Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 In-Ear True Wireless Earbuds Review

Posted on 30th March, 2023

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 In-Ear True Wireless Earbuds Review

This new premium-priced True Wireless earbud offers a bold feature list, but is it worth the money? Matthew Jens decides…

Bowers & Wilkins

Pi7 S2 In-Ear True Wireless Earbuds

£349 RRP

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 Review

“You can have it all…” I felt like I could hear the beautiful lyrics of George McCrae drifting around me as I unboxed the new Bowers & Wilkins flagship earbud offering, his haunting words reminding me of the jam-packed feature list of its predecessor. 

The original Pi7 from 2021 was a treat for me to review. Back then, I was wooed by its illustrious spec list, including features such as wireless charging (which has since become commonplace in this market segment), a unique dual-driver design, and the ability to plug in a traditional 3.5mm source for analogue playback. 

This time round, Bowers has refreshed the Pi7 with a new Series 2 model, which also includes AptX Adaptive, and now has better battery life and a slew of new colour options. However, since it has retained its giga-pricing, at £349 in the UK, the new Pi7 S2 is almost double the price of the incumbent Airpods Pro 2. The question must be asked then – does it do enough to deserve this price tag in the current marketplace?

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 Review


With a sense of familiarity, the Pi7 S2 retains much in common with the Pi7. Weighing one gram lighter, the two-tone coloured IP54 buds have the same shape, size and comfort as its predecessor. The new model buds can fit inside the original Pi7 case perfectly, too. Neat.

Many standout features have made a comeback, such as wireless charging and the ability to plug in a standard headphone jack as an audio input device. The latter is a standout feature that (from what I've seen) no competitors have yet adopted. It's a handy concept that lets you plug your True Wireless companions into a new range of scenarios – such as in-flight entertainment, where Bluetooth options are typically left behind.

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 Review

The over-ear flagship from B&W (the PX7 S2) is a beautiful thing to touch, feel and look at, so it's a shame that this ultra-portable sibling has missed out on the same deluxe treatment. The Pi7 S2 case is a hard plastic finish with no soft-touch points. Usually, I'd be slow to deduct points for this, but it's a difficult pill to swallow in this price range.

Boasting an increased battery life compared to its predecessor (now coming in at 5 hours per use and 16 hours of charge in the case), this offering trails behind the likes of the Sony XM4, which comes in closer to 8 hours. However, this is quickly forgiven, considering the Pi7 S2 pumps sound through two drivers per ear; one 9.2mm proprietary dynamic driver and a balanced armature driver. This hybrid-style arrangement is typically found in similarly priced (if not more expensive) wired IEMs. It may, at least in part, justify the high pricing and reduced battery life.

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 Review

The improvements don't stop at just the drivers, though. Despite the older model having the same Bluetooth version (5.0), this new version now has a far greater wireless range and a better slew of audio codecs. Specifically, the S2 model now has aptX Adaptive, the “who's who” of aptX codecs bundled into one. 

Don't get me wrong though, aptX Adaptive is warmly welcomed here, and the connection quality is rock-solid. I can walk from room to room and have no issues, and connecting the Pi7 S2 to the Steam Deck gave me hours of low-latency gaming fun. It's important to note that the Pi7 S2 still uses a traditional master-slave style system instead of each ear being independent.

Those gaming hours were made much more practical by the comfort of the Pi7 S2. Despite only coming with three tip sizes, I found a perfect fit quickly, and I have no issues with ear fatigue after hours of use. I've been sleeping with these for the past few weeks without a problem, which is not something I can do with the bulk of the Sennheiser CX range. While the Pi7 S2 would work for gym workouts, I wouldn't go distance running with them, mainly due to the weight distribution. It's a comfortable companion around the house or on a flight, but I had to poke them back into place several times while out on a jog. 

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 Review

The Pi7 S2 makes use of the Bowers Music app to adjust features and settings. But to access these features, you need to sign up for a Bowers & Wilkins account. This requirement seems to me like it's bordering on Huawei's levels of being digitally invasive, especially for an audience that is growing ever-cognisant of privacy issues…

If you don't create an account, you get the same functionality as Airpods when connected to an Android device. Salt was poured liberally into these wounds because without signing up, I could not adjust noise cancelling, update the firmware or adjust any of the customisation options of the earbuds. Hey B&W, make the account creation stuff optional, please! 

Oh, and while I'm asking for the world, it was a pleasure to see an adjustable EQ introduced to the company's flagship over-ears (the PX7), and I was surprised this treatment didn't make its way to the Pi7 this time around as well. Fingers crossed, hopefully, this feature will trickle down to the True Wireless lineup in the next iteration?

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 Review


Sound quality is where the Pi7 shined brightest, and the Pi7 S2 is no different. Having a dual-driver configuration is a challenging task. Many manufacturers have tried and failed, falling victim to impedance woes from trying to match two very different drivers. However, if anyone can pull this off, it would be the manufacturer that spends too much time tinkering away over at Abbey Road Studios!

Listening to Let Me Go by Duke Dumont & RY X, every detail was warm and clear, without piercing or sibilance muddying things up. The haunting lyrics of RY X cut through the synth lines, and when the bass kicked in, the trademark mid/bass-heavy signature of the proprietary drivers didn't disappoint. The bass response here reminds me of the over-ear PX7 S2 – if I had to hazard a guess, they have been tuned to sound similar out of the box. Sadly, I could not crank the dynamic drivers full of bass to see how much output they could handle, as I couldn't access any EQ capabilities.

Calming things down with Hundred00 by Lara Somogyi, the Pi7 S2 followed suit and demonstrated its refinement and smooth upper-frequency response. If anything, I detected a dip in the upper range that lent itself more to a relaxed listen. If I had to describe this sonic signature in one word, it would be 'dark'…

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 Review

This is one of the best True Wireless earbud designs I have ever heard, with a terrific sense of detail and separation. Watching films with a well-mastered soundtrack is an immersive, deep experience that is hard to replicate with many other products on the market. The strong bass and relaxed higher frequency voicing walks a fine line between retaining the house signature that Bowers & Wilkins fans have loved for years and presenting functionality for air travellers. 

On a flight, you tend to turn the volume up to drown out the engine noise, which can be ear suicide for a bright and sparkly IEM. Even a neutral, flat response design with decent noise cancelling can still be painful when drowning out engine noise. That task, sadly, isn't one that the Pi7 S2 takes with aplomb. The noise cancelling effort here is mediocre, and while improved upon from the last iteration, it still leaves a lot to be desired to keep up with the segment incumbents. The PX7 S2 absolutely smashed this department; let's get some of those engineers working on the next Pi7 release, please!

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 Review


Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 is probably the most expensive True Wireless product on the market, yet not without its faults. It has a plasticky case, middling battery life, and invasive app requirements and falls short of having perfect noise cancelling. However, it makes up for this with features such as compatibility with any 3.5mm audio source, 24-bit audio playback, a hybrid dual-driver design and superb comfort levels. Oh, and it's also one of the single best-sounding True Wireless products I have ever heard.

So then, in this brave new marketplace filled with competitive offerings, does it do enough to deserve the premium price tag? In this reviewer's opinion, probably not. But remember, Beethoven had his critics too. If you want a great-sounding pair of True Wireless earbuds with a unique feature set, and the pricing doesn't scare you off, grab a pair and enjoy them. I know I have!

For more information visit Bowers & Wilkins

      Matthew Jens's avatar

      Matthew Jens

      Constantly keeping himself busy, Matthew is a production manager, Brazilian jiu-jitsu blue belt, Head-Fi fanatic, coffee enthusiast and all-round cool Dad.

      Posted in:Headphones Headphones In Ear Monitors Noise Cancelling Bluetooth / Wireless
      Tags: bowers wilkins 


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