Review Work (Headphone)

Bowers and Wilkins P3 : Elegant Portable Headphone

Bowers and Wilkins P3 arrived Earmass!

Bowers and Wilkins P3 arrived Earmass!

I think everybody is easy to fall in love with Bowers and Wilkins P3,what B&W describe them as ‘mobile Hi-Fi’,given by the luxury looks,and the clothes ear pad,and B&W fans will be happy with it,like those speakers/Hifi component in their company line-up,it looks good,luxurious and nice scheme.

The B&W P3

The B&W P3

Thanks to Raj from Teg Group which mainly sell Hifi stuff like B&W and Roksan proucts,send me this pair of white/gray colour P3. Although this white colour pair is good looking,I actually prefer the one in black colour,for me,it looks a lot luxury and cooler.

It is elegant

It is elegant

It has been mentioned from time to time,more and more big guys from Home hifi world are now starting head toward headphone/earphone market, I can name probably a few,Bowers and Wilkins,Musical Fidelity,Denon(Although long time already),Harman Kardon and Yamaha. Well, it is nothing wrong for them to do so,but I am just wonder is this the trend or what?

It is really sleek and smaller than the picture shown,I can't believe how small it is.

It is really sleek and smaller than the picture shown,I can’t believe how small it is.

But I am always welcomed some big player like Bowers and Wilkins entered the game,while they are long reputed in they achievement in audio world. So when they announced P5 and after that P3,there is some friends around me whom are really interested to get one of those,undeniable me as well,especially after i heard and saw good reputation and review for them.

Specification,Build quality,Design and Mechanism

Well,there is quite a lot of specification and new features that you can found on B&W official web, so it seems like meaningless for me to repeat them again. Speaking of build quality,it is great,mix of aluminium and rubberized material together made it an elegant pair,although it looks elegant.

Rubberized Material,which I suspects its durability.

Rubberized Material,which I doubted its durability.

I doubt the headphone will last long especially through crush and hardcore use. At least,the headphone is nice to touch,texture wise,it is like Incase Sonic that I reviewed before.

It is foldable,given by the mechanism.

It is foldable,given by the mechanism.

It can be fold and store at the hard case included in the box,so this is easily grouped under portable can.

Packaging and Accessories 

Front of the box

Front of the box

Side view of the packaging box

Side view of the packaging box

Rear view of packaging box

Rear view of packaging box

A storage hard case is provided

A storage hard case is provided

A extra cable (with mic) and a instruction manual.

A extra cable (with mic) and a instruction manual.

Inside the hard case.

Inside the hard case.

Its packaging is more towards elegant one,and accessories provided is average.

Comfort,Sound Leakage and Isolation

Superb Comfort level by the cushion ear pad that B&W work with those fabricated their speakers clothes.

Superb Comfort level by the cushion ear pad that B&W work with those fabricated their speakers clothes.

Comfort level of P3 is superb,and extraordinary comfortable and fit on your ear,the soft cushion will grip at your ear,and the clamping force clamped nicely. In contrast,it is better than most of the headphone that I ever tested.

It is soft and really nice when sit on ear

It is soft and really nice when sit on ear

Sound leakage is audible but not big deal given the design. Isolation is closed to none before you play the music. As a portable headphone,it is good that sometime give you some awareness what happened at your surrounding.

Pairing

Pairing isn't easy for P3,you can't just paired it with anything that will give you thick sound and recessed high,you will need something that is thin and neutral or boosted high. For me,tube amp is a MUST NOT.

Pairing isn’t easy for P3,you can’t just paired it with anything that will give you thick sound and recessed high,you will need something that is thin and neutral or boosted high. For me,tube amp is a MUST NOT.

Luckily,it is not hard to drive. Given it is a portable headphone,I think P3 has done a good job here,I can drive it directly with my laptop sound card and my Hippo Biscuit as well. So is amping really necessarily? Yes,if you like texture bass and more up front sound. Personally, I paired it with Govibe Minibox and Jds Labs Objective 2 amp,personally think that Govibe Minibox is not a good amp for this baby,overall P3 is a thick sounding headphone,Minibox just made the overall sound heavier and thicker which is unnecessarily and should be avoid. O2 is average amp for P3.

P3 is nice looking,provide bigger sound than how it looks like.

P3 is nice looking,provide bigger sound than how it looks like.

Actually i like how it performed when directly paired it to my Stoner Audio UD100 Dac without amp,I know this is not the correct way,but it is a average matching for me,the sound is not that thick.

Concert for one!

Concert for one!

What is the best matching for me so far? It is strange but i think Creative Sound Blaster Go(which is just Rm80,25USD) is quite a good match,it don’t have superb instrument separation,ultimate clarity and wonderful mid,but at least it give some thin sound for P3(still thick though),the high frequency is better although overall sound on Creative Blaster Go is muddy and messy. Best match remains Stoner Audio UD100 and Objective 2 amplifier.

You can’t just simply match the amp with P3,P3 is not really sensitive to hissing or noise,but anything that provide thick and warm sound is not really a good match to this P3.

Sound 

Cool even after folding it?

Cool even after folding it?

Bowers and Wilkins P3 has been tested through JDS Labs Objective 2 amplifier,Creative Sound Blaster USB Go.Musical Fidelity Vdac II and Vcan II.Govibe Minibox (FIrst Generation),through Stoner Audio UD100 DAC,Hippo Biscuit, connected by using Black Octagon’s Bos2 3.5mm (Male to male) cable.

High : Honestly for me,high frequency response is P3 biggest weakness. Its high is heavily muffled and recessed. So you must be heard somewhere that it is because of the Ear pad clothes that absorb too much high,I have beed disattached its ear pad and yes,it is mainly caused by the ultra comfortable ear pad. After I took out the ear pad,its high is good and enjoyable. But you can’t just listen to it this way. The high is really good after the ear pad being took out.

Top view of P3

Top view of P3

Mid : It has good mid,just make sure you are not pairing with something that will give you thick and fat mid,otherwise you will be screwed. Vocal is average,it has average texture and layer. It is detailed but a little bit grainy and muffled to be desire.

Low : I like the low frequency of this baby. It give enough depth and impact,and the impact is fun and enjoyable. It is quite accurate,although boosted a bit,but this won’t be satisfied any serious bass head out there.

Sound Signature : P3 has somehow thick sound signature with absence of treble,especially after I wore something do a great treble job like Yamaha Eph-100 that I reviewed at the same time,it is obviously lacking high here. Overall I won’t be saying this thing has clear or transparent sound,it has a little bit of grain in the sound,but everything ‘present’ ‘clearly’,with alot of,I means a lot of detail. It is muffled but has sound is exciting at least. P3 is not really prone to hissing, and you can play some low quality audio file such as 224kbps Mp3 files on it and you will still get reasonable sound.

Good mix of aluminium and rubberized material make this pair a elegance.

Good mix of aluminium and rubberized material make this pair a elegance.

Sound stage : It is average. A little bit wider than what i would describe as focus sound stage.

Instrument Seperation : It has superb seperation of sound,you can listened to every instrument playing clearly,with great detail level.

Tetsed tracks are all lossless format play through Foobar 2ooo unless otherwise stated.

Walk of life – Dire Straits (Money or Nothing)

Everything is good and easily to be my liking especially when the drum started to kick in,but after the lead singer started to sing,it is not that sweet anymore,vocal is a bit too grainy and hollow. But you can hear how P3 handle details and seperate the instrument.

The cable is changeable,but it is not 3.5mm like usual,still easy to find around anyway. It is hidden under the ear pad,this is a smart move for me as easy to change the cable and also more durable,as the plug is not exposed at outside. Reduce the chance tio bend it or break it.

The cable is changeable,but it is not 3.5mm like usual,still easy to find around anyway. It is hidden under the ear pad,this is a smart move for me as easy to change the cable and also more durable,as the plug is not exposed at outside. Reduce the chance tio bend it or break it.

Smooth Criminal – Michael Jackson (The Ultimate Collection)

The bass response(Heart beat sound) at the beginning of the song,overall it is ‘weighty’ and exciting. I personally think that it handle this kind of song well. Although lack some treble,but I think it is fine for pop.

A great day for Freedom – Pink Floyd (The Division Bell)

The vocal do not done the right job,although the detail level is good,you will be really have to love this kind of sound signature to be in love with P3.

Don't buy a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable,it is actually a smaller cable to 3.5mm as you can see from the picture above.

Don’t buy a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable,it is actually a smaller cable to 3.5mm as you can see from the picture above.

Full Sail – Ryan Farish (Beautiful)

It lacks the treble or high frequency response that I like,and can’t really bring out the relax ambient of this song. After P3,I played this song by using Shure Se425,and I discovered that I have lost too much treble and has been given by overly weighted sound.

Conclusion

P3 is a elegant choice for portable usage. Although I can say that audiophile might not really will be liking it.

P3 is a elegant choice for portable usage. Although I can say that audiophile might not really will be liking it.

Good : Bass, Detail level,Comfort, If you like weighty sound,Design,Foldable,The exchangeable cable design,Portability Design.

Bad : Absence of treble response,too much weight on sound,muffled,clarity,Clothes ear pad might absorb your sweat,Material,Price point.

View under the P3 ear pad

View under the P3 ear pad

I am not sure is this so called house sound of Bower & Wilkins P3 or what,but this headphone is recessed in high frequency,and left the overall sound a bit too thick and weight to my liking. I can’t denied that the driver is really good,it is just the cushion ear pad that,ruined everything.

Bowers and Wilkins

Bowers and Wilkins

This headphone has done a certain degree of great job in terms of portability factors,first of all the comfort level is really superb,and I have not experienced what others said that it is slippery on the ear,to my ears,it always stays tight. And it is relatively easy to drive considered it is a headphone. You can play your low quality audio source through it as well.

Bowers and Wilkins,a signature for sound.

Bowers and Wilkins,a signature for sound.

So should I recommend this? Sorry but I have to say no. Maybe it is just not my type,I don’t love heavy and weighty sound, I love P3’s comfort level and bass response (although the bass is not really has good clarity),but this all come with the price and sacrifition of treble and overall sound signature. Maybe you already knew that I love vocal and instrument oriented songs, so this is not the headphone of my type,in fact,I am disappointed when i get this  pair and it takes no audiophile to know it lack the treble and sounded veiled. My friends have discovered this issue just after few minutes of listening period.

P3 has superb driver,but all spoilt by the acoustic cushion ear pad.

P3 has superb driver,but all spoilt by the acoustic cushion ear pad.

Right and left side of the headphone has been labelled clearly

Right and left side of the headphone has been labelled clearly

However,I should also said that my friends are okay with the sound,and some of them like the sound signature as well. So just what I and everyone said,everyone has their sound to pursuit, this is just not my type. If you played a lot of pop song and Top 100,this might be your headphone. But for the price point of RM900(300 USD),what can I say?

I recommended this if you need a cool and trendy looking headphone with good portability, also headphones for your pop song and Top 100. But  a no to audiophile.

I recommended this if you need a cool and trendy looking headphone with good portability, also headphones for your pop song and Top 100. But definitely a no to audiophile.

One thought on “Bowers and Wilkins P3 : Elegant Portable Headphone

  1. Pingback: Review of Bowers and Wilikins P3 - HiFi Headphones Forum - online headphone & earphone community forums

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