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Tag Archives: b&w

Bowers & Wilkins Revamps the 700 Series

Every few years, like clockwork, Bowers & Wilkins stages a press event to announce, describe, and demonstrate an update to one of its speaker lines. The agenda, honed over time and set in stone because it works so well, has a comfortable familiarity. The sessions are consistently informative; the new products are unfailingly impressive. This year’s rollout of the 700 Series 3 was no exception. 

The event took place in early August, when members of the audiophile press convened at Bowers & Wilkins’ parent company Sound United’s Retail Experience Center in Carlsbad, California. No less a personage than Andy Kerr, Bowers’ Director of Product Marketing and Communications, flew in from the UK to personally provide the lowdown on his team’s latest handiwork. 

Wanting some context, I asked Andy which product line most embodied the heart and soul of Bowers & Wilkins. Was it the approachable, versatile 700 Series, like BMW and its 3 Series? Or was it the uncompromising, technology-laden 800 Diamond Series, the equivalent of Mercedes and its S Class? Andy unhesitatingly replied that the 800 Diamond Series, with its technological prowess and omnipresence in recording studios worldwide, best encapsulates B&W’s philosophy. 

Nonetheless, the 700 Series is of critical importance to the company. These speakers may not have the recording-studio cred of the 800 Series, but they pack as much of the flagship line’s technology as possible into more affordable and décor-friendly models. Further, in addition to audiophiles, the 700 Series is the company’s standard bearer in the home-theater market, which accounts for roughly 50% of the line’s sales. Overall, the penultimate line reaches more people and generates more revenue than the 800s. No wonder B&W was rolling out the red carpet for the latest editions. 

The first half of the event was given over to Andy’s detailed description of the differences between the 700 S2 and S3. What became clear was the degree to which the new speakers had inherited technology and refinements from the recently launched 800 Diamond Series 4. For example, to improve cabinet stability and decrease diffraction, the 700 S3 incorporates a mild curve to the front baffle, reminiscent of the flagship line’s “reverse wrap” architecture. Further, as in the 800 D4 line, all 700 S3 drivers (save the top-mounted tweeters found on certain models) are mounted in “pods” that provide mechanical separation between their front surfaces and baffles, which further decreases diffraction. 

The drivers themselves have been the subject of painstaking ministrations. Their chassis, motors, coils, and cones have all been examined, analyzed, and upgraded. The tweeter-on-top gets the elongated tube that has proven so effective in the 800 D4 Series. The woofer gets a variable-thickness cone, meant to lower distortion. Even the “biomimetic” spider assembly, made of thermoplastic polymer—a key development introduced in the flagship line—made its way to the equivalent 700 S3 drivers. 

The crossovers, too, have undergone revision. They now encompass far more bypass capacitors (sourced from Mundorf) and benefit from beefed-up heatsinks. Even the plinth and spikes are revised heavily. All these improvements are packaged in enclosures that are a treat for the eyes. All the cabinets are beautifully finished and preternaturally slim. Indeed, each model is narrower than its S2 equivalent, which not only further decreases diffraction but also allows the S3 line to fit more easily into living spaces. 

Of course, B&W had to save money somewhere, or the 700 S3 wouldn’t be as shockingly affordable as it is. The savings come from two areas. First, you won’t find any expensive diamond-coated tweeters in the 700s; they’re simply too expensive. Instead, the tweeters in the 700 S3 are carbon domed. Second, curved front notwithstanding, these cabinets are still mitered MDF construction. The “reverse wrap” of the 800 D4, which eliminates most parallel surfaces while increasing rigidity, is a costly process that would be untenable at the 700 S3’s price point. I’ll describe the success of these compromises, shortly, but first here’s a rundown on the model lineup:

707 S3: The entry-level stand-mount/bookshelf model ($1800)

706 S3: Similar to the 707, but slightly larger and with a bigger low/mid driver ($2200)

705 S3: Still a two-way standmount, but with the tweeter-on-top ($3400)

704 S3: The entry-level floorstander is a three-way with a baffle-mounted tweeter ($4000)

703 S3: Larger than the 704 S3, the 703 S3 features bigger woofers and a tweeter on top ($6000)

702 S3: Similar to the 703 S3 but with a third woofer and a down-firing port ($7000)

Sonically, two questions always hover over any new 700 Series introduction: 1) how do the new versions fare versus the prior iteration; and 2) how close do the speakers get to their 800 Series counterparts? In Carlsbad, the first question was easy to answer. In well-lubricated fashion, B&W personnel played tracks on a 700 S2 model, swapped in the S3 equivalent, and repeated the track. After doing so for several models in the range—from the smallest stand-mount to the top floorstander—some general conclusions were possible. 

For every speaker we heard, the S3 version had significantly more resolution and, in every instance save the 707, also boasted greater low extension than its S2 counterpart. Owing to its petite dimensions, the 707 has limited bass extension in any case. Yet, other differences were obvious. Though, the S2 impressed with a soundstage so broad it extended beyond the edges of the speakers, its imaging was weak. The S3 version cleaned up the imaging, and the soundstage was even more expansive than that of the already excellent S2. 

The 705 S2 has always been a huge step up from the 706 and 707. That tweeter on top makes a remarkable difference in air and HF extension; plus, it improves imaging. In Carlsbad, I did detect a slight steely quality to the 705 S2’s sound, which was most apparent on female vocals. In contrast, the 705 S3 offered more—and more natural (less steely)—timbres. There was also the by now familiar increase in resolution, which, among other things, completely transformed piano decays. Further, the S3 sounded like it had almost an extra full octave of bass extension. The 702 S2 vs 702 S3 was the last smackdown, and all the above comments apply. Yet in addition to more ultimate resolution, deeper bass, etc., the 702 S3 impressed with greater rhythmic steadiness. 

As for the second question, concerning the new 700 Series vs the latest 800 D4 line, we journalists were left to our collective memories of the latter, as none were offered for comparison. Fortunately, I recently reviewed the 805 D4, the stand-mounted two-way that serves as the entry into the 800 line, and my recollections of its sound were fresh. The equivalent new 700 model is the 705 S3, which, as noted, costs $3400/pair compared to the 805 D4’s $8k/pair. Could the new 705 pass as a “baby” 805 D4? 

All in attendance, including myself, agreed that it could. The 705 S3 captures the musical essence and sonic prowess of its superb big brother. Perhaps the tweeter, lacking a diamond coating, was a trifle less smooth. Otherwise, the 705 left nothing to be desired. This was a vivid demonstration of just how much 800 D4 DNA B&W was able to infuse in the new 700 S3 models. 

None of this was a surprise. There are never surprises at B&W launch events, only confirmations of what one expects—extensive R&D yielding technical advances, which are integrated gracefully wherever possible and which turn out to be sonically meaningful. Oh, and demos wherein the incoming line soundly trounces the outgoing one. Let’s hope this streak continues. 

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Bowers & Wilkins New Px8 Flagship Headphones

The following is a press release issued by Bowers & Wilkins.

September 28, 2022 – Bowers & Wilkins, the renowned British premium audio brand, has launched its new flagship wireless headphone, the Px8. The new model sets a new reference standard for sound, build and finish in the active noise cancelling wireless headphone category.

The heart of the Px8 is the same active noise cancelling wireless platform found in the Px7 S2, already one of the best-sounding headphones in its class. In Px8, that stellar performance is taken to even greater heights of detail, resolution and spaciousness thanks to all-new bespoke 40mm Carbon Cone drive units.

Inspired by the Carbon Dome drive units used in Bowers & Wilkins highly successful 700 Series loudspeaker range, the Px8’s new Carbon Cones deliver an unparalleled combination of ultra-fast response plus exceptionally low distortion throughout the frequency range. The result is resolution, detail and timing that surpasses the high bar set by the Px7 S2, ensuring an even more engaging and natural musical performance that gets closer than ever to the True Sound of the artist’s intent.

The Carbon Cone drive units in Px8 are carefully angled inside each earcup to ensure a consistent distance relative to the listener’s ear from every point across the surface of each driver, to produce a more immersive and highly accurate soundstage. The result is the best sound quality Bowers & Wilkins has ever delivered from a pair of wireless headphones.

A new leader in headphone design

The design of Px8 is just as inspiring as its sound quality. The new headphone is available in two finishes, black leather or tan leather, and now has a cast-aluminum arm structure that references Bowers & Wilkins signature design language, plus a diamond-cut bright edge on each elliptical logo plate. The earcups, memory-foam cushions and headband are trimmed in soft, luxurious Nappa leather for the ultimate, premium feel. Together, these design and material choices ensure that Px8 confidently asserts Bowers & Wilkins’ position as a premium audio brand like no other in the category.

Unparalleled high-resolution sound

The Px8 uses Qualcomm’s aptXTM Adaptive wireless technology to ensure the best possible sound quality from compatible phones, tablets and computers. USB-C and 3.5mm analogue cable connections are also supported, with both cable types included in the carry case that accompanies the product.

Whether using wireless or wired connections, the Px8 combines its ultra-high-performance drive unit configuration with powerful Bowers & Wilkins-developed DSP (Digital Signal Processing) to deliver outstanding, 24-bit high-resolution sound quality from leading streaming services.

Cancel the noise, not your music

The Px8 uses proprietary Bowers & Wilkins-optimized noise cancellation technology to effectively shut out unwanted noise – crucially, without harming musicality in the process.

Six high-performance microphones work together to deliver the best results: two measure the output of each drive unit, two react to ambient noise from the outside world and two provide outstanding voice clarity with enhanced noise suppression.

As with Px7 S2, the performance of the system has been further improved by moving the two external microphones closer together, adjusting the angling of each microphone to improve voice capture and changing the position of the second mic to reduce wind noise interference.

A breakthrough in user experience

Excitingly, the launch of the new Px8 will see a major upgrade for the Bowers & Wilkins Music App. From launch, the Music App will allow Px8 users to stream their chosen music directly from their mobile device to their headphones, with Deezer, Qobuz and TIDAL all supported. The same functionality will roll out

to owners of Px7 S2 on the day Px8 launches. As just one example of the benefits of this breakthrough feature, Bowers & Wilkins customers can now easily switch between listening at home – for example, via a Zeppelin, or a pair of the Formation Duo stereo speakers – and listening on the move via a mobile device with a pair of Px8 or Px7 S2 headphones.

As before, the Music App also simplifies connection of the Px8 to a mobile device, supports fine-tuning of the sound through adjustable EQ, and allows owners to configure their preferred noise-cancelling mode, all while monitoring the headphone’s charge levels.

Physical controls on each earcup are also included, ensuring full control even without the Music App, while users can also use the Px8 to seamlessly launch their phone’s Voice Assistant at the touch of a button. With 30 hours of battery life, Px8 can play all day long – and more – on just one charge, while a 15-minute quick recharge is sufficient to provide up to seven hours of additional listening time, so you’ll never be without your favorite music for long.

Commenting on the launch, Giles Pocock, Vice-President of Brand Marketing said “I’m thrilled that today, we’re transforming customer expectations in the premium headphone category with our new Px8. It perfectly encapsulates everything we stand for as a brand, with outstanding sound quality that properly reflects our True Sound promise, plus unrivalled design and finish.”

The premium design and class-leading sound quality of the new Px8 will be available from September 28th, from the Bowers & Wilkins website and selected retailers priced at $699.

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Bowers & Wilkins Introduces Upgraded 800-Series Diamond Line

Venerable British loudspeaker company Bowers & Wilkins has spent the past six years researching and developing technologies to improve the performance of its already outstanding 800-Series speakers. The result is the new Diamond D4 line, which consists of five stereo models, ranging from the two-way stand-mount 805 D4 at $8000 to the flagship 801 D4 at $35,000 (all prices per pair). The company has reintroduced the iconic 801 moniker for the top model, replacing the 800 D3. Two center-channel speakers are also included in the new series, for a total of seven new products.

The line has been substantially reengineered, starting with a new cabinet design that is reportedly stiffer and quieter than those in the previous generation. Controlling enclosure resonances has always been an important design goal in the 800 Series—B&W’s Matrix internal-bracing structure (see photo) has been in continuous use for more than 30 years, for example. The top panel is now made from cast aluminum, rather than wood, for greater rigidity. The “reverse wrap” cabinet structure, previously reserved for the three top models in the line, is now employed on every model, including the stand-mount 805 D4 (the 805 D3 was built as a conventional box, albeit with curved side panels). I visited the Bowers & Wilkins factory in 2019 and watched how cabinets are made using the “reverse wrap” technique. The cabinet starts as thin layers of wood stacked with an alternating grain pattern and an industrial adhesive between each layer. The assembly is put in a press that bends the wood into the rounded cabinet shape and held in that position until the adhesive cures. An aluminum “spine” is mounted in the opening at the back of the cabinet, adding rigidity. This construction method also results in a smaller and rounded front baffle, reducing diffraction. For the new D4 series, each model’s baffle is reinforced by an aluminum plate, which is also braced to reduce resonances. The classic Matrix bracing structure is now made from thicker panels of plywood rather than MDF, with strategically placed aluminum supporting braces, again to stiffen the cabinet. The midrange drivers are mechanically decoupled from the cabinet, and are fitted with Tuned Mass Dampers (TMD) to further reduce unwanted resonances. Finally, the top 801 D4 features a solid-steel bottom plate around the downward-firing port.

The 804 D4 (the lowest-priced floorstander) is now mounted on a plinth made from steel sheets in a constrained-layer damping structure (the 804 D3 lacked the plinth and downward-firing port of the 803 D3 and 800 D3). The 804 D4 also features much larger spikes.

The new cabinets also benefit from cosmetic upgrades. The aluminum top plate is clad in black or light grey leather, and a fourth cabinet finish has been added, with satin walnut joining gloss black, white, and satin rosenut.

 

Bowers & Wilkins made big strides when it replaced the Kevlar cones with its Continuum Cone combined with its Fixed Suspension Transducer (FST) technology, the latter a novel surround that reduces the surround’s effect on the sound. In researching sources of driver colorations, Bowers & Wilkins discovered, surprisingly, that the fabric spider behind every cone introduces distortion simply by its own movement. In essence, the spider acts like a second diaphragm, producing unwanted sound. The spider is a doughnut-shaped ring that attaches to the speaker basket at the spider’s outside diameter, and around the voice coil at its inner diameter. The spider’s job is to prevent the cone from moving in any direction other than back and forth. Bowers & Wilkins has reimagined the spider as a minimalist open structure made from a stiff composite material that keeps the voice coil and cone in proper alignment, yet doesn’t generate any sound of its own. The company claims that this development, called Biometric Suspension, dramatically increases midrange transparency and realism. The new suspension is used on the midrange drivers throughout the 800 D4 Series.

The bass drivers have also been redesigned, with revised motor systems along with the Aerofoil Cone, a diaphragm made from carbon-fiber skins around a light foam core. The core thickness varies to deliver maximum stiffness where it’s needed, while keeping mass low.

Given the performance and value of the previous generation 800 Series, we’re eager to put this new line through its paces. Watch for our reviews of the 805 D4 and the flagship 801 D4 in upcoming issues.

 

801 D4: $35,000. Three-way, four-driver floorstander

802 D4: $26,000. Three-way, four driver floorstander

803 D4: $20,000. Three-way, four-driver floorstander

804 D4: $12,500. Three-way, four driver floorstander

805 D4: $8000. Two-way, two-driver stand-mount

HTM81 D4. $7500. Center-channel speaker

HTM82 D4. $5500. Center-channel speaker

 

 

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BMW iX x Bowers & Wilkins

The following is a press release issued by Bowers & Wilkins.

September 7, 2021 – Bowers & Wilkins, the British loudspeaker company famed for bringing its knowledge and experience of acoustic excellence to the automotive industry, has extended its successful partnership with BMW, with the launch of the iX, the new luxury electric SAV from BMW.

The Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System in the iX features the most advanced sound quality found in a car, with the aim of delivering an audio experience that feels as though you are there with the artist in the studio, a concept that Bowers & Wilkins refer to as ‘True Sound’.  This can only be achieved through close collaboration between the engineering teams from both BMW and Bowers & Wilkins, and by using proven technologies from Bowers & Wilkins’ core range of passive loudspeakers.

The BMW iX is the first fully electric vehicle to feature Diamond Dome tweeters, as found in Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers, the monitor loudspeaker of choice in Abbey Road Studios. The exceptionally accurate, low-distortion tweeters feature Nautilus™ swirls, spiralling channels behind the tweeter domes that dissipate reflected sound waves that emanate from the rear of the drive unit and limit distortion.  In keeping with the minimalist interior of the BMW iX, the tweeters are covered with brushed stainless-steel covers with a laser-etched logo and a discreet lighting effect, and the door speakers are discretely hidden behind acoustically optimized fabric.

In total, there are two Diamond Dome tweeters, three Aluminium Dome tweeters and five Aramid Fibre midrange speakers mounted as high as possible within the light, spacious cabin. A further eight speakers are integrated into the front and rear headrests, which can be individually adjusted to create a truly personalised audio experience for each passenger.  For the first time, four bass speakers are joined by 4D Shakers that are strategically positioned within the interior to produce a rich bass experience even at low volumes.

Passengers can engage with the sound system through four different sound modes, according to preference.

The result is sound that’s superbly detailed and free from coloration, seamlessly integrated within the car design.

For additional information on Bowers & Wilkins, please visit www.Bowerswilkins.com

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Bowers & Wilkins Reveals the PI7 and PI5 True Wireless Headphones

The following is a press release issued by Bowers & Wilkins.

Worthing, England, April 2021: Today, British audio brand Bowers & Wilkins has unveiled two new state-of-the-art True Wireless headphones – PI7 and PI5 – that bring the brand’s acclaimed ‘True Sound’ promise and acoustic excellence to the True Wireless category.

Both PI7 and PI5 models deliver the unrivalled high-resolution sound quality that audiophiles and music lovers have come to expect from Bowers & Wilkins. Now, that same signature sound quality is offered for the first time in True Wireless form, incorporating innovative and intuitive smart features designed to fit seamlessly into an on-the-go lifestyle.

Drawing on over fifty years of industry-leading audio excellence and innovation, Bowers & Wilkins reveals  another best-in-class portfolio of products that deliver your favourite music the way it is meant to be heard – as the artist intended it.

PI7 – The new industry-defining True Wireless headphones from Bowers & Wilkins.

Every element of the flagship PI7 model has been crafted to deliver the very highest level of audio performance, redefining expectation in True Wireless. PI7 features unrivalled sound quality, driven by

high-resolution 24-bit audio processing in each earbud and Dual Hybrid Drive units that work just like high- performance speakers to create a rich and immersive listening experience.

In addition, PI7 features Adaptive Noise Cancellation that automatically adapts in real-time to its surroundings to produce the best possible listening experience – so you can block out the world and focus on the music you love. It’s driven by six microphones – three in each earbud – for crystal-clear sound quality with every call, all activated though an intuitive, one-touch user interface.

Even the Smartcase is designed for an intuitive and seamless user experience. As you would expect, it can conveniently charge your device wirelessly while you are on-the-go. But, and in an industry first, PI7 raises the bar by offering a unique wireless audio retransmission feature via its Smartcase. That means you can continue to use your PI7s even when on a plane: just connect your case directly to an audio source – such as  an in-flight entertainment system – and it will retransmit sound directly to your earbuds.

PI5 – The class-leading, Bowers & Wilkins True Wireless sound that’s with you all day.

PI5 is the class-leading True Wireless headphone with all of the high quality, audio-enhancing features expected from a Bowers & Wilkins product – the perfect accompaniment to an on-the-go lifestyle.

Alongside the exceptional audio performance and call quality, the PI5 offers over 24 hours of battery life, ensuring you stay connected throughout the day. This is accompanied by advanced Active Noise Cancellation, allowing you to easily adapt to your listening environment, whether you’re working from home or on a busy street, and a fast-charging case that provides a boost of up to two hours of battery life from just a 15-minute charge.

Bold design and Smart technology.

Both models embody the Bowers & Wilkins bold design to stand out from the crowd, with accents of color to highlight the beautifully precise detailing.

Smart technology makes living with PI7 and PI5 more convenient. Both models can be configured via the Bowers & Wilkins companion App and feature a simple one-button user interface, coupled with voice assistant support via either Siri or Google Assistant. Multiple source devices can be wirelessly paired to either model allowing the user to easily and conveniently reconnect to each source as and when needed.

Developed by the same team behind the Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers found in Abbey  Road Studios, PI7 and PI5 both embody the same industry-leading engineering and design philosophy that has led to the creation of some of the world’s finest audio products.

Geoff Edwards, Brand President, Bowers & Wilkins, said: “We are excited to be venturing into the True Wireless category with our new headphones. It’s long been our philosophy, established by our founder John  Bowers, that we would only enter a new category if we believed that we could set a new standard for audio performance in that space. With PI7 and PI5, we truly believe we have achieved that.”

The PI7 True Wireless and PI5 True Wireless headphones are available from www.bowerswilkins.com on April 21st 2021 for $399 and $249 respectively.

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Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature Loudspeaker

I will say this for B&W’s 705 Signature: This loudspeaker sure knows how to make an entrance. This $3999 two-way compact which bears the British firm’s famously eye-catching top-mounted tweeter cuts a striking figure with its crisp seamless lines, mirror-like veneers, six-sided finish, and gleaming appointments. This bass-reflex monitor just looks like money, fresh from London’s Regent Street. At least part of that impression is owed to the fact that the 705 Signature (and its floorstanding cousin, the 702 Signature) have a lot in common with B&W’s bespoke flagship 800 Series. This cross-platform sharing actually originated in the more modestly priced 700 Series, which debuted in 2017. But the Signature edition takes it a step further in refinement. Most prominent is the pricier solid-body assembly of the “tweeter-on-top,” and the distinctive gleam of its Continuum cone driver. Plus various upgrades and refinements to the crossover and heatsinking, including specially treated bypass capacitors sourced from Mundorf. 

The newly devised 25mm carbon dome tweeter is composed of two sections, a thirty-micron aluminum dome front section stiffened by a PVD (physical vapor deposition) coating of carbon. Paraphrasing B&W, “the second section is a 300-micron carbon ring that matches the form of the main dome, then is bonded to the inner face of the structure.” The outcome is stiffness and resistance to distortion without undue mass, and a first breakup point of 47kHz. B&W also substituted aluminum instead of zinc for the bullet-shaped housing of the Signature tweeter. The milled aluminum (over 1kg) makes for a stiffer and less resonant structure than zinc, and benefits from the same decoupling mechanism and acoustically transparent grille design of the 800 Series Diamond. A side benefit is that it also allows the use of the mass of the tweeter body as a heatsink for the dome.

In the 6.5″ Continuum cone mid/bass, B&W enthusiasts will identify another component that originally was exclusive to the 800 Series Diamond. Continuum is a woven composite design, which B&W states avoids the abrupt transition from pure pistonic movement to breakup-mode behavior. Ultimately, every driver will break up, but when distortion can be as highly controlled as it is in the Continuum transducer, there’s greater potential for a more open, transparent, and detailed midrange.

I could say more than a few words about the fit and finish of the 705 Signature, but let me sum it up in one word—sumptuous. My flawless review sample was crafted in Datuk Gloss ebony-colored veneer and bore a striking, exotic, tiger-stripe grain pattern. The wood originates from a sustainably sourced supply, in this case from specialist Italian wood company Alpi. Bowers & Wilkins adds to Alpi’s painstaking workmanship by applying nine coats of finish, including primer, base coat, and lacquer.

705 Signature front

As for the sonics of the 705, my first impressions held true throughout the evaluation; from the start the speaker was high-spirited and balanced. Like a thoroughbred at the Derby, the 705 seemed to burst from the gate, surging with pent-up energy. Its dynamism was evident at pretty much every level across the frequency spectrum. It delivered well-rounded midrange tonality, shaded slightly to the warmer, romantic side of neutral—a sonic signature that seems built into the genetic code of B&W loudspeakers (and into many British monitors, for that matter). Its midbass to lower midrange was well controlled and defined—exceptionally so in light of its modest 13-inch height. The rear port—in B&W’s characteristic, turbulence-reducing dimpled design—was mostly inaudible, though there was, at moments, an excess weightiness in the upper bass that hinted at some port augmentation. 

The overall voice of the 705 Signature was forthright rather than tonally recessive. It was punchy and aggressive when it needed to be and soothing where appropriate. It was a compact that summoned buckets full of colorful timbral details and contrasts, and possessed a full-blooded physicality that sustained and supported musical images. Soundstage information was straightforward, imparting good dimensional information, though this was not its strongest suit. (Any number of competitive two-way compacts will challenge it in that regard.)

A prime example of the 705 Signature’s all-around skillset was Alison Krauss’ country-tinged cover of Lennon-McCartney’s “I Will.” The track, with its guitar and banjo images snapping from the studio mix, exhibited an electric immediacy. In that vein, the closing drum fill during “When You Say Nothing At All” was heroic in its weight and scale. Parenthetically, the scale of this particular cue is curiously out of proportion with the rest of the song, suggesting that someone in the control room was having a little too much fun dialing up the percussion in the final mix. 

The vivacious character of the 705 Sig’s sonics is no accident, in my view. To a large degree it reflects elements of the professional-recording “studio monitor” culture in which B&W is still quite prominent. Thus, there is no wimp factor. The 705 Sig heads in the other direction, muscling in on the recording to bring to light every last detail: an errant baton striking the podium, a gasp from an audience member, the shift of a pianist on the bench, the rustle of pages of a score being turned on a musician’s music stand. And like a true monitor, the 705 Sig isn’t shy about being driven hard. When propelled by top-quality amplification with sufficient headroom, it is capable of a level of sheer unconstrained output that caused me to bail out before it did. 

Bass quality was outstanding, especially for a loudspeaker of this humble size. During Sheryl Crow’s “I Shall Believe,” bassist Dan Schwartz’s cavernous and enveloping artistry was reproduced with impressive pitch and extension. The Police’s “Tea In The Sahara” was also reproduced with the impressive rhythmic interplay of kickdrum and electric bass fully intact. The bass drum sounded grounded in reality, not just a random set of rhythmic pulses. No, the 705 Sig couldn’t uncover the deepest notes on this track, but where it played it was honest and open. Compared with a much larger floorstander or a subwoofer-augmented system, of course, the deepest bass and dynamics were throttled down, but the “essentials” were there and the brain tended to fill in the gaps. I rarely felt short-shrifted by the 705.

Solo piano reproduction, a potential deal-breaker for this reviewer, was some of the best I’ve heard from a compact. As I listened to Constentino Catena’s reading of Debussy’s Clair de Lune, the dynamic touch he teased out of the concert grand conveyed all kinds of keyboard character, mood swings, and temperament, from the gentlest pianissimos to the heavier fortes. The 705 even captured a semblance of soundboard action, air, and weight. It also hung onto the sustain pedal to the end of the track. 

This gentle piano track was also illustrative of the 705 Signature’s resolving power, a trait that cropped up time and again during my evaluation. The speaker had an ability to bring to life the smallest cues, clinging to a decaying note, a waft of ambience. It had a level of resolution that rewarded the astute listener, and caused me to listen ever deeper into the most delicate moments. Ricki Lee Jones’ cover of the Billie Holiday classic “I’ll Be Seeing You” is a terrific track to enjoy this specific brand of transparency. The sonics of this LP ring true. The quirky Jones vocal and classical guitar accompaniment sang with a full array of transient delicacies and intricate voicings, immersing me in the atmosphere of the mix

Most significant to my own listening biases, the B&W proved to be a very good and flexible voice speaker. The 705 Signature reveled in reproducing the signature details that define a singer’s instrument. On a track like CS&N’s “Southern Cross,” for example, the 705 caught the leading edge of Stills’ vocal and nailed his characteristic gravelly throatiness down pat. Then there was the 705’s sensitivity in capturing the breathy vibrato of Jennifer Warnes’ “Song for Bernadette,” or the husky alto of Lauren Daigle’s “Rescue” from the 45rpm Bernie Grundman LP remaster of her 2018 hit Look Up Child. My one minor reservation was a hint of presence dip with these female vocalists that softened and rounded the leading edges of their voices. On the one hand, the effect was coddling to the ear, but on the other, it also subtracted slightly from attack and emotion.

The Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature is the product of a mature and experienced company that understands the musical imperatives of overall balance and listenability. A compact loudspeaker that can shrug off the bonds of its modest proportions and become something much grander is a rarity, but the B&W most assuredly does these things. In sum, the 705 Signature is what I’d describe as a true musical sophisticate—a natty dresser and a formidable addition to any listening room. Sign me up!

Specs & Pricing

Type: Stand-mount, two-way, vented box
Drivers: 1″ dome tweeter; 6.5″ mid/bass
Frequency response: 58Hz–28kHz
Sensitivity: 88dB
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms (3.7 ohms minimum)
Dimensions: 13.4″ x 7.8″ x 11.9″
Weight: 20.5 lbs.
Price: $3999

BOWERS & WILKINS
54 Concord Street
North Reading, MA 01864
(978) 664-2870
bowerswilkins.com

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Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition Headphones | REVIEW

The story of the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition (website) is one of many welcomed surprises. Not often in life are we gifted with genuine surprises, and the ones most common to occur are usually anything but welcomed. The story begins as I’m wrapping up the Audeze LCD-1 headphone review, and finding a new appreciation for all things sonically flat in regards to headphones. The act of searching for a balanced sense of color and low-distortion through the careful matching of associated electronics becomes in itself an addictive pursuit. Words and Photos by Eric Franklin Shook Here I was, finding new levels of transparency and bliss with the LCD-1 and its remarkably even-handed measure of eq and dynamic balance, when something completely different arrives in the form of “noise-cancelling Bluetooth” headphones. And with that arrival: color, warmth, excitement, sexiness, and a seductive sense of refinement. I typically think of “noise-cancelling” headphones as something you purchase specifically for air travel, as the first implementation of noise-cancelling technology in earphones was designed to block out flight noise and nothing more. No imparted side-role of setting the stage for music playback, it was purely a tool for bringing about a more enjoyable […]

Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Carbon Edition

NORTH READING, MA — It’s been a decade worthy of celebration with the Bowers & Wilkins headphones. Today B&W launch their new PX7 Carbon Edition wireless headphones. Even our ‘wearables‘ contributor Nan Pincus owns a pair of the Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones. So they must be good. More info enclosed below. Enjoy! Press Release Enclosed Bowers & Wilkins launches special PX7 Carbon Edition wireless headphones to celebrate a decade of headphone success Over the past 12 months, Bowers & Wilkins has enjoyed outstanding success with its flagship PX7 over-ear wireless headphones. These adaptive noise-cancelling designs offer an unmatched combination of breathtaking sound quality, smart features and supreme comfort which together have helped them win countless awards and recommendations around the world. 2020 also marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of Bowers & Wilkins first-ever headphone design, the iconic P5—a breakthrough model that would swiftly redefine customer expectations for build, design and sound quality in the premium performance headphone category. Now it’s time to celebrate that success, with the launch of the PX7 Carbon Edition. Designed to highlight the PX7’s pioneering use of carbon-fiber composite reinforcement in its construction, the new Carbon Edition features a high- quality carbon black […]

Bowers & Wilkins 600 Series Anniversary Edition

N. READING, MA (PTA) — If you’re looking to feel old, the Bowers and Wilkins 600 series turns 25 this year, and with that it’s time to celebrate. This marks the seventh generation of 600 seines loudspeakers. The price remains affordable, however new and improved technologies abound in the new Anniversary Editions. Specific details are enclosed in the press release below. Enjoy! Press Release Enclosed For the love of music – iconic 600 Series celebrates 25 years of success with new Anniversary Edition range. 25 years of continuous success, six generations of engineering excellence and more than a million products sold – these are milestones worth celebrating! This month sees the launch of the new 600 Series Anniversary Edition, the seventh generation of 600 Series loudspeakers from Bowers & Wilkins. The new range shares the same blend of outstanding value and superlative sound quality as its six forebears but, in Bowers & Wilkins’ tradition, features new and improved components to ensure it can continue to set the standard for high-performance sound quality at an accessible price point. For 25 years, the 600 Series has been the music lover’s affordable introduction to the Bowers & Wilkins family of audiophile loudspeakers. The […]

Bowers and Wilkins Formation Duo Loudspeakers | Review

The availability of streaming devices is endless, offering convenience and friction-free listening. We have become accustomed to a quick tap or voice command and the tunes start flowing. Although I am blessed with an incredible reference listening setup, it’s complicated. A mass of components, platforms, and cables working together to create a symphony. I’ve been on the hunt to find something simpler. Something that I could recommend to friends and family who are looking to build a small engaging setup that is available at a fraction of the cost of my reference room.  When Bowers & Wilkins announced the Formation Duo Bookshelf system (website) taking cues from the 705 D2 and 805 D3 series, it got my attention. B&W Formation Duo Series The Formation Series was the first major project after B&W was purchased by Eva Automation in 2016. As they embarked on the B&W Formation series, the Eva team focused on the wireless voodoo and the B&W crew in the UK focused on the speaker design. Crushing Wireless Latency The Formation Series products are completely wireless. No cables required outside of a power cable. When Eva got started on the development, the best wireless technology they could find was hindered by […]

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