MacDirectory Magazine

Pavel Prokopev

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Page 59 of 143

The large housing comfortably fills the ear and is designed to twist into place for a secure, isolating fit—similar to some ‘wings’ you may have seen on other earbuds. A circular extension protrudes from the outward facing side, on the end of which are the touch controls. My first instinct when I saw the PI5s was that the silver circular wall around that extension might be a dial for a really progressive control scheme, but that is not the case here, all the controls are done with light taps on the touch-controlled surface.  The nice thing about this scheme is that you can still grip and hold the buds with this circular extension without accidentally activating the touch controls. When not in your ear, the PI5 earbuds will reside in a bucket-style case featuring a matte finish on the base and a glossy lid, whether in black or white, depending on the model you select.  The case is easy to slide in and out of pockets, and features a notification bar on the front that will glow various colors to indicate certain things like battery level, connection state, etc. On the bottom is a USB-C port for charging. B&W includes a USB-C to USB-C cable in the box, which might be difficult for most people to take advantage of (a USB-C to USB-A would have been more useful). Luckily, one of my favorite convenience features of the PI5 eliminates any complaints about the included cable, the inclusion of Qi wireless charging! Speaking of charging, Bowers & Wilkins has equipped the PI5 earbuds with a quick charging feature, which sets them up with 2 hours of play time after only a 15-minute nap in their case. This can be a lifesaver for marathon listeners or long plane rides, and is even more important given that the buds only last about 4 hours on a charge (with 4 to 5 more full charges in the case itself).  It’s not industry leading, but I’ve yet to have a fully charged pair die on me while still in my ears. Beyond the charging technology, the PI5s also include a host of other features. The PI5 version of auto-pause puts the earbuds into a power-saving standby mode to conserve battery, while the IP54 rating should keep them safe from sweaty workouts and dust worksites. The headphones will work with your virtual assistant of choice, and there is also an ambient sound pass through mode (though strangely, this can only be controlled through the app, so it’s not something you’ll be switching on and off frequently). Another under-rated feature? Each of the buds can be used alone on their own. And of course, it’s great to see Bowers & Wilkins follow up the success of their noise-cancelling PX7s by getting active noise cancelling (ANC) into this tiny set of earbuds.  These are still in-ear buds, so they won’t have the isolated sound you get from larger over-ear headphones, but they still do a decent job of cancelling out traffic noise, engine noise, and other white noise.  Ambient chatter will still find its way through, but for technology this size, the ANC is more than just a checkbox. The PI5s seem to be in a class of their own when it comes to punchy bass in a true wireless earbud.  With a proper fit, you’ll get some serious bass response out of these 9.2mm dynamic drivers, making high energy tracks really shine. The soundstage and imagining are also impressive for these buds, and take advantage of the AptX codec support for up to 16-bit audio streams. Plus, these things can really pump out some sound at max volume (please don’t listen to them at max volume, for your ear’s sake)!  It’s great to see that after a bit of a wait, the Bowers & Wilkins “True Wireless Sound Plus” really delivers in the PI5s. The PI5 in-ear true wireless headphones are decidedly Bowers & Wilkins, and that’s a good thing. Top notch design, active noise cancellation almost within reach of industry leaders, all topped off with a great audio experience.  And while there are some improvements that could be made to the smartphone app and control scheme, B&W nails all the basics.  For some additional enhancements like 24-bit support, dual hybrid drivers, and audio retransmission (what?!), you may consider the PI7s, but for any enthusiast looking for a solid audio experience out of a great set of true wireless earbuds, look no further than the PI5s from Bowers & Wilkins. For more information, visit:

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