B & W’s first true wireless headphones have a solution for in-flight entertainment

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Bowers and Wilkins’ debut pair of true wireless noise canceling earbuds, the PI7, addresses one of the main annoyances with the form factor: it can be used with in-flight entertainment systems as the housing doubles as an audio transmitter. Connect the case to an audio source using an included 3.5mm to USB-C cable and it will wirelessly retransmit the audio to the earbuds. In addition, Bowers and Wilkins also announced the cheaper PI5 true wireless headphones, which also offer noise cancellation.

Bowers and Wilkins claim the PI7’s transmission case is an industry first, and it’s certainly the first time we’ve heard of such a feature. On the other hand, if you want to use other popular true wireless earbuds like the AirPods Pro with an airplane’s built-in entertainment system, you’ll need a third-party dongle. Of course, the PI7’s shipping case should also work with other non-Bluetooth devices you own, such as an old iPod.

The PI5 truly wireless earbuds.
Image: Bowers and Wilkins

The PI7 headphones in their charging case, which doubles as a wireless transmitter.
Image: Bowers and Wilkins

In addition to the PI7’s nice case, it offers a fairly standard set of features for a pair of true wireless headphones. The earbuds are noise canceling and are equipped with a total of six microphones for calls or using voice assistants. It uses the AptX Adaptive standard, which allows it to dynamically compress audio to maintain a stable connection, and the case can be charged wirelessly. The earbuds themselves have a modest battery life of 4 hours (compared to 4.5 for the AirPods Pro), while the case offers 16 hours more. The buds are rated IP54 for dust and water resistance, so they should survive light splashes and limited amounts of dust.

The cheaper PI5 earbuds also offer noise cancellation and come with a case that can be charged wirelessly, but they only have four microphones in total. There’s also no mention of AptX Adaptive – just plain AptX – and there’s no sign of the PI7’s audio pass-through. However, the battery life for the PI5 appears to be slightly better than the more expensive PI7, with the earbuds offering 4.5 hours of playtime on a single charge. The case offers 20 hours more. The PI5 also has a dust and water resistance rating of IP54.

Both earplugs are available from today. The PI7 costs $ 399 / £ 349 / € 399, while the PI5 costs $ 249 / £ 199 / € 249.