Bowers & Wilkins PI3 Review
Bowers and Wilkins provide us with their smallest headphones, the Bowers and Wilkins PI3, for testing in the New Year. These are in-ear headphones for sporty users. After our test, Bowers and Wilkins were convinced with their PX5 on-ears, we are curious what the even smaller and lighter Bowers and Wilkins PI3 can achieve. Everything about it in our test.
- Typically great Bowers & Wilkins sound
- Comfortable to wear
- Attractive design
- The wing system is cumbersome.
- Average battery life
Packaging, content, data
The Bowers and Wilkins PI3 come in the familiar, simple Bowers and Wilkins packaging. A product photo, manufacturer’s lettering, and type designation are printed on the front. There is another product photo on the right side that extends around the back edge to the back. In addition to the product photo, there is a shortlist of the features in English and French on the back. On the left, these features are also discussed in German and four other languages.
Inside, the contents are kept very tidy. At the top, we find the headphones themselves, housed in a black foam molded part, which holds them securely in place. We can easily remove this molded part through two textile straps on the side and find a quick start guide, complete operating instructions, a short (20 cm) USB-C charging cable, a transport bag, as well as earplugs and wing attachments in three sizes.
The Bowers and Wilkins PI3 feel very valuable. The silicone-coated cable connects the two earplugs and houses the battery and control buttons are clean and offer a pleasant feel.
On the left side, there is a thickening. This is provided with a matching color with a blue lacquered metal housing. There is also the on / off switch, which also activates the Bluetooth pairing mode by pressing it for a longer time. On the right side, we find a thickening in the cable symmetrically attached. This includes the USB-C charging port, volume buttons, and a multifunction button. The multifunction button differs in size, shape, and feel from the volume buttons so that it is easy to feel and easy to use.
As is customary for in-ear headphones, the earbuds should seal the ear canal. For this purpose, they have interchangeable earplugs in various sizes. In addition, they have – also changeable/adaptable – wing attachments, which should ensure a better hold in the ear. This not only serves to better seal the ear canal but also effectively prevents the earphones from slipping. Finally, the back of the earphones is magnetic so that Bowers & Wilkins PI3 can be worn around the neck like a chain when not in use.
The Bowers & Wilkins PI3 offer – especially for in-ear headphones – excellent sound. We have tested various pieces of music, from rap to hit music to metal, and could not find any clear weaknesses. But, of course, it should be noted that the sound quality of in-ear headphones does not come close to the sound quality and volume of significantly larger (and expensive) over-ear headphones.
The Bowers & Wilkins PI3 can, of course, also be used to make calls. Again, the sound quality is right. Everything seems very clear. The person you are speaking to is easy to understand.
We tested the subjective sound in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and some multiplayer sessions from Battlefield and Call of Duty. The connection to the PC takes place with all available connection types. These would be wireless via Bluetooth, as well as via USB-C cable. As a result, the sound in the tested games is very good. However, due to the Bluetooth wireless connection, there is minimal, barely noticeable latency. For the fact that they are not intended for this purpose, the result is very good.
The Bowers & Wilkins PI3 are of high quality, which of course, you can also feel when wearing them. The included earplugs and wing attachments can be easily adapted to each ear and do not slip that easily. The materials feel very comfortable in the ear, and the connection cable is also very comfortable on the neck. During sport (in our case jogging), we couldn’t find any slipping, the tape doesn’t bother us, not even if you work up a sweat, and it’s also easy to clean.
Now let’s take a closer look at the associated app. To do this, we load it from the Google Play Store onto our Google Pixel 3a XL. Next, we start the app and activate the Bowers & Wilkins PI3 by briefly pressing the on / off switch. The headphones confirm the switch-on with a sound sequence and a voice output. We now select “ADD NEW HEADPHONES” in the app, at which point the Bowers & Wilkins PI3 will be found immediately. After confirming that these are our headphones, we can give them a name (by default, this is “PI3 Bowers & Wilkins”).
In the following, we will be asked to pair the headphones with our phones. To do this, it is necessary to hold down the on/off button for five seconds. The Bowers & Wilkins PI3 then confirms the readiness for coupling with the voice output “Ready to connect.”. Now we open the Bluetooth settings on our smartphone and pair the device “PI3 Bowers & Wilkins” (if no other name was chosen in the previous step). Now we are shown a quick start guide that brings us closer to the most important functions of the headphone buttons.
We are then returned to the app’s start screen, which shows us a picture of our Bowers & Wilkins PI3 and the battery level. If we now swipe to the left, we can add further devices, while a click on the battery charge indicator in the lower area leads us to further functions. There we are guided over three pages to the individual functions of the Bowers & Wilkins PI3. The first page gives us information about the battery level of the headphones and the existing Bluetooth connection. There is also a button that we can use to pair the headphones with a second device.
A swipe to the left leads us to the menu item “Soundscapes,” which provides relaxation and deceleration. And Bowers & Wilkins does this very well. So you can relax with an acoustic campfire and the gentle sound of the sea. The last sub-item finally includes the general settings of the Bowers & Wilkins PI3. So it is possible to change the device name afterward, too (de) activate voice prompts, carry out an update, or reset the headphones to the factory settings.
With the Bowers and Wilkins PI3, Bowers and Wilkins impressively prove that they can get an excellent sound out of even the smallest headphones. Measured by its size, it is outstanding. We can elicit clear highs and even clean basses from the little Bowers and Wilkins PI3s. In addition, the good quality and at a current mid-range price ensures that we can only recommend it to you unreservedly.