Bowers and Wilkins C5

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When I saw these pop up on the internet, I couldn't wait to get my hands on them. I have a pair of the B&W P5 headsets and I like them very much. They're somewhat colored but they're fun sounding, and a sexier piece of audio kit you'll hardly ever see. I was expecting a similar experience with the C5.

Didn't get it though.

Bowers & Wilkins C5 ($179)
Having heard the B&W P5 and Zeppelin, I knew I wasn't going to be hearing a neutral headphone. That's cool. Having seen the P5 and Zeppelin, I knew I was in for an industrial design treat. It was. Having experienced the P5 and Zeppelin in my home I figured I would need to keep an open mind, because both those products may not be what you expect, but both end up being satisfying nonetheless. Unfortunately, I found the C5 didn't manage to pull off this difficult trick.

Styling and Build Quality
B&W products, in my experience, have outstanding build quality and terrifically stylish appearance. The C5 is no exception. Everything from the box it comes in, to the angled and sparkly micro-porous filter at the rear end of the driver is spectacularly elegant.

Likewise, the build quality is excellent. Metal earpiece housings, Y-join, and connector body are nicely finished in gloss black. The cable is OFC and sturdy. All told, these are lovely and well-made headphones.

I've seen numerous comments on web reviews that the cable is too short on these cans. At 43", it is shorter than most IEMs designed for portable applications, but only by a few inches as most seem to be around 48". The cable easily let me listen with my phone in my pants pocket, or to my laptop on the desk in front of me. I think the cable length is fine.

The remote control works very well for iPhone/iDevices, but I do think it would be nice for B&W to produce a second version for other smartphones.

Four eartips are included with the headphones. There are two medium sized tips: one round and one more conically shaped. I liked both medium tips. If you find the stock tips don't work well for you, the Monster Cable Turbine Pro tips should fit the C5, and there is a wide array to choose from.

The C5 did have a fatal ergonomic flaw for me, however.

Bowers & Wilkins
54 Concord Street
North Reading, MA
(978) 664 2870