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Bowers & Wilkins Z2

Powered speaker system with Apple® AirPlay® and Lightning™ connector dock (White)

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Item #: 749Z2W
 

Review Summary

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$399.99
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Our take on the Bowers & Wilkins Z2

by Ralph Graves
Bowers & Wilkins

Bowers & Wilkins Z2

The Bowers and Wilkins Z2 high-performance audio system has a built-in Lightning connector so you can dock your compatible iPhone®, iPod touch®, or iPod nano® for easy charging and music playback. The Z2 is compatible with Apple AirPlay, so you can wirelessly stream music from an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch — even your computer through iTunes®.

Advanced audio design

The Z2 features high-quality electronics and drivers to deliver spacious, detailed sound. Its two full-range drivers are framed by baskets designed to minimize rear sound reflection and coloration. Each driver has its own individual amplifier to ensure greater accuracy and reduce cross-interference.

The system's rear-firing Flowport™ passively reinforces low frequencies. The dimpled surface of its opening reduces air turbulence for tight, accurate bass. (It's the same effect that helps golf balls fly farther.)

Bowers & Wilkins' proprietary Digital Signal Processing circuitry continually analyzes and adjusts the audio signal. Even at maximum volume, your music sounds balanced and clear. The AC adapter has been designed specifically for low noise levels, letting the Z2's electronics operate more efficiently and produce cleaner sound.

The AirPlay advantage

AirPlay uses your Wi-Fi® network to connect the Z2 speaker system wirelessly to your iTunes® library on your computer.You can send music to multiple Z2s (or other AirPlay-compatible systems like the Zeppelin Air) to simultaneously play your music in different locations throughout your home. And you can control the volume levels of each connected player individually or jointly through your computer's iTunes program.

With your Apple portable — iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch — you have even more options. Stream music wirelessly directly from your device to the Z2. Or use your portable as a remote to control your computer's iTunes library.— download Apple's Remote app, and then you can select songs and playlists or adjust the volume level of the system on the fly.

From our Bowers & Wilkins Z2 AirPlay speaker review:

I was impressed with the Z2's quality and quantity of sound right out of the box. Bass output was hefty without being overbearing, mids sounded quite natural, and the high-frequencies were detailed and crisp.

— David Brown, Crutchfield A/V Writer

See more info on this item

Highlights:

  • dock compatible with most iPhone and iPod® models with a Lightning connector
  • AirPlay lets you stream music via Wi-Fi® from your iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, or computer
  • automatically charges player while docked
  • two full-range drivers
  • frequency response: 50-20,000 kHz
  • Flowport bass port reinforces low frequencies
  • stereo minijack input for portable devices
  • Ethernet port for a wired connection to a home network
  • AC power adapter
  • remote control
  • 12-5/8"W x 7-1/8"H x 5-1/16"D
  • weight: 5.5 lbs.
  • warranty: 2 years
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • Lightning-connector iPod dock speaker (w/ AirPlay)
  • AC power adapter (with attached 6.5' DC cord)
  • 39" AC power cord
  • Remote control (CR2032 3V battery)
  • Bowers & Wilkins Brochure
  • AirPlay Setup Booklet
  • Safety Instructions/Warranty
  • Online Product Registration card

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features

High Quality Audio Design: The Bowers & Wilkins Z2 music system is equipped with a Class-D amplifier and digital signal processing (DSP). The Class-D amplifier is rated at 20-watts x 2 channels. The B&W Z2 features two 3.5" full-range drivers for quality sound. The music system's enclosure is made from glass-filled ABS and feature's Bowers & Wilkins proprietary Flowport technology. The Bowers & Wilkins Flowport technology dramatically improves the system's overall bass performance. The unit's rear-firing port is dimpled to improve air flow, reducing turbulence. The result is less chuffing noise and less compression at high levels; which means better bass no matter how loud you like your music.

Lightning Connector Dock: The Bowers & Wilkins Z2 is equipped with a Lightning connector dock which supports Apple's new portable devices with Lightning connector; such as the iPod nano (7th gen), iPod touch (5th gen), iPhone 5/5C/5S, and iPhone 6. The iPhone 6+, iPad 4 and iPad mini are too large to fit into the dock opening. The Z2 supports audio playback, remote control (basic playback functions only), and charging of your docked compatible Apple device.

AirPlay Technology: Apple's AirPlay technology allows music, downloaded to iTunes, to be streamed wirelessly from your Mac or PC to the B&W Z2. You can even bypass the computer entirely, and stream high-quality audio directly from your Apple iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad (all without the need to dock the device). The Z2 supports Apple Lossless and MP3 audio file transfer. The B&W Z2 and your AirPlay audio source must be connected to the same wireless network via a WiFi (802.11g/n) router or hub.

  • iTunes Streaming: The B&W Z2 is able to wirelessly play audio from your computer's iTunes account via WiFi or Ethernet connection using AirPlay streaming technology. When connected to the same network as a computer running iTunes, the Z2 can appear as an output option in the pop-up menu at the bottom of the iTunes window. You can then browse your iTunes collection on your computer and stream music to the Z2. To use the AirPlay feature you need a Mac or Windows-based PC running iTunes (10.2.2 or later) connected to the same wireless (WiFi) network as the Z2.
  • Apple Device Streaming: AirPlay also lets you wirelessly stream your iTunes music and a variety of music apps (such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, etc) stored on your iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad to the Z2. So there's no need to dock your Apple device. The Bowers & Wilkins Z2's AirPlay feature works with iPod touch (3rd/4th/5th gen), iPhone (3GS/4/4S/5), iPad (1/2/3/4), and iPad mini with iOS 4.3.3 or later; connected to the same wireless network.

Apple Device Compatibility Chart: The Z2 has been certified "Made for iPod" and "Works with iPhone" compatible and supports the following iPod/iPhone model functions (as of 5/24/2013):

Apple Device Generation Tested Version Connection Type Media Type Control Type Display Type Charge
Lightning Connector AirPlay Audio Video Remote iPod/iPhone Artist/Song Text Track Info
iPhone
3GS 5.1.1 N Y Y N Y Y N N N
4/4S 8.0 N Y Y N Y Y N N N
5/5C/5S 8.0 Y Y Y N Y Y N N Y
6 8.0 Y Y Y N Y Y N N Y
6+ 8.0 N Y Y N Y Y N N N
touch
3rd 5.1.1 N Y Y N Y Y N N N
4th 6.1.3 N Y Y N Y Y N N N
5th 8.0 Y Y Y N Y Y N N Y
nano
6th 1.2 PC N N N N N N N N N
7th 1.02 PC Y N Y N Y Y N N Y
iPad 1 5.1.1 N Y Y N Y Y N N N
2/3 8.0 N Y Y N Y Y N N N
4/Air/Mini 8.0 N Y Y N Y Y N N N
Note: Apple iPod/iPhone software updates may change functionality results. If you download a newer software version, you may need to reset the head unit and your iPod/iPhone to regain functionality. If this doesn't work, you may need to wait until a newer software update is available.

Simple Setup: In order to connect your Apple device to the B&W Z2 music system, you will need to download the Bowers & Wilkins AirPlay Setup App to your iPod touch, iPhone, or iPad (running iOS 4.3.3 or later). The Bowers & Wilkins AirPlay Setup App is also available to download for your Mac computer or Windows PC from the Bowers & Wilkins Support Site, allowing you to set up and manage the wireless music system from your computer.

Auxiliary Input: The rear-panel 3.5mm auxiliary input accepts an analog stereo signal from any portable audio device with a headphone jack output.

Remote Control: The supplied wireless IR remote offers Power, Volume Up/Down, and Playback controls. Playback controls include Play/Pause and Previous/Next Track. The remote is powered by a single CR2032 3V lithium battery (pre-installed).

AC Power: The Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) Z2 operates off of standard household AC current, using the supplied AC power adapter. The Z2 will automatically enter Sleep mode if left inactive for more than 30 minutes.

 

Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Bowers & Wilkins Z2 AirPlay® speaker review

Bowers & Wilkins Z2 AirPlay® speaker review

by David Brown
 
Bowers & Wilkins Z2 AirPlay® speaker review

The Bowers & Wilkins Z2 AirPlay® speaker sports a Lightning™ dock for the iPhone® 5. But you don't need one to enjoy the speaker's easy wireless streaming and big sound.

 
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Bowers & Wilkins Z2 Reviews

Average Customer Review:

18 people say:

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5 out of 5

B&W z2 AirPlay speaker

Written By Anonymous, Minnesota on Thursday, October 30, 2014
 
Great sound for the price and size and easy setup. This isn't some wimpy battery powered Bluetooth speaker - it kicks clear bass out. Make sure you have good wifi reception or wire it up to ensure dropless playback. Also nice to have the Lightning dock and line in for extra usability.
Pros:
Full sound Easy to use Lightning dock Stylish
Cons:
Airplay can be a little laggy sometimes
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5 out of 5

Excellent compact speaker

Written By JayD, Chicago, IL on Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
The Z2 is an excellent compact speaker, worthy of the B&W pedigree. Once connected to your network, the sound difference when streaming via AirPlay is crystal clear and the bass is surprisingly satisfying for a speaker of this size. One minor issue to bear in mind during set-up is that if your wi-fi password contains any special characters, such as "#,$,%,&' etc, then the Z2 will not connect.
Pros:
Minimalistic design Clear sound, good bass Compact but powerful
Cons:
Special characters in existing wi-fi network passwords need to be removed to allow successful set up
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5 out of 5

Bowers & Wilkins Z2: great performance & value

Written By JudyB, Santa Rosa, CA on Sunday, October 19, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
This one-piece wi-fi shelf-top speaker has remarkable range, clarity, and color. Handles all the genres and volume settings that I ever play. Truly amazing value, on sale at half price. Crutchfield scores again!
Pros:
Sound, value, simple setup
Cons:
Not so far
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5 out of 5

Nice wireless speaker system for close listening.

Written By Jay, Pittsburgh, PA on Saturday, October 04, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I have tinnitus, so listening to speakers situated close to my head is much more pleasurable than the usual across-the-room setup. The Z2 is the best nearfield listening experience I've had. And it's a nice looking piece of equipment, too.

I had one setup issue. I thought having a wireless router was enough to get the Z2 up and running, but it wasn't. I had to buy an after-market Wireless USB Micro Adapter to establish a wireless network between the music in iTunes on the Windows computer in my LR and the Z2 in my bedroom. After that, it was a snap.

It can also be attached to a computer un-wirelessly, using an ethernet cable. Both sound great, and I'm thinking of buying a second Z2.
Pros:
Everything: sound quality, wirelessness is cool, can be used for nearfield listening, great modern look.
Cons:
None, though I wish I'd known about needing the wireless USB adapter at first, instead of having to wait for it to arrive a week later.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

RICH FULL SOUND

Written By MUSIC LOVER, HANOVER, PA on Sunday, September 21, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I have set this unit up permanently in my kitchen. For it's size and cost it does an admirable job. I am very satisfied. Just what I expected from a B&W.
Pros:
Very easy to set up. Looks good in the kitchen. Rich full sound.
Cons:
The speaker and my iPAD are very close to my microwave such that I cannot play the speaker with the microwave on. This is not the fault of the speaker. Unfortunately wifi and the microwave both operate at the same frequency. Bass a little uneven with certain music.
3 out of 3 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Great package Great price

Written By Al, Chicago on Monday, September 15, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
After many various sound docks I feel I found the winner the sound is rich and clear bass sounds are clear . The convenience is what sold me a unit that charges and uses airplay is a clear winner !!! The lightning adaptor moves with the phone so it feels more secure
Pros:
Airplay, lighting adaptor adjust.
Cons:
Remote is boring
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Great iPhone speaker dock

Written By Anonymous, Carbon Cliff, IL on Sunday, September 14, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I was looking for a high quality speaker dock with a lightning connector for the new iPhone. I have an old Boston Duo clock radio and a newer Cue R1 clock radio but they both have the old 30 pin connector and was no longer compatible with my new phone. I have always been impressed by the sound of B&W speakers so when the z2 went on sale for half price I jumped at the chance. It has very impressive build quality. The sound is top notch. Reasonable bass, centered clear vocals and smooth highs that aren't harsh. Sounds much bigger than it is and will fill my medium sized room with full range sound It has a remote and connects easily with apple products with its airplay Overall a great deal at the price
Pros:
B&W build quality. Great sound. Small footprint. Lightning dock. Airplay compatible
Cons:
Initial set up was a little more difficult than expected. At it's MSRP it's expensive
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

B & W Z2

Written By Richard S, Tucson AZ on Monday, September 01, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I purchased the Z2 to use as a charging dock and speaker system for my rec. room. It was very easy to set up and sounded great. I gave it a four star rating because I have three iPhones that would be docking on this dock, and they would only work if I removed the cases, which was unhandy. Other wise it worked great. I ended up returning.
Pros:
sounds great easy to set up looks great
Cons:
if you have a case on your iPhone, you have to remove to dock it.
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4 out of 5

Great Sound - Airplay - dependent on network

Written By Rich H, Wilmington DE on Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
I was very pleased by how this unit sounds - especially for the price. The unit is very portable - easy to move from one location to another. I have all Apple devices so I opted for a model that supports Airplay - The advantage of Airplay is that the device hosting the music does not have to be in close proximity to the unit - however it needs to be on the same network (i.e. your MacBook and Z2 need to be on your home wifi network but not necessarily in the same room - and once setup, any device on the same WIFI network supporting airplay such as your iphone or ipad can stream to the Z2) . However in my opinion Airplay setup is more complex than Bluetooth. Not only do you need to setup the network connection of the Z2 (and reset if you move to another WIFI location) but because Airplay depends on the quality of the WIFI - intermittent disruptions in the sound can occur either if the Z2 OR the source device has a poor wifi connection. I will say I managed to get my Z2 working great - but it took some experimentation with different router/Z2 locations
Pros:
I my opinion, the positive aspects of this unit are it high quality sound and its portability. Airplay allows you to stream music from any device in your house to the Z2 as long as both are connected to the same network. Price.
Cons:
In my opinion, getting Airplay to work reliably is more complicated than a bluetooth device - but when working is superior. Ease of setup really depends on the quality of your WIFI connection.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Very Impressed

Written By Dave in NJ, New Jersey on Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Bought this so i could listen to music in the kitchen while making meals and eating. VERY impressed. The packaging is very sturdy, the setup instructions are clear, setup itself takes a few minutes but goes really smoothly. I use it to (a) stream music from iTunes on my PC, via my wireless network (b) play music from my Zune (i know, i know) via the Aux port on the back (c) stream music from my iPhone. The unit can play quite loud for its fairly small size and provides really nice sound quality. Look, for $200, you're not gonna replicate a high end setup, but this is a very flexible unit that is easy to set up, fits anywhere, and sounds great.
Pros:
Easy to set up and use, good sound quality. Great value for $200. Flexible - can play music from several different sources.
Cons:
None.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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4 out of 5

Amazing b&w z2

Written By Somchaid, New york,ny on Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
B&w z2 is amazing for small speakers .it produce the clear sound and also sound stage.
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4 out of 5

Bower & Wilkins

Written By GeorgeH, Chicago, IL on Saturday, August 09, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Easy to set up. Great sound.
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4 out of 5

B & W Z2

Written By MikeC, Lake Toxaway, NC on Monday, December 30, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Great sound from a little package. Had some small problems with 1st connection, but was able to work it out.
Pros:
Good looking small speaker system.
Cons:
1st connection took a few tries.
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5 out of 5

Compact size, BIG sound

Written By JohnL, Louisville, KY on Monday, December 30, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Absolutely what I needed. After reading several reviews, this sounded like the AirPlay speaker for me. Extremely well packed, box within a box. Set up was a breeze after downloading the free iPhone app. I just needed to know my wifi name and password, and I was done in under a minute, quickly streaming high quality music.
Pros:
Nice compact size; heavy, durable yet sleek design. Very nice sound. My home wifi system is good, so I haven't had any AirPlay dropouts mentioned in other reviews.
Cons:
I think the iPhone port on the speaker top detracts from the overall beautiful design lines. Instead, I wish there was a USB plug in the back to hook up or charge an IOS device. An small insert/cover for the iPhone connector would be nice. Apple will probably change the plugs design in a few years anyways....
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Amazing little giant!

Written By Bob W, Lexington Ky on Wednesday, July 03, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Having enjoyed a B&W A7 in our large family room, I had doubts about such a small version living up to the B&W standard. For a small room, this one does just as good. The bass sounds full especially when about 3" from a wall, and the highs are smooth, covering up the digital harshness associated with MP3 files. The vocals are smooth and realistic. An excellent product!
Pros:
Smooth mids and highs, full bass
Cons:
Airplay cuts in and out.
3 out of 3 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Simply Amazing!

Written By Butchdog, Bemidji, MN on Saturday, May 18, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
A recent review in a magazine started with, "We hate to gush...but this is by far the best wireless speaker under $500. I couldn't agree more. I find the clarity absolutely stunning! If you are looking for a superior wireless speaker don't hesitate to buy this one. In fact, to take this one step further, don't hesitate to buy this speaker from Crutchfield. In my opinion there is no better company to deal with. They are simply top shelf!
Pros:
Incredible sound, simple to set up.
Cons:
None
3 out of 4 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Great Item

Written By Swab, Madison, WI on Thursday, May 02, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Very happy with the sound. I misunderstood the product and did not know I had to be on a network for it to work...i.e. I can't use it with my iPad for tailgating.
Cons:
Wish it had a battery so I could use it on the road.
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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5 out of 5

Simply stunning!

Written By Bobby, San Antonio, TX on Thursday, April 11, 2013
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Having researched many docks, I was looking for a iPhone 5 dock that not only charged my device, but also complimented my Bowers & Wlkens A7. This device looks beautiful on my nightstand and produces a full and robust sound. It is elequent in design and function.
Pros:
Sounds terrific
Cons:
A little pricey.
2 out of 2 people found this helpful
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1 question already asked

Does this product charge my iPhone 5? [ Lydia  Aug 04, 2014 ]
11 answers
  • Yes! [ kevin   Aug 25, 2014 ]
  • Yes. It should charge an iPhone with the new Lightning connector. However it will probably not work without removing your case if it's very thick. [ RON   Aug 05, 2014 ]
  • It will charge an iPhone 5, but you might need an adapter if you have a phone case. [ Kevin   Aug 05, 2014 ]
  • Yes. When you place your iphone5 on the dock it charges (regardless if system is playing music or not). [ ERROLL   Aug 04, 2014 ]
  • Yes it does, but you may have to remove it from it's case to make it fit. [ BOB   Aug 04, 2014 ]
  • Yes it does. [ Jim   Aug 04, 2014 ]
  • Yes, it will charge your phone while it's docked [ CADE   Aug 04, 2014 ]
  • Yep. It's pretty good. I'd recommend it. [ JASON   Aug 04, 2014 ]
  • Indeed it does, in style! [ BOBBY   Aug 04, 2014 ]
  • Yes. I bought this for my daughter this last Christmas because she had just gotten an iPhone 5. She really love it and uses it as her main sound system in her condo. [ ALLEN   Aug 04, 2014 ]
  • It definitely charges your iPhone 5. I have one and it works seamlessly. [ MATTHEW   Aug 04, 2014 ]

For a more in-depth review and enhanced detailed information on the Bowers & Wilkins Z2, please visit the Crutchfield website product page (/ISEO-rccbcspd/p_749Z2W/Bowers-Wilkins-Z2-White.html ).

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