January 31, 2023

Bowers & Wilkins has unveiled the second-generation — or “S2,” as the brand calls them — versions of its 2021-released Pi7 and Pi5 wireless earbuds. The Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2 look basically identical to the predecessors (save for the fact that they’re available in new colors), but promise improved battery life and connectivity.

Just like before, Bowers & Wilkins is positioning its new models as two of the best sounding wireless earbuds you can buy. And at $399 and $299, respectively, they’re also not cheap.

If you’re familiar with the differences between the Pi7 and the Pi5, you’re in good shape here; the new Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2 have basically the same differentiating factors. The Pi7 S2 have higher-end drivers — specifically, they’re “high-frequency balanced armature” drivers — and they support aptX Adaptive, which allows them to play audio files up to 24-bit/48 kHz, but only if you have supported device (like a flagship Android smartphone) and subscribe to a lossless streaming service such as Tidal, Qobuz or Deezer.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the Pi7 S2 is that, like its predecessor, it has a special charging case that doubles as a Bluetooth receiver that supports aptX Adaptive. This allows you stream higher-resolution audio from devices that don’t support it (such as lower-end Androids or even a Mac), but it also allows you to use the Pi7 S2 with devices that don’t support Bluetooth, such as an in-flight entertainment system. It comes with a USB-C to USB-C adapter as well as a USB-C-to-3.5mm dongle.

Both the Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2 have active noise-cancellation and transparency modes, but they are not the same. Each of the Pi7 S2 wireless earbuds have three built-in microphones (versus the Pi5 S2’s two), giving them more powerful active-noise-cancellation and transparency modes as well as improved call clarity. Additionally, the Pi7 also supports “adaptive” noise-cancellation, meaning that the earbuds can automatically adjust their noise-cancellation levels based on the noise around them.

As previously mentioned, the two big updates with the “S2” versions of the Pi7 and Pi5 are with Bluetooth range and battery life. Bowers & Wilkins has re-engineered the antenna in each wireless earbud, increasing the range to “up to 25 meters.” Each earbud also gets an extra hour of battery life, so each earbud lasts five hours instead of four before needing to return to its charging case.

And finally, as mentioned, both new models are available in more color options. The Pi7 S2 is available in three new finishes: satin black, midnight blue and canvas white. The Pi5 S2 is available in four new finishes: cloud grey, storm grey, spring lilac and spring green (the latter two will be available later this spring.)

Both of Bowers & Wilkins’s newest wireless earbuds, the Pi7 S2 and Pi5 S2, are available today.