Review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Audio


Bowers & Wilkins, an industry-defining wired speaker manufacturer, has set a new bar for wireless streaming speakers with their new Formation line. Sporting the classic B&W design, matched with proprietary syncing and networking, Bowers & Wilkins Formation Speakers deliver awesome room-filling sound as an ultra-premium wireless solution for the whole home.

This new wireless lineup is represented by five designs - a sound bar appropriately named Soundbar, a pair of bookshelf speakers called the Duo, a subwoofer called Bass, a stand-alone speaker for corners called the Wedge, and the Wireless Audio Hub. The Hub is an analog-to-digital / digital-to-audio converter that supports AirPlay 2 and allows you to upgrade your existing B&W system—or any wired system for that matter—to a wireless streaming setup. All of the speakers can be synced wirelessly to each other and support high-quality 96kHz / 24-bit sound via wireless streaming.

At first glance, the Bowers & Wilkins Formation series clearly stands out with its unique mesh texture design most notable in the Wedge, Soundbar, and Wireless Audio Hub. All of the speakers are beautiful by themselves, but their unique design isn’t only on the surface. Three key technology features drive this speaker line to the top of its class. First, the ability for these speakers to sync with one another throughout your home to create an imperceptible 1-microsecond in-room sync between speakers. Second, a patented robust mesh network helps your speakers run independently from your home Wi-Fi for uninterrupted sound. And finally, the audio quality is second to none with 96/24 bit streaming with twice the fidelity than leading wireless speaker brands.

Products Mentioned in this Video

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Video Transcript

"Hi, everyone. It's Adam with World Wide Stereo. Today, going to do a product showcase for you on a brand new wireless audio system from Bowers & Wilkins, the Formation Series. ♪ [music] ♪So, our friends over at Bowers & Wilkins decided to come up with a great wireless multiroom music system and they did that by creating speakers that are easy to use, easy to plug in and get set up, and can be all around the house. Some of the challenges that you come across when doing a wireless audio system can be they don't connect very well, they don't stay in sync with one another, so B&W really attacked this for us to come out with a truly fantastic product.

So, the Formation line is comprised of five products. You have the Formation Bar, the Formation Sub, the Formation Wedge, the Formation Duo, and the Formation Audio. So, I mentioned it's really, really easy to use, so once I start playing music on one Formation speaker, as I walk into the other room, I just hit the Formation button on that speaker, and it instantly starts playing.

And again, it's in sync, which was one of the bigger challenges of these wireless music systems around the house is keeping everything in sync, so there's no delay or weird echo, you know, as you walk into the next room. And of course, typical B&W fashion, you're going to have a very elegant and modern hip design that you see right here. The speakers in them and the amplifiers are strong and sound great.

The setup on these is really, really easy as well. Just download the B&W Formation app, plug your speaker in, and walk through the app. It'll take you through it and give you step-by-step instructions on how to get it setup on your WiFi network, so you can start listening. So, the Formation Bar is a really, really elegant soundbar with actually a nice dedicated center channel which is great to really help you hear the dialogue.

The connectivity on it is very, very simple. They left you with an optical input, so you can connect that right to your TV. It can also learn your TV or cable box's volume, so that way you don't have to go in and out of the app just to adjust the volume. You can simply use your TV or cable box remote control to control it. The Formation Sub can pair with almost any of the products, but it's really helpful if you pair with the soundbar as the speakers inside the soundbar are a little bit smaller.

By themselves, yeah, there is a good amount of bass there, but adding the subwoofer really sets you apart and has a really nice audio system for your TV. As you see next to me here, I have the B&W Formation Duo. This model is based off of their 705 speaker which is a fantastic and terrific sounding speaker. They added an amplifier in it and what's called DSP, which stands for digital sound processing.

Basically, when you have a speaker like this and you have the amplifier built-in, the engineers at B&W can custom tailor the amplifier and the sound that they want to get out of these drivers to produce a truly awesome experience. When you're dealing with standalone speakers and a standalone amplifier, you can't kind of get that precision customization in the sound. Again, this speaker has been custom-tailored to sound and look great.

Just these speakers alone, I was really, really impressed with the bass response out of them. It sounded like I almost had a subwoofer. Now, again, you can connect and add their subwoofer to this system, their wireless subwoofer to it, to even have more bass. But I got to tell you, these speakers by themselves sounded great, but to get that little extra layer of performance, I would absolutely add the subwoofer.

I think one of the most fun products that I've seen in the line up is this guy right here, the B&W Formation Wedge. It's actually wedged just like that, so it fits beautifully in a corner. So, kitchen cabinet, countertop, or even that corner right there, it'll fit beautifully in there, and the sound will project out really, really nice. You have this nice modern front grille pattern right here, protects the speakers. It's really a 2.1 system, so you have speakers over here, midrange and tweeter.

You have speakers over here. And then right in the middle, you have a nice subwoofer, so the sound really projects out and will really fill a room with sound. Again, you can pair the subwoofer with this guy as well if you're looking for that added layer of performance and extra bass in the system to make it sound really rich and full, that'll be great with this guy. Last but not least is the Formation Audio.

With this guy, you can now add this to your existing stereo system, so plug it into that Max stack plug it into that Yamaha receiver, whatever it is, that Rotel, whatever you have, now you can make this part of your wireless audio system. So, now that I've kind of covered all the products that are in this, let me talk about how you can actually play through these guys. So, the system itself is WiFi enabled, okay?

So, you can use AirPlay 2, you could use Spotify Connect, you could simply Bluetooth to any one of these speakers, and also you can use a system called Roon. Now, Roon's new to the industry, but it's one of the best ways to stream music and also manage your music library. Inside of Roon, you can do things like stream from TIDAL and Qobuz which are great high-resolution audio streaming services.

And also, if you have a massive library, it does one of the best jobs at archiving all that and collecting all that metadata for you, so it's just like having the album cover art right in your hands. So, this wouldn't be the first wireless music system that I've heard before. Again, it's really challenging to get this right, and I thoroughly enjoyed these speakers right here. They gave me great sound staging, phenomenal bass performance, and the 3D sound stage was awesome, so not only left to right I was able to hear where the music was but also front to back.

Really, really impressed by that. And again, that's something that you get when you have a quality speaker system and an audio amplifier that has been custom tailored for this speaker right here. These are the B&W Formation speakers. Currently, they're available to view online. They'll be available to purchase online in the near future. Right now, if you want to stop into either our Montgomeryville or Ardmore showrooms, you can come in for a personal demo and to purchase them right now.

We are an authorized dealer for everything that we sell here. We offer free shipping and a 60-day return policy. If you have any questions or comments about these, you can leave them in the comment section below, or please call or email us at any time. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and follow us on all of our social media platforms. This is Adam with World Wide Stereo reminding you to listen to music every day.

So long."

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