Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo active stand-mount loudspeakers

Music servers and computer audio
Bowers & Wilkins Formation Audio,
Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo

The drivers were taken from the two models previously mentioned. The tweeter is a carbon dome from the 700 series and the mid/bass has a Continuum cone from the 800 series – or essentially from the 805D, as it’s the only two-way in that range.

Duo is a particularly attractive speaker even before you consider that you don’t need any other equipment to be visible in the room, and the finish doesn’t have any sense of the plastic about it despite its constituents. The amplifier and DAC are in the base, where there are controls for play/pause and volume up/down on the front, alongside a status light that remains off once the system is set up. There’s no on/off switch; power switching is done automatically, with the only indication of status being the temperature of the metal base.

You can connect to Formation speakers via Bluetooth, Airplay, and even Ethernet alongside its own mesh system. This last allows you to pull data from locally stored or cloud based services. The only operational consideration is that at present you need Roon in order to use the latter two sources. The Formation app is currently only designed for set up. I suspect that Bowers will incorporate playback control into their own app in due course.

Set up was not without its hiccups. Getting the system to a point where I could tell it which channel was which required a bit of patience and it took a few reboots of Formation units, router, and the Roon core in an Innuos ZENith server to get things running smoothly. The Audio box was originally set up as the controller but the system worked more smoothly when control was handed over to the Duos. However, Audio does sounds rather good; I got excellent results with vinyl, possibly because with this source there is a direct connection to the Audio box, which is part of the mesh network. You can make a direct Ethernet connection to both Audio and Duo though, and that brought about a small but worthwhile improvement in timing.

Most of my listening was done conventionally, with the only wires involved being the power leads that are neatly routed through attractively sculpted optional stands. No speaker is truly wireless of course and you could argue that a slimline speaker cable is just as discrete as a power lead. What that discounts however is that with Formation products you don’t need any other hardware; the speaker contains the wireless streamer/DAC, amplifier, and drive units. A regular system requires at least one other piece of electronics.

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