It was only a short while ago when Bowers & Wilkins unveiled the P7 Wireless, a wire-free version of its then flagship headphones and they are top quality - worthy of a premium tag for sure. However, the company has just gone one better. There are now a pair of headphones at the top of its line-up that make even the superb P7 and P7 Wireless models seem standard.
As part of the company's 50th anniversary celebrations, Bowers & Wilkins has introduced the P9 Signature headphones, which benefit from its experience in super high-end audio performance and luxury design know-how.
In the past, the Signature label has usually been reserved for extraordinary, limited edition loudspeakers, such as the incredible Signature Diamond floorstanders, retailing for £11,000 a pair. To get the badge, the product has to be the best of the best and be reference standard in its field.
The P9 Signature is the first pair of headphones to meet such high levels of performance that it qualifies. And from our brief listen so far, the accolade is not awarded lightly.
Engineered by the same team who designed and build the 800 D3 loudspeakers, there is care and attention poured into every detail - all with high-end performance in mind.
There are two 40mm drivers on board, one inside each earpiece. They are built of a sturdier material than those inside the P7 'phones, and have wider surrounds around each in order to attain as rigid a structure as possible - thereby reducing unwanted vibrations.
Both drivers are also angled, to shoot towards the ear in more natural a fashion. It gives the impression of a soundscape further forward than with most headphones and adds further rigidity through an aluminium side wall at the front of each unit.
The design of the headphones and materials used are chosen to also improve performance. The main chassis features a composite aluminium build that feels incredibly solid, yet lightweight. Even the decoupling mounts around each ear cup are specifically tooled to provide stability yet are sprung for comfort.
The same lamb's leather usually found on Bowers & Wilkins headphones adorns the ear pieces, although in brown rather than the traditional black, and memory foam is inside to ensure a cosy fit. There is also Saffiano leather on the headband for durability.
The headphones come with three cables, which can be swapped by unclipping the left ear cup and include one with an in-line remote, one that's five metres long and a 6mm jack adapter.
Bowers & Wilkins is also in the process of making a special MFi Lightning cable for Apple users and customers who buy the P9 Signature headphones can get one for free by simply registering their purchase online.
There's no doubt that the Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature headphones are among the best we've used on Pocket-lint. They have a simple stunning spatial awareness and clarity, while ensuring a throaty, accurate control over low frequencies.
What might deter some is the price. At £700 the P9 Signature cans are far from cheap. However, we feel you would be hard pushed to even find comparatively priced peers capable of this level of performance.
We'll know more when we put them to more stringent tests, but for now you can colour us impressed. Very impressed indeed.
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