The Bowers And Wilkins Z2 is the follow up to the fantastic Zeppelin Mini and it arrives with high expectations, as does any product from the Brighton-based audiophiles.
This rather striking AirPlay speaker features an Apple Lightning dock for your iPhone 5, instead of the older 33-pin dock found on the older Apple products.
Design & Connectivity
We have come to expect great things from B&W and the Z2 doesn’t disappoint. It clearly draws design touches from the Zeppelin Mini and that us a great place to start.
The unit has a minimalist look to it. Simple and elegant in black or white, and the physical Lightning dock is located on the top surface of the speaker but the unit is curved in such a way that the dock is almost not visible when not in use.
This dock is designed for the iPhone 5 and later gen iPods only. There isn’t even the facility to dock an iPad, even if did have a Lighting connector.
Just in front of the dock are the touch-sensitive volume control buttons which are responsive and simple to use.
The front features two 3.5-inch full-range drivers, hidden behind a curved metal grill.
It is unusual for a speaker to have both a physical dock and AirPlay but we are delighted that both are included. The dock is really handy if you don’t have a wireless network available.
Additional connections are available via the 3.5mm input jack and there is also an Ethernet port should you want to wire the device in to your local network.
The sound quality produced by the B&W Z2 is great. Really impressive for a speaker of its size. Plenty of detail, with a crisp and snappy feel.
The sound is punchy, where necessary, and the vocal clarity is impressive.
The mid-range is as good, if not better, than anything else in its price range and delivers impressive clarity and focus.
The bass response is great, a real improvement to its predecessor (which wasn’t bad), producing warm, controlled and satisfying low-end.
At higher volumes the treble was a little thin but this wasn’t the end of the world and it doesn’t detract too much from the overall audio experience.
It does point out how handy some additional EQ controls would have been, so that you could tweak the output, but this is something you can live without.
One thing to note is that there is a noticeable difference in sound quality between when the audio spiced is docked versus when AirPlay is in use.
Dock where you can to get the best results from the Z2.
The B&W Z2 is fantastic and it certainly surpasses expectations leased upon its cost and size. It looks great, it sounds great.
As this is the entry-level offering of B&W’s AirPlay range there are clearly bigger, better and bassier B&W speakers available but for the money you will be hard pressed to fund anything from the other manufacturers that comes close to this impressive speaker.