B&W unveils Formation soundbar with AirPlay 2

22 Apr 2019 | Rasmus Larsen |

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.

 B&W Formation Bar

- "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.

Also read: AirPlay 2 compatible speakers from B&O, B&W, Bose, Bluesound, Sonos, others

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.

 B&W Formation Bar

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)

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® v4.1, Class 2 aptX HD

Height: 109mm (4.3 in) Width: 1240mm (48.8 in) Depth: 107mm (4.2 in)
5.5kg (12.1 lb)

AirPlay 2 compatibility
iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 11.4 or later, Apple TV 4K or Apple TV (4th Generation) with tv OS 11.4 or later, Mac or PC with iTunes 12.8 or later.

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