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Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 Wireless Earbuds: Review

The Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 offer a number of improvements over their predecessor including better ANC performance and battery life.

Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 Wireless Earbuds Cloud Gray

Another new week. Another new set of wireless earbuds. Consumers clearly want them but it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate one from the other when it comes to features and ANC performance. Bowers & Wilkins have taken their time when it comes to introducing new models and the investment in engineering and industrial design has already made them a strong player in the high-end wireless headphone and earbuds categories.

Both of their on-ear wireless headphone models have earned multiple industry awards and we think that the Px7 S2 and Px8 are two of the best options you can buy at their respective price points.

We recently reviewed the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 Wireless Earbuds and were very impressed with the improved battery performance, build quality, sonic performance, and effectiveness of the ANC while traveling and commuting.

The Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 share similar design cues, packaging, and some accessories but they are designed for a different type of customer.

The Pi5 S2 are also more affordable and you have to look under the hood to know why.

Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 Wireless Earbuds Box


The supplied kit includes the earpieces, charging case, USB charging cable, and three sets of ear tips; which is pretty standard for most wireless earbuds right now.

Users will notice that Bowers & Wilkins have omitted the 3.5mm to USB cable that is included with the Pi7 S2; the charging case for the Pi5 S2 does not support retransmission which is a unique feature of the flagship model.

The finishes are also rather different on the Pi5 S2; one can select between light Grey, Charcoal, Lilac, and the brand new Sage Green that was just released this week.

Bowers & Wilkins have moved away from white and black versions and we like the new variations that offer a softer and less stark aesthetic. The charging case is color-matched to the earpieces with the body of the case matching the earpiece color, and the lid finished in a contrasting darker shade. 

The earpieces are a two layer design with the lower shell made of polymer and an upper shell/control button wrapped in polished metal. The lower shell is oval shaped with the nozzles exiting the leading end with a distinct upward rake.

Immediately behind the nozzle is a small circular vent followed by the L/R indicator and a series of three contact points for charging with two larger contact points above and below the line serving as magnetic hold points to keep the earpieces locked in when charging.    

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Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 Wireless Earbuds Front and Back with Tips

There are two vents on the outside ring of the inner shell; one that runs the length of the upper surface and a second on the leading edge below the nozzle. 

The faceplates have a large round metal control button that rests on the forward portion of the inner shell leaving one third of the inner shell exposed. The Bowers & Wilkins branding is elegantly understated on the side of the control button and barely noticeable.

The Skinny

The Pi5 S2 utilize the Bluetooth 5.0 chipset and offer support for aptX, SBC, and AAC. Pairing the wireless earbuds requires pushing the button inside the charging case (which is situated in-between the earpiece cavities) and holding it for two seconds which initiates the pairing process. The earbuds paired without issue with both an iPhone and Android model.

Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 Wireless Earbuds in Cloud Gray with Tips

The earbuds maintained a strong connection to the source device as long as line of sight was maintained and we kept to roughly 30 feet or less. Internal walls and other obstacles proved to be somewhat problematic and defeated the signal.

The Pi5 S2 utilize a 9mm dynamic driver; Bowers & Wilkins have not been very forthcoming about the diaphragm design or materials.

Each earpiece utilizes 2 microphones for ANC and phone calls.

The chipset supports ANC and a pass-through mode; ANC can be turned on/off and there are off/low/high settings. The ability to disable either mode was a wise design choice because they do impact battery life in a significant way; one can turn them on/off using the capacitive control buttons or through the app.

It is important to note that the vents and microphones do not prevent ingress of water or moisture and whilst the Pi5 S2 are considered to be “splash resistant,” they are not waterproof and should not be used in the pool or while on the water.

Charging Case for Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2

The charging case is not water resistant either and should be kept in a pocket or other dry place if you are working out or in the water.

Battery Performance

Battery life is roughly 5 hours with ANC and pass-through disabled and drops by about an hour when enabled. The case provides an additional three charges before needing to be charged either by USB cable or Qi wireless charging pad. The earpieces support quick charge as well so a 15 minute charge will net an additional 2 hours of listening time.


We charged the Pi5 S2 overnight and went with the pre-installed mid-sized ear tips which created the best seal in my ear canal. To give the earbuds the best opportunity to show off what it could do, we used a wide range of sources including the Astell&Kern SP2000, KANN Alpha, Sony WM1A and Cayin N6ii DAPs.

More traditional sources included my iPhone 14, Samsung Galaxy S20, Apple MacBook Pro and Dell laptop computers.

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This was one of those situations where I needed to leave my experience with the Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 at the door because the less expensive earbuds do not utilize a balanced armature.

They might look similar and share some of the same internal technology, but the tonal balance and presentation are not the same.

The Pi5 S2 have a very strong low end emphasis that made them excellent with hip-hop, EDM, and other tracks with a lot of bass.

Calling them ideal for “bassheads” is probably an exaggeration, but they were rather capable at higher volume levels and it was really hard to perceive any distortion or thickening up of the sound; the most surprising part of their performance was that there was no bass bleed from the upper bass range into the lower midrange and clarity was very good.

Vocals were reproduced very cleanly with above average levels of detail and they were able to push forward of the instrumentation rather well; there is no way that anyone could think that vocals are too recessed or thin sounding through the Pi5 S2.

The treble range had slightly more energy than I expected; the overall sonic signature is more of a mid-depth “V” which will appeal to listeners who might prefer a pair of wireless earbuds that offer slightly more warmth and weight than other models in the same price range.

The App

Bowers & Wilkins are big proponents of control apps and for the most part the company has delivered very useable ones so far. The app for the Pi5 S2 is somewhat minimalist when it comes to its features, but we suspect that some users will actually prefer that because it is very easy to access the pass-through and ANC modes with a minimal number of clicks.

Users receive firmware update notifications and we were able to install them with very little fuss.

The earpiece battery status is displayed in the upper right corner, but we do wish that Bowers & Wilkins would also include the charging status of the case as well; users need to check the LED status on the case itself.

The LEDs illuminate when the charging case is opened or when users plug it in; the system utilizes 4 colors to display the charge state but there is no way to differentiate between 26% and 50% which is a considerable difference.

We do wish that Bowers & Wilkins included some form of EQ in the app; almost all of its competitors in the same range offer one.

Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 Wireless Earbuds Kit


The Bowers & Wilkins Pi5 S2 offer a few areas of improvement over the original model; battery life and ANC performance are both superior which really needed to happen to remain competitive in the price range.

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They are a good option for the gym but we would not take them out for runs or bike trips in the rain. Dropping them in a pool will likely prove fatal.

The control app is somewhat light in the features department, but it will prove to be easy to use for novices and those who only want access to very specific features such as ANC and pass-through.

The ANC performance is good but definitely not category leading; the more expensive Pi7 S2 are near the top of the wireless earbud category when it comes to ANC performance.

The biggest change was the tonal balance and presentation that might prove very appealing to those who want greater bass impact, clarity, and a warmer overall sonic signature. The Pi5 S2 are very enjoyable during longer listening sessions and certainly aimed at those who don’t need state-of-the-art ANC capabilities.

Where to buy: $299 at Amazon | Crutchfield

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