Product review: Bowers & Wilkins Formation Wedge and Flex wireless music system

Bowers and Wilkins have brought their one box streaming solutions into the world of multiroom with the luxurious Formation range.

It’s safe to say that the Richer Sounds team were very excited to hear we now have access to a few ranges from the esteemed audio company Bowers and Wilkins. Over the years Bowers and Wilkins have made themselves a household name. Making some of the most revered loudspeakers in the scene. They’ve now set their sights on the ever growing world of multiroom. With this they present to us: The Formation range. The range consists of: The Duo, The Bar, The Bass, The Formation Audio, and our topics of discussion today, The Wedge and The Flex.

The Wedge

With the first look I was intrigued. A similar elliptical design to their Zeppelin model, but with its own unique character. Its honeycomb styled grill really makes this unit stand out. The grill is surrounded in a very premium mesh cover. The back of the unit is curved, giving it the shape of a wedge (of course), making it perfect to fit into a corner. The back is made from real wood timber, and feels very solid. This is a very attractive and bold looking speaker.

 

The Wedge supports Aptx Bluetooth, Airplay 2, Spotify Connect, and Roon. All of these can be used without using B&Ws own app. I spent my time with this unit using Spotify connect, as it’s what I mainly use at home with my own system. The app Bowers Home is fairly limited, but B&W have claimed they will be updating the app over time.

Starting off with Before the Beginning by the legendary John Frusciante, I’m in awe at the power each instrument holds. The guitar that opens the track is crisp and very realistic. The drums come in next and I can’t stop my head from bobbing along. The impact of each drum hit is tight, and their echoes that precede them are very insightful. Finally the drawn out guitar, the main event of the track, appears with explosive presence. The sheer scale this speaker bestows is what draws me to the world of hi-fi, and hearing this from a one box solution really had me excited. The way each instrument lingers in it’s own space is truly exhilarating.

Next up I decide to give Ramin Djawadi’s Game of Thrones soundtrack a test. Light of the Seven, from Season 6, is a very moving and foreboding track with a lot of atmosphere and profundity. The Wedge presents this energy in a very stunning way. The piano is very cold and biting, as it should be. The strings flood into the mix from both sides of this beguiling speaker, making me wonder if I’ve accidentally connected to the stereo set up in our listening room. The piano and strings fade off into a split second of silence before we’re hit by the evocative choir of children. The vocals are very clear and separated from the rest of the instruments.

One of the Wedge’s main competitors will be the Sonos Play 5. Although the Formation app isn’t as refined as the dedicated Sonos app, the sound definitely is. If you’re looking for premium high fidelity audio from a one box solution then look no further. The largest speaker from the Formation range is a must have for your living room. Now you have the living room filled with glorious audio you want to wander through to the kitchen and not miss out on the music, right?

Let me introduce you to the Wedge’s younger brother.

The Flex

The Flex was introduced into the Formation range shortly after the rest of its family. Bowers & Wilkins realised that the range required a smaller and more affordable unit, and thus the Flex was born. It can be used either as a stand alone unit, as a stereo pair, or as rear surrounds with the Formation bar. Featuring the same streaming methods as the Wedge, but in a smaller box, the Flex is ready to be played by just about any streaming method available.

Looks wise we see the same premium honeycomb/mesh grill that the Wedge holds. The unit is cylindrical and features a single tweeter and a single mid bass driver. At the top we’re greeted by the same touch controls as the Wedge, simple yet effective. The grill surrounds the front, sides and the rear of the unit meaning you will get the same great sound from wherever you’re standing in the room.

Starting off with 2 + 2 = 5 by Radiohead I’m immediately drawn in by how realistic the percussion sounds. The vocal reproduction is crisp and true to life. Not quite the same weight in the bottom end department as the Wedge but I was caught off guard by how punchy this little unit was. When the song starts to get a bit more thrashy and loud the Flex managed to keep up with it and didn’t sound muddled or exhausted.

Next up I move onto Time for Space by Emancipator. The melodic highs are very crisp, and the bass very taut. Each pluck of guitar string is detailed, and the percussion very punchy. I’m surprised by how much sound is produced by this smaller speaker. As the violin comes in I’m moved by the sound, the flutes are pleasantly layered under the strings and bass.

The Flex will work well in smaller rooms, maybe a kitchen or a bedroom. Whichever way you use this speaker you will be surprised. A lot of punch and detail from this smaller component to the Formation range, and with the ability to create a stereo pair you can use this for a full room setup. Bowers and Wilkins have created a brilliantly premium range of multi room speakers, and deserve to grace your home.

Learn more about the Bowers & Wilkins Formation range.

Author: Jack, Bristol store

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