The two headphones I will be comparing are the Bowers & Wilkins PX and the Sennheiser PXC-550. I will be talking about the Sound Quality, Noise Cancellation, Comfort, Physical Appearance, App Control and any features which I think are worth mentioning.
The PX’s are currently priced at £329 and the PXC-550’s are £249. There has recently been a price reposition on the Sennheisers’ from £329 to £299 – which makes them a great competitive price against the PX’s!
When testing these headphones, I used them whilst doing my normal day to day activities like walking to work and through town where there can be a lot of noise from cars or local buskers. I have also used them when sitting at my desk in an office/shop environment and even on an aeroplane testing the noise cancellation. I listen to a variety of music, ranging from; dance, pop, hip-hop, trap all the way to fairly heavy rock and dubstep.
Starting off with the build and overall design of the two headphones. They both feel sturdy and well built when comparing them together, with the two headphones opting for a stylish and sleek look when on your head.
I really like the new look of Bowers & Wilkins’ PX’s and how they come in two different finishes to match your style, either a ‘Space Grey’ or a ‘Soft Gold’ with blue fabric surround – which is a great colour combo! They follow the familiar style of there predecessor, the P7/ P7 Wireless.
There are only three physical buttons on them which are volume up/down and then play/pause which are located on the right side. There is also the power slide which also acts as the pairing controls. To turn the headphones on, you slide it down and to connect a new device you press and hold. The headphones will automatically connect to the last device which was last paired to for added convenience.
They do come with a USB-C charging cable as standard which is definitely the future of how portable technology is going but not everyone has adapted to this new connection yet. It is good to know that you are future proofed for when all technology moves to this latest connection. The headphones do also come with a standard 3.5mm cable to plug either into your phone / laptop / tablet or even hifi if you would prefer not to go through Bluetooth.
With the Sennheiser PXC-550’s they feature a mainly black design with some silver details around the touch panel of the ear cup and on the headband with the Sennheiser branding.
They do only have two buttons/sliders on the right headphone, which can control the EQ preset from Club, Movie and Speech. The other is the noise cancellation – either completely off, adaptive or completely on to block out as much as it can.
Sennheiser has got you covered when it comes to cables and adaptors! They come with a standard 3.5mm with a remote built in to plug into your tech when you don’t want to use Bluetooth. As they are tailored towards flying, they do come with a flight adaptor (2 pin to 3.5mm) to go into aeroplanes which you can plug headphones into. They also have a ¼” jack adaptor when you want to listen with a headphone amplifier or equipment with that connection on the front as an output.
To turn the headphones on, you just twist the ear caps. When housed in the case, they will be twisted so the headphones are off. So once out of the case, you will automatically be turning them on when you go to put them on your head.
On the PXC-550’s the volume controls as well as the play and pause are controlled by touch on the right ear cup. By sliding your finger either up or down, this will be adjusting the volume. By pressing once, this will play/pause. And swiping side to side will change track, depending on which way you swipe.
On the left ear cup if you have an NFC enabled device, you can easily connect straight to the headphones by tapping your phone against it, otherwise, when connecting a new device, you will need to press and hold the ‘Effect Mode Control’ button for 4 seconds. Once the connection has been made, the headphones will automatically connect to the device which was previously connected.
Both of the headphones have the option for autoplay and pause when they are lifted off your head but I have found them both to be a little on the sensitive side so on some occasions they would just automatically play/ pause even if they are just on my head.
When it comes to the sound quality they both sound fantastic for the price. When directly comparing them both together, the Sennheiser’s are brighter which makes them seem ‘crisper’. They do lack a bit of the low end but with the built-in EQ in the app and on the headphones, this can easily be adjusted to how you like it.
The Bowers & Wilkins PX’s have the sound design of their actual Hifi Speakers, so have more warmth to them almost to the point where a small mid to high-end boost would be beneficial. This can be easily adjusted through your phone or streaming services settings.
When it comes to the overall comfort of the headphones, I definitely find Sennheiser’s PXC-550’s more comfortable. They surround my whole ear and the ear pads are like a cushion on top of my glasses. This was an issue I found with the PX’s; they clamp your head a lot more, so aren’t very comfortable when wearing glasses. There also isn’t much ‘give’ in the leather membrane used on the ear cups, so when I put them on they don’t sit flush on my head. My glasses just end up digging into the sides of my head, which isn’t really what you want when you are listing to your favourite tracks!
The Noise Cancelling on both of the headphones are on par with each other. When I was testing them on the plane, with no music playing you are still able to hear the engine noise but it is very minimal. Although, once the volume passes around 75% you cannot hear the plane at all.
They both have different levels of noise cancellation from just reducing office chatter to flight mode eliminating the engine noise on a plane. These different modes work really well depending on your situation.
The PX’s also have an automatic talk through environment filter which amplifies the sound around you, for instance, if somebody is speaking next to you, you can still hear them whilst blocking the sound from everything else – this control does need to be controlled by the app.
The PXC’s also have a similar feature. To activate it, you double tap on the right ear cup touch pad then it will turn the music down you are listing to and will amplify the ‘outside world’ so you can still be aware of your surroundings and listen to people around you.
Sennheiser Cap Tune App Bowers & Wilkins Headphones App
Both of the companion apps are super simple to set up and use. There are more controls within the Sennheiser app, like an EQ. With this, you can complete a ‘sound check’ which will cycle through different EQ settings. You can then decide which sounds best with the audio that is going through it to get the best out the headphones.
There are also different EQ presets which you can activate which are ‘Club’, ‘Movie’, ‘Speech’ and ‘Director’. So depending on what you are listening to, you can change this either through the app or through the headphone itself with a convenient button.
Both of these headphones are fantastic for what they are. Although, with everything Hifi, we always recommend popping into the store and having a listen for yourself and making your own decision as everyone’s hearing isn’t the same!
We all have different options on which is our favourite in store as we all have different tastes in music. My personal preference is the Sennheiser’s because of their lightweight design and comfort. My manager, on the other hand, prefers the Bowers & Wilkins’ due to their soundstage sounding like a proper hi-fi speaker.