Bowers & Wilkins PI5 review

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Fun sound? Tick. Good noise counterfoil? Tick. Slap-up looks? Tick. The B&W PI5 earphones have the performance where it counts at this cost, though comfort is an issue, and they fall short of class-leaders for sound.


  • Fun, bassy inflection to sound
  • Robust noise counterfoil
  • Great aesthetics
  • Good phone call quality


  • Comfort struggles
  • Bombardment life runs short
  • No EQ customisation
  • Some odd connectivity struggles


  • UK
    RRP: £199
  • Us
    RRP: $249
  • Europe
    RRP: €249

Key Features

  • Habiliment sensor
    Auto-pauses music when earbuds taken out of the ear

  • Bluetooth codec
    SBC, AAC and aptX wireless streaming

  • Call quality
    Four microphones for enhanced clarity during calls


Later on years of observing from the side lines, Bowers & Wilkins entered the true wireless market with the PI7 and PI5.

I reviewed the PI7 when they launched and enjoyed them; their manner, innovative charging case and premium audio scored them high marks. The PI5 are their less expensive siblings at £199 simply look around online and they’ve fallen to even more affordable levels.

While at that place was plenty to like nearly the PI7 there were aspects that didn’t hitting the mark. The PI5 bears several similarities, and in some ways, they fare better but besides commit some of the same sins.


  • Nonetheless has problems with comfort
  • Await terrific
  • Tactile feel to operation

The PI5 await like the PI7, which is to say they exude style and elegance. However, similar the PI7, comfort is an result.

For any reason the PI5 sits in the ear better than their premium sibling, only the use of hard plastic produces a like tiresome ache. It’southward not as bad as the PI7, but that’southward not a redeeming characteristic.

Bowers and Wilkins PI5 earbuds on ground

Just because of the slightly improve fit, at that place’s no need to resort to swapping out ear-tips to tighten the earphones’ seal. With its hitting black or white finishes, tripartite housing and auto precise expect of the touch controls, the PI5 score highly in terms of adroitness.

In terms of the controls there’s access to ANC, intermission, track skipping and voice assistant merely no volume or activation of Ambient Pass-Through (for that you lot need the app). Inputs are responsive, merely playback frequently stops when cycling through ANC modes and if you listen to the Soundscapes in the app, auto-pause appears to be disengaged.

Bowers and Wilkins PI5 charging case

The example is a slim one that hands fits into tight pockets; the LED on the front presents the earphones’ current land, with a Bluetooth pairing button sandwiched in-between the earbuds’ cradle to initiate pairing.


  • Responsive article of clothing sensor tech
  • Robust noise cancellation
  • Better bombardment than PI7
  • Stiff IP rating

Battery life betters the PI7 but not by much – 4.5 hours to iv, and overall, 24.5 hours to 20. That’southward meliorate than Bose’southward QuietComfort Earbuds, but most premium sets are shifting towards thirty hours. The signs point to an earphone suited for short bursts.

Then, if yous are someone who listens for a long time, you’ll be charging regularly. At to the lowest degree there are multiple means of topping up with fast- and QI wireless charging.

Water-resistance is IP54 then you’ll exist protected against splashes of water and limited ingress of grit. Wear detection works as well every bit it does on the PI7, which is to say it’s impressively prompt with its stops and starts.

Bowers and Wilkins PI5 detail shot

Wireless connectivity is Bluetooth 5.0 and Android owners get Google’s Fast Pair technology for instant first-time connection and install of the B&Due west Headphones app. While the earbuds avowal Bowers & Wilkins’ TWS+ technology for “high quality synchronisation”, connectivity gaffes still pervade.

There were times where the PI5’south connection become spotty but putting them into the example and taking them out resolved this. Busy point areas can knock the earphones off their stride and connecting to the B&W Headphone app causes a stutter before pausing music, weirdly.

Wireless codec back up hits an aptX ceiling, so they’re not as tuned for the high-res audio equally the PI7, missing out on those earbuds’ 24-scrap/48kHz transmission.

The one area where I feel the PI5 betters the PI7 is in its racket cancellation, and that’due south largely down to the seal of the earphone’s passive noise isolating design, which proves to be better than the PI7’s looser fit.

Co-ordinate to the transmission, the racket cancellation is adaptive simply that may be a misprint. It ‘intelligently’ tunes the earphones’ performance in relation to its environment. I’ve never been too hot for adaptive ANC – one-size-fits all is more to my liking – but this earphone is withal robust at repelling sounds. Most sounds within the most vicinity are diminished, vehicles intrude less often, people talking equally they get by are less audible and therefore less distracting. There’s a improve sense of quietude when walking virtually.

Information technology’s non as dismissive in scope as either Sony’s WF-1000XM4 or Bose’southward QC Earbuds, as some noise even so peeks through, but inside the price bracket of less than £200, the B&Due west PI5 impress.

Bowers Wilkins Headphones app PI5

The transparency mode is too effective, letting noise in without sounding disproportionately harsh or unnatural, and providing a practiced enough sense of what’s around you lot. There’southward no slider for choosing a specific level of laissez passer-through, but in the Headphone app you can opt betwixt ‘More than’ or ‘Less’ to modify the amount of noise that filters through.

The Headphones app for the PI5 doesn’t cater much to customisation with no EQ mode, and toggling on/off the ANC, Ambient Pass-Through and Vesture Sensor is all you lot can really change. Similar Jabra’s Audio+ app in that location are some ‘natural’ Soundscapes to listen to if you want to chill.

Bowers and Wilkins PI5 case with earbuds

A cursory agree on the right earbud brings up voice assistance on your smartphone, so there are no built-in smarts. I don’t think that matters much unless you’re someone who interacts with digital assistants often.

Call quality is among the better truthful wireless earphones I’ve tested, with clarity afforded to voices and a reasonably natural tone to call reception, too. They are susceptible to picking up noises but not to the signal where information technology becomes a distraction.

Sound quality

  • Large bass performance
  • Polish vocal reproduction
  • Short on detail and dynamism compared to the all-time

Start thing to comment on is that the PI5 sound big – both in scale and bass – and that has benefits and drawbacks.

Merely the positives first. Armed with a 9.2mm bespoke dynamic drive unit, bass is prodigious in giving music a weighty, powerful and substantial sound. A play of Billie Eilish’south Bad Guy seems tailored for them, every bit the earphone delivers depression-end depth across the Sony WF-1000XM4’s more than measured take.

Bowers and Wilkins PI5 on top of case

There’due south a sense of warmth that verges on being rich and lush at times, but is also capable of delivering plenty of kick, the driver set-upwardly giving percussion instruments a firm presence while still sounding relatively clear and detailed in the mid-range frequencies. Vocals are smoothly handed, broader in size and scope than some other true wireless when listening to Faye Webster’s Sometimes or Queen of the Stone Age’s No One Knows.

But against tougher competition the B&W sound a bit more ordinary. Measured against the WF-1000XM4 – which might be slightly unfair given cost gulf between them – it’due south a match up that reveals the areas the B&W are deficient in.

One of those areas is the top terminate of the frequency range, which is non equally sharp or equally incisive as I had hoped. The piano playing in Michael Giacchino’due south Bundle of Joy is bright plenty to have impact, the timbre of each notation played out to differing degrees, simply the lingering disuse of high frequency notes is missing, gone near as rapidly as it arrives.

The mid-range is non as finer parlayed equally more premium options, the downside of the ‘thicker’ sound in FINNEAS’ A Concert Six Months from At present is that at that place’s not every bit much item, clarity or crispness to be observed.

Bowers and Wilkins PI5 touch control

Similar the PI7, the width of the soundstage doesn’t extend far out, and so while these earphones sound big, they don’t offer every bit big a sense of space, which reminds me of Devialet’south Gemini. When it comes to their sense of dynamism, highs and lows of a rails are executed with more ataraxy on the Sony, the PI5 are like the PI7 in that they’re slightly reserved, the sweeping nature of Joe Hisashi’due south Water Traveller carries less confidence.

That doesn’t mean that the B&W PI5 aren’t a fun listen. They assuredly are. Their sonic abilities match their weight class, so they’re amend than earphones around the £150 marking but not as skilful as those above £200. An enjoyable listen, particularly for those who like their bass, just non the authoritative mind the Bowers & Wilkins name would imply.

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Should you purchase it?

If you lot love that bass:
If yous love music dripping with bass, so the PI5 bring plenty of with its performance. They’re a big, substantial sounding pair of earphones that go deeper in the low frequencies than more premium space

If you want a better fit :Similar the PI7, the PI5 struggles to provide a fit that doesn’t leave you with a irksome ache. It’due south not as bad as the PI7 just that doesn’t hateful it’s a practiced affair either

Final Thoughts

Among their price subclass the PI5 are a fun mind, but compared to the best they’re short on dynamism, clarity and particular. If you like bass then the PI5 have plenty in reserve: the noise cancellation makes these earphones one of the better around its cost and they look terrific. Good, just not quite cracking.

How we test

We test every headphones nosotros review thoroughly over an extended menstruation of time. Nosotros use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we discover. We never, always, accept money to review a product.

Find out more about how nosotros test in our ideals policy.

Tested with real earth employ

Tested over several weeks

Tested with music streaming services

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Do the B&W PI5 have congenital-in voice administration?

No, but they they practise support the voice banana on your smartphone through their touch controls.

How much battery life does fast charging provide?

A xv-minute charge offers two more hours of playback.

Tin I adjust ANC levels with the B&Westward PI5

No you can’t, only you can modify the Ambience Pass-Through manner from More than to Less.

Full specs

Great britain RRP


European union RRP


IP rating

Bombardment Hours

Wirless charging

Fast Charging



Release Appointment

Model Number

Commuter (s)

Noise Cancellation?



Frequency Range

Bowers and Wilkins PI5




Bowers & Wilkins





61 1000




9.2mm Dynamic driver


Bluetooth 5.0

White, Charcoal

10 20000 – Hz

Jargon buster


ANC (Agile Dissonance Counterfoil) uses an assortment of microphones in a headphone to detect the frequency of the sound coming at the listener, with the ANC scrap creating an inverse moving ridge (i.e. opposing sound) to suppress whatever unwanted external noises.

IP rating

An abbreviation for ‘Ingress Protection Code’, which lets yous know to what extent a device might be waterproof or dustproof.


Midrange refers to the part of the frequency range that sits between the bass and treble. The midrange is the area that handles vocals and most of the instruments heard in a track. It tin can also exist in reference to midrange loudspeaker drivers that replicate this expanse of the frequency range.


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