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Bowers & Wilkins saw massive success with their AirPlay compatible loudspeakers; the Zeppelin Air, Z2, A5 and A7, arguably setting a still unbeaten standard within the new media hifi market. While the aesthetic design prowess has always been exceptional with these units, the overall sound quality has always been at the forefront of the Bowers & Wilkins product engineering process.
As times have progressed, a noticeable trend is visible towards consumers looking more at multi-device supported Apt X Bluetooth functionality over Apple-specific AirPlay, and keen to uphold and strengthen their revered status within this market, Bowers & Wilkins have announced their first Bluetooth loudspeaker model; the T7. Showing that they’re happy to move with the times and retain their reputation, this portable unit boasts the same level of unique design innovation and phenomenal sound quality one would expect from any product with a Bowers & Wilkins badge.
While the T7’s reflects a similar ergonomic rectangular design as other portable loudspeakers on the market, Bowers & Wilkins have added their premium and innovative design dexterity to create a luxurious aesthetic that truly stands out from other models in the same class. One such feature is the T7’s intriguing Micro Matrix design, which exists as a transparent frame around the main profile of the loudspeaker unit, forming an interesting honeycomb effect. The design looks smart, with the frame twinkling and shimmering when catching the light – allowing the speaker to truly stand out, while the overall transparency of the frame means this stand-out design is unobtrusive, and the T7 will blend flawlessly with its background.
This Micro Matrix design not only exists to look pretty however, and a level of Bowers & Wilkins-standard acoustic engineering has gone into the design of this feature. This innovation has been designed to form a solid structure, eradicating unwanted resonance and forming a rigid, solid profile for the driver units to truly perform to their best ability without upsetting and rattling the cabinet around them. This Micro Matrix technology is derived from the internal bracing found witihin the company’s reference level 800 Series Diamond, the same loudspeakers used in prestigious music studios across the world, including Abbey Road.
Weighing 950g, the T7 feels robust and solid, and in no way tacky or ‘plastic-like’ while still light enough to be portable and fit comfortably into a bag. A rubber trim is found at the top, bottom and sides of the unit make it harder to drop, and provide a little extra protection to the speaker should it take a bump.
Control functions are found on the top face of the T7, allowing you to pair with a bluetooth device, play and pause tracks, as well as adjust the volume up and down. A blue LED is located on one side of the speaker, indicating a successful ‘pairing’ to device, while the power button is discretely tucked just to the bottom right edge. These buttons are designed to be discrete and minimal, aiding further to the sleek design of the speaker while not compromising its functionality and ease-of-use.
The charger point/power socket for the T7 is seated beside an auxiliary input and service port to the back of the speaker. Bowers & Wilkins have ensured the highest possible sound-quality by prioritising the lossless Bluetooth AptX codec as a crucial factor in the speaker’s design process. While the 3.5mm auxiliary input allows playback support for non-Bluetooth devices.
Press the power button once to display a set of LED lights on the side, indicating how much battery the T7 has left. Bowers & Wilkins claim that the T7 is able to offer 18 hours of continuous playback at 75% volume, and even longer at lower volumes.
In terms of the general sound quality of the loudspeaker; the T7 enjoys the same prestigious level of sonic character as any Bowers & Wilkins product; a warm and rich, room-filling sound, tempered with an adamant level of accuracy across all frequency ranges. It’s been said that portable speakers often lack bass, and can sound tinny and bright – What Hifi claim that the T7 does not have this issue, stating that the bass response is controlled and present, while voices are clear and a good level of detail is present at all times. All frequencies sound exceptional, thanks to the 50mm glass fibre drivers and high quality internal electronics/DAC, combined with 2 x 12-watt, filterless Class D amplifiers. The impressive bass response is due to a newly developed and patent-pending technology devised by Bowers & Wilkins, where two force-cancelling, high-output bass radiators are utilised to extend these low frequencies. The T7 can also claim to a rather impressive volume too, despite being such a compact speaker.
While £300 sets this model towards the steeper end of the portable loudspeaker market, the overall build quality, aesthetic attainment and sonic integrity sets the T7 drastically apart from its competitors. The level of technological engineering and attention to detail placed into the creation of the T7 allows us to make the assumption that Bowers & Wilkins are preparing to disturb the industry once more, and raise the bar to an unseen height.