Here is something new I’ve never written before – Headphones. It’s a little bit funny actually considering that at one point I was pretty obsessed with finding the best headphones I could wear for my daily listening. Some of you might not have a habit of listening to anything when you are at your work. I personally can’t do that, I need to listen to something, be it some music or podcasts, anything. And again during my commute I would listen to my Audible book. So I should have written something about it.
My current headphones is a 5-year-old Sennheiser PX200, so old that the earpads had disintegrated a few months ago. I was closed to buy a new one, but I couldn’t seem to find a right one for me, so I settled with getting a pair of new earpads and replaced the old ones (luckily Amazon was selling such a thing).
So, when Bower & Wilkins asked me to review their latest Maserati Special Edition P5 Headphones, I thought that it was a perfect timing, maybe this could be one headphones I’ve been looking for!
Hence, here I am writing this review while wearing the brand new Bower & Wilkins Maserati Edition P5 and listening to my playlist!
After the review you can also read how you can WIN one of these awesome headphones!
Speed and Sound
The Bower & Wilkins P5 Headphones is actually not a new model, the original P5 has been around for a while and in term of features and functionalities, they are the same as this new Maserati Edition. More on this later.
The Bowers & Wilkins Maserati Edition P5 was created as part of the latest collaboration between the legendary British sound specialist and the Italian iconic car manufacture Maserati. It followed the release of the Bowers & Wilkins 805 Maserati Edition loudspeaker and Bowers & Wilkins uniquely tuned in-car audio systems for the Maserati Ghibli and Quattroporte.
Here is what they say on their Press Release:
Paying homage to the design heritage of both brands, P5 Maserati Edition is crafted from fine-grain natural leather in Maserati’s iconic and distinctive deep racing blue, for a luxuriously comfortable fit. P5 Maserati Edition also features the iconic Maserati Trident emblem on the headband, and on the exclusive quilted leather travel pouch. The Trident was designed by Mario Maserati in 1926, based on the statue of Neptune in the fountain of Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore.
Of course, P5 Maserati Edition also features the award-winning audio performance for which the original P5 Mobile Hi-Fi Headphones is renowned, with unfatiguing natural sound from the use of specially developed, ultra-linear neodymium magnets and highly optimised Mylar diaphragms; maximum noise isolation through a combination of sealed-leather ear pads and a closed-back design featuring a rigid metal faceplate; and extreme comfort for extended listening.
Obviously those are very nice words with lots of technical speak thrown around, but how does it fare in reality? Let’s find out!
Look and Feel
I must say, the Bowers & Wilkins Maserati Edition P5, looks really cool and stylish. If Dr. Dre Beats Headphones is like the Escalades or the Land Rovers of the car world, the P5 would be like the Lamborghinis or the Ferraris – well in this case it’s a Maserati :) Compare to other closed-back headphones in the market, the P5 looks relatively small and rather discreet, that is until you notice the Trident emblem on the headband.
The frame is made of metal that and it feels satisfyingly solid and heavy, but because it has comparatively smaller footprint I don’t feel it too heavy when I wear it. The metal frame also makes the the headphones a tight-fit so I don’t feel it loose and like it’s about to fall off my head.
This was however also one of the downsides for me, at least for the first few days I was wearing it. Since it was pretty tight when it gripped my ears they hurt a bit after a prolonged use. Though I must say, after a few days it adjusted itself and it became more comfortable. Another thing to watch out is, if you wear glasses like me, it could feel a bit tight especially where the glasses frame touches the ear .
The headband, the arch around the head, is cushioned with some soft material and clothed with real leather. The earpads get the same soft-cushion real-leather treatment. And speaking about the ear pads, unlike many other big cans out there which have rounded shape, the P5 has a rectangular shape. They are really more like pads rather than ‘cups’, if you know what I mean.
Again whilst many other headphones look like you are wearing a pair of loudspeakers on your ear (technically you are), P5 ear pads are pretty slim it won’t give you ‘look at me’ look when you wear it in public (unless you do like to advertise the fact that you are carrying £300 piece of gadget on your head).
Pipe it down!
Since they are rectangular they actually cover perfectly the whole ear lobes and effectively shut off most of the outside noise. I love this feature because it helps me concentrate on my job when I’m working in my office without outside distraction (loud colleagues, people making phone call, etc.). Obviously this works too when you are riding public transport as it will drawn out the train or bus noise.
Now, the cool thing about P5 noise isolation is that it works both ways. You know the feeling you have when you have to sit down near somebody wearing a headphones listening to some tecno music with the volume blasting in full you can hear it 5 carriages down the train? It won’t happen with P5. Nobody will hear what you are listening, saving you from any embarrassing incident of getting told to ‘pipe it down’ by your fellow passengers.
If you, like many people, listen your music on your iPhone, you would be happy to know that P5 comes with a Made for iPhone-approved cable. What does this mean? It means that P5 comes with a special cable with a device remote control included. Not only this remote allows you to control your music, play/pause/previous/next/volume up and down, but it also works with the iPhone calling feature. It has a microphone just like the iPhone original earphone so you can speak through it, and you can initiate and end a call using the button on the remote. From what I have tested this features works very well.
The Bowers & Wilkins Maserati Edition P5 also comes with a spare standard cable, which doesn’t have a remote. It also includes a 3.5mm to 6.25mm adaptor for your hi-end hifi listening. Very thoughtful.
Maintenance Uber Easy
Now, here is one cool thing. When I saw the spare cable with plug in both ends, I was wondering how the hell am I going to attach this to the headphones. Admittedly (a rookie mistake) I didn’t read the manual. After reading the manual, I’ve realised that this is quiet an ingenious way of maintaining a headphones!
You see, you can actually ‘open’ the earpads where the cable goes in very easily because it only holds by a pair of magnet studs! The pad pop off with a satisfying ‘click’ revealing a ‘secret chamber‘ as if it’s some pandora box. Inside you can see that the cable is ‘plugged in’ into a socket. Which means that changing or replacing a cable is just a mere exercise of unplugging the existing cable and plug in a new one. Very Cool!
How many times we find ourselves with a broken headphones cable, and when it happens there is no way we can replace it unless you are good with solder. You just have to get a new headphones.
The P5 way means that you can practically use any third party stereo cable (as long as it has the same diameter) to replace the one you have, in case you brake it. Easy maintenance and less costly.
In addition to being able to change cable easily, the earpads are also easy to replace. Once you’ve worn out what you have, which I reckon will take a very long time since it’s made of leather, it should be easy to get a new pair and replace them just like that. If you have ever tried to replace conventional headphones earpads, I had, you would know how frustrating it can be.
There is one downside about the P5 cable however. It’s far too thin I feel that I will snap it any time with a little bit of tug. I would’ve thought with the premium price we have to pay, they could’ve made a stronger cable.
It’s also a bit too short. I mean it’s ok if you just want to listen with your iPod in your pocket, but if you want to connect it to your Hi-Fi and to dance around wearing it, you need to invest in a cable extension, this one won’t cut it.
That sounds good, naturally
Bowers & Wilkins has stated that for the P5 they don’t employ any audio enhancement what so ever. Everything that comes out from the cans is as a faithful reproduction as you can get from your music. You hear it as it is, if you have a low resolution MP3 you will hear crap, and on the contrary a higher quality CD rip would sound wonderful.
I have to say, after going through listening to my MP3 playlist wearing the P5 I am starting to realise how bad quality my encoding was. So much so that I want to go back and re-rip them in a higher quality!
Now, I am no Audiophile geek, but I know a good sound when I hear it, and in my opinion the P5 has produced a wonderful sound. Some other reviews had pointed out that the bass line is a bit heavy, but I actually like my bass, all is good for me :)
What’s in the bag?
Last but not least, as this is the Maserati Edition, the P5 comes with a stylish real leather bag for you to carry the headphones around. The bag has the Maserati’s Trident emblem on it, and inside it is lined with a soft velvety material to protect your headphones.
I choose my headphones not only by the merit of how it sounds, but I also consider other factors such as portability and comfortability (I commute everyday).
The Bowers & Wilkins Maserati Edition P5 does not only sound great but it also light enough despite it being made of metal. The headband and the earpads have enough cushion it is quite comfortable to wear for a prolonged use. You basically won’t feel it it’s there.
I also really like the ingenious way how you can easily replace the cable just by unplug and plug a new cable. And the magnetically held earpads are just way geeky.
The Maserati Edition P5 costs £329.99 on B&W website. Obviously you are paying a premium price for a premium sound, a beautiful design and excellent engineering.
As an alternative, just in case you don’t really need the special edition, you can still get the original P5, which costs £70 less the its more stylish sibling. You should get the same product and quality, just not the badge and the leather bag. Oh and it comes in white colour, if you really must ;)
Before you run to Amazon to grab this awesome headphones, you might want to try your luck in winning a pair of this beast!
You can read the full information along with the terms and conditions of the competition at the Bowers & Wilkins website, but here is basically what you need to do:
Pick your favourite ‘sound partner’, be it a bespoke suit, a packed dancefloor at Pacha, a six pack of craft beer or the rooftop pool at Shoreditch House; and you must post a tweet which must include the followings:
- A mention to @BowersWilkins
- A Hashtag #soundpartners
- and this link http://bit.ly/1aNYW96
So for example if I choose ‘a glass of Glenfiddich’ as my perfect sound partner, I would tweet like this:
“A glass of Glenfiddich! Tweet your perfect #soundpartners to win @bowerswilkins P5 Maserati Edition headphones http://bit.ly/1aNYW96”
Competition starts on Friday 17th of January and runs for 3 weeks ending midnight 7th February. You can submit a maximum one entry each day, but you can’t use multiple accounts.
Each week the funniest/charming/eloquent answer wins a pair of P5 Maserati Edition headphones, that’s 3 pairs to win.
I wish you good luck! Let me know if you win one :)