Top positive review
262 people found this helpful
on March 26, 2010
These are amazing headphones. Everything about them is high quality. They feel like a well worn hat with soft covers over your ears. The sound is incredible, with outstanding imaging. The negative, they are expensive, but you know that already.
From the moment I cut open the two clear tape rounds and started to open the box, I knew these were special. Oddly, Apple had them put a peg board hanger on the box - yes these headphones hung on a rack like any cheap old Apple accessory in the store. Inside the box, the headphones are nestled in a carbon fiber looking velveteen covered plastic holder. They lift out easily and the instruction manual (more like advertising literature for B&W), the straight audio cable, and 1/4 inch headphone adapter were underneath. A really beautiful black cloth case with a diamond weave is included. The interior is suede, and the flap is held closed with an invisible magnet. There's also a small pouch inside that exactly fits an iPod or iPhone, sweet.
The headphones themselves are beautiful. The black leather (they do make a big deal out of this being sheep's leather) cover over the headband and ear pieces is flawless. There is ample foam padding all around for the top of your head and ears. The metal swivel, headband, and speaker covers are machined beautifully and are heavy duty.
The headphone wire is interchangeable. Remove the left ear piece cover to reveal a jack and the headphone wire. The headphones come with two different wires, one with a microphone and iPod controls, and the other straight through. The little strain relief holds the wire snug. Unless you exchanged these wires every single day, that relief is never going to harm the wire. The great news about this arrangement, if the wires ever broke, it is a simple matter to replace them - both ends of the wire are 3.5mm jacks. The headphone wire is decent, a rubbery insulation, that looks like it will survive a good long bit of wear. May 22, 2010 update - a reader has mentioned that one end of the cable is 2.5mm and the other 3.5mm, so this might not be a super easy cable to replace.
These headphones feel fantastic on my head. I have a rather large pointy bald head (go ahead, conehead jokes are allowed) and a lot of over the ear headphones are uncomfortable. The P5's are just about perfect. The band expands large enough and the padding is thick enough that the top of my head isn't pressured. Over the ear is comfortable.
Oh you don't care about all these cosmetics, other than you don't want to look like a Bose lemming on your next flight (and these headphones are handsome compared to those by Bose). You care about the audio quality. I was stunned. The bass is solid and smooth. Vocals were crystal clear. These are warm speakers, there is good bass but it is not overpowering. The response seems to be very smooth across the full tone range - highs and lows were not emphasized. The first thing I noticed was imaging. In recordings that I thought were not good, I could actually pick out and position instruments that were blended across the soundstage before. These are audiophile grade headphones.
My frame of reference is five years with a pair of Shure E3c's. Those are absolutely crystal clear, accurate, efficient speakers. The downside, they don't deliver much bass. The P5's are nowhere near as bright; they are not sharp and crisp in the high end like the E3c's. But they make up for that in warmth, in some ways the P5's are like adding a subwoofer to my Shures. The P5's are not as efficient, they require about 2 notches more to reach the same volume. On my Sony DVD player, the E3c's are perfect volume at 1, the P5's need to be set at 3 or 4. There is still plenty of room to get huge volume out of the P5's.
From a music standpoint, the P5's are stupendous. I won't miss my Shure headphones at all. When I first listened to these headphones I was reminded of visits to the special rooms in high end audio stores, my eyes moved all over trying to find the musicians in the room. For movies, these headphones will work very well. Dialog might not be as clear, but special effects and music are much better. Sound is better localized to different parts of the screen.
The iPod/iPhone cable has a little tiny in line controller. It is simple beyond imagination. One click in the center (there is a depression for your finger) starts and stops music or answers a phone call. Two clicks advances one song. Three clicks moves back one song. It's kind of strange taking a phone call through these; the sound is so much fuller and warmer than through the crummy iPhone speaker. On the other hand, the microphone is no substitute for a Jawbone or Bluetooth set up. The only way this microphone thing makes sense is if you happen to be listening to music or watching a movie and a call comes in.
Sound isolation is surprisingly good. The world isn't as dead silent as in ear canal headphones, but I was hard pressed to hear much going on around me. I was aware of noise, but it was muffled and way off in the background. These will work very well on a plane. There is no need for crazy electronics to create the sound isolation.
April 2, 2010 update - in the back of a twin engine jet where the engines are connected to the plane body (some of the loudest jets in captivity, the Embarer 150) the headphones do a decent job on the engine noise. It is not a silent world, but much quieter. My Shure headphones were pretty much dead silent, and I would guess the Bose are also. But I'll still take a bit of noise trade off for the sound quality.
Overall these are outstanding headphones. They are super high quality. I expect they will last a very long time. The sound is wonderful, the comfort high, the materials sensuous, and they are unique (you likely won't see two of these on a flight any time soon).
April 30, 2010 update - something very unfortunate happened, while traveling I accidently left these headphones on a plane. The sad part of the story, United Airlines can't seem to find them. There is a crew member that is very happy right now listening to my headphones. I certainly hope they enjoy them, I will miss them. This might be a cautionary tale, if you are used to earbuds, you'll need to figure out a home for a much larger package if you travel with them. I really messed up.