The Duo’s sound quality is quite unlike any other Bowers & Wilkins speaker I have tried. This is presumably as much to do with the sealed nature of the cabinet and the on-board electronics as it is with the wireless connection. They have remarkable bass extension and an articulate and revealing presentation that remains coherent even at high levels. There is also a solidity to the sound, which makes them sound a little ‘shut in’ at times. However, Bowers & Wilkins creates a loudspeaker of great detail and resolution, even if they are not as open sounding as its other lines. Regardless, the lower frequencies are remarkably articulate and extremely well extended. Some familiar tracks revealed far deeper bass than usual, and a lot deeper than a regular speaker of this size can usually manage. This bass depth is extremely attractive and presumably reflects the extra control afforded by active operation. I recall asking Bowers & Wilkins for an active 802 many years back and got the answer that such things were not commercial; perhaps now that they have done the work this dream might be realised.
The Duo is an engaging and enjoyable loudspeaker. It doesn’t ‘time’ as well as a good conventional streaming system of the same price but it goes deeper and plays at higher levels with less distortion than most. But that isn’t the point of Formation, which in Duo/Audio form is a serious sound system with the benefits of wireless operation that offers great flexibility of input and, with Roon availability, ease of control. I think it will be more universally appealing when the Formation app can be used for all streaming operations, but even as it stands, this is a very attractive proposition for the modern music lover.
Type: wireless, active, streaming 2-way, two-driver stand-mount monitor with infinite baffle enclosure
Driver complement: One 25mm carbon dome tweeter, one 165mm Continuum cone mid-bass driver
Frequency response: 25Hz–33kHz
Crossover frequency: Not specified
Power output: 2 × 125W digital amplifier
Features: Airplay 2, Spotify Connect, Roon Ready, Bluetooth aptX HD (AAC, SBC), DSP crossover
User Interface: Formation app
Dimensions (HxWxD): 395 × 197 × 305mm
Finishes: black or white
Type: Wireless audio hub
Analogue Inputs: One stereo unbalanced (via RCA jacks)
Digital Inputs: One TOSLink, one ethernet (via RJ45), WiFi
DAC Resolution/Supported Digital Formats: 32-bit/192kHz, FLAC/WAV/MP3, etc.
Music services/Wi-Fi inputs: Airplay 2, Spotify Connect, Roon Ready, Bluetooth aptX HD (AAC, SBC)
Analogue Outputs: One stereo unbalanced (via RCA jacks)
Digital Outputs: One coaxial S/PDIF (via RCA jack)
Frequency Response: Not specified
Distortion (THD + Noise): Not specified
User Interface: Formation application software
Dimensions (H×W×D): 44 × 215 × 263mm
Manufacturer: Bowers & Wilkins
Telephone: 0800 232 1513