The Pi5 S2 are premium wireless HiFi in-ears with active noise cancellation (ANC) from the well-known audio manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins. This model (read: S2) is the successor of the Pi5 S1 and the minor brother of the Pi7 S2. The Pi5 S2 was designed with the following goal: to provide music lovers with a premium listening experience. This member offers the versatility to make calls or conduct a video conference. All this at a democratic suggested retail price of 299 euros.
Before we understand how these new wireless earbuds from Bowers & Wilkins work and sound, let me go over some practical and technical features.
What’s in the box?
- Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 draadloze in-ears;
- charging case;
- 3 pairs of silicone ear tips (small, medium, and large);
- USB-C charging cable;
- • Safety guide.
Specificaties Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2:
- Available in 4 colors;
- 24-bit connection;
- aptX, AAC, and SBC;
- 9,2 mm drivers;
- Advanced DSP;
- 4 microphones (2 per earpiece);
- Modes ANC, Pass Through (low and high), passive;
- Up to 24 hours of battery life (5 hours in the earbuds and 19 hours in the charging case – 2 hours playback with 15 min charge);
- Intuitive technology: simple user interface (operated with 1 button).
Bowers & Wilkins earphones look very elegant. Everything shows that first-class materials have been used. The metal ring gives them a sturdy feel and a premium look. The eye for quality is also apparent in the minor details, such as that extra wire filter that keeps the earphones inside clean. The 4 different colors make these in-ears more playful than the bigger brother (read: the Pi7 S2). Bowers & Wilkins has brought the quality of its superb prominent speakers to the Pi5 S2.
I did the test on 3 different levels. Below is an overview:
- Connectivity: how easily do I connect to another device?
- Ease of operation: how do I use the earphones, turn them louder/softer, start a phone call, …
- Sound and voice quality: how do I hear music and phone calls? How do you hear me?
The wireless connectivity is seamless and easy to set up. The Pi5 S2 from Bowers & Wilkins supports Bluetooth 5.0 and can be connected to any compatible device. The connection is stable, and the music transfer is without interruptions. The B&W Pi5 S2 uses aptX Adaptive wireless technology in combination with powerful Digital Signal Processing (DSP). In this way, an excellent 24-bit high-resolution sound quality can be reproduced.
Connecting to a phone or laptop happens almost automatically. Download the corresponding application, and you can still change various settings. The app appears to be stable in use. The wearing detection ensures that the music automatically stops when you remove the in-ears. The music restarts when you put them back in your ears.
Talking about the app, Auto-Connect is worth mentioning. He arranges the settlement with different players. All previous connections are indicated in the application. There you can give them an order if desired. That way, you can connect all your used devices with finger movement. The Pi5 S2 cannot handle multipoint connections. That is why this Auto-Connect has the vital function of quickly establishing an automatic connection with known devices at the touch of a finger.
Ease of operation
I tested the True Wireless in-ears in various everyday situations. That means I put them in the charging case several times a day. Automatic charging is activated every time when you store it in the case. You can view the latest status after each charging pauses via the app. When the battery in the charging case gets a little emptier, the LED changes from green to orange (and then to red). That’s a sign that you need to charge it. This went quite quickly with the included USB-C cable. With a wireless pad, this was a little slower.
Necessary: when the in-ears are empty, you can enjoy your favorite music for 2 hours after a quick charge of just 15 minutes. You can operate the Pi5 S2 by tapping the earbud one to three times. When on a phone call, a call is answered by tapping once. Tapping twice will end the call. The call will be rejected if you keep your finger on the earbud for longer. It doesn’t matter which side you do this on. When listening to music, start/stop with one tap. Tap twice for the next song. Tap three times to listen to the previous song. Simple and easy.
The Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 includes active noise cancellation (ANC). It is very effective in ‘shielding’ ambient noise. You also have a transparency mode that allows outside noise to pass through. You activate it by placing your finger on the left earpiece for 1 second. Handy if you need to order your Café Latte.
When you activate ANC/Google or Apple voice assistant, the two sides of the in-ears take on different tasks: the ANC is switched to the left, and the voice assistant is switched to the right.
Simple operating concepts are a plus. But the only thing I missed on the Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 was a direct volume control. You can, of course, control the volume of the Pi5 S2 via your phone or laptop. In any case, it is helpful that you can ask the voice assistant to change the volume.
In addition, the True Wireless in-ears are automatically activated or deactivated. Respectively when they are worn or removed. However, the sensitivity cannot be adjusted. That’s no problem because it worked flawlessly for me.
Sound and voice quality
The Pi5 S2 is designed to cover the entire frequency spectrum with just one dynamic driver. Naturally, a premium HiFi brand like Bowers & Wilkins mainly focuses on the audio quality of its products. More on that in a moment. Nevertheless, you can also use the in-ears to make calls or conduct a conference call.
The conversations themselves sound crisp and clear. The earphones pick up a lot of ambient noise, but that is not a problem. There is no dropout of calls or listening sessions. The Pi5 S2 uses the older Bluetooth 5.0 version. The stability of the transmission did not seem to be affected by this.
You won’t buy the Pi5 S2 to make calls. Bowers & Wilkins, as a premium HiFi brand of, among other things, high-quality sound boxes, expresses its extensive experience and vision of music experience in the Pi5 S2. Although this copy is ‘only’ the little brother of the Pi7 S2, it does not disappoint. The soundstage is quite broad. The general area doesn’t feel cramped. There is quite a bit of depth and height. You hear instruments above and behind the ear.
You can hear lovely details, especially in the highs. The vocals and nuances in timbre are audible; they also reveal a great respect for string and brass instruments. The sound has a pleasant ‘fluidity’ (at this range).
These earphones are not neutral. The manufacturer offers a clear detailed reproduction with dry bass. You can hear that it is being polished internally. It doesn’t bother me because Bowers & Wilkins optimizes the music experience in this way. The music never gets tired. This is not always the case with comparable products from other brands.
On the other hand, nothing is added that is not there. Poor-quality recordings sound the same way. If you play a top-quality audiophile recording, the roof will come off. This way, you are taken into the music.
When listening to ‘Annabelle’ (Macy Gray) from the excellent CD ‘Stripped’, you can hear the top quality of the Pi5 S2. Macy’s metallic guitar and smoky voice take me to ‘The Spotted Cat’ on Frenchmen Street in New Orleans. An absolute must if you are ever in the area.
Then a classic. ‘Comfortably Numb,’ played live by David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) on the legendary ‘Live At Pompeii’ concert. This was shot in Italy (2016). For every lover of Pink Floyd music: a recommendation. David explores his guitar to the limits. Here, the True Wireless in-ears reproduce precisely what is being played. Spacious and perfectly detailed in the high, middle, and low. And this without letting the bass dominate. The ANC does its job and ensures I do not perceive disturbing outside noises.
Then Coldplay, ‘Always In My Head’ from their Ghost Stories CD (FLAC format). As with previous tests, Will Champion’s subtle percussion and rhythm work sounds crystal clear. The Pi5 S2 in-ears provide a fun experience.
To conclude: ‘The Peterson House and Finale’ from the movie ‘Lincoln’ where the masterful John Williams once again signs for beautiful film music. The Pi5 S2 displays the full spectrum of woodwind instruments. Getting goosebumps is a normal reaction as soon as the strings take over. With the copper players, you discover this set of in-ears entire space and depth. Beautiful…
The Pi5 S2 from Bowers & Wilkins combines excellent sound quality, high-quality construction, and intelligent functions. Excellent! These in-ears are recommended in the price range of 299 euros and lower (you can now find them a bit cheaper online). If you want to go for superior sound quality, no better wireless model is available in this price segment. Feel free to discover them at a specialized retailer in your area; you will be convinced …
- Excellent audio fidelity and clarity in music playback
- Luxurious finish & high comfort for long-term use
- Good speech quality (through the 4 built-in microphones)
- 24-hour battery operation
- Easy operation
- No separate volume control on the earphones themselves