Bowers & Wilkins C5
Manufacturer: Bowers & Wilkins Part number: FP33251
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CNET editors' review
price range: $179.98 - $229.99
- Reviewed by: David Carnoy
- Edited by: Justin Yu
- Reviewed on: 10/11/2011
The good: The Bowers & Wilkins C5 earphones offer clean, detailed, natural sound with tight bass. They feature an integrated microphone with navigation controls for cell-phone use, and an eye-catching industrial design with an innovative adjustable Secure Loop keeps the earphones securely in your ears.
The bad: The Secure Loop design isn't universally comfortable (doesn't work well in all ears) and the in-line remote is designed to work only with Apple iOS devices, not Android smartphones.
The bottom line: While the Secure Loop design may not be a perfect fit for every ear, the Bowers & Wilkins C5s are among the best-sounding earphones in their sub-$200 price class.
DO NOT BUY!! Great sound, terrible construction!
by thomasatx on July 29, 2013
Pros: Sound quality
Cons: Wear out fast
Summary: These headphones have amazing sound and very full base. Further, they're very comfortable and stay put in your ears, unlike some others that I've tried that fall out ...
Summary: These headphones have amazing sound and very full base. Further, they're very comfortable and stay put in your ears, unlike some others that I've tried that fall out constantly.
The problem is, they wear out, FAST. I have now purchased 3 pair of these headphones within the last 2 years. They last less than 9 months each, and then the left headphone starts crackling, then going in and out, and then dies completely.
Now, because I bought my headphones through eBay (instead of directly from B&W, they will NOT honor the warranty! They will replace headphones for you for $100 fee, but be warned that the warranty on these replacements is only good for 90 days, and not the normal 2 years. Thus, they will try anything and everything to get you to buy more and more headphones for them.
Maybe you're fine with spending $400 per year on headphones to buy a different pair each six months when they wear out, but I will not support a company that behaves this way. It's the worst customer service I've ever encountered.
Now I'm totally spoiled by the sound quality of these headphones and stuck looking for an alternative.
2 out of 2 users found this user opinion helpful.
DO NOT BUY! Three pairs BROKEN in one year.
by jmutz04 on August 13, 2013
Pros: Sound quality
Cons: Build quality
Summary: I have had 3 pairs of these in the past year, all have had the same issue - the wire on the left ear becomes defective and stops working. I ...
Summary: I have had 3 pairs of these in the past year, all have had the same issue - the wire on the left ear becomes defective and stops working. I returned the first within 30 days, got another pair and out of the box they were broken. Returned those and used them in my office for about a year.
Now B&W is refusing to help me because I don't have my receipt from a year ago. The customer service was rude and unhelpful and the build quality is horrible. The sound was great, but the defective build and customer service that refuses to help me makes me never want to purchase from B&W again.
What a shame. I had such high expectations from this company.
1 out of 1 users found this user opinion helpful.
Annoying sound from the cord hitting your shirt
by sean617 on May 17, 2012
Pros: Good sound
Cons: When you walk or run with these headphones, there is a distracting and annoying sound that emits from them. I got so distracted I took them back to Apple
I recommend them, the sound is glorious for every genre
by n8dogg2121 on April 19, 2012
Pros: The sound is glorious.
I got used to the cumbersome fit eventually.
Cons: The wire in the pictures looked more durable and less plastic-y/annoying. It is in fact plastic-y and annoying. It gets tangled easy and just isn't what I wanted or expected from a $200 pair of earbuds. I think they are at Be$t Buy now for $175
Summary: I recommend them. They won't let you try on a pair but if you make sure and get it from a place that is easy to return items, buy ...
Summary: I recommend them. They won't let you try on a pair but if you make sure and get it from a place that is easy to return items, buy them, try them, return them if you don't think they're comfortable.
After a while I either stopped caring about the discomfort or got used to it, they still sound flawless.
I bought these as well as some beats with a nicer cord, the beats were grossly bass heavy and when I heard these things the awesomeness was easily recognizable immediately compared to the beats.
This is irrelevant really to the headphones but I thought I would mention it, the zipper on the case is awful. it gets stick, the metal zipper handle gets strangely jammed with the box-esque attachment.
Effortless, realistic sound.
by jstacy82 on April 18, 2012
Pros: --precise sound
--very comfortable (acutally...read my summary)
--high quality construction
--bass could be fuller (but I understand these you actually do have to break in...which based on other reviews does occur with time)
Summary: I was VERY hesitant to buy these headphones at $179 from the Apple store given all of the reviews talking about the uncomfortable nature of the Secure Loop (not just ...
Summary: I was VERY hesitant to buy these headphones at $179 from the Apple store given all of the reviews talking about the uncomfortable nature of the Secure Loop (not just on here but especially on Amazon.com); however, since they offered a complete refund within 2 weeks if I didn't like them, I decided to try them--AND I'M GLAD I DID! I have migraines and have very sensitive ears and nasal bridge--I say this to mean that other bluetooth earpieces do hurt my ears quite a bit. I put these headphones on 45 minutes ago in the car at the Apple store and haven't taken them off yet...and no I don't even have sore ears yet.
My recommendation, try them and return them if you don't like them. I figure that people who buy them and DON'T have a problem with them DON'T actually leave reviews since they're satisfied, so as usual, only the people who are mainly dissatisfied leave very detailed reviews. Also, some reviews about the metal housing sticking into the ear canals and hurting, this is likely a factor of undersizing the silicone ear pieces. It also may stem from pushing them in so far in an ATTEMPT TO MAKE THEM NOISE CANCELING. They're not noise canceling, and don't claim to be. I do find that I can't hear my computer sound or my house alarm keypad (for example) when wearing them, so they are pretty darn good at it. Just don't FORCE them into your ear canal.
Also, when I first put them in, I fitted the ear loops correctly and didn't push them into my ear canal TOO TIGHTLY, which I suspect may be the problem for some people, and I would expect that to hurt after a while by the creation of a mini pressure sore.
I'm a neurosurgery resident, and so I pay great attention to detail. I truly think that the sound (as has been said by most) is brilliant. I also happen to think that they are extremely comfortable (seeing as I'm now almost into an hour wearing them for my first time). The sound is so good, I truly don't want to take them off. Hope this helps.
True Hi-Fi sound from one of the best in Hi-Fi
by Arvin_C on April 6, 2012
Pros: - Highly accurate sound reproduction, without sounding too "clinical"
- Bass response is fast and clean
- Crisp and detailed highs
- Open, airy soundstage compared to other in-ear phones
- Solid build-quality
- In-ear loop design works
Cons: - Warm signature may not appeal to the critical listener
- Mid-range is a touch forward
- Noise isolation is average at best
- Straight-design jack isn't as portable as a L-type
- Needs some break-in time to sound and fit its best
Summary: Hi-Fi & stereophile enthusiasts know that B&W's full-size speakers have a well deserved reputation for providing lush, smooth, room-filling sound with presence and power. Well, the C5s ...
Summary: Hi-Fi & stereophile enthusiasts know that B&W's full-size speakers have a well deserved reputation for providing lush, smooth, room-filling sound with presence and power. Well, the C5s attempt to provide the same for your personallistening enviroment, mostly succeeding on that front. B&W went for a sound signature that is clean, accurate and detailed. However, as with their speakers, B&W throws in a bit of warmth. The C5s do not have the starkly accurate, clinical sound of say the Etymotic hf5 or ER-4, nor do they have the bass-heavy signature that many other manufacturers favor. Instead, the C5s strike a pleasing balance, providing sound that is deep and powerful, while losing none of the detail and speed that can make for a muddled mess.
Having owned the C5s since they were introduced, I can say that they benefit greatly from some break-in time. On the sound side, the sound has become deeper and fuller, with all the frequency signatures having a richness that makes listening a real pleasure. The soundstage they provide is wide and open, with none of the "inside my head" sensation many earphones can give. They are capable of playing as loudly as you dare while not breaking down into the area of distortion. Another factor during the break-in period is fit: at first, the novel loop-in-ear design was very un-comfortable, causing some soreness. But, as the cables have loosened and my ears have adjusted to them, I find wearing the C5s to be easy, with the loops keeping them securely in place even during a dead-run through an airport terminal. The build quality, as with all B&W products, is very high.
I own several hi-fi grade headphones and earphones from Shure, AKG and Grado. While the C5 cannot match a true, audiophile can like the Shure SE535, for the $200 and Under pricepoint, they are hard to beat. They have that complete, fulfilling sound that B&W is famous for. They would be hard to beat at twice the price.
The perfect headphone for your portable device
by Craigster75 on March 24, 2012
Pros: Signature transparent B&W sound quality with surprisingly deep, accurate and punchy bass. Amazing ear loop innovation that hold headphones in place and helps maintain the earbud seal for amazing sound, even during strenuous physical activity.
Cons: Only the most minor of issues- ear tips can rip easily during changing if not careful and three button I phone connector on the cord could be easier to use with raised buttons.
Summary: Simply the cleanest, most accurate, most transparent sound you will hear on a headphone in this price range. I have listened to many headphones and these are far above all ...
Summary: Simply the cleanest, most accurate, most transparent sound you will hear on a headphone in this price range. I have listened to many headphones and these are far above all others. The entire sonic range is amazing. Vocals will give you goosebumps. I thought my Klipsh S4's were excellent. The B&W C5 blows them away. The bass extension rivals powered rapper headphones, but in an incredibly compact design and no batteries needed! Also, the ear loop is the most secure and comfortable (with some adjustment) way to keep your earbuds in place. If you have $180 to invest in the sound quality of your portable device, this is a no brainer....enjoy!
by iamjosuff on December 28, 2011
Pros: Clarity at all ranges.
Uncolored, sparkling sound.
A bit cumbersome in ear.
Summary: After breaking these in I am very pleased with the quality. I lost my Klipsch S4's on the subway and decided to try a different pair as to make ...
Summary: After breaking these in I am very pleased with the quality. I lost my Klipsch S4's on the subway and decided to try a different pair as to make the best of my losing a superb set of headphones. The sound of these is most excellent. Just beautiful sound. They really do create an exceptionally wide sound stage for headphones of the in ear variety.
As many others have stated, the design is a bit wacky. I find them to be rather comfortable and I have smallish ear canals. Frankly as long as you can get a good seal from them they will be worth keeping for the sound of the them.
Overall I applaud Bowers & Wilkins for their ambitious design and overall build quality. I prefer these to the Klipsch S4's by a hair. They are also $100 pricier.
Maybe a slightly smaller frame, less punch in the low end and a more practical case would make them perfect for me.
Excellent Sound quality, but terribly uncomfortable.
by nimitroongta on December 19, 2011
Pros: One of the best sounding in-ear headphones, I actually even felt that they sounded better than my former Klipsch S4 headphones. The balance in every song was just perfect and very well balanced. Unique and fashionable design.
Cons: Extremely uncomfortable. It took me nearly 15 minutes to figure out how the hell the damn things on. Within a few minutes,they started hurting, and I had to keep readjusting them every time. Controls on the wire are also very oddly shaped/ confusing
Summary: The discomfort far outweighs the amazing sound quality. I only purchased them yesterday, but I've decided I'll be returning them later this week. They definitely make a fashion ...
Summary: The discomfort far outweighs the amazing sound quality. I only purchased them yesterday, but I've decided I'll be returning them later this week. They definitely make a fashion statement and look beautiful, however, they desperately need to work on the comfort for the C5.
Good, but not exceptional
by walto034 on October 14, 2011
Pros: Stay in place. Excellent and natural sounding bass response. Very sturdily built. Very wide sound stage.
Cons: Highs (cymbals) do not sound natural. Voices on some tracks sound empty, hollow. Uncomfortable to wear, hurt my ears even with short listening sessions.
Summary: The best way to describe my feelings on these is disappointed. I purchased to replace my Klipsch S4s because the S4s slip out of my ears regularly. I will say ...
Summary: The best way to describe my feelings on these is disappointed. I purchased to replace my Klipsch S4s because the S4s slip out of my ears regularly. I will say that these stay in place (even when I vigorously shake my head) but they are uncomfortable to wear. The edge that pushes against my ear is a sharp edge. If it were rounded, I think that would be negated entirely.
The sound quality was up and down for me, and if I had to guess I would say that this most likely had to do with the quality of recording and the audio compression level of the tracks. Some might say that this can't be blamed on the headphones, but rather on the source. However, given that I will always use these to listen an mp3 player, it is a big deal to me. One part that was consistently harsh to listen to was the upper register, specifically cymbals. This harshness does distract and detract from my overall listening experience. This was uniform across all tracks.
On the positive side, I will say that guitar and (for the most part) vocals sounded excellent on these ear buds and sounded very smooth and was easy to listen to. The bass response was also excellent and didn't sound boomy at all. They do have an openness that is not present in other ear buds and they also do give a much broader soundstage than others that I've listened to.
Bottom line for me:
Sound Quality: They sound (overall) good, but not great. When I compare the sound quality to my S4s they sound markedly better in all ranges with the exception of the upper register.
Comfort: Not comfortable for me at all. My ear canals hurt after short listening sessions due to the sharp edge.
Overall: I will be returning and purchasing the P5s in a few months. I really wanted to like these due to the lower price point, but just can't do it. I would be looking for a replacement within the next year and at this price point that is unacceptable for me. I'll stick to the Klipsch S4s ($79) for now.
- Manufacturer: Bowers & Wilkins
- Part number: FP33251
- Description: C5 noise-isolating in-ear headphones bring you amazingly natural acoustics and fit so comfortably and securely you'll hardly be aware you're wearing them. The unique Micro Porous Filter system makes sure that sound is open, spacious and full of rich, lifelike detail. So you can truly lose yourself in unadulterated sound, even when you're on the move. They feature innovative secure loop design - loops of plastic-coated wire that curl around the inner rim of your ears and hold the in-ear headphones firmly in place. The C5s are also tungsten balanced, meaning that the headphones are weighted towards your ears, rather than away from them, for optimized noise isolation. C5's MFI remote and microphone make the headphones the perfect match for your iPod or iPhone. They also come with a quilted carrying pouch.
- Packaged Quantity 1
- Product Type Headphones
- Weight 0.7 oz
- Image Color Disclaimer The image of the product displayed may be of a different color
- Recommended Use Cellular phone,
Home audio system
- Additional Features Volume control
- Headphones Form Factor In-ear
- Connectivity Technology Wired
- Sound Output Mode Stereo
- Frequency Response 10 - 20000 Hz
- Sensitivity 118 dB
- Impedance 32 Ohm
- Diaphragm Ultra light
- Magnet Material Neodymium
- In-Cord Volume Control Yes
- Connector Type Headphones ( Mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm )
- Cables Included - 1,
Headphones cable - 4 ft
- Included Accessories Headphones pouch,
3 pairs of ear tips (small, medium, large)