🔷 B&W P9

This is the official thread for the B&W P9. This thread is for discussion and reviews.

  • Over Ear (meh)
  • No Amp needed
  • Closed Back

:red_circle: HifiGuides Amazon link

Reviews…

I hope these do not sound how they look, because I feel physically sick just looking at them.

Never heard them but I think this is DMS’ least liked headphone.

Does anyone know the impedance?

I loved how I just saved $829.00 USD not buying these overpriced things.

it’s interesting… i have my P9s on the head for over a week now (no, not constantly… in the evenings you morons!) and i, again, am reassured, that i absolutely love these headphones. Remember, i have a Focal Clear, Neumann NDH-20, EL-8C, a couple of Sennheiser etc., so i know what really good sound is. What i have learned from having a variety of HPs with differents sound signatures and maybe “purposes”, is, that every single one if them is a different experience then the other. That’s why fast A-B-C-X’ing them can put you off quickly from certain headphones. The B&W P9 is on of those HPs, sound signature and comfort alike.

First comfort:
Everything you heard about it, is true. The pads will be quite hard to the area around your ears first. But, as Zeos discovered in his review, it’s due to the pads being a crucial part of the sound design on these HPs. What you feel touching you head, jaw etc. is an echo chamber. And, as controversial as that might seem, it’s definitely something unique about the design of these HPs - and all the others by B&W, because afaik they all have it… for a reason. It has certain benefits that i’ll get to later. The thing is… at least, for me, once you know about it, it changes the perception a bit. The other thing about comfort is the leather itself. It’s a great material to touch your skin imo. I really like that part and it eases the situation significantly. It’s way less “itchy” as the best velours pads can every be. So… maybe it’s due to my specific head shape or not, but i can wear these for hours… though i definitely “feel” them, i really can tolerate the reduced comfort.

Sound:
That’s where they actually really shine imo. First, the obvious thing: these definitely are coloured, “fun”-oriented headphones. Sure!! But… is there anything bad about that alone? I mean, look at the current positive vibes around the Grado Hemps… equally a fun-oriented experience. Now let me get back to my thing about A-B-C-X’ing headphones. I think most “audiophile” headphone-listeners aren’t necessarly used to truly “neutral” headphones, but, at least they are used to “LESS COLOURED” ones. At least that’s what i’m perceiving if i, i.e. switch from my Clears to the P9s or from an HD600 or… it for sure changes a lot of things. The P9 has a strange sound signature at first. Roughly said, the Bass seems too much, the mid-bass seems to be quite dominant, there is a nasty sounding edge in the mids that sounds really “bad” or “compressed” and the trebles… hey… where are my trebles, bro?!? At least, that’s what i get when i A-B it. The thing is: you just have to give them and your brain some time. It’s like a cat and a dog meeting the first time. Each have their own habits, behaviour patterns and aren’t really used to each other. But after time, sniffing each others assholes a couple if times, they might become friends and begin to play with each other. That’s how it is with the P9 … there will always be something where you judgemental brain will say “that’s wrong!!” and the P9 won’t care… the sound like they do, but have zero confidence issues about it. Because they actually have a lot going on for them. The most substantial thing is… if i’m used to the P9 and switch back to a more “neutral” set… oooh my god. Have you ever experienced pure boredom?!? You’ll miss so many things… especially one thing. The P9s have a feature i have never, EVER heard in any other headphone and make them absolutely outstanding imo. First - the soundstage is really good, can go really wide if necessary, also depending on the song and source gear obviously. But remember the weird earpads? I don’t really know, but i’m quite convinced it’s due to those. The B&W P9 can be wide and intimate equally! In fact, it’s one of the most intimate sounding headphones i own! Now… this could also be the result of more like a “party trick” - but is also the second outstanding feature: these chambers with relatively direct contact to your sensitive headbones, combined with elevated bass levels… well, what could be the result…? Tickles. No really, it tickles. You physically feel quite a wide range of frequencies which puts a huge smile on my face every time. This is also the reason, why i say that this is the best headphone for ASMR i own. (Yes, i’m addicted and it plays a major role in my HP-game, but nvm) Now… combine this feeling with the warm bass- and mid-forwarded sound, the less analytic but really sweet trebles, feeling the nice leather touching etc.? Let me tell you, it can be quite unique and addicting. Also - did i ever mention, that - within these parameters of course - they really sound technically impressive on their own? It’s B&W after all!! They sound like their speakers, they have enough detail, they image well, they really have a “great stereo experience”-type of sound that is, i cannot state this enough, truely unique. Oh, and the also get better and “larger”, the louder you hear.

So, let me get to a conclusion: the B&W P9 is a HP that’s needs a bit of an open heart. But if you give him a chance and really, really try to like them, you will - and the rewards are actually endless. Watching the reviews from Zeos and DMS actually broke my heart a bit, because i really, really like what i’m hearing and it must have put off like most of potential buyers. Given its quirks, that’s actually ok. But, once you “understand” it, it’s a delicate experience that i would wish more people would “get”. The B&W-engineers actually did a great job imo - mainly by not restricting themselves to the boundaries of neutrality and just transmitting sound through your ear canal. In this case, different is good and i congratulate B&W for their courage.
My protip: get a used set for not much money, lough about the comfort issues and sound quirks, as much and long as you want. But keep them on. If your bones start to hurt, just put them off for a couple of secs, you will be able to wear these for hours this way. Do so, let your brain adapt and start to judge them again after that. Keep them on for a while… after that, change to a diffent set. Do A-B-X’ing with different music genres and usecases (ASMR, movies, gaming,…). There will be certain things you’ll want to try with the P9, to see how its’ characteristics will shape the experience. And maybe, just maybe, they will grow on you over time. They certainly did for me… and actually a ton of other people, not including viewers of Zeos and DMS obviously.

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just FYI - i’m currently experimenting with the P9 with original Sony CD900ST pads (yes, the flat ones) and APO. The goal was, to get my ears as near to the drivers as possible, “down-grading” it to an on-ear, so to speak. Dismissing the OG pads obviously also removes the acoustic chambers from the design, all of that should destroy the sound… but there comes APO. A rather huge bass elevation, dialing back several over-present freqs in the midrange an low highs, and pushing the highs a bit more - WOW! Sounds really interesting and very revealing. My theory was, that these drivers are more capable than the design they were put into and the tuning they got. I’m pleased to say, i’m quite certain i was right.

I assume these are a lot bigger, physically, than the P5’s?

I bought the P5’s back in 2016. I liked the sound as it was a bit bass light, but mid forward. They were the most beautiful headphones I ever owned.

But the failure for me was clamping force. I am not someone who ever gets headaches unless something is really wrong. But those puppies would cause me Intense pain after 2 to 3 hours. How do the P9’s fare?
And you say the bass is stronger? Are the mids forward on these at all?