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Candy for the ears

Jan 06. 2017
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By Paisal Chuenprasaeng
THE NATION

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The new headphones from Bowers & Wilkins deliver solid bass, vocal clarity and great detail, and they're comfortable to wear too

BOWERS & WILKINS welcome 2017 with the release of the top-of-the-range P9 Signature headphone boasting premium build and excellent sound quality with great mid-range clarity, good precision and solid and weighty bass.

B&W, which is well-known for its 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers, says it has made use of the acoustic and design innovation knowledge it has amassed during its 50 years in business to build the P9 Signature.

That means that the materials used for each component of the phones are custom-made and B&W specialists have designed every element.

 

The headphones are crafted from Italian Saffiano leather and B&W says it uses a “stamping” technique to give the material its distinctive cross-hatch finish.

The over-ear headphones provide a very good sound experience with memory foam cushions in the ear pads isolating noise from the outside world. With the cushions moulded to the shape of your head, the phones provide both an acoustic seal and comfortable listening experience.

P9 Signature’s earcups use acoustic cabinets that are made up of composites and aluminium optimised for the drive units to render music with precision. Moreover, P9 Signature’s headband is designed to decouple each earcup, and thus stopping unwanted vibration transmitting between each cup and the headband. B&W says this design allows the P9 Signature to achieve very clear and open sounding.

 

The headphones use advanced drive units with a suspension system that enables them to ensure precision at high frequencies as well as reproduce solid bass.

The 40-mm full-range drivers are designed to provide a more natural experience and more stereo sound space with a sense of imaging, depth, and clarity whole the transducers allow the wearer to hear sounds as if he or she was listening to a pair of stereo speakers.

The driver units are made of Nylon damped cone with large surround diaphragms.

P9’s Signature aluminium arms are foldable and the material adds durability, making the phones perfect for use while travelling. The package comes with a luxurious case crafted from Alcantara and Saffiano leather.

The P9 Signature have a frequency range of 2 Hz to 30kHz and very high sensitivity of 111 dB. Impedance is rated at 22 ohms and the headphones weigh about 413 grammes.

 

The P9 Signature come with an audio cable with in-line remote and microphone that is supported by iPhone, iPad and iPod.

During the test, I found the phones really comfortable to wear thanks to the adjustable headband and soft cushions. I listened to music for hours without once feeling any pressure force on my ears.

The circum aural design and earpads effectively shielded my listening experience from a noisy environment, even when I tested them in my office.

I tested the headphones with Sony NW-A35 High-Resolution Audio Walkman player and smartphones that support High-Resolution Audio playback and was really impressed at the sound quality rendered by the headphones.

The P9 Signature phones are really great for enjoying easy-listening songs with vocals. The mid-range clarity is excellent and the details of the musical instruments could be heard even in the high pitches |while the bass is both weighty and solid.

Another advantage is that you can replace the P9 Signature’s audio cable. The cable, which is fitted to the headphones, has in-line remote and microphone for using with smartphones, especially iOS devices. A plain 5-metre audio cable with 6.3mm adapter is also provided, which will please those serious about music.

And in a move that will please iPhone 7 users, B&W is developing a Lightning cable to overcome the smartphone’s lack of 3.5mm stereo jack. Music plus Cinema, exclusive distributor of Bowers & Wilkins products in Thailand, will provide the Lightning cable to its buyers free of charge at a later date on provision of a proof of purchase from the Thai distributor.

I listened to Diana Krall singing “Desperado” in High-Res FLAC 24bit/96kHz format and was knocked out by the clarity of her voice, the piano introduction and the symphony orchestra in the background.

When I tried AC/DC’s “Rock or Bust” album in the same format, the songs were loud with solid and weighty bass and the clear screeching guitar melded well with cymbal sounds and drums. The vocals were also loud and clear.

And when I listened to “Don’t Drift Too Far Away” by Elephant Revival in DSD high-res sound format, I could hear the cello playing powerful bass with banjo and violin sounds clearly highlighted.

Listening to Roger Waters’ “Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking” in FLAC 24bit/192kHz format was equally clear with the ambient sound effects enhancing the songs’ meanings.

Bowers & Wilkins’ P9 Signature is distributed by Music plus Cinema for Bt47,900.

Key Specs

- Type: Circum aural headphones

- Drive units: 2x40mm full range

- Frequency range: 2Hz to 30kHz

- Impedance: 22 ohms

- Distortion (THD): less than 0.2% (1kHz/10mW)

- Sensitivity: 111dB at 1kHz

- Max input power: 50mW

- Weight: 413g

 

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