Bowers and Wilkins have done it again and added to their sequence of odd numbers with the Bowers and Wilkins P9 Signature. However they’ve taken a break from their black and silver theme and gone over to the brown side, giving the P9 even more of an executive feel. But has the sound of the P9 undergone a similar transformation?
- Great versatile and comfortable sound
- Three cables included
- High quality construction
- Isolation quite low for a portable
- Headband needs adjusting for use with case
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Design and appearance:
As mentioned above, the colour of the Bowers and Wilkins P9 Signature has been changed from the familiar black we have all come to know, and the basic design of the headband has changed as well. Gone are the swept back silver yokes of the other black models, with some very solid-feeling forged aluminium ones on the P9 model. There is a nicely put together soft case for storage, although the headband needs to be adjusted to its minimum size for this. The P9 comes with a generous three cables; two of which are short for portable use (one with mic/controls) and a long 3m cable for enjoying music at home.
Durability & build quality:
The new yokes are very strong and together with the firmness of the earpads, the P9 is a very sturdy design. It is a little more hefty than previous models, but the weight is by no means excessive and once in use barely noticable. Cables are similarly solid with good strain relief at the jack end; as with previous models, the cable is attached to the headphones by taking off one of the earpads, where the jack sits within a recessed cavity. The earpads and headband padding are coated with Saffiano leather which not only looks and feels luxurious but also means it last the test of time.
With the right adjustments, clamping force is distributed equally between headband and earpads, and the earpads have enough give in them for glasses to be worn with no trouble or discomfort.
Isolation on the P9 is fairly low; when tried here in the office with no music, the headphones allow pretty much everything through. With music playing, this is of course mitigated against but still those distracting exterior sounds can be a problem; especially during those quieter passages in classical music, for instance.
Overall the Bowers and Wilkins P9 Signature has a very versatile frequency response. The accent is tilted towards the warm but there’s plenty of detail to be had.
Down low, there’s good extension as sub-bass is fully present; it’s certainly skull-rattling with tracks with plenty of subby basslines, and a nice amount of weight and drama is added to classical performances. Kick drums decay with a certain unmistakable rumble. Higher up, the mid-bass is slightly pronounced, and together with the sub-bass makes bass a real feature of the P9’s sound. The P9 is no one-trick pony however, as bass moves up into midrange very smoothly and with great definition.
In the middle, there’s no hint of bass encroaching on midrange territory, which can certainly hold its own. Here there is a nice amount of clarity and presence giving crisp directional cues and harmonics. Space is there in spades and there is no danger of congestion with more complicated or busy passages.
Higher frequencies are well balanced with the rest of the presentation and lead to what most will think of as a comfortable sound. Detail is not sacrificed however and as with the midrange, there is a certain crispness here which grabs the attention. Having said that, the P9 is on the forgiving side when it comes to older recordings, or those whose production might leave something to be desired.
Soundstage & Separation:
Soundstage is impressive; with good width and depth. It’s easy to pinpoint individual instruments and the instruments themselves are very nicely rendered thanks to the clear midrange and treble, enhancing the 3D effect.
Music Genres Good For and Why:
The Bowers and Wilkins P9 Signature has been tried with pretty much everything and provides a nice touch with all genres. Weight for those dramatic strings in classical and for heavy basslines in rock and dance music. Conversely, acoustic performances enjoy a certain lightness and plenty of air. Old music such as Harry Richman’s ‘Puttin on the Ritz’ is most enjoyable on the P9, despite its being recorded over 80 years ago!