Bowers & Wilkins Formation Flex
This Wireless Speaker Is a High-End Alternative to Sonos or Apple’s HomePod
Bowers & Wilkins just announced a new high-end wireless speaker, called the Formation Flex, and it’s essentially a smaller and more affordable version of B&W’s Formation Wedge (which we reviewed a few months ago). It’s a powered Wi-Fi speaker, not too dissimilar from a Sonos speaker, and it supports AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth, so you can stream music to it a number of ways. It’s also Roon Ready.
The Formation Flex has a one-inch tweeter and a four-inch woven glass fiber cone woofer. It’s part of the B&W’s Formation line of speakers (if you couldn’t tell from its name), so you can sync the Formation Flex with any of the company’s other Formation speakers in a multi-room system. Like those other speakers, one of the biggest selling points of the Formation line is that they’re able to stream audio files up to 24-bit resolution and at sampling rates as high as 96kHz, which the company claims it has twice the fidelity of other high-end wireless speakers. And the Formation Flex is able to do just that, too.
Because the Formation Flex has a cylindrical mesh grille, it’s naturally being compared to Apple’s HomePod. That said, they’re actually quite different. The Formation Flex isn’t a smart speaker and you’re unable to give voice commands (via Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant) to play music or control your smart home. Like we mentioned above, the Formation Flex is able to stream higher-res audio than any Sonos or Apple speaker, but that plus a B&W design is going to cost you.
While no official pricing has been released, the B&W Formation Flex is expected to cost somewhere in the $400-$500 range (most likely closer to the latter). It’s available for pre-order now, with shipping to commence sometime this fall.
Think of it as a Sonos Play:5, but for serious audiophiles who also have a little more cash to splash. Read the Review