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Bowers and Wilkins P5 headphones

Aural excitement

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.

Bowers & Wilkins P5

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.

Bowers & Wilkins P5

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.

Verdict

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 & Wilkins P5

Bowers and Wilkins P5 headphones

Luxury headphones with a price to match.
Price: £250 RRP