Tuesday, March 19, 2019 10:44

B&W P7 announcement: What’s in a preposition?

BowersWilkins-P7-on-White-reflectionThere’s a terminology question here that I’ll get to after I do the right thing by B&W and their new model P7 headphones.

The press release announcing the P7 arrived the other day. By the numbers (model designation and price), this new set enters at the top of B&W’s headphone product line. And in case one might miss those clues, the announcement specifies the P7’s position with clarity matching the sound that the set is designed to provide.

BowersWilkins-P7-Folded“Bowers & Wilkins’ P7 headphones deliver an enveloping, pristine listening experience. A combination of new drive-unit technology, luxurious materials, and a clever folding design, make the P7s Bowers & Wilkins best mobile hi-fi headphones yet.”

B&W, of course, is most appreciated as a producer of very high quality loudspeakers and their design people decided to use a construction approach similar to that of hi-fi room speakers as they worked out details of the P7.

BowersWilkins-P7-Driver-Close-upThis headphone set contains a drive unit that, like loudspeakers, involves the use of a basket structure so that the diaphragm that produces the sound is not also called upon to provide its own suspension. The means that the driver structure needs a bit more space and that presumably led the engineers to conceive the P7 as an over-ear headphone set. (There’s the preposition that bemuses me somewhat.)

To further liberate the sound-producing diaphragms, B&W opted for a light weight copper-aluminum alloy for the P7’s voice coils. And to put that liberty under necessary control, the drive units have a perforated resistive fill for a more piston-like action.

So what of that preposition? Here it is in B&W’s context: “Our first over-ear headphones, the P7s provide…”

I first understood “over” to be equivalent to “on,”  supra-aural as opposed to circumaural. But I was pretty sure I’d seen supra-aural (on-ear) phones from B&W and in fact the P3 and P5 models are such.

This is probably one of those “a rose by any other name” situations. but it could also be a “windscreen” vs “windshield” matter.  Perhaps in B&W’s home base of the UK, “over-ear” is preferred to “around-ear.”

In any case, the P7s appear to be a welcome topper to the B&W headphone line. According to B&W, they’re available right now with MSRP of $399.99.


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