Bowers & Wilkins T7 Wireless Portable Speaker

Grab & Go

Equipment report
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Stand-mount
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Products:
B&W Group T7
Bowers & Wilkins T7 Wireless Portable Speaker

B&W touts the T7 as its most portable and versatile wireless system. You sure won’t get an argument from me. Not much bigger than a thick, oversized paperback, the T7 is a marvel of design and packaging, easy to palm with one hand, yet replete with enough features to command attention. How the elves at B&W stuffed a pair of 50mm full-range drivers around twin opposing bass radiators, plus DSP and aptX-compliant Bluetooth, plus a pair of 12W Class D amplifiers into a unit this size is anyone’s guess, but somehow they did.

In keeping with its premium price, the T7 also looks classy. The sturdy polycarbonate cabinet is stylish, and its edges are neatly rubberized for good tactile feel. Along the top are a line of raised soft-buttons (designed for touch but almost invisible to the eye, unfortunately) designated for Bluetooth connection, pause/play, and volume. A button along the right side powers up the unit and displays a ladder of LEDs signaling the remaining charge in the lithium-ion battery. (When topped off, it’s good for 18 hours, says B&W. A universal power supply is included for this purpose.) Around the perimeter of the inner enclosure is B&W’s Micro Matrix—“a rigid honeycomb of interlocking cells” that is meant to reduce vibration and distortion. This is likely the reason why, even at louder levels, the T7 not only doesn’t fall apart sonically but also doesn’t fall to pieces physically.

Here’s why I really like the T7: It works the way I work. I don’t have a big desk in my home where I plant myself until a task is complete. I get antsy, and when I do, I grab my laptop and move around to various seating areas and then circle back. In my world the T7 became a constant companion whenever and wherever I decided to go.

Setup is a breeze. Simply choose which laptop or smart device to pair with the T7, and that component becomes the T7’s primary device. AptX Bluetooth permits auto-connection each and every time by simply pressing the BT symbol atop the T7 and choosing the T7 from the BT drop-down menu on your Mac. The brief sound of chimes confirms connection. However, the T7 also remembers up to seven other devices including laptops, phones, and tablets. To preserve power, the T7 puts itself to sleep in ten minutes and switches off in twenty.

Keep in mind that as a BT device the T7 doesn’t have the same throw distances as portables operating on a wireless network. As a result, it requires fairly close proximity to the server. On the other hand, wireless networks, particularly those shared by other members of the family, have their own share of aggravating dropouts and are often difficult to configure. Bluetooth setup is pretty much dummy-proof, or as I like to say—my style.

The T7’s sound is poised and full-bodied with a fluid, rhythmic feel that truly surpassed my expectations. Spoken word from podcasts is articulate, with a warmer hue rather than an overly sibilant edge. I spent a lot of time playing back FLAC files courtesy of Tidal (tidalhifi.com/us). The sound was as engaging as the wireless reception was reliable. Through the T7, my pop and rock playlists maintained a forward balance and a level of presence that framed vocals up front and center, with surprisingly clear backing images. Eric Clapton’s “Change the World” had a robust snare sound, good resolution of the backup singers, and a level of tightly defined low-end energy unexpected in a product so diminutive. In addition, Clapton’s acoustic guitar solo had genuine transient snap and focus. The T7’s real trick, however, is its dynamic performance—the very thing that so often is the first to get tossed from the micro-speaker bus. In this case, the T7 reproduces dynamic gradations with relative sensitivity, on both the micro- and macro-level.

My bona fide enthusiasm aside, the reality is that the T7 is not going to transform your kitchen nook or office picnic into the control room at Abbey Road Studios. But the B&W guys clearly know the musical terrain in this mini segment. I think it should also be said that the T7 proves that portable wireless speakers can be consistent with high-end values. That, and suitable for take-out, too. Grab one.

SPECS & PRICING

Input: One analog via 3.5mm mini-plug
Dimensions: 4.5" x 8.25" x 2.13"
Weight: 2 lbs.
Price: $349
 

B&W GROUP NORTH AMERICA
54 Concord Street
North Reading, MA 01864
(978) 664 2870
bowers-wilkins.com

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