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.
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 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?
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.
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 can be fold and store at the hard case included in the box,so this is easily grouped under portable can.
Packaging and Accessories
Its packaging is more towards elegant one,and accessories provided is average.
Comfort,Sound Leakage and Isolation
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?