B&W's first wireless earbuds can work around in-flight Bluetooth bans


These wireless earphones will allow users to stream from older sound sources, even those that lack native Bluetooth, thanks to a handy trick hidden in the charging case. — B&W/dpa

When you listen to music on a wireless pair of earbuds, the Bluetooth signal normally comes straight from your smartphone or tablet. Not so with B&W's first pair of true wireless, noise cancelling earphones.

Why? Because the charging case can be plugged into any headphone jack, you can also wirelessly stream from older sound sources without Bluetooth and also watch the film on a plane even when the crew is telling you to turn your devices to airplane mode.

Hi-fi specialist Bowers & Wilkins has given its new PI7 wireless earbuds a charging case with its own a Bluetooth transmitter, letting you plug it into anything with a headphone jack.

The charger then sends the audio signal to the true-wireless earbuds via Bluetooth, just as a smartphone or tablet does.

The feature might be irrelevant to many people who use earbuds only to listen to music and podcasts on their smartphone, but is potentially a gamechanger for anyone who wants to be untethered from the headphone jack on an audio source without Bluetooth.

The PI7 earphones also use Qualcomm's new Aptx Adaptive technology — a compression algorithm that is supposed to ensure better sound quality and and more consistent coverage when streaming via Bluetooth.

This also means they are also ready for high fidelity music streaming, such the kind offered by premium subscriptions to Deezer, Tidal and, soon, Spotify.

The cheaper PI5 model comes without the features described above, but both earphone models come with active noise cancelling and a charging case you can wirelessly recharge.

The sound of B&W's first fully wireless earphones is provided by dual 9.2mm driver units in each PI7 earphone, each powered by its own amplifier. The PI5, on the other hand, have only one driver per earphone.

The PI5 model's lower technical capabilities give it a slightly longer runtime. According to B&W, they last 4.5 hours on one charge, and the rechargeable battery integrated into the charging socket provides energy for another 20 hours.

With the PI7, it's 4 hours per charge and 16 more hours from the case.

As to be expected from B&W, the earbuds have a premium pricetag and cost €399 (RM1977) euros for the more expensive PI7s, while the PI5s are available for €249 (RM1,234)

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