Good old tech: Bowers and Wilkins P5 Mobile HiFi Stereo Headphones

Patience is a virtue, a virtue that can get you the latest and greatest tech for bargain prices. In this column we identify some great old but relevant tech. 

Why we like it: Way back in 2010 we covered the release of the Bowers & Wilkins P5 mobile HiFi headphones. Although Ronen and I only had a few minutes with the P5s, we were both impressed with the sound, feel, and noise isolation. Bowers & Wilkins sent over the P5 headphones so we could put it through some real world tests. After a few months out and about around New York City, I like the P5s just as much as the first day I tried them.

  • Sound: The quality and range of sound are fantastic, but the most notable quality of the sound was that it felt large. Unlike other headphones that I have tried that aggressively push the sound out, the P5s made me feel like I was in a room all-alone with the music.
  • Sound isolation: The B&W P5s block out sound using a soft padded leather cushion on each headphone. Each leather cushion feels like a memory foam pillow, melting into the crevices of the ear to seal every possible route of sound leakage.  I tested the P5s in the New York city subway, and it was like I was all alone in a sea full off people. While other headphones use active noise canceling–modifying the sound signal to account for outside noises–the P5s don’t mess with the sound, leaving the sound blocking to the leather.
  • Luxury feel: Everything about the P5’s construction is high-quality. The leather that covers the top of the headband and the headphones feels smooth to the touch. The padding on the top of the headband and the headphones eases pressure while wearing the P5s. Even the audio cable is a matte black rubber, with a microphone and music controls (pause/play and volume).
  • Consistent design: The combination of the black leather with the brushed and shiny metals gives the P5s a classy look. But the design extends to the smaller details. For example, the telescoping mechanism for the headohones uses a black rope-like audio cable and two shiny black metal structural supports.

Why to buy it now: When released, the B&W P5s were priced at $600. But the price has come down significantly, even though B&W have not released a new over-the-ear headphone since. You can pick up a pair on for $289.

Update: The $600 price tag that we were given a few years back is apparently inaccurate. B&W confirmed that the MSRP was $299.95


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