Bowers & Wilkins’ Formation Flex speaker promises high-end wireless audio in a HomePod-style design
The latest member of the B&W Formation family of mesh-networked speakers boasts 96kHz/24-bit audio support, not to mention AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect.
By Ben Patterson
TechHiveSep 11, 2019 2:31 pm PDT
Image: Bowers & Wilkins
A dead ringer for Apple’s HomePod (and priced to match, apparently), the latest mesh speaker in Bowers & Wilkins’ pricey, high-end Formation line supports AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Bluetooth. It’s Roon Ready, too.
Due to arrive later this month, the Formation Flex comes equipped with a one-inch tweeter, a four-inch woven glass fiber cone woofer, and support for high-resolution audio files (up to 24-bit resolution and at sampling rates as high as 96kHz).
While the Formation Flex might look like a HomePod, it lacks a built-in digital assistant such as Amazon Alexa. That means the Flex isn’t exactly a smart speaker like the Siri-powered HomePod or the Sonos One, which packs in both Alexa and Google Assistant support.
That said, the Formation Flex promises to arrive with an ace up its sleeve: support for B&W’s Formation mesh networking technology, which is designed to deliver multi-room, high-resolution audio with a one-microsecond sync between in-room speakers.
Two Flex speakers can be paired for stereo sound, or you can connect them to existing speakers in B&W’s Formation suite. For example, you use a couple of Flex speakers as surrounds for the Foundation Bar and Bass subwoofer, resulting in 5.1 sound.
The Foundation Flex also supports AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Bluetooth, complete with aptX HD support. The new speaker is also Roon Ready (Roon is a high-end music server and library management program that we enthusiastically reviewed a few years back)
Standing 8.5 inches tall and tipping the scales at 5 pounds, the Formation Flex can connect to your network via Wi-FI or using an ethernet port installed in its base.
The Foundation Flex product page on the B&W website simply says that the speaker is “coming soon,” but TechRadar says it’s slated to arrive in late September for £399; no word on U.S. pricing yet.