"Special occasion" headphones for everyday use
The B&W P9 Signature headphones fold up to fit into their included Alcantara and leather carrying case.
I'm glad I got the chance to spend a few months with the Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature headphones. As impressive as they are out of the box, they sound better and better the more I listen. It's kind of fitting — you could say these headphones have been 50 years in the making.
B&W — the storied British sound experts — recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, and they created these headphones to mark the milestone. They've utilized the same design and engineering experience that landed their famous speakers in recording studios like Abbey Road.
Nicely built from luxury materials
These headphones look and feel like a tricked-out version of B&W's other P-series headphones. The distinct square earcups are bigger than ever. The oversized plush earpads are butter-soft. And the sturdy, firm-fitting aluminum frame is beautifully covered in Italian Saffiano leather.
Sound profile modeled after B&W's flagship speakers
Regarding the sound, B&W had the loftiest of ambitions — the P9s are designed to emulate their super high-end 800 D3 loudspeakers.To achieve this goal, they've angled the large drivers so that they hit your ear the way stereo speakers would. Suspended piston diaphragms deliver punchy sound. And those supersized earcups create a wide open chamber for air to move around in, resulting in clean, natural sound.
A truly enjoyable listening experience
Like a pair of top-shelf speakers, these headphones benefit from a nice break-in period. I expected the novelty of "living the good life" would wear off, but they felt more relaxed the more I wore them. And the sound seemed to spread out, even as the strong bass tightened — especially noticeable when paired with a headphone amp/DAC.
I mainly listen on my laptop through an AudioQuest DragonFly Black v1.5. But these versatile headphones sound great plugged into my phone, too. One of the three included cables offers an inline mic for calls and music.
Throughout Jack White's Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016, instruments were well-defined and placed within a three-dimensional sound stage. These 'phones manage to reveal the upper registers of banjo and harp plucks without ever sounding harsh. Also striking was the complex sub-bass that fueled the production of the new Tribe Called Quest album We got it from here...Thank you 4 your service. Samples sounded distinct, yet they were still expertly mixed together with the drum claps and vocals — all surrounding my head.