Bowers and Wilkins P3 Review

5 min read

I’ve tested a lot of headphones and my favorites are the super expensive, over-the-ear, noise canceling, wireless, blah-blah-extra-features headphones from big name audio company. Yet, those headphones aren’t for everyone or they are just not suitable for every situation. Sometimes, you just need a simple, plug-and-play set of cans that sound good, like the P3 (series 2) headphones from Bowers and Wilkins.

Bowers and Wilkins (B&W) are a hugely recognizable name in the audio business, and they make various products such as headphones, speakers, and car audio products. The P3 I have here to review is actually the second version of their P3 and is part of B&W’s P family of headphones. These are on the lower end, with the family going up to the P9’s — that I hope to review for you all soon as well.

The box you get the P3 series 2 in is a very simple box that really only features the headphones and the names of the product and company. On the back, you’ll see the message from the company, Bowers and Wilkins. In various languages and on the bottom you’ll see ‘Made for iPhone’ message and the super short items list. What you’ll notice is missing is a spec list, but that’s only slightly abnormal since this is a pair of headphones.

Inside you’re faced with the headphones, a carrying bag, and some booklets. That’s all. Pretty simple packaging for pretty simple headphones. The books do provide 3 months of free music for registering the headphones, some ads for other B&W products, and repair guides.

The Build

These P3’s are very lightweight and compact, and they fold so you can fit them in a jacket pocket if need be. Even though these are the lower end of B&W’s headphones, they don’t look like it. You get a thin headband with a nice, ‘suede’-like texture that extends down in dual, curved, aluminum arms that hold the ear cups. The P3’s are on-ear (supra-aural) so the cups are a bit small. There are silver accents on the cups, with the Bowers and Wilkins logo engraved in silver as well. Also worth noting, the cord is not detachable.


The P3’s are comfortable but they do have a slight grasp/pinch on the head, which I’m guessing is just to secure the fit. I could wear these for hours no problem as long as I wasn’t wearing glasses or shades, as the headphones would pinch my ears against my glasses’ arms. There’s some material on the bottom on the headband to keep the headphones comfy on the top of your headphone, but there’s not much — just enough to check the box.


You can easily find the specs for the P3’s on Bowers and Wilkins website if you wish to see them. Since these are simple headphones, there’s no need to obscure the tech.

A few things to note here are the average-sized drivers in these headphones, which definitely attribute to the overall physical size of the earcups. There’s also a lower impedance level to the P3’s which means you won’t need a super heavy and powerful amp/DAC to drive these headphones to the limit — what you get from a decent phone will be the same from a computer, so an extra AMP really isn’t necessary. Lastly, you can take a look at sensitivity which is 111dB/V at 1KHz, which simply means that at max volume these headphones will have the same levels of a dance club — so you shouldn’t have any dangers of immediate hearing loss.

Sound Quality

The most impressive thing about these headphones is really the central point and measurement to all headphones, sound quality. These sound amazing and are not what you, or at least I, would expect from a pair of small on-ears. Each of the levels (lows, mids, and highs) are very clear and don’t detract from each other, and the bass, which shocked me the most, was very punchy and precise. I honestly expected a lot less bass.

All different types of genres that I listened to excelled in these headphones. You’ll hear everything as clear as ever. These don’t fully immerse you in the music due to them being so small and also being on-ear headphones, and I could easily hear surrounding noise when I took these to the park or somewhere else public. Yet, they will get the job done with some great sounding music when you’re just on the go and need to plug and play.

As I’ve said these headphones will give you the bare minimum in extra features, which is actually just a foldable design. No ANC, no wireless, no swivel cups, no removable cable (unless you’re doing maintenance). These are the headphones that you’ll pick up when you quickly need to show your friends that new bass drop or the ones you always keep in your bag as a backup (like me).

The P3 series 2 are available pretty much where any other high-end audio products are sold — Apple store, online, maybe a Best Buy (likely not). They also only cost $150, which honestly I feel is warranted with these headphones. They give you a great sound, great build, and are compact without any superfluous extras.

These are definitely some headphones I can recommend for many people. Audiophiles who need a simple backup and aren’t rolling in dough, simple listeners who want a better pair of headphones than they have now without having to crush their wallets, or just people who want a decent and balanced pair of headphones that aren’t tinny or overloading in bass. What I will remind you of though is that these are just the P3, the P family is quite large, so things only get better from here…

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