The new Formation series from Bowers & Wilkins is designed as a mesh-based multi-room system for music and TV audio. The series includes the Formation Bar with AirPlay 2.
Bowers & Wilkins Formation Bar
The Formation series comprises five products called Formation Bar, Duo, Wedge, Bass, and Audio. The speakers connect via B&W's own mesh network protocol and the company claims "in-room synchronization of one microsecond between speakers".
B&W Formation Bar is a 3-channel soundbar with 9 drivers (3x25mm tweeters and 6x65mm bass/midrange), including a dedicated center channel. It connects to a TV via an optical Toslink port. There is no HDMI port, which limits audio format support and HDMI control. B&W says that it supports up to Dolby Digital from TVs.
- "Wireless soundbars are supposed to help give a full, immersive home theatre sound experience in a compact design, but often they fall short, with too few speakers that aren’t placed at an optimum angle due to the limited shape and size," said Bowers & Wilkins. "With Formation Bar, Bowers & Wilkins has created a powerful multiroom soundbar that delivers legendary sound quality with wireless streaming flexibility. Bowers & Wilkins engineers designed nine optimised drive units born from their legendary loudspeakers and have them optimally positioned in a sleek design to create a wider, all-inclusive, soundstage, while a dedicated centre channel layers in crisp, clear dialogue."
The soundbar supports Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Bluetooth. AirPlay 2 lets you connect it to Apple TV for wireless TV audio, or to AirPlay 2-enabled speakers from other brands such as B&O, Bose, and Sonos for multi-room music.
For more impactful bass, users can buy and connect the Formation Bass unit. In addition, the soundbar supports 24bit/96KHz high-resolution stereo sound. Technical specifications are included in the table below.
Formation Bar will compete with high-end soundbars from other audio brands who are increasingly embracing object-based audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X that deliver a more immersive listening experiences as well as new features such as HDMI eARC that supports lossless audio.
B&W's Formation line will be available in the US and Europe later this month. The Formation Bar costs $1200 / €1250. More information is available on bowerswilkins.com.
B&W Formation Bar - specifications
Technical features Apple AirPlay 2 Technology Spotify Connect Roon Ready Bluetooth In Dolby Digital Digital Signal Processing (DSP) Digital Amplifier Dynamic EQ
Frequency response 40Hz to 28kHz
Amplifier power output 6x 40W
Input voltage 100V – 240V – 50/60Hz
Power consumption Below 6 Watts (Sleep)
Connections Digital audio in (Toslink) Network (RJ45 Ethernet or WiFi) USB – service only
Drive units 3 x 25mm (1 in) double dome tweeter 6 x 65 mm (2.6 in) woven glass fibre cone bass/midrange
Bluetooth Bluetooth® v4.1, Class 2 aptX HD AAC SBC