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iancass's picture
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Joined: 23/11/2013 - 11:44
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Bowers and Wilkins A5
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I heard the A5 and the A7 in John Lewis and I must admit I was quite impressed. I was looking to hear about over peoples experiences/owners, the good the bad etc as they are quite expensive. I know Sonos is the go to plug and play system to go to but I am not convinced the sound quality is as good as B&W although I understand that it is more flexible and upgradable. I would be using an Ipad & i have have very good wifi.

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RE: Bowers and Wilkins A5

I went through a similar thought process i.e. Sonos or B&W Airplay and ended up choosing Airplay and the B&W A5 for our kitchen.

 

Our shared music; and video, are on a 24/7 Mac Mini where most of the library has been encoded in ALAC from CD rips. Our individual iOS devices are populated with AAC files. Until now we haven't used streaming services but we do use iTunes Match so will probably give iTunes Radio a go when it comes to the UK.

 

Convenience was important especially to my other half, any friction and she'll complain. Airplay has the advantage that from more or less any app you can send the audio to an Airplay speaker. In her case that's things like the Music app, BBC Radio and YouTube. The speaker will automatically turn on when it detects a signal from an iPhone or iPad. You can use the iOS device's physical buttons to control the volume which is very convenient. Together these were important factors in making a decision in favour of Airplay. Generally Sonos is limited in what it can do with apps and content directly on an iOS device. 

 

Accessing the shared iTunes library is done through the Remote app which after last years update now supports the queuing of music allowing you to add, delete and edit the up next list. Here you can't use the physical buttons on iPhone/iPad. You can either use the slider in the Remote app or the B&W's pebble remote.

 

If we used a NAS to store music or had kids accessing the same library or streaming services then a Sonos could be more interesting. If Sonos didn't have the 16bit/44.1KHz limit I might have been more interested as it could have integrated with our main system. Instead I use an Apple TV to access the main library or a Macbook connected to an asynchronous DAC for higher res files and more critical listening.

 

Why the A5 and not the A7. A few reasons. The speaker lives in the kitchen and didn't need the extra power or wider stereo image. The A7's USB DAC would have gone unused. The slightly smaller size was also a better fit. I would also say that I was a little uncomfortable about spending more than GBP 400-500 on a wireless speaker. That said to my ear at least the A7 does sound better and has more than enough power for a reasonable sized living room. 

 

We've had the A5 for just over 5 months and have been very happy. Like all of these devices placement is important. Putting in front of a wall allows you to tune bass performance which can be helpful. It sounds it's best from about 1/3 volume. It's plugged in next to a CAT6 socket but I've only ever used the Wi-Fi connection. In the time we've had it I can only think of one dropout which incidentally was on an ALAC track. 

 

AlmaataKZ's picture
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RE: Bowers and Wilkins A5

another option is to go for B&W MM1s (they have similar sound to A5 but have the benefit of better stereo as the speakers can be separated over a distance, unlike with A5 and A7) + an airport express for airplay. total cost 480gbp. Aex can be hidden away.

Equally, MM1s can be replaced with Monitor Audio WS100. Similar sound but for 250 instead of 400.

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Joined: 23/11/2013 - 11:44
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RE: Bowers and Wilkins A5

Thanks for replys guys, well appreciated. I have kind of gone full circle now after my recent escapdes in the world of wireless speakers in the last 24 hours. I went down to the JL yesterday to make a purchase for a B&W A5, took my ipad and had a good listen, I didn't have any issues with what I heard in the store but after asking quite a few questions I realized its just a one box  system with not much room for growing at the present time. I then had some listening time with the Sonos Play 5 which I don't think personally sounds better but I thought it has more scope to grow with and maybe use as main system at home, so made the purchase. Bought it home and the set up was fairly straightforward and took all of maybe 20 mins max. I connected it to a bridge then to my router and began to explore my options with the app, Spotify,  radio and my own music etc. I must admit I wasn't blown away & couldn't warm to the sound even after playing many different genres from Jazz to Electronic. Cut a long story short I took it back this morning for a refund. I can see the appeal for this kind of thing but I don't think its for me. 

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