Excerpt: Today, we’re looking at four recent wireless releases: Brookstone’s Big Blue Media Tower ($400) and Ecoxgear’s Ecoxbt ($130) are on the Bluetooth side, with AQ Audio’s AQ SmartSpeaker ($179) and Bowers & Wilkins’ A7 ($800) representing AirPlay. Collectively, these speakers are noteworthy because they demonstrate today’s wide variation in wireless speaker pricing and features—AQ Smart Speaker is the least expensive AirPlay speaker we’ve seen, and A7 is tied with Philips’...
Excerpt: In our testing of AirPlay -enabled speaker systems, we’ve found it to be mostly the case that, with sound quality, you get what you pay for. Which means that Bowers & Wilkins’ $999 A7 – the most expensive AirPlay system we’ve yet reviewed – should sound very, very good. Thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint: It sounds incredible.
Conclusion: The Bowers and Wilkins A7 is undoubtedly the best compact AirPlay speaker on the market. It provides masses of power and detail and does so from a beautifully designed yet humble looking form. But, we can’t help but feel that by charging £700 B&W has over-egged things a little. Despite its best efforts the A7 still sounds like a compact sound system and as such we’re not convinced it’s worth the step up over any other high-end compact system costing £300-£400.
Conclusion: For some it will be a shame that B&W hasn’t sought to include DLNA or Bluetooth support, but the A7 is all about simplicity. It’s about having a sudden impulse to throw a tune from your phone and out into your room without fuss but with genuine hi-fi sound quality.
Pros: A fantastically deep, wide, well-organised musical presentation, Bags of detail and clarity, Awesome build quality, Styled to fit in anywhere
Cons: Some will find the styling unexciting, Lacks the broad connection options of some alternatives
Excerpt: In my testing of AirPlay-enabled speaker systems, I've found it to be mostly the case that, with sound quality, you get what you pay for. Which means that Bowers & Wilkins’ £699 A7—the most expensive AirPlay system I’ve yet reviewed—should sound very, very good. Thankfully, it doesn’t disappoint: It sounds incredible. See all audio reviews .
Conclusion: The A7 is undoubtedly pricey, but even given that outlay, it doesn't disappoint. Audio performance at normal listening levels is excellent, the design is simple and classy, the setup process is super-easy, and it can get louder than just about any AirPlay dock we've tested without distorting. If it's in your budget, you won't be disappointed. Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Pros: Extremely powerful audio performance, Rich lows and clear highs, Sturdy, sleek design, Easy to set up
Cons: Very expensive, Remote control can be pesky to operate