The B&W T7 speaker is a portable apt-X Bluetooth wireless speaker fitted with an analog mini-jack input, i.e. a speaker designed for sedentary or on-the-move listening, using a laptop, smartphone or Bluetooth tablet with the possibility of connecting an MP3 player by means of a mini-jack cable.
We decided to test this small-scale speaker, firstly because it’s Bowers & Wilkins, who really impressed us with the Zeppelin Air speaker and because the technical solutions implemented are both astute and meticulous.
B&W T7: Micro Matrix structure and passive radiator enclosure
With a very small speaker, it’s difficult to deliver a bass level in keeping with medium and treble levels. This is due to the low load volume – to produce bass, a lot of air is required ? and to the materials used in the speaker. Plastic, for example, is prone to vibrations and sound waves tend to be disrupted in a confined environment. Obviously, B&W, whose experience in the hi-fi world is legendary, has not fallen into this trap. The B&W T7 is both a technical and aesthetical success.
In order to generate an authentic level of bass, B&W has chosen a passive enclosure, a variation of the bass-reflex enclosure, which uses a moving armature and magnet-free driver instead of a port as its acoustic resonator. It is called a passive ?radiator? as it vibrates with the air moved by the active driver. This has several advantages: 1) the emitting surface is higher than that of a port, which increases sensitivity 2) resonance frequency is very low 3) for the B&W T7, two passive radiators are used to recreate bass frequencies as low as 66 Hz. This particular frequency provides a great feeling of depth and impact. The B&W T7 uses two 2″ wideband drivers, powered by a 2×12 W amplifier.
B&W T7: packaging contents
It’s not just plain packaging that the B&W T7 is delivered in but a luxury case. It comes along with its own power adapter. There is a feeling of improved quality when you first glance at the product and this is quickly confirmed as soon as you hold this speaker. The B&W T7 isn’t very light, which isn’t surprising as it uses a powerful driver motor system.
B&W T7: test conditions and implementation
When testing the B&W T7, we listened to the speaker in different locations (living room, garden), by streaming MP3 files from a Google Nexus 7 tablet as well as using its auxiliary input by connecting an iBasso D-Zero MK2 USB DAC. Bluetooth pairing is simple and the different control buttons located at the top and on the side are easy to access. When its battery is fully charged, the T7 can last over ten hours using both Bluetooth and an auxiliary source.
B&W T7: listening impressions
The B&W T7 speaker is very pleasant to listen to. Care needs to be taken, however, to direct the speaker towards the listener. Wide band drivers are directive in this part of the listening spectrum but listening becomes stale if the listener is not facing the speaker. Within the listening axis or at mid-distance, the tone balance is definitely enjoyable. There is great clarity between 10 and 12 kHz which makes any recording clear and smooth. Bass is present with an authentic response at approximately 60 Hz. Don’t be expecting an outstanding delivery as the passive radiator enclosure has its limits. The sound is, however, appealing without any ?holes? in the bass.
In non apt-X Bluetooth (standard SBC codec), the result is satisfactory. With the apt-x codec, treble gains in clarity and listening gains in depth. The best results were obtained using the line input of the B&W T7 with the iBasso D-Zero MK2 USB DAC connected to the USB port of our computer.
B&W T7: conclusion
The B&W T7 Bluetooth speaker is undeniably a high-quality product, not just for its audio performances but also for its design and assembly quality. We are surprised by its energy and balance. When it’s pushed to the limit, it still remains consistent and is not out of place in a 40 m² living room in order to ensure background sound during a dinner or cocktail party. We really appreciated it when listening to Internet radio and jazz.