B & W’s first true wireless headset offers a workaround for in-flight entertainment

Bowers and Wilkins’ first pair of noise-canceling wireless headphones, the PI7, fixes one of the main form factor drawbacks – it is usable with in-flight entertainment systems, as the case also serves as a audio transmitter. Plug the box into an audio source using an included 3.5mm to USB-C cable and it will stream audio wirelessly to the headphones. At the same time, Bowers and Wilkins also announced the cheaper PI5 wireless headphones which also offer noise cancellation.

Bowers and Wilkins say the PI7’s gearbox is an industry first, and it’s certainly the first time we’ve heard of such a feature. In contrast, trying to use other popular truly wireless headphones like AirPods Pro with an in-flight entertainment system requires a third-party dongle. Of course, the PI7’s transmission box should also work with any other non-Bluetooth devices you own, like an old iPod.

The true PI5 wireless headphones.
Image: Bowers and Wilkins

The PI7 headphones in their charging case, which doubles as a wireless transmitter.
Image: Bowers and Wilkins

Beyond the sophisticated housing of the PI7, it offers a fairly standard set of features for a pair of true wireless headphones. The headphones are noise-canceling and are equipped with six microphones in total for making calls or using voice assistants. It uses the AptX Adaptive standard, which should allow it to dynamically compress audio to maintain a stable connection, and its case can be charged wirelessly. The headphones themselves have a modest 4 hours of battery life (compared to 4.5 for the AirPods Pro), while the case offers 16 hours more. The heads have an IP54 dust and water resistance rating, so they must survive light splashes and limited amounts of dust.

The cheaper PI5 headphones also offer noise cancellation and come with a case that can be charged wirelessly, but they only have four microphones in total. There is also no mention of AptX Adaptive – just regular AptX – and there is no sign of the PI7’s audio replay box. The PI5’s battery life appears to be slightly better than that of the more expensive PI7, however, with the earbuds delivering 4.5 hours of playback on a single charge. The case offers 20 more hours. The PI5s also have an IP54 dust and water resistance rating.

Both headphones are available from today. The PI7 cost $ 399 / £ 349 / € 399, while the PI5 cost $ 249 / £ 199 / € 249.

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