Swank British hi-fi brand B&W has already dipped its toe in wireless waters with the T7 speaker. Now it's responding to the changing demands of high-end headphone buyers, many of whom no longer wish to suffer the wire snaggage and aesthetic unpleasantness that comes as standard with traditional 'phones. Enter the P5 Wireless.
First up: we've had a bit of a listen to the P5 - not enough to call it a "hands on" but long enough for a bit of light toe-tapping and head-nodding - and they sounded great.
As indeed they should for a penny shy of £330, though that's by no means an outlandish price for Bluetooth headphones at the premium end. The likes of Sennheiser's Momentum Wireless and Parrot's Zik already heralded this new wave of higher-end Bluetooth 'phones capable of holding their own with the best of their wired brethren, whilst costing even more than them.
They support Apt-X and AAC Bluetooth connections, and yes, there is a wire if your battery runs out - you'll get 10 hours according to B&W. The battery life on the T7 was consistently good.
The brand's P3 headphones scooped a T3 Award back in 2012 and we highly rated the wired P5. This on-ear pair, at least from an initial listen and perusal, is the same as that but wireless. It looks the same, has the same 1.6-inches drivers and general spec,
Visually, this is another B&W audio wolf in sheep-leather clothing, with tantalising glimpses of bare, polished aluminium here and there to titillate you dirty audiophiles. As is usually the case this brand, the P5 Wireless manages to look classy and expensive, without screaming “Hey, look at me, peasants! I'm a pricey pair of headphones!”, and "designed" without going too, for want of a better word, "poncey".
As if to prove it, here is an ever-so-tasteful photo of it on some nice wood.
Audio, from what we've heard, had lashings of presence and detail, and plenty of bottom end. If I had a criticism of the T7, it was that it was too neutral for my taste, but this seems to give plenty of thump, without becoming a Dre Beats-style low-end-o-thon.
It doesn't seem overly fussy about sources either – a high-quality CD rip and slightly lower bitrate efforts from iTunes and eMusic both sounded good.
Connection stability seemed solid too. Even some of your favourite Bluetooth earphones suffer from occasional dropouts when connection is lost – we're looking at you, Monster iSport – but these didn't suffer any dropouts or interference during an, admittedly brief, "test".
You can also make/take calls via the P5 and there are basic music controls - skip and volume. There are actually two mics, so your dulcet tones are conveyed more mellifluously to your callers' ears.
These are happy days for high-end headphone makers and buyers. John Lewis tell us sales continue to go up on pricier cans, and a little birdy tells us that Kef has a new pair ready to roll out very soon. If you've got the dosh, you're spolied for choice…