B&W's flagship audio tech trickles down into cheaper speaker series
A couple of years ago, engineers from high-end audio house Bowers & Wilkins completely reworked the company's 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers, improving almost all components – though the diamond tweeter that gave the range its name was left untouched. Now many of the tech enhancements from this top-of-the-line series have been handed down to a new, cheaper generation of speakers. But even the least expensive 700 series speaker will still set you back $1,200 a pair.
The new 700 Series collection includes floor standers, bookshelf speakers, standalone stereo boxes and a subwoofer – a family of nine in all. It's been designed to replace the outgoing CM Series, but borrows technology from the flagship 800 Diamond Series, together with some bespoke series debuts.
"With the launch of the new 700 Series, the much loved and hugely popular CM Series makes way for a new speaker family, delivering genuine high-end sound in a timeless and classic form factor," the company said. "In our more than 50 year history, we've never made a speaker that delivers so much performance at a price level within reach of so many."
The first of the 800 Diamond treats to trickle down to the 700 Series is the woven composite Continuum midrange driver, which B&W says features "the cleanest and most transparent midrange cone material Bowers & Wilkins has ever used."
The new range also gets its own flavor of the 800 Diamond's Aerofoil bass driver, which makes use of paper instead of carbon fiber while holding onto the composite sandwich construction, foam core and original curve. This promises a "dramatic uplift in bass performance compared with the outgoing CM Series."
Finally, the Tweeter-on-Top housings on the two 700 Series kings have been improved, which are each fashioned from single blocks of aluminum and weigh more than 1 kg.
New to the 700 Series is a Carbon Dome tweeter, which is said to deliver cleaner highs than the Double Dome tech on the CM Series could manage. A Dome of two parts, it has a carbon-stiffened 30-micron aluminum dome to the front and a profile-matched 300-micron Carbon ring bonded to the inner face of the structure. B&W says that the design results in "exceptional stiffness and resistance to distortion without undue mass and a first break-up point of 47 kHz."
The three floorstanding speaker models have been housed in a new optimized aluminum chassis, for more stiffness than the retiring CM Series, and a tuned mass damper on the front of the chassis helps present cleaner midrange by ensuring any wayward resonance gets an eviction notice. A midrange decoupling system in the floorstanders is also reported to improve on the drawbar design of the outgoing CM10 S2 model, which should result in more open mids.
The 700 Series is crowned by the 702 S2 floorstanding model, which retails at US$6,500 for a pair. The 3-way vented box has three Aerofoil bass drivers, one Continuum midrange driver and a Carbon Dome tweeter. Next up is the 703 S2 at $4,699 for a pair, with two Aerofoils, one Continuum and one Carbon Dome. Completing the floorstanders is the 704 S2 model at $3,799 per pair. This one has the same driver setup as the 703, but rocks smaller bass and midrange drivers.
The bookshelf family starts with the 705 S2 model, at $3,499 for a pair. The two-way vented box is home to one Continuum driver and one Carbon Dome tweeter, with two optional floor stands available for an extra $799. The 706 S2 model features that same drivers as the 705, but the tweeter is housed in the box instead of on top – a pair retails for $2,199. The 707 S2 has a smaller Continuum driver than the other two, and comes in at $1,499.
The HTM71 S2 model has been designed to be paired with larger speakers, and has a three-way center-channel design that's home to two Aerofoil bass drivers, one Continuum mid-range driver and a Carbon Dome tweeter. This one's priced at $1,799 per unit. The similar HTM62 S2 has two Continuum drivers and a Carbon Dome tweeter for a ticket price of $1,199.
The final member of the 700 Series is the DB4S, which is essentially a single-driver version of the dual-driver DB2D subwoofer. It features a 10-inch, forward-firing Carbon Aerofoil driver powered by a 1,000-watt Hypex amplifier, and benefits from a digital preamp with two built-in EQ options plus app-based configuration. This model will rock your bottom end for $2,799 per unit.
The 700 Series is due to land at B&W dealers from next month. All models will be available in glossy black, satin white or rosenut finish. You see a brief recap of the main design changes in the video below.
Source: Bowers & Wilkins