That said, having heard a range of music with the P5s, some basslines did appear to lose their intended subtlety. But then again, listening with headphones isn’t the most subtle way to experience music, but it can certainly reveal the flaws. After all, it's easy to miss how much is lost with a typical MP3 conversion, especially when heard using a standard pair of headphones.
Silence of the lambs: sheep's leather adorns the noise isolating earcushions and the headband
By contrast, playback through the P5s leaves you with a desire to rip all your CDs again in an uncompressed format – an ally in the fight against music piracy, perhaps? I must admit, having heard some music from MP3s a friend had passed on, I ended up buying the album, and the difference through these badboys was huge. Testing with the Cat Empire’s latest, the P5’s top-notch tech really highlighted the detail of these dynamically diverse songs.
There’s a classy fibre-covered cable that runs through the headband that connects each driver. Alas, the external rubber-coated cable that connects the P5s to your audio gear is not of the same standard. It feels like a sudden jerk could cause damage and leave you needing repairs. But wait, what's this? Removable magnetic ear pads.
The left ear pad pops off to reveal an 2.5mm audio connector that you thread the cable into. Not being a fixed lead that’s soldered in place, a replacement is an easy task should wear and tear take its toll. The main purpose though is that the P5s come supplied with two cables one of them being an MFI (Made for iPod/iPhone) lead featuring an in-line remote offering all the usual functions plus a microphone.
Interchangeable cables are slotted in for use with iPhone/iPod or typical hi-fi gear
The other lead foregoes the remote and has a typical stereo TRS 3.5mm jack at the business end. Incidentally, B&W do supply a 1/4in jack adapter and a rather nice drawstring bag too. In use with an iPhone, taking calls around town was certainly less of a challenge to make out conversation and it does add a certain warmth to the character of the call you hear.
Overall, the Bowers and Wilkins P5 headphones are an utter delight, but at £250, they're not for the shallow pocketed. Sonically, they deliver and appear built to last too. So if you're into sound that much, then the P5s are worthy of serious consideration. If you try them, the chances are you'll want to buy them. ®
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Bowers and Wlikins P5
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.