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Review: B&W's A7 AirPlay speaker offers outstanding sound

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 04:00 AM

Post your comments for Review: B&W's A7 AirPlay speaker offers outstanding sound here
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#2 User is offline   jowie 

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  Posted 26 February 2013 - 07:15 AM

I really can't understand how anyone can justify $800 on a portable speaker unit. You can buy a full stereo system with separate full-range speakers for half that price, and get proper stereo separation to boot. Portable wireless speakers are a convenience, but I can't imagine sitting and properly listening to an album on one of these things. Gimme proper stereo!
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#3 User is offline   emudd 

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  Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:20 PM

If you think you can buy a full system for half that price that will sound like B&W's then you've obviously never listened to a B&W's. I'll stick with my full size B&W's so I agree on the $800 for a bookshelf speaker part but I also know you're comparing a Rolls Royce to a Chevy.
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#4 User is offline   quakerotis 

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  Posted 26 February 2013 - 05:17 PM

I'm in old-timer with a separate receiver but I'm wonderful pair of speakers. They're From Jamo. While I can attest to the quality of B&W speakers, I just can't see spending $800 on a bookshelf speaker system. With everyone listening to MP3s ;
and they sound bad enough.
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#5 User is offline   mattwardfh 

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  Posted 27 February 2013 - 02:26 AM

Quote

I really can't understand how anyone can justify $800 on a portable speaker unit. You can buy a full stereo system with separate full-range speakers for half that price, and get proper stereo separation to boot. Portable wireless speakers are a convenience, but I can't imagine sitting and properly listening to an album on one of these things. Gimme proper stereo!


I agree, it's a lot. For some people I think it's about style (either the style of the unit or disliking the look of a traditional stereo setup), or efficient use of space.

For $800, you are getting the capability of receiving Airplay (let's call that $100), and a built-in DAC (no idea how good it is, but let's call it $100 too). There's more value here than is immediately obvious, but I'd be curious to compare it side by side with, say, $200 or $300 or bookshelf speakers and $100 or $200 or amplification.
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#6 User is offline   mattwardfh 

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  Posted 27 February 2013 - 02:30 AM

Quote

If you think you can buy a full system for half that price that will sound like B&W's then you've obviously never listened to a B&W's. I'll stick with my full size B&W's so I agree on the $800 for a bookshelf speaker part but I also know you're comparing a Rolls Royce to a Chevy.


I think you may be giving B&W a bit too much credit. They make good gear, but they're not magic. There's only so much you can do with that particular form factor. There are some great bargains in bookshelf speakers and amplification out there right now, especially if your point of comparison is an iPod dock speaker, and those units aren't handicapped by the same size restrictions that iPod docks have.
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#7 User is offline   clh126 

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  Posted 27 February 2013 - 06:11 AM

Hey Lex really enjoy your reviews. It's obvious you put a lot of effort in to them. I always appreciate the enthusiasm, too! :)
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#8 User is offline   BradPDX 

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  Posted 27 February 2013 - 09:55 AM

$800 for a B&W system that sounds nice (I am taking Lex's word on that) is really a bargain when one takes the long view. Very few speakers under $400 deliver much in the way of satisfying detail, bass, etc. I will not harp on MP3/AAC because frankly the quality of commercial releases using these technologies is excellent, rivaling CDs and beating the tar out of LPs.

A bit of history for those with some grey hairs: in 1968, a "middle of the road" good quality stereo system with a turntable, amp and speakers ran around $550 (source: 1968 catalogs for AR, Shure & Dynaco). Adjusted for inflation, that's about $3500 now. When I consider what we get for well under $1000 now, it's a huge improvement for people those of us who love music. What I carry in my pocket now is more than I could have dreamed of as a young man.
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#9 User is offline   fibercut 

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  Posted 27 February 2013 - 02:16 PM

How about just getting a Receiver with AirPlay built in and get any speaker system (with a good Sub) you want. You will get a lot more and probably be able to plug a good receiver into your TV also.
Cutting fiber for everyones need
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#10 User is offline   Dan Frakes 

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 05:06 PM

View Postquakerotis, on 26 February 2013 - 05:17 PM, said:

I'm in old-timer with a separate receiver but I'm wonderful pair of speakers. They're From Jamo. While I can attest to the quality of B&W speakers, I just can't see spending $800 on a bookshelf speaker system. With everyone listening to MP3s ;
and they sound bad enough.


Keep in mind that not everyone listens to highly compressed music.



View Postfibercut, on 27 February 2013 - 02:16 PM, said:

How about just getting a Receiver with AirPlay built in and get any speaker system (with a good Sub) you want. You will get a lot more and probably be able to plug a good receiver into your TV also.


We've covered setting up just such a system (and we'll be doing an update to that article later this year). But it's fair to point out that some people don't want separate speakers—they want a single, compact unit they can stick on a counter, desktop, dresser, or shelf. And while we can debate the merits of separate speakers vs. a one-piece audio system, it's nice to know that there are high-end options for those who want the latter.
Dan Frakes / Senior Editor, Macworld

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