Bowers & Wilkins is a renowned British audio brand known for its dedication to high-quality sound and style. The Pi5 S2 true wireless earphones with ANC are one of the latest examples of this and they can be purchased for as little as $250 from Amazon. A big thanks to B&W for sending us a pair for review.
The Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 has almost everything you’d expect from a premium pair of true wireless earbuds. It features Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive Technology, a wireless charging case, active noise cancellation, and more.
The compact case holds the Pi5 S2 earbuds with a strong magnet and provides up to 16 hours of battery life in total. Music playback and calls can be controlled by the touch sensors on the buds, and while I’m not a huge fan of touch controls, everything seemed to work fine.
I only had one small annoyance where the wear sensor would begin playing music immediately when I put the buds in my ears. This could be seen as a feature, but if you swap music apps or genres as often as I do, then you may not want it picking up where you left off. Luckily, this feature can be disabled in the app.
The companion app from Bowers & Wilkins is a little sparse compared to the competition. It allows you to toggle ANC on or off, control the passthrough mode, check the battery level of the buds, enable or disable the wear sensor, and not much else.
It’s a far cry from other brands that allow you to adjust the ANC level, tweak the equalizer, view the battery level of the case, and customize the button controls. I’d love to see B&W make some improvements here to keep up with other audio brands.
There are three different sized ear tips that come in the box with the Pi5 S2. At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a good fit because of my smaller ear canals, but my fears were unwarranted. Using the smallest ear tips provided a great fit that was secure and felt comfortable.
Although, after a couple of hours I felt some slight discomfort from the earbud resting on the inside of my ear. Besides that, the Pi5 S2 feel great in my ears, just be aware that longer listening sessions might be less than ideal.
The Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 uses Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive Technology to stream music from your device over Bluetooth. This latest version of aptX offers 24bit quality audio at lower bit rates than aptX HD, however, it is capable of changing the bit rate dynamically on demand with no interruption in streaming which leads to lower latency. What this all means for you, is high-quality audio streaming with better battery life and no audio lag while watching videos or playing games.
As far as how the Pi5 S2 performs, I was extremely impressed with the sound quality. The Pi5 S2 has a warm open tuning that sounds sublime. The sound signature offers plenty of bass in the low end without being overwhelming, while the highs are more reserved but still offer clarity and separation without becoming piercing.
Overall, the Pi5 S2 has a fun sound that most music fans will love—including myself—while bass heads and those who prefer a more neutral sound may not be completely satisfied. Bowers & Wilkins could resolve this by adding an equalizer into their app, and I really wish they would. It’s one of my only complaints when using its products.
No matter how amazing its headphones sound out of the box, everyone has personal preferences when it comes to sound. An equalizer in the app would go a long way toward satisfying a wider range of music lovers.
Active noise cancellation worked extremely well with the Pi5 S2. Combined with the secure fit provided by the ear tips, the Pi5 S2 was capable of blocking out everyday annoyances and did a fantastic job of isolating me with my tunes.
Passthrough also worked as it should, allowing me to quickly let in outside noise for a conversation and then swap back to my music. I do wish there was a way to activate it with the touch controls though.
Similar to another pair of true wireless buds I recently reviewed, I was disappointed with the battery life of the B&W Pi5 S2. The earbuds are rated for four hours from a single charge with up to 16 hours total with the charging case. In my experience, that was accurate, but I wish the Pi5 S2 could last a little longer from a single charge.
At least you can get two hours of playback from a quick 15-minute charge and the case offers the convenience of wireless charging.
Bowers & Wilkins has done a fantastic job at creating a pair of comfortable earbuds with superb audio quality with the Pi5 S2. My only criticisms are that the features in the app come up lacking when compared to the competition and the battery life could be better, especially at this price point.
Regardless, if sound quality is your priority, then you’ll be perfectly happy with the range and tuning provided by the Pi5 S2. They are currently available for purchase from Amazon or Bowers & Wilkins in Storm Grey, Cloud Grey, Sage Green, and Spring Lilac for $300 or less.