Review: Bowers & Wilkins PI4 Neckband in-ears- With the PI4, Bowers & Wilkins delivers another excellently equipped neckband in-ear with two 14.2-millimeter full-range drivers, three different aptX codecs, Bluetooth 5.0 with multipoint function, adaptive noise suppression and a good app to control and customize a lot of it.
Bowers & Wilkins PI4
The PI4 is an in-ear model, the PX5 a sturdy on-ear headphone. That makes a big difference in the target group that B&W wants to appeal to. Just like the PX5 and PX7, the PI4 has been developed to the quality standards that apply within the walls of the Abbey Road Studio. There is a genius team behind the design of the new line head-fi, the same team that was responsible for the 800 Diamond series. With that in mind, the in-ear housing also makes a bit more sense. There is not only a nice design, but also functionality and musicality. A musical design.
Bowers & Wilkins PI4 Neckband – Features & specs
|Earcup Width x Height||0.851″ x 0.705″|
|Mic For Taking Calls||Yes|
|Voice Assistant Access|
|Frequency Response||10-30k Hz|
The PI4 comes in an elegantly designed box, but it is not lightweight, because the switching areas and all the technology are encased in metal, the earphones have magnets that are also enclosed in a metal housing, and of course the battery is not allowed either to forget. A lot comes together – 40 grams to be precise; fortunately, all of the weight rests on the neck and does not pull the ears. There is therefore nothing to complain about when it comes to wearing comfort.
Bluetooth 5.0 and more
The coupling process is initiated by pressing the main switch for five seconds, takes place straight away and the app – if already installed – immediately reports successful connection. Thanks to Multipoint, the PI4 can, for example, connect to an iPhone and a MacBook so that calls can be taken from the phone while music is being streamed from the larger device. This is extremely practical and can even be done without interruption via the app during operation.
Thanks to the three pairs of ear tips and hooks included in the scope of delivery, you should quickly find the combination “tight, firm and non-pinching”. Pressing the middle of the three really noble-looking switches, the pressure point of which is a little too spongy for me, starts the music. In our test, this is initially “Collaborations” by Ed Sheeran. The first impression gives a balanced sound that has the potential to suck you into the album immediately. The bass is powerful, followed by full and wide mids, while clear and wide highs skillfully round off the sound image upwards. The sound of the Bowers & Wilkins PI4 is undoubtedly very good and in contrast to its smaller brother, the PI3 does not give the impression that the bass is too intrusive. So it can be said: Overall, the PI4 have a more neutral coordination and thus feel comfortable in all genres.
If you want to block out street noise while listening to music, you can use active noise suppression on the left side of the cable to block it out in three stages: A gentle female voice in the finest British English tells us which of the modes “Low”, “High” and “Auto” was selected. While “Low” intervenes more gently so that outside noises are not suppressed too much for safety reasons, “High” grabs more courageously and, according to the manufacturer, is particularly well suited for eliminating static noise, such as the roar of aircraft engines or the rumble of one moving train. The suppression generally works well, and the difference between “low” and “high” is distinguishable. The adaptive “Auto” mode, on the other hand, automatically adjusts the noise canceling to the respective ambient noise: If one moves away from static noise and the outside noise becomes more dynamic, the strength of the extinction changes accordingly. Overall, the suppression in each of these switching states is gentler and not as isolating as we know it from the top dogs in the over-ear sector. Fortunately, with the PI4, this “gentler” decoupling from the environment also ensures that the so-called diving bell effect, i.e. the unpleasant feeling of negative pressure in the ears, does not occur. At the same time, the timbre and aesthetics hardly change when noise canceling is activated. And maybe that is the secret of Bowers & Wilkins: not to force the technology into the foreground, but to use it precisely, and so, despite the lower isolation performance of the ANC. (Read more about noise cancelling here).
Ambient pass through
In addition, the permeability of the ambient pass-through mode can be set in the app, which can be activated by long pressing the ANC button. The built-in microphones then capture ambient noises, amplify them and are played back through the headphones, while the music can continue to play quietly in the background. The advantage: The in-ears can stay in the ears if important announcements cannot be missed on the train or at the airport. You can of course argue about whether it would really be faster to simply press the stop button or even to take the earplugs out of your ears for a moment, but such a feature is always useful.
With in-ears, the fit is one of the most important points. They just have to fit well, especially for the road. As soon as things are not quite right, listening becomes an unpleasant activity. The B&W PI4 has flexible domes, which feel like soft silicone. There is also a hook next to the tip, shaped to fit in the auricle. As a result, the PI4 is completely stuck, there is no Brexit in between.
The hook and the wire running down are made of the same soft silicone material. This adds to the comfort and pleasure of wearing the PI4. Only the element for the control, which also contains the battery, is made of metal. That part rests in the neck and / or on the shoulders. But when it’s cold outside, that element takes over the cold. That is slightly less tasty. Operation is also slightly more inconvenient if you wear a scarf over it. On the other hand, it is nice with sports. The two parts have some weight, which makes it all just a little bit better, and they cool you down. At least the first five minutes anyway.
Bowers & Wilkins PI4 Neckband – Conclusion
The PI4 from Bowers & Wilkins are high-quality Bluetooth in-ears with very good sound, many useful functions as well as codecs, a good app and adaptive noise suppression, which may act a little more cautiously than one or the other would like. However, the workmanship and appearance are top with a touch of luxury – just as you would expect from Bowers & Wilkins.
Hi-fi quality in your ear (little): that is the correct description of the Bowers & Wilkins PI4. The brand focuses on a specific target group with these in-ears costing 299 euros. They’re worth that amount.
Positives of Bowers & Wilkins PI4 Neckband
- Hi-fi quality audio
- Long battery life
- Good Active Noise Canceling