B&W has gone thru quite a change in their designs over the past year first with the PX series taking over for its P lineup and now they have stepped in the true wireless realm with the Pi Series which feature the Pi5 and Pi7. How does Bowers & Wilkins fare in the true wireless earbud arena?
First off, the PI5 comes in two colors such as White and Charcoal (which B&W gladly provided for review). It features a rather large plastic flip top charging case that also utilizes wireless charging. There is a USB-C port on bottom while on the front is a LED charging indicator light while on top you get the Bowers & Wilkins branding.
Taking the earbuds out the case you notice they have a bit of an eccentric shape to them. While they look larger than other TWS they are light once you pop them in your ears. The best part is they stay in my ears and don’t budge at all. Ear tips are silicone which sit in the ear canal while the main part sits up against the outer ear. They feel like a well-crafted pair of buds but I wouldn’t expect anything less from B&W. Their slightly box design does remind me a bit of the Audio Technica ANC300TW. They do feature a IP54 rating which means some protection and water splashes but don’t go submerging them in any water.
Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 comes with a USB-C cable and different ear tip sizes.
The B&W Pi5 are equipped with Qualcomm’s AptX and Bluetooth 5.0. This is to help provide stability and connection instantly when used with your smart device. For the most part this held true but were times when I only get connection on the left ear and the right ear I have to put back in the case and take back out.
For functionality the earbuds each have touch panel controls. They are utilized by taps to control the music while holding the left side can activate noise cancelling while the right side can give you access to voice assistants such as Google.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to activate ambient sound unless doing it thru the app which isn’t completely ideal for a necessary quite switch. Also, via the app you can you can have it on low or high depending on how much outside noise you want to hear.
On the noise cancelling side these aren’t bad in noisy areas. Walking outside I can barely hear the surrounding around me while the same almost holds true on the busy and noisy subway rides I take daily. I also contribute the nice ANC based on well these for in my ears.
You can also access these options via the B&W app. I do wish it allowed a bit more customization for the earbuds though. You can also toggle on/off the wear sensors which work when taking removing and putting back in your ears.
As mentioned earlier the PI5 can be charged wirelessly via its case but there is the ability to fast charge. They are advertised to give you 12hrs of continuous playback while you can get 2hrs off a 15min quick charge. Over the time period using these extensively I felt battery life was okay but sometimes has to charge these a bit more usual than I would other earbuds.
Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 were used with a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
Like their design, B&W never skims in the audio department. The Pi5 utilize 9.2mm dynamic drivers. They provide a wide soundstage which makes it feel like you are Live hearing every instrument. I felt this while listening to “Let’s Groove” by Earth, Wind, and Fire. B&W supplies just the right number of bass without it being too overwhelming on the Pi5. “WWIII” by the Ruff Ryders is a prime example. That’s a track that thumps for its whole runtime. Playing Megan the Stallion “Thot Sh*t” you get a good amount of this as well while still getting clear vocals from Meg. Some R&B tracks such as “Coffee” by Kelly Rowland and “Good Days” by SZA aren’t as bass heavy lending more to the mids and vocals.
As far as watching content on say YouTube, HBOMax, and Google TV, audio has been in sync with no issue. Movies like “Man of Steel” sound rather impressive and you can hear and feel every crash as Superman gets tossed from or rather thru building to building.
For B&W first entry into true wireless its not a bad one. Earbuds look and feel solid and the audio experience is a pleasant one. Battery life could be better and I wish the app gave you more functionality as far as changing some touch settings and possibly also having EQ options. For $249.99 they do come out a bit pricey and if you are interested in the Pi7 version those go for a hefty $399.99.