• 1.0 out of 5 stars

    Don't like the way this speaker manages volume setting

    • Written by from Dexter

    Pros: Strong amplifier. Beautiful design

    Cons: Depends on digital volume (i.e. the iTunes volume slider) to control volume.

    The speakers have volume buttons (+/-) but what these do is send a digital signal through AirPlay asking the controlling computer/phone to lower the volume. Press the + button and you'll see the volume slider on iTunes or your phone going up.

    This means that the amp is fixed at a given gain, and the speakers depend on the input coming at a lower level when the volume is down. Two problems I see from this:

    a) at lower volumes, you get less resolution. Digital music use numbers to represent the amplitude of the sound. If you have 8 bits, then there are 256 possible values. If you have more bits, the digital sound signal will be more accurate to the original analog signal. When you are forced to use the digital volume control to keep the sound to a reasonable volume (say 10%) you are using only 25/26 out of the 256 possible values. So your accuracy is equivalent to have only 5 bits, instead of 8. This is something similar to what happens on a digital camera when you have to use the digital zoom (less quality) vs. using a true lens zoom.

    b) drivers may get damaged when you accidentally switch from computer speakers or headphones to the A5. I personally use the iTunes volume at around 80% when using the speakers of my MB Air, and around 60% when using headphones. If you forget to lower the volume to 20% before switching to the A5, you'll jump out of your chair...

  • 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Works great!

    • Written by from Redondo Beach

    We received this as a gift and its been great so far. We AirPlay Pandora using my wifes iPhone. I love the bass and the clear sound it provides. Have not experienced any drops or any issues so far at all.
    My wife loves it and it easy for her to use via her phone, so I'm happy.

  • 1.0 out of 5 stars

    Drops connection and squeeky sound

    • Written by from Stavanger

    I bought the A5 for about 2 weeks ago, and also have problems with the connection, it stops. I cant even get all my devices to play on the A5. Looks like on my iPhone 5, which setup up the A5 work fine, but the other devices i have, iPad, iMac other iPhones it disconnects. This can probably fix by getting a better and more stable router.

    Thats ok, but when i play, most of the songs have a buzzy or squeeky sound when i play. Its so annoying that i don`t bother playing more songs. Im going back with this A5 and saying what problems accure, if some other customers have had the same problem which i have.

    1 of 1 people found this useful

  • 3.0 out of 5 stars


    • Written by from Thousand Oaks

    Great sound .... horrible connectivity and control. No need to repeat all the complaints listed here. Maybe all the 5 starers work for b&w. Too bad really for what is a great unit otherwise.

    3 of 3 people found this useful

  • 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Pure Listening Bliss.

    • Written by from Old Fort

    The Bowers & Wilkins A5 has amazing clarity and sound integrity in a very low profile and discrete envelope. Not only does it fashion a timeless design, but it's the perfect size for small and secondary rooms - meaning, and I'm guessing, any room ranging up to 1,200 SF, possibly more. The A7 is obviously the bigger brother, but for small areas the A5 is just as stunning in a smaller package. Don't even hesitate.

  • 2.0 out of 5 stars

    A5 Airplay Connection

    • Written by from SELKIRK

    Had a year of hit and miss with my A5 as it would not, reliably, connect to my BT HomeHub.I was about to sell it on but recently connected it via my airport Express and it has never failed to connect yet!
    A 5 star product once you get connected!

    3 of 3 people found this useful

  • 1.0 out of 5 stars

    keeps disconnecting

    • Written by from New York

    Just awful. Buyer beware. Keeps disconnecting, no matter how strong your network. Do not buy.

    10 of 11 people found this useful

  • 2.0 out of 5 stars

    Hate it

    • Written by from Lisboa

    It has a nice sound indeed... BUT it's always loosing connection to the network i have to unplug and replug so the music may continue... the music stops all of the sudden. Arhhhggg!!!
    Gonna switch to Bluethoots speakers..

    4 of 4 people found this useful

  • 4.0 out of 5 stars

    Experience over 1 year

    • Written by from london

    I have been using the A5 every day for over a year. Here is my assessment:
    -great build and looks (if you like the spaceship styling)
    -setup was easy
    -sound quality is good but obviously depending on the quality of your digital music / streams. I use it from IOS with Spotify mainly set to highest streaming quality and its awesome at 320KBS fills the large room fully and crisp
    -network connectivity is mainly stable but have had some problems connecting from a laptop, dropping out
    -using with apple TV is a mixed bag as initially airplay would not let me stream movie audio to A5, had to use a cable - now it kind of works wirelessly
    -switching sources is problematic e.g. when I switch from streaming from iPad to Apple TV the Apple TV does not remember the airplay connection and sometimes the speaker does not show up as an airplay connection at all and I have to reboot apple TV or router
    -the B&W IOS setup / control app is basic and there have not been any software updates in a year which is not a good sign from B&W

    4 of 4 people found this useful

  • 2.0 out of 5 stars

    Air play connectivity A5

    • Written by from København V.

    I have exacly the same problem as William from Jackson Heights. My device is connected and colour is purple but not possible to stream music from WIMP. It happens randomly and there is nothing I can do. My wifi connection is not a problem. Guess I have to take my A5 B & W to the shop where purchased.

    When it works sound quality is great.

    3 of 3 people found this useful

  • 3.0 out of 5 stars

    Speaker is fine. AirPlay, not so much.

    • Written by from Jackson Heights

    I'm not an audiophile so I won't get into the merits of the sound. To me it's great, and even 40% of its max volume is loud in my one-bedroom apartment.

    The problem is AirPlay. The technology isn't reliable. The speaker might stream for hours without issue, and suddenly the audio will drop. It will stay that way until it's ready to resume. Nothing you, dear user, can do will fix it, if indeed you can isolate the source of the problem at all. Sometimes iTunes can't connect to the speaker, even though the speaker's status light says it's available. Other times the audio drops, but iTunes shows the song is playing and the speaker's light says it's on. What exactly is going on then? Network interference?

    This speaker has both an aux audio port and an ethernet port, so there are wired options for backup. Those ports may be the only thing keeping the speaker from becoming a $500 brick on your bookshelf at some point.

    4 of 4 people found this useful

  • 1.0 out of 5 stars

    not impressed overall

    • Written by from Frederick

    I liked the sheer volume at first. Then I realized I'd accumulated another tiny remote to keep track of -- no volume controls on the unit itself. I wasn't impressed with the quality of the audio either. Other than being loud, it really didn't have a lot going for it in terms of quality and surround. When it started giving crackling audio depending on what device I was using to Airplay audio to it, I put it back in the box and took it back to the Apple Store. I'm guessing there will eventually be a better option for Airplay speakers at this price point.

    10 of 15 people found this useful

  • 2.0 out of 5 stars

    When connected - great

    • Written by from Surbiton

    I have a number of B&W products and I can't fault the sound quality on any of them.

    I have ongoing serious connectivity issues with this product, the help and troubleshooting options on the app, are mediocre at best.

    The sound is great and build quality too.

    7 of 9 people found this useful

  • 4.0 out of 5 stars

    Bowers and Wilkins A5

    • Written by from ELK GROVE

    I don't usually write reviews but I have to say about bowers and wilkins A5 has to be the best speaker I have ever bought a little price but very worth it. the fact that i is airplay is better than wifi or bluetooth. and the bass is off the wall. on dropping off like some wifi or bluetooth. buy it you won't be sorry.

    2 of 2 people found this useful

  • 5.0 out of 5 stars

    Great sound and ease of connectivity

    • Written by from STudio city

    I've been a fan of Bowers & Wilkins for many years after building my first audiophile setup with a pair of B&W Matrix 804's many years back.

    This past year after moving and wanting to build a simplified wireless home audio system - I purchased the B&W Zeppelin Air which has been filling our living room with rather impressive sound ever sense.

    Based on the experience of the Zeppelin and needing to add music to our kitchen area, I picked up the B&W A5. I was a little concerned after reading a multitude of AirPlay connectivity reviews posted online. I decided to take a leap of faith as I hadn't had any issues w/ the Zeppelin and the A5 would be located closer to my 5th Gen Airport Extreme (roughly 25' and three walls away to the kitchen).

    The setup was simple. After unboxing - I started setup on my MBA following the instructions. This was straight forward but did require a firmware update to complete. Outside of that - the process was a breeze.

    Once setup - the sound was incredible. I had previously listened to the A5 in the flagship Apple Store in downtown San Francisco but with a huge amount of ambient background noise, it was difficult to get a real sense of the unit.

    At home the sound was excellent in my kitchen. The projection is great and there is actually a sense of decent stereo separation. Even at high volumes - Lows are solid and highs are crisp and clear. After a week I brought the A5 outside to listen to music during a weekend pool party in and was even more blown away by the sounds in a large open backyard! I couldn't believe the projection and clarity at sustained higher volumes which was amazingly clear and resonated well through our backyard and beyond.

    As we have a fairly broad taste in music in my house, the unit has had everything from Bach's Partita N 6 to Interpol to Kanye West played through it.

    As for the AirPlay connectivity - there have been little to no issues. That said - there have been 2 - 3 times (in 4 months) where the audio dropped out which I determined to be the further away Zeppelin having a interference/connection issue. This was with simultaneous streaming to both units which is the norm and not exception for us and once I switched to stream to just the A5, audio sustained 100%

    One other item to note WRT our setup is that we have roughly 25 wifi enabled devices spread throughout our house so w/ that variable in the mix - I'm very pleased w/ the A5's handling of AirPlay and wireless streaming.

    Overall, I would definitely recommend this unit.

    5 of 6 people found this useful

  • 3.0 out of 5 stars

    Hope for an update on the wireless problems

    • Written by

    Unboxing: Great, just great. Quick delivery as well.

    Set up:
    1- not intuitive at all. B&W or apple (since they sell the product on their website) should make a step by step WRITTEN guide on how to set this monster up. The so-called "control B&W" app is really not that simple since you have to change temporarily the network in order to save the settings and the connection.

    2- I often had (like other customers) to fill the informations over again because, despite my several attempts, it seemed nothing had been saved. That is really frustrating. But I think it's a problem that might be solved thanks to an update of the app. At 500$ for the entry level speaker, that might be a reasonable expectation to have.

    SOUND EXPERIENCE: amazing. It gets better through the first 20 hours of listening. I played Mozart, Meldhau, The Fugees, The Beatles, Bach, B. Holliday, religious and folk songs... I heard sounds I had never heard before on the very same tunes! It's pretty impressive what they can produce even without a wire. Honestly, I live and grew amongst musicians and everybody was flabbergasted. Until the solo we were listening dropped for a second because of one of those connection problems.

    TRIED TO WATCH THE LEONARD COHEN IN LONDON' SHOW: I tried to watch a movie then a show. Although I have a high speed connection, there is a delay between the sound speed and the image. The sound doesn't get fast enough to the airplay output. It's really annoying if you are trying to watch a Woody Allen or a french movie with those never ending dialogues. Same thing if you want to watch a... music show (if you buy a B&W, you must be keen to stream some live musical performance...). Again, I fail to see why B&W wouldn't find a way to resolve this through an update or a form of compensation. For instance, why didn't they provide an AUX wire if the image-sound delay problem were to be so important? But again, what's the purpose of buying a WIRELESS speaker if it is to plug a wire every time you wanna watch something? Unless, they really want to fool everyone, they have to come out with something.

    5-Overall I would put 2 stars. THE THIRD ONE RESIDES IN MY FAITH THAT BW WILL FIX THE ISSUES THROUGH UPDATES OR ANY OTHER WAYS. If they do so, I will give them 5 stars HANDS DOWN and salute the attention they put in their customers' critics.

    7 of 9 people found this useful

  • 1.0 out of 5 stars

    Very disappointing

    • Written by from Copenhagen

    The sound quality is excellent when it is working. But how often is that? it may work wirelessly for a few months (90% of the time) and then something happens to it and no matter how many times I re-install it works for 4 seconds and then cuts out. I have a very strong airport wireless network but this makes no difference.

    If only I had a dollar for every time i have re-set the system, and all to no avail. A very expensive disappointment!

    16 of 20 people found this useful

  • 4.0 out of 5 stars

    Sounds great in a bedroom or small office

    • Written by from New York

    I just received my unit today and have been testing it out in my bedroom. The room is about 10x12' with 12' ceilings here in NYC. The B&W A5 sounds great and more then fills the room. First, I have read numerous reviews of this product which are mixed specifically regarding the sound quality. I consider myself a entry level audiophile and used to work for a very popular sound company that makes similar style products. My HIFI setup is a Rotel amplifier combine with B&W 601 speakers, which sounds very very good.

    In my opinion, the B&W A5 has a little better sonic output then a Bose Wave Radio II (last model I used). For it's size and form factor, the sound quality is very good. I was not wowed by the sound quality, however I thought again and this is certainly a small form factor unit. I understand the larger Zeppelin and/or A7 have better sound quality, however one must consider the size of those units. Those two units may be better suited for a living room or larger sized room.

    In general, I'm pleased. The sound quality could be better especially in the highs, however for the form factor, which is a bit taller then a Wave Radio, the A5 performs great. Hopefully, B&W releases updated DSP firmware to handle better high end sound.

    In regards to configuration, the setup was very easy from my iPhone. In my opinion, this is the sort of unit you purchase to have hidden away in a office bookshelf, kitchen corner or bedside table. If you are considering a larger space, the Zeppelin and/or A7 may be better suited.

    4 of 4 people found this useful

  • 1.0 out of 5 stars

    Do Not Purchase

    • Written by from San Francisco

    I made the mistake of thinking that because this item was expensive and sold in an apple store, it would work well. All airplay devices are challenged, but being in a one bedroom apartment with 2 aiport speakers, an apple tv with speakers, and an airport express with bose speakers, all running through an airport extreme, i can tell you that this device is the worst of the bunch. And their customer support contact is very hidden, and barely helpful. I've spent hours trying to reconfigure my airport express to work. Buy and airport express and speakers, save money, and thank me later.

    14 of 18 people found this useful

  • 1.0 out of 5 stars

    Sound quality is fundamentally a joke

    • Written by from San Francisco

    I'm a classically trained musician, 20 years violin, 10 years acoustic guitar, I consider myself to have a very good ear.

    Bottom line, the a5 sound quality is so incredibly NOT worth $500, don't even bother. While it looks stunning, that's all you're going to get out of this box. I only had to listen to this in the store and go head to head, song for song, with the Bose Soundlink Air ($150 less) to declare the winner hands down. For all the B&W hoopla on their tweeter technology, the upper range of the A5 was just plain muffled, no articulation of treble tones. Base tones had absolutely no warmth or depth. I picked up on this even before i did the comparison, thinking maybe it was an in-store acoustic thing going on. But compare with the Bose and you get so much more with the latter.

    I worry that all these tech heads are evaluating speakers based on ease of setup and AirPlay reliability, but have they all had their eardrums blown from Dr Dre beats headphones? Start with sound quality first, ladies and gentlemen, and that's where you'll quickly end with this speaker.

    I brought home the Bose unit and could not be happier for the investment - great range and clarity for $350. If you have an obsession with black fabric and aluminum, buy the B&W. If you like to hear good music, turn to Bose - at least in this price range.

    19 of 47 people found this useful