Strangely enough, the PI7s (399 euros) are the first wireless earplugs from Bowers & Wilkins. The British brand has also released the slightly cheaper PI5s (€249) at the same time. There are a few differences. The PI5 has one less microphone per cap, two instead of three, and in addition, the user has to adjust the level of noise reduction in steps. The PI7s do that adaptively. The noise reduction therefore adjusts automatically.
Handy function on the plane
I’ll come back to the noise cancellation in a moment, because there is another unique feature that only the B&W PI7 earplugs have. You can also use them wired. Because imagine you’re on an airplane and you want to watch a movie on the in-flight entertainment system. Then you usually have nothing to do with wireless earplugs. There is no Boeing that supports Bluetooth. But you can still connect these IP7s to the entertainment system of the aircraft via the charging case. Just with a wire, with the USB-C in the case and then the mini-jack in the armrest of the plane. The case converts the sound into a Bluetooth signal, so you can listen wirelessly.
The noise cancellation of the B&W earbuds doesn’t disappoint, but they aren’t the very best among wireless earbuds. You have to go to the Sony WF-1000XM4 for that, but it’s fine. I haven’t been able to specifically test how they sound on the plane, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem for the PI7.
Very good sound
The sound that comes out of the earplugs is really excellent for wireless earplugs. The best I’ve tested myself so far. These are earplugs for the music lover who also has an audio set at home that goes beyond a few good Sonos speakers. Details can be heard clearly in the music. Voices sound clear when basses are heard in the background, without being dragged down.
It’s really enjoyable, although nothing can beat larger headphones that go over your ears. Watching movies is also a pleasure and the sound is always in sync with the image. If you like to listen to hi-res audio, then you’re in the right place.
There is a concession that you have to make for the good sound. The ears are relatively heavy and large. Although they are cleverly designed, they appear smaller.
The rechargeable case is also a bit larger than you are used to, but that is due to the extra function it has as a bluetooth transponder. The battery life of the Bowers&Wilkins is fine, with in between charging in the case they can last 20 hours before the charging cable has to be inserted. The box can also be charged wirelessly.
Who are these earplugs for?
If you want something different from the rest, if you listen to good quality music at home and if you want to enjoy it on the go, then this set from Bowers & Wilkins is a must. Even if you regularly sit on the plane and prefer earplugs over headphones.
In all other cases, there are plenty of wireless earplugs on the market for less money with better noise cancellation, which also give a great music experience. Check out our Bright Stuff buying guide for all our recommendations.