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Bowers & Wilkins new Alien-Looking Wifi speakers The purpose of taking on Sonos with high-resolution ambitions
Bowers & Wilkins became a new Silicon Valley parent company three years ago, and now the classic British sound brand has a new thread with premium wireless speakers. The new formation suite starts at $ 900 for a very alien thing called Wedge and peaks at $ 4,000 with the even more alien Duo. Based on sales, these new wireless speakers can do everything a Sonos system can do and cost three times as much.
The formation suite represents the first new products by Bowers & Wilkins, when the company was acquired by Eva Automation in 2016 Eva is the brainchild of Gideon Yu, co-owner of San Francisco 49ers and former CFO in Facebook. The acquisition is much more meaningful now that Bowers & Wilkins turn their heads into the wireless world of speakers, especially because Eve's original mission was to "make products that would change how people interact and think of the home." These new audio products are certainly different.
Aside from the price tag – which is in the bottom row of the Bowers & Wilkins product line, the company says the new speakers are different from mesh network technology. Each component of the system effectively becomes a node in a network network which, according to the company, "dynamically selects the optimum path to route audio data between products." This allows the speakers to stream 96 kHz / 24 bit high resolution audio. Some years ago, Gizmodo's own Mario Aguilar called this standard "impractical overkill that no one can afford." It's more bandwidth than you need for Spotify playlists, but Bowers & Wilkins is aiming for audiophiles looking to modernize their hi-fi systems.  Illustration for article titled Bowers & amp; Wilkins & # 39; New Alien-Looking Wifi Speakers The Purpose of Taking Sonos with High Resolution Ambitions “/>
Photo: Bowers & Wilkins
The company offers lots of ways to do it too. The flagship of the new formation suite is the aforementioned Duo speaker pair. These speakers have the same Continuum cone driver, which is in the famous Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond series. They look like a bit-shaped version of these speakers also with the characteristic Carbon dome tweeter placed over the main driver. The Formation Duo also comes with AirPlay 2.0, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth, although you will probably stick to the network to get the best out of those bad boys.
Flanking Formation Duo is the more affordable Formation Wedge. With the same networking technology and 96 kHz / 24 bit high resolution audio features like the Duo, Wedge is more of an all-in-one solution that you could hold onto your kitchen table. The drivers, tweeters and sub are all inside an elliptical cabinet that curves at 120 degrees to spread the sound around the room. The whole situation looks like a spaceship on the wrong side of a wormhole or just a smashed version of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin speaker.
Pulling back is $ 1,000 Formation Bass, $ 1200 Formations Bar and $ 700 Formation Audio. The base, as the name suggests, is a subwoofer with opposite drivers that mates with the other formation speakers. The bar, which is really its name, is a sound bar with nine drivers. Formation Audio is a small box that allows you to connect a traditional hi-fi system to Formation speakers. Bowers & Wilkins also say it is perfected speaker synchronization, so when all those fancy toys are connected, everything is perfectly timed.
The whole proposal seems exciting if only because the idea of networked speakers sounds very forward-looking. After all, networks are the best way to distribute large bandwidth connections in homes. And if the dream of high-resolution sound and its buzzworthy cousin 3D sound becomes true, wireless hoping audiophiles will have a better way to connect their speaker systems.
Then again, the Formations Suite also seems like a very niche series of products for a very niche kind of listener. To get the most out of the system, this listener will need source sound that is very high quality as well as ears that can tell the difference. However, let's be honest. Some very wealthy people will listen to highly compressed Spotify tracks on these things and feel excited about the money they spent.