Introducing Bowers & Wilkins new 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers

Bowers & Wilkins has announced a new range of 800 Series Diamond speakers to replace the existing D3 line-up – itself the latest in a long-running series that dates back to the Eighties. The new models – identified by their D4 suffix – comprise five stereo models and two centres. While the aesthetic is similar to their predecessors, B&W says that pretty much every meaningful component has changed.

This is most immediately apparent in the cabinets. All the models are still made from layers of birch ply, formed and pressed at the company’s factory in Worthing. These are combined with adhesive layers in varying amounts and pressed into a curved shape to form a stiff and durable cabinet. Crossover placement is simplified so it’s accommodated in the rear of the ply, behind the point where it’s sealed for the driver enclosure. This is then finished with an aluminium rear plate.

Another change is the ‘tweeter-on-top’ design has been revised with a new longer tweeter housing that’s still decoupled from the rest of the speaker, only now that’s effective via a new two-point mount that the company claims is more durable and effective. The new cabinet top is made from cast aluminium with an upper section covered in Connolly leather to provide a suitable aesthetic match for the rest of the cabinet. There are other, more model-specific changes too. The larger floorstanders that make use of the ‘turbine housing’ arrangement for the midrange driver benefit from a modified mounting system and improved damping. The 804D4 floorstander is now lower ported for the first time like the larger models, a design which seeks to improve air flow and help with positioning.

Inside the cabinets, the ‘Matrix’ system of bracing that Bowers & Wilkins has employed for some years has been improved too. Each model now has a stiffening aluminium plate on the inside face of the cabinet and the Matrix braces themselves have been revised. They’re now also made out of Birch Ply instead of plywood and, in the larger models, this is augmented by further aluminium sections. All floorstanding models now have an aluminium plinth with constrained layer damping. This comes with castors on the larger models to help with placement and, once the speaker is sited correctly, spikes can be screwed down to lift the castors off the floor.

The drivers have also been subject to revision. As before, all models make use of a diamond tweeter that’s formed into a stiff, strong dome. They all use the Continuum Cone material that’s a staple of the company, but where this driver is used in a midrange application (as distinct from midbass), it now benefits from an updated spider assembly. This is something that Bowers & Wilkins calls ‘Biomimetic Suspension’ and is much finer in terms of cross sectional area than the older spider, which serves to reduce air pressure – and with it unwanted noise – inside the enclosure. The Aerofoil mid/bass drivers of the larger models have revised and optimised motor systems as well as a new Anti Resonance foam plug, which braces the voice coil and reduces distortion.

Aesthetically, as well as the modified leather section, the other change is the addition of a fourth Satin Walnut finish that joins the existing Gloss Black, Satin Rosenut and White cabinet finishes. On the White and Walnut finish, this is complemented by the tweeter and turbine housing being left in a light anodised finish and the leather being grey rather than black. The smaller 805 D4 and 804 D4 models, now also use individual speaker grilles rather than a full-length single one. The 805 D4 also gains a remodelled stand that’s more in keeping with the one seen on the 705, adopting four mounting points instead of the previous two.

The majority of models in the 800 Series are directly replaced, with the 805 D4 standmount joined by the 804 D4, 803 D4 and 802 D4 floorstanders. The 803 and 802 incorporate the turbine housing midrange assembly as well as the tweeter on top, while the more straightforward 804 keeps the midrange within the same cabinet as the bass drivers. The big news, however, is at the top of the pricing structure. The 800 D3 is not directly replaced and instead the D4 Series is topped by the 801 D4; the first time that the 801 prefix has been used in some years.

Previously, the 801 was a model that existed in addition to the 800 and it was discontinued in favour of the 800, which served as the flagship of the D2 and D3 Series. The new 801 D4 is not a direct descendent of the previous 801 D as the single 380mm driver has been replaced by a pair of 254mm units. Bowers & Wilkins points out that the concept of the 801 is one of meeting certain performance parameters rather than a specific driver complement and that the new 801 is a worthy bearer of the name. While visually similar to the 802 D4, albeit larger, the 801 D4 features a host of engineering and material tweaks that the company says are intended to ensure that it’s the very best loudspeaker it knows how to make.

The smaller 805 and 804 models were also demonstrated during the factory tour. The new models have been in production for some time now so that the launch announcement coincides with availability. The factory visit is a reminder that the 800 Series is built in quantities that even sizeable rivals are unable to get anywhere near and the process of cabinet forming, finishing and assembly are all performed onsite at the factory in Worthing. The construction time per cabinet is considerable and everything reflects a fastidious attention to detail.

Sonically, the news looks promising too. The 805 D3 was no slouch, but a demonstration of its successor on a Marantz PM10 integrated suggests that this is an altogether bigger and more authoritative-sounding speaker that has exceptional bass extension for a two-way standmount. The larger 804 D4 is more impressive still. Demonstrated on the end of a Rotel Michi pre/power combination, it reveals exceptional scale and impact, together with a fluency that – even judged at the asking price – is notable. The larger models were not on demonstration on the day, but all eyes are on the 801 D4 to see if it delivers on the tradition of its predecessors.

The pricing of the models is as follows: 805 D4 £6,250 (FS-805 Stand £1,100); 804 D4 £9,500; 803 D4 £16,000; 802 D4 £22,500; and 801 D4 £30,000. Available to buy now, you can find out more about Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond speakers here.

Bowers & Wilkins