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B&W Formation Duo is under review

B&W has launched its much-anticipated wireless music system – and it is clear that the company means business. B&W Formation is a full-featured wireless wireless offering designed to appeal to those who want the convenience of streaming audio without losing any of the quality. And we mean something. B&W is promising full-featured audio performance that is a match for the sound quality you would expect from a pair of wired speakers or a separate hi-fi system. At the forefront of the claim, the B&W Formation Duo will be a fully active pair of wireless speakers and the flagship product in the formation area. Design The Formation Duo speakers are immediately recognizable as a pair of B&W speakers thanks to the branded tweeter on top of the cabinet and the now familiar Continuum cone that replaced previously used Kevlar models. Available in black or white, they add a futuristic twist to the classic design so you know you don't get a typical pair of passive speakers. Matt black finish was the winner for us, even though the white speakers with newly created places looked pretty smart. Standing just under 40 cm and only over 30 cm deep, they are not shrinking violets, and at 1 0.6 kg they are a calming piece of kit. Inside is the same 6.5-inch Continuum driver available in the B & W 800 series and a 1-inch carbon fiber tweeter, which includes B & W's patented tweeter-on-top technology. B&W claims a frequency response of 25 Hz…

B&W has launched its much-anticipated wireless music system – and it is clear that the company means business. B&W Formation is a full-featured wireless wireless offering designed to appeal to those who want the convenience of streaming audio without losing any of the quality. And we mean something.

B&W is promising full-featured audio performance that is a match for the sound quality you would expect from a pair of wired speakers or a separate hi-fi system. At the forefront of the claim, the B&W Formation Duo will be a fully active pair of wireless speakers and the flagship product in the formation area.

Design

The Formation Duo speakers are immediately recognizable as a pair of B&W speakers thanks to the branded tweeter on top of the cabinet and the now familiar Continuum cone that replaced previously used Kevlar models.

Available in black or white, they add a futuristic twist to the classic design so you know you don’t get a typical pair of passive speakers. Matt black finish was the winner for us, even though the white speakers with newly created places looked pretty smart. Standing just under 40 cm and only over 30 cm deep, they are not shrinking violets, and at 1

0.6 kg they are a calming piece of kit.

Inside is the same 6.5-inch Continuum driver available in the B & W 800 series and a 1-inch carbon fiber tweeter, which includes B & W’s patented tweeter-on-top technology. B&W claims a frequency response of 25 Hz to 33 kHz. The speakers are powered by two 125-watt digital amplifiers.

 B & W Formation Duo Control

If the rear of the speaker, which is below the wireless module on the base of the unit, is the power connection – everything you need to get started. There is also an Ethernet port for extra security over the wireless network connection and a USB port for service updates. And it’s a lot in terms of connections.

At the base of the front of the speaker, you see a Formation connection button, plus volume and game / pause controls. These can be useful when moving from room to room, so you can pause in a room and pick up the music where you left off in another room, but of course you will make the most of your control from your phone, tablet or laptop.

Features

 B & W Formation Duo functions

While they look as simple as a pair of speakers can look, with only one power cable required for each to start working, there is a whole host of the wireless functionality at your disposal.

First, they work with all other B&W formation products, including the formation bar, Formation Bass subwoofer, Formation Wedge wireless speakers, and Formation Audio wireless hubs.

As with any other device, the Formation Duo speakers support Apple AirPlay 2 and aptX HD Bluetooth. They have Spotify Connect and are Roon Ready, so they can be controlled straight from the Roon app. There is also a B & W Formation app.

Thanks to all this feature, it should be possible to play music from virtually any source. Of course, we are keen to see how it works in reality with a variety of apps, including hi-streaming streaming services like Tidal and Qobuz, and whether the B&W app measures up to those who like Bluesound, Sonos and Naim.

Elsewhere there is also Dynamic EQ, which is seen on some of the company’s digital subwoofers, which promise to fine-tune the sound when listening. We look forward to seeing how it works.

Audio

 B & W Formation Duo Audio

We have been treated for a neat preview of the new formation products, including a listening session with the Duo speakers. As always, a limited time in a new environment, with a system and songs that are not necessarily familiar, can only tell you so much.

That being said, B & W was clearly convinced of the ability of the speakers and keen to show what Duo could do (although a B & W team member admitted that it was far from a perfect listening room, it was quite large and complete with wooden floors).

We were treated in a wide range of styles, from Neil Young to St Vincent, Chris Stapleton to The Chemical Brothers, which allowed some aspects of the overall performance.

 B&W Formation Duo sound quality

The Chemical Brothers The golden road delivered bass that went deep, stopped tight and was full of detail and ran the track together as it should without dominating soundstage. It was also an impressive scale and filled a large room with sound without losing control.

Young’s guitar drums showed an impressive degree of fidelity; The level of detail where every intonation is obvious and helps deliver that sense of live performance even though you are sitting on your sofa streaming the song. Incidentally, our demo of the Duo speakers has been delivered via Roon, which, although it was a fixed software, made it a little strange not to use the B & W Formation app.

St Vincent’s Mass Enlightenment offers lots of raw emotions and nude songs, and it is evident that intermediate clarity and stereo imaging should be strong points for these wireless speakers, with voices and instruments nicely and coherently in front of us. It is easy to hear anger in Clark’s voice, so is the transparency offered.

We are even treated to vinyl, with Gregory Porter’s dulcet tones sent wirelessly to the Duo speakers via Formation Audio (even if you need a phono scene in there somewhere).

Initial judgment

 B & W Formation Duo judgment

The B&W Formation Duo speakers are the flagship product of the Formation series with a price tag to prove it. They really look good on paper and in the meat, and our first impressions are positive.

B&W wants to delve into the ultimate level of wireless performance, both in terms of sound quality and functionality. We look forward to finding out if the company has achieved the high goal very soon.

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Published by
Faela