For their consumer-level products, English audio equipment experts Bowers & Wilkins have always managed to merge their top quality engineering with sensible, pleasing design without making too many sacrifices in either area—as we’ve seen with their foldable P3 headphones and Z2 Airplay speaker dock. Bowers & Wilkins have now unveiled their most portable offering yet: the T7, which is the brand’s first Bluetooth (and non-Airplay) speaker. At first glance and even moreso after a testing session, it appears the each detail of the premium speaker has been thought through well ahead of its release.
Compact and in all black (and encased in a black rubber material for added protection), the speaker immediately catches the eye. The transparent honeycomb frame surrounding the internal speakers actually serves a function, aside from looking good. The hexagon structure is a “micro” version of their internal Matrix bracing used in their 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers (the very ones inside Abbey Road Studios since the 1980s); it’s meant to stabilize the two two-inch 50mm drive units and reduce overall distortion. And the sound is clear, clear, clear, even when the volume is cranked up. And this is the highlight of the T7: powerful volume—enough to fill up our ample office space. That’s impressive, considering that the T7 is roughly the same size as a VHS cassette (if you still remember what size those are). It rivals the output of a lot of bigger speakers out on the market.
Bowers & Wilkins even hired Warp Records-signed contemporary sound artist Mira Calix to compose its audio cues—a budget well spent, considering how robot voices blaring “battery full” or “device connected” can instantly ruin the party mood. Her melodic chimes aim to soothe, not jar. And while the fidelity is crisp and true to the songs played (thanks to the Bluetooth aptX technology), the only note we have is that the low-end is a bit lacking, especially when you play bass-heavy dance tunes. Though this is somewhat to be expected, given the speaker’s size.
Battery life is indicated by a series of light up dots on the side. Bowers & Wilkins claims that the battery will last up to 18 hours (for comparison, both the UE Boom and Jawbone’s Big Jambox cut off at 15—which were “staggering” numbers upon their own launches).
Images by Cool Hunting