Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by Mark Hodgkinson, Oct 21, 2014.
B&W become the latest manufacturer to release a wireless, Bluetooth speaker
I'm a bit of a self confessed B&W fan boy, however I'm not sure about this speaker. It's going to be something I need to have a look and listen to.
Picked one up from on 1 Nov. Must be one of the first in the UK!
Been spending the past week living with it, tweaking it. So here's my impressions.
It shares the same packaging style as the headphones. Solid black box. Nice premium feel. In terms of build and design, it's a brick. A black brick. Shaped like a brick. Size of a brick. Weight of a brick. The rubber surround has a nice solid feel. The buttons have already been talked about. And that's t!
Lots of reviews have described the rubber buttons and functionality, so I won't waste time.
On turning it on, there is a pleasant but rich chime, hinting at its frequency response and dynamic range. So far so good.
Like all speakers, it takes a bit of running in to open up. So if demoing one, make sure it already has hours in it.
Placement is important. The best response comes when backed against the wall for bass reinforcement. Height should be as close to ear as possible. Waist height is acceptable.
Once properly setup, it will blow you away.
Some of you may be aware I am a B&W fanboy. And I always say, to understand B&W speakers, aside from Diamonds, every speaker seems to be referenced from the Nautilus.
And the T7 is no different. It carries the same B&W tonal signature which can be traced back to the Nautilus. Overall, it is very similar to the CMs. I had it playing material simultaneously with my CM10s and they blended it completely. I would go as far as to say it betters the 600 series in cabinet colouration. the overall sound quality reminds me of the P5.
Aside from the usual, the two bits of material in my collection which I use to test kit is Vladimir Askernazy's Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 recorded in 1977 and Daft Punk's Random Access Memories 24/88 Studio Master.
The former for timing and musicality; the latter for dynamic range and frequency response.
Ashkernazy's recording was way back and full of background noise. Some DACs can be too good, but not good enough such that it becomes to harsh and intrusive to be enjoyable. No problems with the T7. The overall piece is warm and enjoyable.
Switch over to the 24/88 version of "Get Lucky", and that's when it really starts to show off.
Unlike other speaker systems that accentuate certain frequencies at the expense of others, the T7 is neutral and even. Better yet is the sheer dynamism of the sound. Highs, mids and lows are nimbly separated. Percussions, strings, vocals, effects etc are clearly laid out without prejudice while retaining their individual character. Never ponderous nor over-flighty. Just faithfully producing the sound as intended.
There is enough treble extension for that characteristic "airy" B&W sound. Bass is deep without being boomy. Furthermore, it is textured and detailed. A quality definitely not expected for something of this size.
Some speakers impress in the beginning with thumping bass or "clear" trebles, but gives you a headache after a while. Not the T7. No exaggaration, just well and accurately presented. the sound stage is full and rich, without being intrusive. I have it playing in the background as I go to sleep.
So far so good. But more is yet to come.
I hooked it up via the aux-in to the Chord Hugo and played the same two material via the phone USB.
This was what really blew me away. You may have already read how impressed I was with the Hugo's ability to flesh out the timing and emotionality of Ashkernazy's playing. The T7's performance blew the bluetooth connection's completely out of the water.
You can really hear how the keys were struck. Right down to the individual notes of thrilled chords. It is simply breathtaking. "Get Lucky" took on a whole new punch and toe-tapping quality.
So the T7 stays true to its wired stablemates. It gets better when you feed it better material.
But what was the difference? After back-to-back testing, I feel most of the difference is down to the AptX codec. The sound was definitely less impressive when the Hugo is being fed via Bluetooth AptX.
In some ways, that should have been obvious. AptX is not truly a lossless codec unlike DLNA or Airplay. And of course the 24/88 material would have been downsampled to 16/44.
What is astounding is that the T7 can show the difference.
So why AptX and not say Aiplay? I suspect its the complexity and power drain to implement wifi. The claim of 17-18 h battery life is very believable. I struggle to run the battery down. You can truly leave the bulky adapter behind.
But the T7 really thrives on a good source. The Samsung Music player in my Galaxy S5 was a bit dire. I recommend something like the Neutron Player which will really show what the T7 is capable of.
So overall, chuffed that I made the right choice despite buying blind.
My only gripe is that the finishing could be a bit better; or a carry bag supplied. The metal back plate is already scratched after being carried in my bag. It is a travel speaker after all.
But for fans of B&W, its great way to enjoy the B&W sound when on the go (and not using headphones). It's definitely an alternative to micro-systems.
I only wish it was around when I was in Uni!
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