THERE was mass wailing and gnashing of teeth when Apple decided to remove the headphone jack from its iPhones.
But this moment was a huge opportunity for companies which make audio products, who are now battling to make the ultimate wireless headphones.
Now the legendary British hi-fi firm Bowers & Wilkins has thrown its hat into the ring with the release of the £329 PX headphones.
The Worthing-based company is world-renowned for the quality of its speakers, including the striking Nautilus speakers which look like massive great psychedelic turbo snails and cost £55,000 for a pair.
The headphone market is a tough nut to crack, with the Apple-owned Beats likely to prove a tough competitor (you can read our review of the £299 Beats Studio 3 wireless headphones here).
We’re glad to report that the PX headphones are definitely a worthy contender.
They look great and are clad in a fabric called ballistic nylon, which makes them both robust and beautiful.
The PX headphones are designed with sound quality in mind and offer a true “audiophile” experience.
We tested them with classic music from the golden age of the 20th-century vinyl era as well as bass heavy modern tunes and it handled both with aplomb.
They offer the ability to listen to high-resolution 24-bit audio, which is better than CD quality.
In practice, few people will use this option because the files are so large. But it’s nice to have, for sure, particularly if you’re used to the quality of CDs or records, which sound better than the files used by most music streaming services.
Wireless headphones used to be really annoying to set up.
But since Apple removed the headphone jack, it has also made it really easy to connect wireless devices to iPhones, iPad and Mac computers.
In a few button presses, I was able to listen to tunes from Apple Music or Spotify in stunning quality on my iPhone.
The headphones also work with YouTube or other video-based apps, allowing you to listen wirelessly at low levels of latency – which means the audio doesn’t lag behind the movement of people’s lips or other onscreen action.
The noise-cancelling function is particularly good, offering you the ability to switch between a mode called “city” which lets you hear traffic noise to cross roads or listen out for muggers, as well as “office”, that lets you hear what people are saying, and “flight”, the strongest setting which filters out all external noise.
I was also impressed with a function which switches off the music when you remove the headphones or hang them around your neck – and then turns it on again when you put them back on.
They don’t need charging up very often either, offering 22 hours of noise-cancelling action in wireless mode and 33 when they are plugged in. To charge them, all you need to do is plug in the micro-USB cable, which can be stored in a rather snazzy soft bag which comes in the box.
My only quibble with the PX headphones was that I found it a bit fiddly to switch them on and off, because the switch was rather small.
This isn’t a big issue, however. Overall, I thought the PX headphones were fantastic, offering stunning audio quality, clever noise cancelling, superb battery life and impressive technological innovation.
Yes, they are pricey, but you get what you pay for.
The PX headphones are a brilliant product from a world-beating British firm.
We’d advise Santa to extend his overdraft because a lot of people will want a pair this Christmas.
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