Bowers & Wilkins Launches Formation Multi-Room Family of Speakers

Very interesting new product launch from B&W.

Getting B&W in the Roon fold would be great. Any info out there on this?

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The documentation, for the speakers, states “Roon Ready” so presumably via AirPlay2.

Yup, Airplay (not Airplay2) at the moment, I think. The manual for the Duo states:

Using Roon Roon is a feature rich music library and playback app that compiles all the music files available to your network and makes them easily available to play across all your Formation Spaces and any other Roon enabled audio devices. Roon is available for mobile, laptop or desktop devices.

When you open Roon it will display your complete audio library together with its metadata and artwork along with all the Formation Spaces and any other available network audio devices. Simply select the music you wish to play and Formation space in which you want to hear it.

Note: It is possible to stream audio from Roon on multiple devices simultaneously, however the playback quality and synchronisation and may then depend on the capabilities of your home network. If you wish to play material simultaneously in more than one Formation space this will be more satisfactorily achieved through selecting multiple spaces in the Bowers & Wilkins Home app.

It looks like B&W have created a proprietary wireless network environment for audio, with new apps for discovery and zone grouping. Probably not a bad idea given the network problems (dropouts) some people encounter with their setups.

PATENTED ROBUST MESH NETWORK
Developed to run independently from your home WiFi network to ensure high-resolution audio performance throughout your home.

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Roon is natively supported. Airplay is version II

Documents say launch is with Spotify Connect but all reviewers have said that Qobuz, Tidal and more are on their way. I"m betting that Apple Music will be supported as well seeing as how Apple had listed the Formation lineup on their website for the last few weeks. Bowers has a good relationship with Apple.

The Duo specs

AirPlay 2 compatibility
Formation Duo
Wireless High Performance Speaker System
Apple® AirPlay 2® technology Spotify® Connect
Roon Ready
Bluetooth In

Duo Information Sheet

Huh!? Do they know something we don’t?:face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Probably just sloppy ad copy.

Roon Ready means Roon Ready :slight_smile: so to be clear, these devices support RAAT :sunglasses:


They are talking about form factor, meaning phones (as opposed to desktop or tablet).

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We’ve received our Formation Suite, getting very good results from everything! Roon makes this product very easy to use and integrate throughout the home. The Formation Audio falls at a very nice price point too, at £599 as a Roon Ready streamer!

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I was thinking the streamer looked like a good value option but was wondering if I was missing something as B&W aren’t generally thought of as ‘good value’ I didn’t think.

I’d be really interested to hear any future thoughts/experiences you have with the streamer and just the overall system generally.

I think the most glaring omission is the lack of a Sub out on the streamer.

I would guess they want you to pair it wirelessly with their wireless sub, Formation Bass?

I did a quick (albeit unfair) comparison between the Formation Audio and the Naim ND5 XS 2 and was pleasantly surprised with how well it performed at a fraction of the cost.

That’s like expecting a CD Player to have a sub out. If you want a subwoofer, you can use a sub output on the amplifier that it’s connected to. If it’s not going to an amplifier, you can send the full range signal to a subwoofer (or two!) or indeed use the Formation Bass!