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Bowers & Wilkins are on the Air

on September 25, 2012 8:00 am

Bowers and Wilkins just keep the hits coming. You might think this British audio powerhouse would take a break, but they obviously have no intention of doing that. Apple has just changed their 30-pin dock, making every single dock speaker obsolete without a $30 adapter. One of the reasons Apple did this is to urge us to go wireless. B&W has taken the hint and have released two AirPlay speakers, the A7 and A5 Wireless Music Systems.

The speakers are just beautiful in an understated way, unlike the brazen Zeppelin Air. The A5 and A7 design resembles B&W’s incredible desktop speakers, the MM-1. The AirPlay technology is now easier to set up with the free Bowers & Wilkins Setup App, downloadable from the App Store.

The 100 watt A7 features a 6-inch dedicated bass driver with two one-inch tweeters and two three-inch mid-range speakers which deliver what B&W says is full and controlled audio, even in large living rooms. It also has a built-in audiophile-quality 96kHz/24bit Digital-to-Analogue Convertor (DAC). The smaller A5 is designed with minimal visual impact and fits anywhere in a living room, bedroom, kitchen or desktop. These two new speakers will be sold alongside the Zeppelin Air, which means B&W now has three AirPlay speakers to choose from.

The A7 is priced at $799.99 and the A5 is $499.99. That’s expensive, but if the quality and sound of the MM-1 and Zeppelin Air are any indication, then the A5 and A7 should be priced realistically. Both will be available in October just in time for the holiday season.

Comments

  1. 1
    C D Roth says:

    Never disputing B&W’s quality I’m not sure how you, objectively, call the speakers beautiful. Subjectively you can certainly make the claim but then from another point of view they are merely clean and unpretentious. In a world of baubles that still says a lot.

  2. 2
    Bill Henderson says:

    Thanks for the comment, C D,
    I think the beauty lies in the simplicity itself. And you’re right; it is in the eye of the beholder.

  3. 3
    bob says:

    I am desperately trying to find out when and where from b&w through emails.
    Have to have one

  4. 4
    Bill Henderson says:

    I know how you feel Bob. I will inquire and post a followup when I find out.

  5. 5
    Bob Smith says:

    Cut from my recent emails with B&W:

    My question: Can you tell me when and where i can purchase an A7 dock?

    B&W answer: You will be able to purchase by the end of the month (meaning October)

  6. 6
    Bill Henderson says:

    Bob,
    You received your answer before I did. Thanks for sharing.
    And, oh man, are they beautiful!

  7. 7
    MIke Friedman says:

    I would love to read a comparison review of the A5-A7 versus the Sonos Play3-Play5 if it is available.

  8. 8

    So would I, Mike!
    I would love to review the A5 or A7 to see how it compares to the other portable B&W products.

    Bill H.

  9. 9
    Pigonge says:

    I have just purchased an A7 in apple store at piccadilly circus in UK.

    I think the sound quality is quite similar to Zeppelin air except that A7 has a narrower sound stage (well obviously from that shape).

    I have also asked B&W about their definition of zeppelin air and A5 + A7. Below is what they have told me.

    “The A7 as well as the A5 have been optimised to sound great when positioned in ‘out of the way’ places, such as on shelves and against walls.

    The Zeppelin Air has been optimised to sound great when positioned ‘on show’, such as cabinets and desktops.”

    Going back to my opinion.
    The bass of A7 is really strong and tight at the same time. I think it’s slightly hindering the sound of lower midrange.
    A7 plays midrange really beautifully.
    The high pitched sound is very transparent and clear.

    The only flaw with A7 is that the bass is slightly too strong.

    If you are looking for something that sounds the best from B&W airplay line, I recommend you to buy zeppelin air. A7 or A5 is, as B&W says, for situation such as having not enough space. In my case, I had to fit it on my small book shelve so zeppelin air was out of my choice. A7 still sounds really great though.

  10. 10
    Steven Kimpton says:

    Thank you Pigonge for that review, I have Been searching everywhere for a comparison between the Zeppelin air and the A7 but have had no luck until now. I am in the same situation as you with the lack of space in my room however I was willing to sacrifice a part of my room for space if the A7 was blown away by the zeppelin. I have a space in my room that should house the A7 perfectly (acoustically) depending on the size of the A7. If you could so me the favour of measuring the dimensions of the A7 I would be really grateful. Thanks

  11. 11

    Steven,
    According to B&W, the measurements are:

    Height 220mm
    Width 360mm
    Depth 160mm

    Hope this helps.
    Bill H.

  12. 12
    JOEL says:

    B&W needs to work on their small mid-range drivers, as the
    are being dominated by the Sub in both the ‘Air’ and from what I read here the new A7. I think the DSP on both PUSH the Sub to hard, and thus it dominates the essential mids, at higher volumes.
    (unless it is a cross-over issue or wattage which I doubt..)
    One thing you can do on the ‘Zeppelin Air’ model, is to go to your iphone, and go to the settings and where it says BASS. (Select -2 bass mode) This will to an extent, make this issue less obvious.
    On the A7 if this is still and issue, then you can do this via
    your computer and drop BASS to negative.

    —I personally would not consider the A5 at all, cause I had and sold the MM1’s without a SUB. Not having a Sub in the system pushes
    the low sounds of these 4″ mids WAY to much and then also does not have any punch of a sub needed!—

    For $600 and $800 respectivly for the BRAND NEW A7, I expect MORE from B&W then they are offering up here. The 3″ mid likely should be 5″ ones, with a DSP & Crossover that are both higher end and more SUBTLE!

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