Under the Radar

Bowers & Wilkins P3 Series 2 Headphones Are an Amazing Value

The recently released Bowers & Wilkins P3 Series 2 on-ear headphones are a surprisingly affordable way to experience the famed B&W sound and high-end manufacturing quality. For $150, they don't offer a wireless Bluetooth connection or a noise-cancellation feature, but they do offer better sound, better materials and better build quality than anything else in their price range.

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The P3 series is a smaller version of the $250 P5 on-ear headphones and anyone with an especially large head is going to want to consider the P5 model or the even larger $350 P7 over-ear headphones. (B&W has just introduced its $900 P9 Signature Series headphones, a premium pair that aims to be a budget-friendly version of the kind of incredibly expensive headphones we never write about here).

B&W is a British company with a signature speaker sound that adds just enough brightness to the upper-midrange to make guitars shimmer and jangle in a way that no other company can match. I own a pair of the original model P5 floor standing speakers and they might be the first thing I'd rescue in a house fire. I also own the original version of the P5 on-ear headphones and the new P3 Series 2 offer come close to offering the same sound quality.

B&W headphones pump up the bass a bit, something that's absolutely necessary for any headphones designed to be used on the go. The P3 Series 2 don't jack it up to the levels favored by most of the other headphones on the market, but they're not designed for neutral listening. Of course, the trademark B&W guitar sound isn't neutral, either.

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Both the P3 and P5 models are designed to sit tightly on your ears. Some may find it uncomfortable and you might not want to wear them for 8 hours at a stretch, but, if you're finding them to be tight, most of the pressure can be relieved my extending the earpieces and not having the headband touch the top of your head.

 

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The P3 Series 2 headphones come with an audio-only cable and a second cable with a controller designed to work with iOS devices. You can swap out the cables by removing the magnetically connected earpiece. It's a design touch that makes the headphones seem a lot more expensive than they actually are.

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The earpieces are leather and the support struts are aluminum, so you don't get that plastic feel that comes with almost all under $200 headphones.

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The P3 Series 2 headphones also come with a hard case that's much better than the quilted sleeve that comes with the P5 Series 2 headphones.

We review a lot of products that offer good value for money but not many that offer value are manufactured in a way that makes for an impressive gift. These headphones look and sound like a pair that's far more expensive, so they're a perfect choice for a gift.

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