buy hundreds and hundreds of CDs and rip them all to FLAC and for anyone who'd actually site down and listen (rather than just letting the music wash over them) the benefits of a lossless format become clear on even modest equipment.
IMO, MP3 has become the new cassette tape. It's an old, outmoded format who's raison-detre no longer really exists - we all have fast broadband and copious storage, both at home and when mobile. But it has become ubiquitous, in the same way cassette did - it's "lowest common denominator" now.
People's "dedication" to MP3 is also at odds with them all seeming to have HD TV, Blu-Ray etc - visually people are all about high def. When it comes to audio it seems they're not at all bothered...
Oh and my 2p for good value headphone - Sony MDR-V6, they're about £60, bomb-proof and sound superb (another set of "monitoring" headphones with a really flat response). I've got a couple of pairs, one is used all day, every day and still look and sound great.
Yeah, a little over priced compared to respected monitoring headphone brands.
Before getting excited about the pricey stuff (£25k glass speakers for example) you really should try the sensibly-priced professional alternatives.
In this case, give the Sennheisser SP25s a go.
Bit over the top for listening to MP3 shit.
Quite nice for Lossless stuff though.
Mine's the one with the portable CD player in the pocket.
If you've become overly fussy, that's your own danged fault.
Let me help.
Just bring those Dynaudios to W6 in West London, I'll text you an exact address when you are close...
I've never tried the Beyer DT100's, I have a pair of Beyer DT250s which are pretty good, but I really need better.
I guess, I've got so used to listening to by Dynaudio active near field monitors, that I've become fussy. Too damn fussy.