B&W Refines its Vaunted 800 Speaker Series

In its first major move since being acquired by home-audio powerhouse Sound United last October, Bowers & Wilkins (a.k.a. B&W) has introduced “evolved” versions of its iconic 800 Series Diamond speakers.

The esteemed British speaker company says it spent six years rethinking the fundamentals of driver design in pursuit of the “most transparent, detailed and natural-sounding series of loudspeakers Bowers & Wilkins has ever produced.” The result is hundreds of tweaks and several new sound-enhancing technologies including a Biomimetic Suspension system that replaces the conventional fabric spider used in the line’s midrange drivers and woofers with a new composite material said to enhance midrange transparency by “greatly reducing unwanted air pressure.”

The updated line starts shipping tomorrow (September 1) and continues with seven models: the flagship 801 D4 (shown, $35,000/pair), 804 D4 ($26,000/pair), 803 D4 ($20,000/pair), and 802 D4 ($12,500/pair) three-way floorstanding models, the two-way 805 D4 stand-mount speaker ($8,000/pair), and the HTM81 D4 ($7,500) and HTM82 D4 ($5,500) center-channel speakers. The flagship model marks the return of the 801 D4 model designation, which in recent years had been identified as the 800 D3.

Other refinements across the line include an updated version of B&W’s signature top-mounted tweeter with an improved (longer) tube-loading system and two-point decoupling system said to better isolate the tweeter and its solid-aluminium enclosure from the rest of the speaker. Midrange drivers are also isolated on spring mounts to restrict the flow of vibration and, in the three-way models, feature a stiff aluminium chassis with Tuned Mass Dampers (TMD) to reduce resonance and a new all-aluminum “turbine head” enclosure to achieve better isolation from the bass enclosure below.

An internal aluminum enclosure is also used in the HTM81 D4 and HTM82 D4 center speakers to provide a “well-isolated housing for the midrange drive unit and its decoupling mechanism.”

Woofers across the line use B&W’s Aerofoil Cones, made of a composite carbon-fiber material with a foam core that varies in thickness to provide “maximum stiffness where it is most needed while preserving low mass.” Going a step further, the floorstanding models boast revised and optimised motor systems along with a new anti-resonance foam plug designed to lower distortion as the cone moves through its operating range.

In addition reconfiguring the proportions of each model, B&W also created a new cabinet design featuring a leather-covered cast-aluminium top section that replaces the previous wooden top for “even greater stiffness.” The 804 D4 also now includes a down-firing port and integral aluminium base with spikes and feet, making it more like its more expensive brethren.

B&W has retained the intricate Matrix cabinet structure it has been using and continually refining for more than 30 years in the updated models. The structure uses a series of interlocking panels to provide internal bracing designed to keep the enclosure as inert and quiet as possible. The updated 805 D4 and 804 D4 models also employ the “reverse wrap” speaker cabinet previously reserved for B&W’s largest floorstanding models and use an aluminium plate on the inside face of the cabinet to reinforce the baffle. Both models also feature updated Matrix bracing with thicker aluminum-braced panels made of plywood instead of the MDF used in previous models.

Finally, B&W has expanded finish options of the 800 Series Diamond to include satin walnut (shown) in addition to the existing gloss black, white, and satin rosenut selections.

The Sound United stable of brands also includes Marantz, Denon, Polk, Definitive Technology, Boston Acoustics, Classé, and Heos.

For more information, visit bowerswinlkins.com.