Bowers & Wilkins has been stepping up its consumer headphone offerings. We’ve been reviewing a few of its latest models, like the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 headphones and the Bowers & Wilkins PI3 headphones. Now, however it’s the Bowers & Wilkins PI4’s turn.
The headphones build on the PI3s with active noise cancellation, but they also come with a higher price tag. Are the Bowers and Wilkins PI4 headphones worth buying? We put them to the test to find out.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Bowers and Wilkins PI4 headphones is their design, and they look pretty much identical to the PI3 headphones. Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing — they offer a sleek design with premium build materials and a nice feel.
On the left arm of the headphones, you’ll get a power button and a button to toggle noise cancellation — while on the left side is where you’ll get playback and volume controls. It’s a pretty simple setup, and you should find it easy to control the headphones overall.
The headphones are available in a few different colors, including black, silver, and gold. We’re reviewing the black model, and while we haven’t seen the other models in person, the black seems to be the sleekest option.
In the box, apart from the headphones themselves, you’ll get a nice carry pouch, a charging cable, and a total of three pairs of ear tips and three pairs of fit wings. That’s pretty much everything you’ll need.
The earbuds on the Bowers and Wikins PI4 headphones are relatively large, but they’re still pretty comfortable, at least as far as in-ear headphones go. The headphones easily create a good seal in the ear and stay nicely in your ears during use, thanks in part to the fit wings that come with them.
Sure, in-ear headphones are almost never as comfortable as over-ear headphones, but we were able to wear these for more than a few hours at a time without any issue.
The PI3 headphones offered plenty of bass, a well-tuned midrange, and good clarity and detail in the high end. Thankfully, the Bowers and Wilkins PI4 headphones do the same — while at the same time adding noise cancelling.
The bass response on the headphones is thick and deep, especially for a pair of in-ear headphones. Kick drums sounded full-bodied, while bass guitars were smooth and thick. Bass definitely seemed to get a bit of a boost here, so if you’re looking for a totally neutral sound it might be worth looking elsewhere. Other users, however, will appreciate the level of bass on offer here — especially considering the fact that it never really strayed into muddy territory.
The mids are well-tuned too, with a slight scoop overall, but still plenty to go around. Low mids were warm, and high mids offered enough presence for things like guitars and vocals.
Highs are crisp, detailed, and clear, making music exciting and interesting to listen to. It never got shrill or uncomfortable to listen to either.
The noise cancellation on these headphones is fine, but really nothing to write home about. It will reduce noise from things like plane engines and trains, but don’t expect a Bose or Sony-like experience here.
The Bowers and Wilkins PI4 headphones connect to your listening device through Bluetooth, and as such you’ll get a distance of around 10 meters, or 33 feet. We found that the headphones generally retained a good connection throughout testing, without any major skips or bumps.
The battery life on the Bowers and Wilkins PI4 headphones comes in at 12 hours, which is fine, but not amazing. We would have liked to see a slightly longer battery life for the headphones.
The Bowers and Wilkins PI4 in-ear headphones have a lot to offer. They’re relatively well-designed, comfortable, and they sound great — plus they offer noise cancellation as an added bonus.
But are they the best option in the price range? Well, yeah, they are. If you’re looking for a neckband-style pair of headphones, the Bowers and Wilkins PI4 headphones are the way to go.
Thanks to their excellent sound quality and good design, we’re awarding the Bowers & Wilkins PI4 headphones the Headphone Review Silver Medal.