Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Review
When Bowers & Wilkins celebrated half a century of successful business we rightly expect that such an anniversary is worthy celebrated. This time, the company decided to introduce a superior pair of headphones: Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature over ear headphones that will surely satisfy the audiophiles, but also customers who look for top quality, selected materials and a peculiarity of the product. Why the headphones? The company that built its reputation for the production of speakers actively turned on in the flood of headphones that have been splashed the audio scene for the last few years. Almost everyone who has interest in the audio domain has joined the race, and the market is really in a short time segment filled with the most diverse models in all price ranges. Of course, the environment of mobile music players, cell phones, and all cheaper and cheaper storage space for similar devices played a role in popularizing the headphones, but one part of the merit certainly carries the trends. Watching the streets of our cities makes it easy to conclude that there were never more music lovers on the move. Great news, if such a habit really is a result of the need for music, and less fashion detail.
But time will show how much such an observation is based, and in the meantime every high-fidelity sound reproduction fan can enjoy a huge offer and a variety of models. Just a few days ago, I had a pleasant occasion to talk to a large number of audiophiles on the Zagreb CanJam space this year at the AV Hotel Fair in the Sheraton Zagreb Hotel. It’s almost incredible how many visitors expressed the desire to listen to music from their cell phones and with the most expensive headphones models. It was not just curiosity. It’s about a whole new kind of music fans. Much has changed in the last few years and completely new category of interest appear. An excellent trend with the hope that it will last. But let’s go back to the subject itself. B & W P9 Signature are a headphones that are designed and manufactured to the highest standards of the company. Engineers of the company embarked on a project aware of the customer’s expectations and decided to make the product virtually from the idea on paper. Thanks to the resources available to them, and above all to their own product research and development center, they had the freedom to realize their thoughts. They decided for a combination of top quality materials, proven ideas and several innovations. Aluminum, composites and leather were used as basic materials.
For the Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature headphones completely new loudspeaker units (drivers) have been developed that, with powerful magnets and innovative suspension, enable dynamic and precise motion of the membrane, and are most valued for the sound that the headphones deliver. There is also a solid aluminum construction that provides a stable and optimized base for the construction, designed to isolate the vibration of a single channel and thus ensure the autonomy of each headphone unit from reciprocal vibration. The company thinks it’s that part of the design is deserved for the purity and openness of the headphones sound. But that’s not all. Headphone units are set at a 15 degree angle with respect to the ear in order to try to outpace the space. The finish is in line with the design and is made of “Saffiano” leather produced in Italy. So let’s go to the test in which we have 4cm wide bandwidths with “CCAW” coil and acoustic coat, specially designed memory foam ear pads that are magnetically attached to the structure and the exterior that imposes.
In the beginning of the hearing test I tried to define the extent to which the headphones respond to different head sizes and at this point I have to give a maximum grade for engineers who have made a design that is functional and comfortable regardless of its circumference. The headphones are also very comfortable and do not pose a load even after several hours of use. The sound that can be heard from the P9 Signature model is at the level of their technical description. Rock music is dynamic with a powerful bass and very attractive. Not even at higher volume levels there is no heavy breathing units and headphones retaining definition and coherence. I was surprised by the extraordinarily natural and alive “Hi-Hat”, who with his almost perfect definition and fade outs carried the first part of the test. Classical music also showed the other side of the sonic setup of the headphones and demonstrated the purity, dynamics and extraordinary image space. The edges of the orchestra were clearly visible, the instruments were fine separated and the background dark and completely calm. The feel of space and airiness reminded us of the reproduction of an excellent audio system with speakers. However, the two characteristics of the P9 signature were coming at the top as the testing started. The first is a powerful and deep bass that is somewhat prominent on recordings of unamplified music, and the other remarkable precision with which the headphones plays the instruments, especially in quiet sections. At these moments it seems that the leading instruments are somewhat outstretched, but listening to larger compositions and stronger shares of instrument balance is for every praise. The vocals are extraordinarily clean, present, transparent and defined. Headphones can be considered as balanced, very present with a stronger bass.
The B & W P9 Signature has been tested with several preamps with tube and transistor configurations and with a number of portable players and cell phones. The space does not allow the inclusion of every detail, but the highest value of the headphones is their consistency and the characteristic that their sound is recognizable in every configuration. Bowers & Wilkins has marked its half-century in the way it expects from companies of such a level. Wish a happy birthday, of course. However, P9 Signature is a bit of an exclusive product with its price and status. This is confirmed by both construction and sound.