Bowers & Wilkins has been making high-design, solid AirPlay speakers for a while now. Their Z2 is a great wireless system for medium or small rooms, with clean aesthetic and clear sound.
As we've said before, Bowers & Wilkins, or B&W as they're generally referred to, have been around since 1966 making high-end audio equipment. Back then, it was John Bowers and his buddy Roy Wilkins, handcrafting speakers in the back of an electronics shop. They're a British company, based in Worthing, England (West Sussex) - and really, if you aren't already familiar with B&W, you probably aren't an audio enthusiast.
In the Box
A large, all black box has just a photo of the Z2 on it, along with the brand name and system name (Z2). It's a minimal design which looks right at home on the Apple store along with some Cupertino cleanliness. A handle on the top of the box allows you to easily carry the thing home, and the side has a bit of B&W history (they made speaker for the famous Abbey Road studio in London!).
Inside the box is the Z2 itself, along with a manual and the power cord.
Minimal, minimal, minimal. The Z2 wireless system wants to be displayed in the open, with smooth dark slate-colored rubber curving at the top to meet a curved metal grill over the dual 3.5 inch drivers. A slight concave at the top is where an iPhone 5 (or iPod touch 5th gen) docks and charges, although you can also play music through the Z2 as an Airplay destination.
Setting up the Z2 on your home wifi network is easy - download the B&W Control app from the App Store, and it walks you through connecting the device in under a minute.
A single LED light on the front alerts you to the status (on/off, connected/not) of the Z2, and the included manual gives you the quick rundown of the various color's meanings.
The Lightning dock on top is flexible and allows you to fairly quickly attach your Lightning device, although it's too small for an iPad, and won't fit an adapter to the 30 pin style. However, it is Airplay compatible - so you can still play music on it from older devices. We found the connector was very solid and easy to connect in the light, but difficult to use without looking - for instance on a nightstand as a dock and speaker for your bedroom.
The power cord has a small power brick in it, which is not bulky at all.
Two 3.5 inch custom drivers created with glass fiber are set in a glass-filled ABS enclosure. The result is an extremely clear sound which stayed true across all volumes. Used as a quiet bedside speaker, the accuracy and clarity of the music was pristine. Turn it up to fill any room in your home with way more sound than you'd expect from the Z2's compact size - it won't shake your walls, but it sure will fill your room.
The "Flowport" on the back has a dimpled surface, which B&W claims creates a "cleaner, clearer, richer bass response." We definitely found this to be true - accuracy and presence of low end was great. You won't be using this for your house dance party, but for music listening the Z2 gives you a full, clean sound both wireless and docked.
Price / Conclusion
The Bowers & Wilkins Z2 retails for $399.95, and can be purchased through the Apple store with free shipping.
We're giving the Z2 4.5 leaves - in it's price range it is a stellar wireless music speaker system, with ultra-clean sound and brilliant design.
While we don't have a giveaway for the Z2, we'll be giving it's big brother the A5 in a review coming this Monday! Let us know your thoughts on the Z2 in the comments below and we'll be watching to see who's participating... and let you know as the A5 giveaway starts!
Bowers & Wilkins Z2 Wireless Music System