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B&W Formation Wireless Audio Line – First Look

Bowers and Wilkins has just launched its all-new Formation line of wireless audio products.

I’ve been listening to quite a bit about them for months now from my B&W rep. It’s clearly aiming for the higher market of wi-fi clients, capturing simply above Sonos and Heos to offer premium wireless audio a new identify. Because wi-fi audio products are heavily depending on software, many issues and options might be fastened or added with a easy update, making the market all that much more aggressive. I’ve been working with every product within the new line and now that I’ve had a few week to play with every one, listed here are my first thoughts on the Wedge, Bar, Bass, Duo, and Audio.

Formation Wedge

MSRP – $899
Technical options – Apple® AirPlay 2® know-how, Spotify® Join Roon Prepared, Bluetooth
Digital Signal Processing – (DSP) Digital amplifier, Dynamic EQ
Drive models – 2x 25mm (1in) double dome tweeter, 2x 90mm (3.5in) FST midrange, 1x 150mm (6in) subwoofer
Frequency response – 35Hz to 28kHz – double dome
Amplifier power output – 2x 40W (tweeter), 2x 40W (midrange), 1x 80W (subwoofer)
Community Connections – (RJ45 Ethernet or Wi-Fi), USB – service solely Bluetooth Bluetooth® v4.1, Class 2 aptX HD AAC SBC
Dimensions – Peak: 232mm (9.1in) Width: 440mm (17.3in) Depth: 243mm (9.6in)
Weight – 6.5kg (14.3lb)
AirPlay 2 – compatibility iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 11.4 or later, Apple TV 4K or Apple TV (4th Era) with TV OS 11.four or later, Mac or PC with iTunes 12.8 or later.

Bowers and Wilkins Formation Line Wedge

The Wedge is an multi functional speaker that takes on the likes of the Sonos Play 5 or Apple HomePod. Unboxing the Wedge, it’s clear to see simply how lovely the 120-degree elliptical design with hanging wooden accents (in black only) is. It’s a tremendous unit that matches properly in a corner of a room or shelf. Setup was very straightforward, and it sounds wonderful, better than the Play 5 for my part. The midrange and bass robust but the highs seemed more veiled than a Play 5 to me. For bigger rooms I feel the Wedge can be the better selection as it is capable of larger output than the Play 5. And don’t overlook that it helps 96/24-bit high-resolution audio!

The Wedge is available in at almost double the cost of a Play 5 and can also be a bit greater, however I feel it appears a lot better in virtually every approach. The Wedge was clearly designed to look nearly as good because it’s sounds. As of now, you possibly can’t use the Wedge as a part of a 5.1 system with the Bar or Bass. You additionally can’t use two Wedges as a stereo zone like you’ll be able to with Sonos. These options could be added in later with an update nevertheless it’s disappointing to see them presently lacking.

My verdict – Await a sale and a few function updates until you actually love the sound and look. If you would like the best-looking standalone speaker answer, look no farther.

Formation Bar

MSRP – $1199.99
Technical features – Apple® AirPlay 2® Know-how Spotify® Connect Roon Ready Bluetooth In Dolby Digital Digital Signal Processing (DSP) Digital Amplifier Dynamic EQ
Drive models – 3x 25mm (1in) double dome tweeter, 6x 65mm (2.6in) woven glass fiber cone bass/midrange
Frequency response – 40Hz to 28kHz
Amplifier power output – 6x 40W
Power consumption –
Connections – Digital audio in (TOSLink), Community (RJ45 Ethernet or Wi-Fi), USB – service solely
Bluetooth – Bluetooth® v4.1, Class 2 aptX HD AAC SBC
Dimensions – Peak: 109mm (4.3in) Width: 1240mm (48.8in) Depth: 107mm (4.2in)
Weight – 5.5kg (12.1lb)
AirPlay 2 compatibility – iPhone, iPad, and iPod contact with iOS 11.four or later, Apple TV 4K or Apple TV (4th Era) with TV OS 11.four or later, Mac or PC with iTunes 12.8 or later.

Bowers and Wilkins Formation Line Bar

The Formation Bar is B&W’s all new soundbar. It’s quite a bit longer than different soundbars and matches the width of a 65” TV completely. Personally, I favor my soundbars to mix into the TV and not be seen however the Formation Bar has different concepts, it really steals the show wherever it is positioned. Throughout setup, there were a couple of app crashes. Then shortly after adding it to a zone, it utterly disappeared from the app (perhaps it was updating?). After about 30 minutes, it reappeared on its own. I was then in a position to use the optical connection from my TV to observe a number of films and really hear it in motion. Sound was broad and open, however highs felt a bit veiled and it seemed like something was lacking at occasions, virtually like the center channel was too highly effective. Midrange and bass each sounded nice though. It’s a superb soundbar, however I really feel that the sound high quality doesn’t all the time justify the worth.

Once you add in the Formation Bass although, this actually turns into a greater system with unbelievable lows. I then needed to hear how this technique sounded on my Duos however discovered you can’t share a supply or create a brand new group zone like you possibly can with Sonos. The Bar’s optical enter stays with the Bar until you could have a Formation Audio related to the Duos’ zone. It also can’t be arrange in a 5.1 configuration. I actually hope these features are added soon.

My verdict – Like or dislike the type, it’s an excellent soundbar, but the worth is steep and there’s no 5.1 choice (but).

Formation Bass

MSRP – $999
Technical options – Digital Signal Processing (DSP), Digital amplifier Dynamic EQ
Drive models – 2x 165mm (6.5in) long-throw bass unit
Frequency response – 20Hz to 150Hz
Amplifier power output – 250W
Power consumption –
Connections – Community (RJ45 Ethernet or Wi-Fi), USB – service solely
Dimensions – Peak: 254mm (10in) Width: 281mm (11.1in) Depth: 260mm (10.2in)
Weight – 12.5kg (27.6lb)
AirPlay 2 compatibility – iPhone, iPad, and iPod contact with iOS 11.4 or later, Apple TV 4K or Apple TV (4th Era) with TV OS 11.four or later, Mac or PC with iTunes 12.8 or later.

Bowers and Wilkins Formation Line Bass

The Formation Bass actually blew me out of the water. It is a wonderful wi-fi subwoofer, truly the most effective I’ve heard, with a low and tight sound. Including it to the Bar creates an excellent sounding three.1 system however takes the worth to $2200. The overall design is sort of unique and appealing to the eye, but that might be thought-about its weak spot. A Sonos Sub, for instance, can easily be hidden beneath or behind a sofa, whereas the Bass can’t. It’s also not as kid or pet friendly as the Sonos Sub where the drivers are better protected. The bass has the drivers on both sides absolutely uncovered, with no grilles. Hold it protected!

Setup was very straightforward, it all the time stayed related and the bass was great. I might highly advocate getting one when you plan to use the Bar so much as it provides a much-needed low-end increase.

My verdict – Nice sounding and searching sub, however maintain it away from pets and youngsters, costly

Formation Duo

Model – Formation Duo
MSRP – $3999 a pair
Technical features – Apple® AirPlay 2® know-how, Spotify® Join Roon Prepared, Bluetooth In Digital Signal Processing (DSP), Digital amplifier, Dynamic EQ
Drive models – 1x 25mm (1in) Carbon dome high-frequency, 1x 165mm (6.5in) Continuum cone bass midrange
Frequency response – 25Hz to 33kHz
Amplifier power output – 2x 125W
Energy consumption –
Connections – Network (RJ45 Ethernet or Wi-Fi), USB – service solely
Bluetooth – Bluetooth® v4.1, Class 2 aptX HD AAC SBC
Dimensions – Peak: 395mm (15.6in) Width: 197mm (7.8in) Depth: 305mm (12in)
Weight – 10.6kg (23.4lb)
AirPlay 2 compatibility – iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 11.4 or later, Apple TV 4K or Apple TV (4th Era) with TV OS 11.4 or later, Mac or PC with iTunes 12.eight or later.

Bowers and Wilkins Formation Line Duo

Wireless 805s? That was my first thought once I saw the Formation Duos. Unboxing them, I shortly observed they’ve a way more refined and trendy look than the 805s. Setup was a breeze and I also obtained to assemble the stands (not included) to set them on. I actually love their general look. In the app you decide which one is left and which one is true and also you’re in your option to wi-fi audio bliss. Not a lot to it, very straightforward setup!

Bowers and Wilkins Formation Line Duo and 805

Nothing else in the wireless audio world even comes to close to the performance of those speakers. Unimaginable soundstage and clarity shortly greet you the moment you load a playlist. Highs and lows are crystal-clear, and distortion is nowhere to be found. I had no issues with connectivity or streaming at all. Adding the Formation Bass is an choice, but I don’t assume it’s really wanted for most setups. For bass-loving audiophiles although, it would fit in with the Duos fairly properly.

My verdict – Expensive, however one of the best wi-fi audio listening experience I’ve heard so far

Formation Audio

Model – Formation Audio
MSRP – $699
Technical features – Apple® AirPlay 2® know-how, Spotify® Join Roon Prepared Bluetooth, Excessive efficiency analog-to-digital converter (ADC), High efficiency digital-to-analog converter (DAC)
Power consumption –
Connections – Digital audio in (TOSLink), Analog in (2x RCA), Digital audio out (1x coax), Analog audio out (2x RCA)
Network – (RJ45 Ethernet or Wi-Fi), USB – service only
Bluetooth – Bluetooth® v4.1, Class 2 aptX HD AAC SBC
Dimensions – Peak: 44mm (1.7in) Width: 215mm (eight.5in) Depth: 263mm (10.4in)
Weight – 1.0kg (2.2lb)
AirPlay 2 compatibility – iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 11.4 or later, Apple TV 4K or Apple TV (4th Era) with TV OS 11.four or later, Mac or PC with iTunes 12.eight or later.

Bowers and Wilkins Formation Line Audio

The Audio is concerning the measurement of an iPad and has the identical unique aesthetic as the opposite Formation merchandise. It’s a easy to use media streamer and multi-room system that, in contrast to Sonos, presents 96/24 bit high-res audio streaming. It gives comparable connections to most other streamers like optical out and analog in/out. I discovered the unit straightforward to use and set up and had no issues aside from a couple of minor app crashes and one instance of lost connectivity whereas enjoying.

Bowers and Wilkins Formation Line Configuration

Digging into the guide, it appears that evidently the Audio will even allow you add multi-room functionality to the Formation system by the adding and sharing of sources. See this configuration sheet included in the guide.

My verdict – Straightforward to make use of excessive res streamer that additionally adds features to the prevailing Formation household, costly