We live in a world saturated with headphones. Ranging in prices from the thousands to gas station earbuds. I’ve always fancied myself an audio connoisseur since I’ve spent a large majority of my life on airplanes. Early on I was on the Bose kick and then adopted the SHURE SE series in-ear headphones. All of which were phenomenal for a short amount of time. But after about three months the audio would start cracking, the cable would short out, and they would just shit the bed. I’m terrified to actually know how much money I’ve wasted over the course of twelve years.
The time came for me to look for another option outside of the standard Apple earbuds. One of my close friends was the co-founder of LifeProof phone cases and is more pretentious about his audio than anyone I knew. So when we sat down for lunch and I asked him what model he was using, he very quickly told me he was using Bowers and Wilkins. Now, this caught me off guard because up until that point I had never heard of B&W.
In 1966, when people were just really starting to give a shit about sound quality, John Bowers and his lifelong friend Peter Hayward founded a manufacturing company originally called B&W on the South coast of England. John served in World War Two as a special operations executive in clandestine radio contact for the allies. Between this specialty and his love for classical music, Bowers and Wilkins became his lifelong passion.
Hesitant to drop more serious coin on headphones that would most likely fail me as well, I went to Amazon to see what model Mr. Bezos would sell me. I found the P5’s for an incredible refurbished price of $80.00. At that price, even if these did fail me, I wouldn’t shed a tear. They arrived a couple of days later in a standard box, but a very non-standard diamond stitched soft case with magnetic closure that contained the detachable cable, a splitter and spare magnetic ear pads.
The fit and feel of the P5’s are a 9/10 due to the tendency to slide off from the top of my head whenever I bend down. And after about three hours, the compression from the center band causes your ears to get slightly tender. But, these are small gripes to an otherwise ergonomic and sleek headphone that is probably the most aesthetically pleasing pair I’ve ever seen on the market. Although not advertised as a noise-canceling headphone, they work incredibly well drowning out crying children or the annoying drunk sitting next to you on an international flight. And I feel obligated to state that you should not be hesitant to blast your music full blast in crowded areas, regardless of how embarrassing your playlist is. No one will be able to hear the music and pass judgment, so carry on wayward son.
Now to the most important part of all. The sound. As with every new pair of headphones, you grab your phone, plug in the cable and find the most savage song you have on your playlist. For me, I put on Pink Floyd’s Time and just laid back and focused on what the P5’s were going to put out. The high and low tones were perfectly balanced with a deep hearty sound that I haven’t heard from another set of headphones before. It has actually kind of ruined my other music listening experiences from my home or car speakers and my Bluetooth speaker that I use at the beach. I find myself wanting to put on the P5’s if I’m going to listen to music, regardless of where I’m at. The last test was to put on Biggie Smalls, crank up the volume and let the bass go to work. Not a single crack came from the drivers, even at high volume. I let the whole album play till the end without remorse or a care in the world. Bowers and Wilkins now have my full, undivided attention and I will be a lifelong customer.