Bowers & Wilkins PI7 vs Sony WF-1000XM4: Wireless Headphones

Bowers Wilkins PI7 vs Sony WF 1000XM4

Sickly good-looking Bowers & Wilkins PI7 tops everything we have previously experienced acoustically in the segment. Perhaps one of the year’s most hyped and long-awaited true wireless headphones has landed. Sony’s WF-1000XM4 is an improved version of its predecessor.

Pros and Cons

Bowers & Wilkins PI7Sony WF-1000XM4
Expressive sound with high-quality tracksExceptional active noise cancellation
Strong noise cancellationAmazing battery life
Optimized for hi-res audio playbackResponsive smart controls
Dust- and water-resistantStunning audio performance
Poor battery lifeNo Bluetooth multipoint


Bowers & Wilkins PI7Sony WF-1000XM4
Bowers Wilkins PI7 2Sony WF 1000XM4 2
BrandBowers & WilkinsSony
ColorsWhite, CharcoalBlack, Silver
Battery life16 Hours8 to 12 Hours
Weight7 g (each)7.3 g (each)
ConnectivityWireless, BluetoothWireless, Bluetooth

Bowers & Wilkins PI7

Bowers Wilkins PI7 1 Bowers Wilkins PI7 2

Bowers & Wilkins is reluctant to take the credit for being the first to bring in wireless in-ear headphones. The wait (and the longing) for the recognized competent manufacturer to finally get the hang of it and launch one or two models in an already overheated product category has been almost unbearably long, but now the wait is over. Late on the ball, but they can now pat themselves on the shoulder because they have done a hell of a job!

The name PI7 and has just been launched together with the slightly “simpler” and not quite as expensive PI5. a design that exudes exclusivity, so it sings; about it!

Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF 1000XM4 3 Sony WF 1000XM4 4

One of the perhaps most recognized models in the segment, “wireless in-ear headphones with active noise reduction,” Sony WF-1000XM3, have since they had launched just over three years ago and to date has been ranked as one of the very best alternatives. The model has swept the carpet with most competitors, although a few have recently both caught up and passed – for example, PI7 from Bowers & Wilkins.


Bowers & Wilkins PI7Sony WF-1000XM4
Driver TypeDynamicDynamic
Noise CancellingYesYes
Drivers9.2 mm6 mm
Dimensions case60 x 57 x 28 mm60 x 57 x 28 mm
Foldable DesignNoNo

Bowers & Wilkins PI7

Bowers Wilkins PI7 3

Bowers & Wilkins PI7 is available in two different color combinations with an inner part in either black or high-gloss white, broken off with an outer section in aluminum. Of course, the headphones are delivered together with matching and at least an equally appealing storage box for charging. 

The outer part of the headphones consists of touch controls for the various playback or call functions. With a certain number of presses (regardless of right or left), the various call and music functions are activated; answer/end, play/pause, and change tracks forwards or backward.

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A longer press on the left key to turn on / off the active noise reduction and the corresponding one on the right to wake up the phone’s voice assistant (Siri / Google Assistant). Unfortunately, it is not possible to adjust the volume via the touch controls.

Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF 1000XM4 2

From the outside, the design has been thoroughly reworked. The previously oblong shape has been replaced by a more traditional round one and is available in black or silver colors (read “light gray”). According to Sony, the shells are 10 percent smaller than the previous generation, but there are still many solid lumps to fit in the ears.

The ear tips, which are to be developed for an even more effective noise reduction, are made of something that can be compared to memory foam and are available in three different sizes. However, they are all relatively large. If you know that you have “narrower” ear canals, it can be problematic to get the headphones to fit perfectly.

The headphones themselves have become 10% more compact. And, most importantly, from a design point of view, they look perfect in the ears: The headphones received three pairs of interchangeable ear cushions that resemble a mixture of memory foam and silicone in their texture. They are made of polyurethane.


Bowers & Wilkins PI7Sony WF-1000XM4
Music ControlsYesYes
Quick ChargeYesYes
Frequency Response10 Hz to 20 kHz10 Hz to 20 kHz

Bowers & Wilkins PI7

  • Hybrid design: 9.2mm dynamic drivers + armature tweeter
  • 24-bit Hi-Res audio with Qualcomm aptX Adaptive;
  • adaptive ANC noise cancellation;
  • 6 microphones for improved call clarity and ANC;
  • support for voice assistants;
  • intuitive donning sensor;
  • smart case with audio relay;
  • support for fast and wireless charging;
  • 4 hours of work (up to 20 hours with a case);
  • pairing with multiple devices (multipoint);

The Bowers & Wilkins app has a nice interface and is user-friendly. In addition to current information about battery capacity and access to any firmware updates, it is possible to customize the active noise reduction in a constant mode or adaptive auto mode. The noise reduction is constantly automatically adapted to your surroundings. The adaptable ambient function is also activated in the app (and only here, i.e., letting through and amplifying sound from the outside to varying degrees.

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Unfortunately, the app is dragged with a tendency to lose communication with the headphones occasionally. It does not affect playback per se, but sometimes the headphones completely sonic stop responding to commands from the app. Other times, the sound image is radically distorted when switching between noise reduction or off. To fix the problem, we have to restart the app – annoying, but it is hoped, also probably, something that will be fixed with an update of the software soon.

However, there is no equalizer and the ability to adjust the sound, but it does not matter at all when it comes to Bowers & Wilkins PI7. The dual-element system – each earpiece is equipped with a 9.2 mm dynamic full register element plus a balanced treble element, each connected to its own amplifier – delivers an almost magical sound over the entire frequency range, and we get to experience an almost surreal sense of presence, regardless of music genre or volume setting.

Bowers & Wilkins PI7 is equipped with a total of six built-in microphones, two of which are dedicated to voice calls. The other four are used to register the ambient noise to deliver as optimal an active noise reduction as possible. Which it also does, purely in class with the best alternatives we have previously tested.

The adaptive auto mode responds quickly, and unusually, it is also possible to have the listening mode activated in combination with noise reduction. This results in exciting combinations where we experience that “welcome” sounds are let through while unwanted noise is shut out.

Sony WF-1000XM4

  • advanced noise cancellation system based on the QN1e processor, 2 microphones per ear;
  • Precise Voice Pickup technology uses directional microphones and a bone conduction sensor to enable the WF-1000XM4 headphones to pick up your voice clearly and accurately during calls;
  • Speak-to-Chat pauses music so you can have a conversation. The function recognizes your voice, and as soon as you end the call, music playback will resume;
  • excellent sound quality during a call;
  • moisture protection IPX4;
  • impressive autonomy provides 8 hours of operation and up to 16 hours of additional charge from the case;
  • the latest integrated processor V1;
  • 6mm driver with 20% increased magnet volume;
  • innovative nozzles for noise insulation are made of a unique material – polyurethane;
  • Hi-Res Audio LDAC codec and Bluetooth 5.2 wireless communication;
  • 360 Reality Audio support;
  • DSEE Extreme system enhances the sound of compressed music files in real-time;
  • adaptive sound control: traveling, walking, waiting;
  • Directional microphones are tuned to pick up only your voice .;
  • the bone conduction sensor only picks up the vibration of your voice and does not respond to ambient sounds;
  • Fast Pair technology searches for where you left your headphones by calling them or checking their last known location on your smartphone;
  • With Swift Pair, you can quickly and easily connect the WF-1000XM4 headphones to your Windows 10 laptop, desktop or tablet;
  • ergonomic design for complete comfort;
  • Sony app | Headphones Connect will help you measure several parameters to find the ideal ear cushions for noise isolation;
  • Qi wireless charging;
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The ear tips, which are to be developed for an even more effective noise reduction, are made of something that can be compared to memory foam and are available in three different sizes. However, they are all relatively large; if you know that you have “narrower” ear canals, it can be problematic to get the headphones to fit perfectly.

Here, Sony could well have sent some neater alternatives in silicone, despite a possible deterioration of insulation. That said, once in place, they sit really well and are comfortable to wear even for longer periods. The headphone charging charge is also considerably smaller than that of its predecessor and supports wireless charging.

The outside of both headphones consists of a touch-sensitive function key that can be adjusted (or deactivated completely) and assigned various functions in the app (volume control, noise reduction / ambient sound, or to control music playback).

The app is user-friendly, and the setting options are extensive, to say the least. In addition to all the options for noise reduction and ambient noise, there is also a five-band equalizer with many preset sound profiles, plus a pair you can customize yourself and save. You also choose which voice assistant should be active (Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or the phone’s built-in) and whether the connection or sound quality should be prioritized.

When we finally get to the sound experience, we will not be disappointed. The six-millimeter elements of the WF-1000XM4 basically deliver a dynamic and detailed sound over the entire frequency range. We do not get the same intense and engaging sense of presence as when we listen to Bowers & Wilkins PI7, but in return, Sony offers a better opportunity to adjust the sound image with the help of the app’s equalizer.


Bowers & Wilkins PI7Sony WF-1000XM4
Battery TypeLi-PoLi-Po
Battery LifeUp to 16 hours8 to 12 Hours
Charging Time15 Minutes for 2 Hours5 Minutes for 1 Hour
Charging PortUSB-CUSB-C
Qi Wireless ChargingYesYes

Bowers & Wilkins PI7

Bowers Wilkins PI7 4

The operating time of the headphones is about four hours (this is not enough), the case gives three or four additional charges; in total, you can count on 20 hours of work. The operating time is normal by modern standards, but nothing more – some models with active noise cancellation can work for about five to six hours.

Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF 1000XM4 1

The headphones work for 8 hours when listening to music with noise-canceling using the SBC or AAC codecs, about 5 hours with LDAC, and up to 12 hours with the noise-canceling turned off. If you use headphones (but judging by the reviews, they are not very suitable for this purpose), then the headphones will sit down in 5.5 hours with noise canceling and in 6 hours if you turn it off. The total operating time with the case is 24 hours with noise reduction and 36 hours without it.


Bowers & Wilkins PI7Sony WF-1000XM4
Transmitter Power10 dBm10 dBm
Water ResistanceResistantResistant
Range10 m10 m