Bowers & Wilkins have a long history of producing high quality hi-fi speakers. From the visually stunning Nautilus through to the more budget friendly 600 series, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) have something for everyone.

Amazingly, the humble ear bud was patented some 75 years before B&W was founded, way back in 1891. In 2023, these devices are now fully wireless and a near necessity – just ask any teenager. And thanks to Bowers & Wilkins, we have a couple of the latest pairs to review. Earbuds.. not teenagers!

The Pi5 S2 and Pi7 S2 are Bowers & Wilkins latest earbuds and both feature noise cancelling technology.

Both the Pi5 S2 and Pi7 S2 ear buds are B&Ws second generation of their In-ear True Wireless Headphones. That “S2” both product names share denote that they are Series 2. Both feature noise cancelling technology and the Pi7’s also have an extra trick up their sleeve which we’ll get to later.



Both sets of ear buds come packed with a near identical equipment list. Both the Pi5 S2 and Pi7 S2 come with three sets of rubber sleeves (one set is fitted to the ear buds from the factory), a charging case and a short length of USB-C cable for charging. Both also come with a Quick Start Guide and Safety and Warranty booklet. Suggestive of its party trick, the Pi7 S2s also include a USB-C to 3.5mm cable.

Visually, we couldn’t tell the Pi5 S2s and Pi7 S2 ear buds apart, with both featuring identical exterior designs. In fact other than their colour, the only difference we noted was the sleeves provided with the Pi5 S2s were translucent while those on the 7s were not.

The case designs were also identical in dimension but the two cases did have some minor differences. Most notably the Pi7 S2 case featured a large button beneath the charging light, while the Pi5 S2 remained bare. Both cases are capable of wireless charging but also feature a USB-C charging port at the bottom as a back-up.

Both cases hold their ear buds in place via magnets under a similarly magnetic lid. Due to their identical dimensions, it was no surprise to see the Pi5 S2s happily sat and charged in the Pi7 S2 case and vice versa.

Removing the earbuds from either case was easy although the strength of the magnets holding them in place meant there was a slight learning curve to apply just the right grip and force required to remove the buds for use. Having said this, the satisfying click the magnetic lids make upon closing, more than makes up for it.

While both the ear buds and cases were very similar in design and dimensions, the Pi7 S2 Midnight Blue colour really stood out. The dark (almost purple) blue coupled with the gold trim (both on the case’s metal lid and on the ear buds themselves) really made these pop in a way the Pi5 S2’s Storm Grey didn’t.

Both sets of ear buds are available in a variety of whites (lilac/green), blacks and greys but we’ve seen enough: The Midnight Blue with its gold trim is the winner.



To give these ear buds a solid test, we used them casually for a few weeks at a time, both independent of each other and occasionally back to back.

We listened to a wide variety of music – mostly 90s and classical – and both these earbuds sounded great to our ears. Both the PI5 and PI7s reproduced the music faithfully and with punch, albeit in their own way.

Classical music such as Beethoven’s 9th felt well defined, with instruments being clear and well reproduced. Movie soundtrack themes were also reproduced faithfully with the James Bond theme swinging along smoothly. John Williams’ Raider’s March sounded enthusiastic with the bold horns and gentle strings almost making us forget Dr. Jones’ last cinematic outing.

In listening, the Pi7 S2 ear buds did sound better overall and just provided a greater overall depth of sound. While the Pi5 S2s sounded great, the midrange sometimes felt a little muddy by comparison. This mid-range sound made the highs and bass of the Pi5 S2s sound more present or brighter with the bass in particular sounding both louder and more unruly compared to the Pi7 S2s.

The highs were clear on both units and while they had a similar sound, the depth and overall feel was better on the Pi7 S2s. The slightly restrained bass presence may not be to everybody’s taste but it felt purer and more accurate to our ears. In listening, 90s grunge classics from Nirvana and Pearl Jam felt more alive on the Pi7s. Even modern bass heavy tracks felt more correct. It’s not that the Pi5s were overly bassy – it was more subtle than that – but to our ears, the Pi7s were just sonically a step up.

The noise cancelling on both units was good but not a particular highlight. Sounds were suitably muted on both units and the pass-through feature worked as expected. The graduated Pi7 S2 pass-through was notably cleaner than the Pi5 S2s which sounded a little more staticky. While not best in class, the exterior train and traffic sounds were suitably muted in our listening but nothing to write home about.

For telephony, the microphone quality on both units was also fine. Nothing spectacular and a good additional feature to complement the excellent music playback quality. Both the Pi5 S2 and Pi7 S2 produced clear audio and callers reported the sound to be acceptable yet largely unremarkable. As side features, we were happy with both the noise cancelling and phone call performance but they weren’t show stoppers.


The Pi7 S2s have an extra trick up their sleeve. Coupled with the button on the front, the Pi7 S2 package comes with a USB-C to 3.5mm cable. When an analogue audio source is plugged into the Pi7 S2 charging case, the signal can be re-transmitted to the Pi7 S2 ear buds via Bluetooth. This effectively makes all your devices equipped with a 3.5mm port, Bluetooth compatible! Neat.

In testing, we found this feature was convenient and worked as expected without any issues. If you have a need for connecting older devices, this is a welcome addition to an already sonically well performing bit of kit.

The one thing we didn’t like about the experience was the app. Or more specifically, the fact that we had to sign up just to manage the earbuds. It would be nice if there was a way we could avoid having to create an account just to use hardware, but in 2023 this seems to be the (unfortunate) norm.

Overall, our experience with both these ear buds was great. Minimal set-up, great sound and aesthetically they looked great – particularly those midnight blue Pi7 S2s.



Pi5 S2

Drive Units: 9.2mm Dynamic Drive
Bluetooth 5.0 with AptX, AAC and SBC Codecs
Supported Profiles: A2DP v1.3.1; AVRCP v1.6.1; HFP v1.7.1; HSP v1.2; BLE GATT
Active Noise Cancelling
Fast Charging
Two Microphones per earbud
Battery Life: Up to 5 hours for earbuds (with ANC off)
with an additional 19 hours from charging case. 15 minute charge provides 2 hours playback
Weight: Earbuds 6g; Charging case 47g.

Pi7 S2

Drive Units: 9.2mm Dynamic Drive with balance armature
Bluetooth 5.0 with AptX (HD, Adaptive and Classic), AAC and SBC Codecs
Supported Profiles: A2DP v1.3.1; AVRCP v1.6.1; HFP v1.7.1; HSP v1.2; BLE GATT
Adaptive Active Noise Cancelling
Audio Retransmission from Charging Case
True 24bit Audio Connection
Fast Charging
Three Microphones per earbud
Battery Life: Up to 5 hours for earbuds (with ANC off)
with an additional 16 hours from charging case. 15 minute charge provides 2 hours playback
Weight: Earbuds 7g; Charging case 47g.



While the Bluetooth transmission feature and that stunning blue and gold do give the PI7 S2s a leg up out of the gate, the PI5s hold their own and for most average punters, will sound great. The Pi7s are a step up, shooting for more hardened audiophiles.

Both the Pi5 S2s and Pi7 S2s are cut from the same cloth, but the Pi7 S2s just felt like they were just a little more lovingly tuned. And when you couple the neat re-transmission feature and that exclusive midnight blue colour.. all bets are off.

The Pi5 S2 and Pi7 S2 earbuds are available now with a retail price of $499 and $649AUD respectively.