Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), an established player in high-grade and premium audio devices segment, is actively targeting India with its offerings. The company has faced problems in becoming a mass brand as the devices they come out with are generally expensive and the firm had no plans of marketing or advertising any of its products till now. But with the launch of three new devices including a headphone, a Bluetooth speaker and a docking station speaker, the firm has made its intention clear. We got our hands on the T7 wireless speaker as we wanted to hit the notes right away.
Audio: T7 is Bowers & Wilkins’ first Bluetooth speaker, and it is all about sound. The speaker features the first commercially available application of Bowers & Wilkins’ Micro Matrix technology. Derived from the Matrix internal bracing used in the reference 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers found in Abbey Road Studios, and developed as part of Bowers & Wilkins next-generation automotive audio concepts, the Micro Matrix honeycomb structure provides substantial cabinet stiffening and a solid platform for the T7’s drive units. T7 also uses two force-cancelling high-output bass radiators to extend low frequencies, which helps deliver staggering range, depth and richness.
The T7’s two highly optimised 50 mm drive units are the result of a very long evaluation process which the sound major claims has been undertaken by some of the very best listeners and its team of acoustic engineers. Plus the use of aptX Bluetooth ensures high-definition detail isn’t lost in wireless transmission when you stream audio directly from any Bluetooth-enabled PC, tablet or mobile phone.
Design and battery: The speaker looks very simple and is unlike any other design model from its rivals. It simply looks like a small box till it is turned on which is when it starts thundering out any audio played on it. The user interface and design base for the operation is very simple. An easy-to-use yet unobtrusive controls supported by a unique collection of audio cues have been developed in collaboration with Mira Calix, an international composer, artist, and performer who works with sound across a range of formats. The size of a hardback book, it’s designed to be picked up and carried with the user.
While the T7 is compact, it’s reassuringly solid, with the heavy-duty stability you would expect of a high quality speaker. The rubber surround adds protection and tactile quality, adding to the speaker’s distinctive, elegant design.
The distinctive honeycomb structure surrounding the T7 isn’t just for show. The micro matrix as it is otherwise called braces the speaker, reducing cabinet resonance for a cleaner, more precise sound. Coming to drivers, the T7 uses two highly optimised 50 mm drivers to ensure the highest quality of sound from the small enclosure. The driver diaphragm is made from glass fibre; the same material used in its other wireless music systems. T7’s battery is super and it gives users up to 18 hours at normal listening levels.
Other audio features: The high-output bass radiator in the T7 also uses two force-cancelling high-output bass radiators designed to provide impressive bass, even at top volume, without adding resonance or rattle. The result is more and better bass, from a smaller box. The T7 comes with added electronics high-performance digital-to-analogue converters (DACs) to ensure audio is clear as possible to the source material. The T7 comes with Bluetooth that supports aptX which is built for continuous wireless streaming and can adapt to nearly every modern portable device—laptops, smartphones and tablets. The aptX also improves listening experience significantly by improving the transfer of data without affecting audio quality or introducing latency issues.
Verdict: B&W’s T7 is a speaker which resonates the words Hi-Fi on the go and is a much better option than most other speakers available in the market but for a much heavier price. But if the focus is on longevity and if the user doesn’t want to compromise on music, then this is a sure buy.
* Estimated street price: R29,900