Hands on: B&W Formation Wedge review

B&W is back in the wireless speaker game in eye-catching style Tested at $899

What is a hands on review?
B&W Formation Wedge review

For

  • Big sound
  • Impressive functionality

Against

  • Design may be divisive
  • Expensive
  • Big

The new B&W Formation wireless multi-room system promises the ultimate in whole-home audio. Hoping to deliver one part of that in perhaps its simplest form is the Formation Wedge, a standalone wireless speaker with a striking design.

The B&W Formation Wedge is said to be a natural successor to the famous B&W Zeppelin wireless speaker, which came at the start of the wireless generation and proved a hit for its sound and looks, something the Wedge will naturally want to emulate.

Design

B&W Formation Wedge design

B&W calls it a 120-degree elliptical design, giving the speaker a shape that explains the name. And it's a big wedge. The speaker stands just over 23cm tall, 44cm wide and 24cm deep, which actually makes it narrower - deliberately so - than the Zeppelin. The shape lends itself nicely to a corner, though from the front you wouldn't guess it has its curved back. 

Inside you'll find five speakers, each with its own amplification; 2 x 1in double-dome tweeters, 2 x 3.5in FST midrange speakers and a 6in subwoofer. They're brand new drivers made especially for the product, plus upgraded versions of the amplifiers found in the Zeppelin and new electronics. 

Many of the original Zeppelin engineers have also worked on the Wedge, so we think that bodes well for the performance. The Wedge has been designed and built entirely by B&W, which wasn't the case for its 'predecessor'. 

It's available in black or white, with the black model featuring a piece of curved wood cabinet made especially for the Wedge in the B&W factory in Worthing. The rest of the product is made in B&W's own factory in China.

Features

B&W Formation Wedge features

Much like the Sonos Play:5 or the Bluesound Pulse 2i, the Formation Wedge is an easy-as-you-like wireless speaker if that's all you want (albeit a premium one). You can send music its way via aptX HD Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, Roon or Spotify Connect. 

Get involved with the B&W Formation app, set to be available on Android or iOS, for a little more control and of course the ability to group together other Formation products - there are speakers, a soundbar, a sub and a wireless hub - and play music all around your home. The Wedge supports 96/24-bit high-resolution audio, too.

Sound

B&W Formation Wedge

We were given a sneak preview of the new B&W Formation products and that included a quick listening session with the Wedge. And we're happy to report, we were impressed. 

Running through a selection of tracks from Stevie Wonder to Wiley to Jeff Buckley, it's clear the Wedge has a confident hold on timing. Complex rhythms are well organised and tracks remain balanced throughout the sonic spectrum at all times, with no sign of harshness or a boomy bottom-end. 

It can definitely go loud and will fill a room, and seems capable of whacking out plenty of punch when required but in a controlled and clear manner. As with other Formation products, and indeed recent B&W speakers, we think the clarity and intimacy delivered with vocals could be a highlight. But we'll reserve judgement for when we have a much longer listen.

Initial verdict

Bowers & Wilkins has an excellent track record when it comes to producing curiously-shaped, excellent-sounding wireless speakers. So we have high hopes the Wedge can follow in the Zeppelin's footsteps.

The size and price tag will deter some, but if you're willing to pay to get the best possible wireless sound, we're pretty sure you'll want to audition the Formation Wedge. Look out for our full review soon.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.