B&W Unveils ‘Formation Suite’ Wireless Speaker Series
High-performance U.K. speaker brand Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) introduced Monday its Formation Suite of wireless audio products for high-fidelity whole-home sound.
The product suite was developed to seamlessly blend authentic high-fidelity performance, striking contemporary design and wireless convenience.
The Formation Suite includes five products including: the Formation Bar, the Formation Duo, the Formation Wedge, the Formation Bass and the Formation Audio Wireless Audio Hub. Formation products were designed to create a mesh network.
Each product in the network dynamically chooses the optimal path to route audio-data between products, in order to ensure a robust streaming experience, the company said. Formation products are certified by B&W for High Network Availability (HiNA) and conform to the appropriate power requirements set out in the ERP directive.
“The Formation Suite is the newest and most technologically innovative line of wireless products our development teamhas ever created. We are setting a new bar in the world of wireless sound, proving that wired fidelity can be achieved wirelessly,” stated Greg Lee, CEO of Bowers & Wilkins, in annoucing the product suite. “The all new Formation Wireless Technology enables a fidelity never experienced on a wireless system before. Now consumers can get the high-performance audio quality that they expect from Bowers & Wilkins with the conveniencewireless systems offer. With Formation, we’re taking the superior quality sound Bowers & Wilkins is known for and coupling it with an unmatched, easy-to-use, wireless listening experience, making it the new standard in whole home audio.”
Features of Formation products include: imperceptible in-room speaker synchronization and high-resolution 96/24-bit audio resolution.
The Formation Bar is B&W’s latest wireless soundbar ($1,199 suggested retail) that is equipped to deliver high quality sound from a compact form factor. The unit features nine optimized drive units that the company said present a wide sound stage including a dedicated center channel, for an immersive surround sound experience.
Bowers & Wilkins engineers designed nine optimized drive units in the aural image of their popular wired loudspeakers crafted in a sleek cabinet design. The built-in dedicated center channel is said to present crisp, clear dialog, to punctuate an encompassing, immersive overall audio experience that B&W is calling “the Highest Form of Sound.”
The Formation Bar is compatible with Apple AirPlay 2 Technology, Apple TV 4K or Apple TV (4th Generation) with tv OS 11.4 or later, Mac or PC with iTunes 12.8 or later, Spotify Connect, and Roon Ready. It has Bluetooth input, Dolby Digital Digital Signal Processing (DSP), Digital Amplifier Dynamic EQ Drive units (3 x 1 inch), double dome tweeters (6 x 2.6 inches), a woven glass fiber cone bass/midrange, a 40Hz to 28kHz frequency response, and 6 x 40 Watts (Input voltage 100V – 240V – 50/60Hz).
Connections include: a Toslink digital input, RJ45 Ethernet, WiFi, USB (service only), and Bluetooth v4.1 Class 2 aptX, HD AAC, and SBC. The dimensions are 4.3 (H) x 48.8 (W) inches.
The B&W wireless Formation Bass ($999 suggested retail) is a compact wireless sub designed to pair with other B&W Formation components for an advanced sound experience.
The Formation Bass unit features a patented cylindrical design uses opposed dual driver technology to reduce distortion, and a Class D amplifier with Dynamic EQ for crisp, clean sound. The Formation Bass has improved sound synchronization and more expressiveness for greater depth and punch. The unit was designed to pair seamlessly with other speakers in the Formation Suite.
The Formation Bass includes Digital Signal Processing (DSP), digital amplifier Dynamic EQ Drive units (2 x 6.5-inch long-throw bass), a 20Hz to 150Hz frequncy response, and 250 Watts of power (voltage 100V – 240V – 50/60Hz Power consumption Below 6 Watts). Connections include RJ45 Ethernet or WiFi and USB (service only). The unit measures 10 (H) x 11. 1 (W) x 10.2 (D) inches, and weighs 27.6 pounds. It is compatible with AirPlay 2 mobile devices with iOS 11.4 or later, Apple TV 4K or Apple TV (4th Generation), Mac or PC with iTunes 12.8 or later.
The Formation Wedge ($899) is a uniquely shaped 120-degree elliptical speaker with dedicated full-range stereo sound components that are said to produce room-filling high-resolution stereo sound.
The Formation Wedge was created to hold a full-range of high frequency, midrange and subwoofer components to produce a true stereo effect, with calculated, angled drivers so sound reaches every part of a room, the company said. The speaker will stream 96/24 quality audio and sync easily with other Formation speakers, including multiroom set ups.
The B&W Formation Duo wireless speakers ($3,999) are said to be the first wireless speakers with the quality to live up to the B&W name. The speakers features the same carbon-domed, tweeter-on-top technology and Continuum cone driver as Bowers & Wilkins’ 800 Series Diamond wired speakers. The speakers will connect via B&W-exclusive Formation Wireless Technology to produce a “wireless-redefining immersive, seamless, high-fidelity soundstage,” the company said.
The Formation Duo is compatible with Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Roon Ready, Bluetooth, and features Digital Signal Processing (DSP), digital amplifier, Dynamic EQ Drive unit (1 x 1 inch), carbon dome high-frequency, (1 x 6.5 inch) Continuum cone bass midrange, and 25Hz to 33kHz frequency response. Connections include: RJ45 Ethernet, WiFi, USB (service only), Bluetooth v4.1, Class 2 aptX HD AAC SBC. The speakers measure 15.6 (H) x (7.8 (W) 12 (D) inches and weight 23.4 pounds.
The B&W Formation Audio Wireless Hub ($699 suggested retail) uses B&W wireless technology to turn any traditional passive system into a high-fidelity streaming system. The wireless hub enables high-quality wireless streaming to an existing passive system from existing passive components like a CD player, turntable, to wireless Formation speakers, anywhere in the home. The hub enables high resolution 96/24-bit streaming.
The unit is compatible with Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Roon Ready, Bluetooth, and features a high performance analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and high-performance digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Input voltage is 100V – 240V – 50/60Hz. Connections include Toshlink digital input, analog audio (2 x RCA), digital audio out (1 x RCA), analog audio out (2 x RCA), RJ45 Ethernet, WiFi, USB (service only), Bluetooth v4.1, Class 2 aptX HD AAC SBC.
By Greg Tarr
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