Bowers and Wilkins (B&W) T7 Bluetooth Speaker Review

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Sam Posten, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    B&W T7 Bluetooth Speaker Review​


    Into a world obsessed with jamming more and more features into single devices, Bowers and Wilkins (B&W) have launched the T7, a portable Bluetooth speaker that does exactly one thing: It plays your music wherever you go with style and panache.http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Wireless-Speakers/Bluetooth-Speakers/T7/And it just oozes that style. Unlike most speakers which are functional but boring B&W have crafted a new iconic design language. Centered on what they call "Micro Matrix" a honeycomb of plastic reinforced with metal that not only give it a unique look but adds the practical effect of isolating the physical speakers in the unit from whatever it is resting on. A strip of rubber surrounds these cells adding additional protection and isolation, and gives it a nice grip, with the downside of being prone to fingerprints.



    The T7 consists of two 12-watt, 2" (50mm), speakers paired to what B&W terms "Passive Auxiliary Bass Radiators." I'm not sure exactly how those work but the effect is pleasing. Normal volume provides a nice, room filling sound with about as much bass as you'd expect from a box that measures a little over 8 inches wide, 2 inches deep, and 4 inches tall. A big portion of that girth going to the hollow outer ring. But crank it up and sensitive ears will note the on-board DSP compensating to avoid distortion, well suited to provide a respectable bubble of sound for a day at the beach, pool or park and even at higher volumes.



    It can keep pumping that sound out longer than you are likely to need it for. Officially rated at 18 hours of playback I've seen users reporting getting over 20 hours of music, unusual indeed. As I've used it on my desk at home and work it's been rock solid for a day away from its charger, barely clicking down one tick on its LED battery display.
    Connectivity couldn't be simpler, if you've paired a Bluetooth device in the past you will be familiar here, although with no display you are limited to hitting the top button to get it to pair and have to select it on your transmitting device without much guidance. I did find that I had to 'wake' it to use it each time by hitting that Bluetooth button, I could not simply choose it from my phone or iPad to wake it, there had to be a physical press which I found unusual. If you intended to keep it on a high shelf most of the time this could be frustrating, but since I used it on my desk it was no big deal.



    You'll want to note two things regarding connectivity: First, despite B&W having 4 other AirPlay models on the market, the T7 is Bluetooth only. Second, if you have an aptX capable device you can use that higher bandwidth Bluetooth mode to send even higher quality tracks to this device. I stuck to standard quality MP3s I have downloaded, or ripped, and found them to have transmitted flawlessly. I'm not a fanatic about having lossless sound for my portable devices but if you are in that crowd then the T7 should merit a look based on that capability.The device does have a small selection of physical ports. Its power connector being the obvious first, but in a nice touch B&W include a number of wall-wart to power plug adapters in the box should you plan on toodling around Europe with this unit. Strangely B&W did provide a USB port but its for factory diagnostics only, you cannot charge it via USB nor charge your device from it. This is a bit of a missed opportunity despite its laser focus on filling a single role. Finally there is a standard mini stereo jack should you ever need it, and next to these three is a tiny reset switch should you ever need to wipe and restore the unit to original condition.



    Control wise there are fewer buttons than you might expect. Up top is the Bluetooth pairing button, the pause/play button (which can be double tapped to skip to the next track) and volume up and down buttons. The power button is on the side along with the charge indicator LED. All of the buttons are subtle raised rubber, hard to see and require unexpected pressure to engage and using them in dimly lit environments could be a challenge. If you wish to skip back a track or two you'll need your source handy, there's no control button on the unit to do so.I listened to a few days worth of audio on the T7, ranging from low volume (avoiding my coworker's wrath!) to moderate volume when I was the only one around, and it was a handy office companion. I had my entire library at my finger tips through the cloud and shuffle mode brought me tons of selections ranging from pop, rock, classical, blues and more. All of them brought a big smile and when they didn't it was as simple as a double tap on the unit to get to the next song without having to dig out my phone.So does it all stack up to be a good value? That's hard to say. Certainly it is more handsome than any other portable speaker I've ever used and it's sound quality is at least as good if not better, tho not earth shatteringly so. While it's a premium priced product the battery life is outstanding and the design, packaging and build quality are top notch. If you value those in a product over having a device that does a dozen different things in addition to being a speaker then you can easily justify the premium over the competition in my view. If you need a device that will charge your phone and act like an alarm clock or fill other auxiliary roles, then you'll need to look elsewhere. B&W have been making high quality products for a long time and the T7 lives up to that legacy nicely.Pros: Room filling sound with decent bass extension for its size Superb design and build quality 18 hour+ battery lifeCons: Finicky and hard to see controls Premium Price No USB charging or connectivity Requires touch to wakeSpecifications:Drive units 2x 50mm (2.0 in) Full range 2 x Auxiliary Bass Radiators (ABR)Frequency response 58Hz - 19kHz +/-3dBFrequency range -6dB@ 50Hz to 21kHzAmplifier power output 2 x 12WPower supply voltage Input: 100-240Vac, 50/60Hz, 1.0A, (Power supply)Output: 15Vdc, 2.0APower consumption Standby: 0.141W Sleep: 0.317WOperating temperature Designed to work at an ambient temperature of up to 45°CInputs Auxiliary - analogue (stereo 3.5mm jack) Service - firmware updates only (micro USB)Height 114mmWidth 210mmDepth 54mmNet weight 940gEnclosure Polycarbonate
     
  2. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Pinning this for a few days so it gets a little more exposure. Anyone gonna try it out?
     

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