Bowers & Wilkins PX Headphones/Urbanears Headphones
These are the first wireless headphones from the storied English audio company, and they are an excellent start. The Bowers and Wilkins PX headphones offer some impressive technology, like a feature that automatically pauses your music if you take the headphones off (to, say, tell a flight attendant what you’d like to drink), then restarts your music when you put them back on. The battery life lasts for 22 hours, and the noise cancelling is effective. The sound is classic Bowers and Wilkins: crystal-clear and natural sounding—you won’t find any pumped-up bass here.) I have a few caveats: They’re heavy—to be fair, this is partly because the build quality is so high—and after about 45 minutes of wearing these headphones, I definitely noticed the weight. Also, I brought the headphones on a flight to Orlando where they simply crashed and became unresponsive. I had neglected to bring the cable that comes with them, so I was forced to use the crappy headphones that Delta gives out. (It turns out that you reboot the headphones by inserting one end of a paper clip into a small hole in one ear cup; I didn’t find this hugely confidence-inspiring, but it did work.) They crashed again on me later, and since I didn’t have a paper clip, I improvised with a pen point. The one time I tried them on a step machine, they kept cutting out, until I realized that the angle on which I was wearing them seemed to be telling the headphones that I was taking them off. Outside, these headphones feel rock solid. Inside, they appear to be a delicate flower.
If the Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones are for audiophiles who fly a lot, I’d supplement them with a wireless pair of headphones that I bought spontaneously for another flight, after I discovered that I’d forgotten to bring any headphones at all: the Urbanears Plattan 2. These wireless headphones cost about a hundred bucks, have totally respectable sound, are really light and look great. Plus, they have one of the coolest features I’ve seen in a while: To fast-forward, rewind, change the volume, start/pause your music or take/end a phone call, you just swipe or tap one ear cup in a specific direction. One you get used to this, it’s a godsend—no more fumbling for a phone in some obscure pocket in order to hit the fast-forward button.
A caveat for both these companies, which are based in England and Scandinavia respectively: If you’re in the U.S., good luck getting any customer service. (I dare you to try to find a customer service contact number on Bowers & Wilkins website.) Bowers and Wilkins lists one location in California, but my multiple phone calls to the number listed were unanswered—I own a different pair of Bowers & Wilkins headphones that had shorted out—and messages left were never returned. Similarly, I lost the connector cable to my Urbanears Plattan 2. Repeated emails through the company website—apparently the only way to contact them—were never answered.