Bowers & Wilkins Z2 test – AirPlay speakers

Bowers & Wilkins Z2 test – AirPlay speakers

Bowers & Wilkins Z2 test – AirPlay speakers

Posted: 16 Jan 2014 02:04 PM PST

The Bowers & Wilkins Z2 represents the company’s entry-level model in the world of wireless music systems with Apple’s AirPlay technology. However, the Bowers & Wilkins Z2 is not just limited to wireless transmission, but also offers a docking port for the latest generation of iPhones and iPods.

Bowers & Wilkins Z2

Its small dimensions of just 18 x 32 x 10 centimeters make the Z2 a versatile speaker. In my test I have used it mainly in the kitchen and bedroom where it fits very well and can be easily integrated.

What I like about the design of, not only the Z2, but also the other products in Bowers & Wilkins range, is the simple elegance and quality executed in every detail. Sure, the Z2 represents the lowest price point, and must refrain from high-quality aluminum details or a covering with acoustic material. But still, even the plastic used exudes an air of restrained quality. It’s surface is soft and velvety. The haptic feeling about this speaker is very good. I also like the fact that Bowers & Wilkins has not participated in the ‘glossy’ trend, but has chosen a matte finish.

Bowers & Wilkins Z2

On the top of the speaker, located next to the dock connector, are two sublime touch buttons to adjust the volume. Alternatively, and more conveniently, the Bowers & Wilkins Z2 can operate with the remote control that comes with all B&W wireless music systems, such as the Zeppelin Air, A5 and A7. With it you can not only change the volume, but also select the track or the input source. The Z2 is available in two colours, black and white.

To use the loudspeaker via AirPlay, it must first be connected to a wireless network. To this end, Bowers & Wilkins provides its own app. which makes light work of configuring the device. Each step is explained and errors are impossible in my opinion. My only suggestion at this point would be to allow connection of the speakers via WPS. This would save time in my case from entering my 63 characters of encryption key manually.

Bowers & Wilkins Z2

The Bowers & Wilikins Z2 is equipped with a high quality digital amplifier that drives two full-range speakers at 20 watts. What sounds at first glance like a low rating sounds in real life quite big and impressive. This is also the further technical data, because with a frequency response from 42 Hz to 22 kHz the Z2′s performance exceeds some high quality stereo speakers.

I for one am very happy with the good sound quality of this little hi-fi system. For my taste in music, Pop, RnB and Jazz, it is very well balanced. The low-frequency range, in particular,  is well defined and produces, relatively speaking, a good timber. But of course it cannot to be compared to a Zeppelin Air , which has an extra integrated woofer. For the intended purpose, in the kitchen and bedroom one doesn’t really need this. Bowers & Wilkins has put a lot of development in here in addition to the chassis and the flow optimization to make the sound as faithful as possible and to avoid turbulence at the air inlet or outlet. B&W call these golf ball-like surfaces Flowport, which can be found on all their systems. One therefore receives an optimal sound experience if one moves the device about 20 to 30 cm from the wall.

Bowers & Wilkins Z2

Even at high volume levels the Z2 remains very stable and exhibits no rattles and clatters as might be expected near its performance limits. Even with high-priced speakers I’ve seen this. The very thick and solid brushed rubber base ensures a secure and solid state and ensures that absolutely nothing moves that shouldn’t!

Considered at a high level the Z2 naturally makes some slight compromises in sound performance. The detail resolution is lower and so the audiophile will not be happy with the Z2′s rendering of the New Year’s Concert handset. But viewed overall and compared with the competition at this price, Bowers & Wilkins delivers a more than fine overall package here.

Criticism? I do not know if you can really call it criticism, because anyone who opts for such a product knows what he wants. AirPlay is of course only for Apple users. For me, it works well and I can easily use it with an iMac, MacBook, iPad and iPhone. The transmission is stable for me, and the transmission is lossless, so there is no real difference between dock and AirPlay.

The real “gotcha” would be the Lightning port. The constant evil of Apple is to change its connection specs, I do not want to expand on this but everyone knows the problem and will probably be as offended as I am. Whether Lightning is the last word in Apple musical connectivity remains to be seen. But I doubt it!

Bowers & Wilkins Z2

So far so good. In the bedroom I can charge my iPhone easily and don’t have to worry about a waist-level cable crossing the room. Similarly, in the kitchen, it has proven to be good for visitors (most of my friends have iPhones). Anyone whose mobile was not wireless was able to just plug their device in and play their music. So overall, the dock connector is still justified.


This overall package hits the nail on the head and delivers a high quality finish and a good sound. So I personally like it, especially in the kitchen and bedroom. It has accompanied me both in the morning waking up and in the evening cooking in the kitchen.

Limitations are, as already mentioned above, in the hands of Apple.

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