Compared to the adventurous styling of the B&W Zeppelin the B&W A7’s looks are a little subdued. It is designed not to standout but to blend into its surroundings and though it is the top of the range offering it doesn’t feature a dock.
However, if you like quality audio and have a pile of money handy then you should seriously consider buying the incredible B&W A7 AirPlay speaker. This has been at the top of the list a long, long time and though some other may sneak past it (mainly due to being slightly cheaper) the A7 is still king and is a fabulous premium AirPlay speaker, at a premium price.
It still has a 3.5mm Aux input that doubles as a digital connector, a USB port and an Ethernet socket but you get the feeling that this is built for AirPlay all the way.
The whole design of the A7 is understated. The black mesh that envelopes the casework is broken up by a brushed metal band where the B&W logo resides. There is also a single LED light that changes colour depending on which input is selected.
The sides are just as simple. On the left, you will find the metal band doubles as a power button, and on the right it’s the volume controls. On the back there’s a neat row of inputs beneath the bass port.
The 12.6-pound unit measures 14.2 inches wide, 8.7 inches tall, and 6.3 inches deep.
With the bass port being on the back you need to ensure that pull it a few centimetres away from the wall to ensure you get the best sound.
The old days of needing a computer, ethernet cable and some fiddling with network addresses to setup your B&W speakers are now well and truly behind us. These days any Bowers & Wilkins AirPlay device you buy can be installed using their AirPlay Setup app.
The first time you turn on your A7 it creates its own ad hoc wireless network, which the app prompts you to connect to.
Aside from your bank balance, there is absolutely nothing to stop you filling your house with multiple A7’s but beware that unless you are sending the stream from your computer you will only be able to send to one speaker at a time. You can use the multispeaker options in AirPlay to select others, though, achieving that multiroom experience that we all crave (to allow us to wander from room to room whilst not losing the music that we want to be the soundtrack to our lives).
As a top-of-the-range offering from Bowers & Wilkins there is a huge expectation surrounding the audio performance of the A7. Can it really be good enough to justify £200 more than the cost of the excellent B&W Zeppelin Air?
Oh yes it can
The A7 uses a pair of 1-inch, tube aluminum tweeters; a pair of 3-inch mid-range drivers; and a 6-inch subwoofer to deliver its amazing sound quality. The subwoofer uses a 50W amplifier; the other drivers each get a 25W amplifier.
It shares five drivers with the Zeppelin Air, but features a bigger woofer and increased cabinet volume. This results in significantly greater bass extension.
Vocals are projected with beautiful clarity and the bass is beautifully punchy, helped by the cabinet size and that great 6-inch subwoofer.
The B&W A7 Speaker With AirPlay is designed to be a simple, boxy masterpiece, and it totally delivers. The sound quality is amazing and despite not having Bluetooth or DLNA built in it still deserves it’s top-of-the-range billing. It’s a very expensive choice, but if your budget can stretch to it then it won’t be a choice you’ll regret.
It really is arguably the best-sounding AirPlay speaker out there. Mind you, for the price it should be!! Beautifully put together, great sound, great performance and clearly a premium product from a premium brand. This really is a fantastic AirPlay speaker that would make you the envy of your friends.