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Bowers & Wilkins Px8 Wireless Headphones Revisited: Editor’s Choice 2023

The best high-end wireless headphones of 2023? The revised Bowers & Wilkins Px8 have dethroned their rival across the English Channel.

Bowers & Wilkins Px8 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphone in Royal Burgundy and Gold

Almost 12 months have passed since we crowned the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 and Focal Bathys as our “Best Wireless Headphones of 2022.” The French headphones edged out its British rival only slightly on my scorecard, but other members of the eCoustics team preferred the Px8.

It’s hard to go wrong with either model. After putting that conversation to bed, I decided to purchase both and have spent the better part of 2023 listening to them and my thought process is that very little has changed this year — these are still the top audiophile wireless headphones to consider.

Focal Bathys Wireless Headphones in Dune (left) and dark gray (right)
Focal Bathys Wireless ANC Headphones in Dune (left) and dark gray (right)

Neither brand ignored customer demand for new colorways; Focal introduced a new Dune colorway for the Bathys, and Bowers & Wilkins introduced a royal burgundy and McLaren trim option for the Px8.

Both companies also introduced new firmware updates for each model.

Focal’s decision to add sound personalisation to the Bathys’ control app was not a game-changing upgrade but we explained how it impacted the sound and overall operational performance here.

With that in mind, I decided that it was time to revisit the Px8 and see how it stacks up against the revised rival from across the English Channel.

From an aesthetic perspective, the new royal burgundy trim with gold ear cups and gimbals adds another level to the overall value of the Px8 which finally looks more like a flagship pair of headphones compared to the solid black and tan/silver combinations.

Closeup of Bowers & Wilkins Px8 Royal Burgundy Headphones low angle
Bowers & Wilkins Px8 in Royal Burgundy and Gold.

Internally, Bowers and Wilkins has tweaked the tuning to give the Px8 a little more refinement in its signature and have improved the noise cancelling performance, which is certainly noticeable if you use ANC a lot.

Bowers & Wilkins took everything that it learned about the Px8 during its refinement and applied it to the award-winning Px7 S2e that we just reviewed earlier this month.

Older Px7 models do not benefit from those updates because they do not sport the different chipset. Px8 owners, however, can enjoy all of the new benefits simply by opening the control app and updating to the latest firmware.

Bowers & Wilkins Px8 Royal Burgundy Headphones Back and Button Controls

So What’s New?

The updates include aptX Adaptive and internal 24-bit DSP processing; this not only allows for better quality audio input to the Px8 but allows the Px8 to refine noise reduction using narrower bands than a 16-bit DSP would allow and thus remove outside noises without impacting the sound signature. 

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In practice, this doesn’t amount to a huge difference, but one does notice some additional detail in recordings that were clearly muted by the ANC in the previous iteration. There was also a small improvement in overall clarity but every little bit helps when listening with ANC engaged.

The Px8 were already one of the top models when it comes to ANC, so it’s notable that Bowers & Wilkins worked on improving the performance at no extra cost to the user.

2023 was a really busy year for me on the work travel front and more than a dozen new wireless models were afforded the opportunity to impress whilst on the road and flying across the country.

The reality is that the improvements made by Bowers & Wilkins to the ANC performance made it the preferred travel companion; even over the Focal Bathys in that regard.

The Bathys were improved on the tuning front and offer a more neutral sonic signature overall, but the the design of the French wireless headphones is inferior when it comes to handling outdoor noise.

Inside the office, the Bathys are fine with ANC engaged but they certainly struggle outside in the elements; car and bus noise are more audible, and so are loud conversations and music.

When it comes to longer listening sessions on an airplane or at your desk, the Px8 offer a higher clamping force and certainly get warmer more quickly.

Bowers & Wilkins Px8 Royal Burgundy Headphones and Accessories Kit

Final Thoughts

Having already made the decision with my wallet to own both the Focal Bathys and Bowers & Wilkins Px8, there is no question that I will continue to use both on a regular basis because they are still that much better than the competition when it comes to sound quality, wireless performance, comfort, ANC performance, and overall durability.

The Bathys are currently on sale ($699 $629 at Amazon) which makes them a huge bargain compared to luxury wireless headphones from Bang & Olufsen, Master & Dynamic, or Mark Levinson.

But as we close out the year, and I prepare to get ready for the holidays and time away — the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 will be the wireless headphones that occupy the spot in my travel bag for the foreseeable future.

When you factor in the sound quality, improved ANC performance, updated DSP and Bluetooth support, these are truly the best high-end wireless headphones right now.

A pair of DALI IO-12 should be forthcoming in January but will have to be spectacular to justify the $1,300 USD asking price.

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Where to buy:

Have a look back at our previous coverage and learn what we thought last year.


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