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Home / Reviews / Audio / Headphones / Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 review: great buds, but rivals offer more

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 review: great buds, but rivals offer more

Style-centric, sonically-focused earphones boost connectivity

Bowers and Wilkins Pi7 S2 review

Stuff Verdict

They sound simply brilliant, but the active noise cancellation isn’t up with the best.

Pros

  • Premium look and feel
  • Nicely balanced sound

Cons

  • Noise cancellation isn’t the best
  • Both the buds and case are bulky

Introduction

A couple of years on from the first-gen Pi7 in-ears comes a successor. Bowers & Wilkins has overhauled its flagship true wireless earbuds with improved connectivity, longer battery life, and even more stand-out styling.

As with the Pi7 S2, there is also a Pi5 S2 to sit underneath them, launched in March 2023 and following up the previous version from early 2022. The original Pi7s were launched back in 2021.

Design & build

As before the Pi7 S2 ‘buds are pretty big in the ear, but they do have dual drivers in each earpiece to make room for: a 9.2mm unit alongside a balanced-armature driver for the higher frequencies.

Still, they’re really light and comfortable, as long as – and this is key – you get the fit right.

Features & battery life

Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive tech is at the core, with adaptive ANC thanks to six mics and transparency mode.

We didn’t experience any dropout issues as some did with the old model, but B&W has redesigned the antenna system anyway to ensure connectivity consistency this time around. And it seems to have worked.

One of our bugbears with in-ear buds generally is touch controls – and here they’re just a pain. They’re so easy to activate by mistake if you adjust a bud in your ear.

Another downside is that the battery life is so-so by today’s standards – 5hrs maximum from the buds and an uncompetitive 16hrs from the large case (which can fast-charge).

The B&W Music app enables you to adjust the transparency mode, although not EQ settings, which will be a downer for some. You can adjust whether you want playback to stop when you remove a bud, though.

Sound quality and noise cancellation

Unfortunately, the ANC isn’t the best. Rivals work better – and on a flight we found they weren’t blocking louder noises at all, though
low-level stuff was fine.

Thankfully, the Pi7 S2s excel in the one area where they need to: audio quality. You’ll find the sound of these earphones absolutely stunning. It’s really focused and punchy for heavier tracks but also deft and warm for the lighter stuff.

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 verdict

Bowers and Wilkins Pi7 S2 review

We can’t speak highly enough of the Pi7 S2’s sound, which feels worth the high premium Bowers & Wilkins demands. That said, a star is knocked off for the imperfect noise-cancellation and so-so battery life.

Stuff Says…

Score: 4/5

They sound simply brilliant, but the active noise cancellation isn’t up with the best.

Pros

Premium look and feel

Nicely balanced sound

Cons

Noise cancellation isn’t the best

Both the buds and case are bulky

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 technical specifications

Drivers9.2mm dynamic + balanced armature
Active noise cancellationYes
ConnectivityBluetooth
Bluetooth versionBluetooth 5.0
Codecs supportedSBC, AAC, AptX
Battery5hrs + 16hrs (buds + case, ANC on)
Weight7g (buds)
Profile image of Dan Grabham Dan Grabham Editor-in-Chief

About

Dan is Editor-in-chief of Stuff, working across the magazine and the Stuff.tv website.  Our Editor-in-Chief is a regular at tech shows such as CES in Las Vegas, IFA in Berlin and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona as well as at other launches and events. He has been a CES Innovation Awards judge. Dan is completely platform agnostic and very at home using and writing about Windows, macOS, Android and iOS/iPadOS plus lots and lots of gadgets including audio and smart home gear, laptops and smartphones. He's also been interviewed and quoted in a wide variety of places including The Sun, BBC World Service, BBC News Online, BBC Radio 5Live, BBC Radio 4, Sky News Radio and BBC Local Radio.

Areas of expertise

Computing, mobile, audio, smart home

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