How do you improve on ‘the world’s most successful and iconic range of high-end loudspeakers?’ It’s a challenge that has occupied the past six years for those at SRE, home of the Bowers & Wilkins engineering team. Their solution is to combine continuous improvement of every component in each design with innovative and proprietary technology that re-imagines the fundamental basics of a conventional loudspeaker drive unit: the new, unique and revolutionary Biomimetic Suspension.
The new 800 Series Diamond range continues to feature seven models, beginning with the two-way 805 D4 stand-mount speaker. That’s joined by a series of three-way floorstanding models, including the 804 D4, 803 D4 and 802 D4. For the flagship model in the range, Bowers & Wilkins is pleased to reintroduce an iconic name to its portfolio, with the launch of 801 D4 to replace the existing 800 D3. For home theatre use, the HTM81 D4 and HTM82 D4 provide a pair of high-performance centre channel speakers to complete the range.
Every new model in the range combines hundreds of detail improvements plus several entirely new technologies to create the most transparent, detailed and natural-sounding series of loudspeakers Bowers & Wilkins has ever produced.
Refined, elegant cabinet proportions plus luxurious, premium detailing combine to make this the most premium 800 Series Diamond range yet.
The first and most obvious change is the addition of a fourth finish to the line-up. The new range now includes a Satin Walnut finish, joining the established selection of Gloss Black, White and Satin Rosenut.
Every stereo model in the range also enjoys a significantly upgraded cabinet design with an all-new rigid, cast aluminium top section – replacing the previous wooden version – to offer even greater stiffness and thus improve cabinet quietness still further. In a luxurious touch, the profile of the new aluminium top is finished in ‘Leather by Connolly’ – in black for dark cabinets (Black, Satin Rosenut) and light grey for lighter finishes (White, Satin Walnut).
Every model in the range adopts a revised version of the iconic Solid Body Tweeter-on-Top housing, with a new, elongated tube-loading system to produce an even more open sound for high frequencies. This supremely stiff enclosure deftly resists unwanted resonance and is an exceptional acoustic form – especially when combined with a new two-point decoupling system that isolates it from the rest of the loudspeaker more effectively than ever. As before, the Solid Body Tweeter is milled from a single solid block of aluminium and now, it uses an anodised finish, either dark or light depending on the cabinet colour, to celebrate that fact.
Finally, the range introduces three entirely new cabinet forms. The 805 D4 and 804 D4 stereo models adopt
the reverse-wrap cabinet design first introduced in 2015 for the larger speakers in the series. This new
form reduces the profile of each cabinet’s front baffle while dramatically increasing the overall rigidity of the
complete system. It also allows crossovers to now be mounted in dedicated spaces on the rear of each
speaker, housed behind the rigid aluminium spines.
The 804 D4 builds on the potential of its new configuration by adding a downward-firing port with an
integral aluminium plinth – again, much like the form used by the larger floorstanding speakers in the range.
Alongside the 805 D4 and 804 D4, the all-new HTM82 D4 centre speaker adopts the reverse-wrap cabinet
form of its siblings, for superior acoustic and mechanical performance.
Continuum Cone, FST & Biomimetic Suspension
The result of an eight-year research programme, the composite Continuum Cone – used for both midrange
and mid/bass applications – is already famed for its open, transparent, and neutral performance. When
used as a midrange drive unit in Bowers & Wilkins floorstanding speakers, it is always combined with our
Fixed Suspension Transducer (FSTTM) midrange technology, which carefully avoids the coloration that
traditional cone surrounds can introduce.
Now, Bowers & Wilkins has combined the twin benefits of Continuum and FST with an all-new advance
that transforms the other key element of a drive unit’s normal operation: the fabric spider. Over decades
of continuous development to nearly all areas of speaker design, the fabric spider, a key element in the
suspension of every conventional loudspeaker drive unit, has remained largely unchanged – until now.
The all-new composite Biomimetic Suspension replaces the conventional fabric spider with a minimalist
composite suspension system that revolutionises midrange cone performance by greatly reducing
unwanted air pressure – aka sound – that a conventional fabric spider can generate, removing its
unpredictable, non-linear effects. The result is unprecedented midrange transparency and realism.
Decoupled Midrange & Turbine Head
Bowers & Wilkins combines all the performance-enhancing benefits of its Continuum Cone, FST midrange
technology and Biomimetic Suspension with careful isolation of the complete midrange assembly from the
rest of the surrounding cabinet. In all three-way models, midrange drive units include a highly stiff
all-aluminium chassis featuring Tuned Mass Dampers (TMD) to quieten any resonance. These complete
drive units and motor systems are then isolated on sprung-mounted decoupling mounts, further restricting
the flow of vibration into the assembly.
Finally, 803 D4, 802 D4 and 801 D4 include the massively stiff all-aluminium Turbine Head enclosure
for their midrange drive units, providing not only an outstanding acoustic form but also even better
isolation – since the head assembly is itself further decoupled from the bass enclosure below.
The HTM81 D4 and HTM82 D4 introduce a new and similar concept but inside their cabinets: each
centre-channel model now features an internal aluminium enclosure that provides a stiff, well-isolated
housing for the midrange drive unit and its decoupling mechanism.
Solid Body Tweeter
To minimise the unwanted transfer of resonance into each model’s Diamond Dome tweeters, an
exceptionally stiff enclosure is required. The new 800 Series Diamond introduces a revised version of the
iconic Solid Body Tweeter housing; this continues to be machined from a solid piece of aluminium, but now
it features an elongated form (almost 30cm/12in long) with a longer internal tube-loading system.
The new Solid Body Tweeter assembly is now decoupled from the speaker body or Turbine Head
(depending on model) in two locations rather than one: this notably improves spaciousness and openness.
At the same time, the tweeter’s motor assembly has been re-engineered to allow the drive unit to ‘breathe’
more effectively with no loss of performance. The result is a notable reduction in the resonant frequency
behind the tweeter dome.
Reverse-Wrap Cabinet & Matrix
Matrix has been a core Bowers & Wilkins technology for more than 30 years and has also been continually
developed throughout that time. An internal structure of interlocking panels that brace the loudspeaker
internally in all directions, Matrix helps to make speaker cabinets rigid, inert and quiet.
The 805 D4 and 804 D4 now feature the reverse wrap speaker cabinet previously reserved for the larger
floor-standing 800 Series Diamond models. Each model now has a stiff aluminium plate on the inside
face of its cabinet, bracing its baffle against resonance. Inside, both models also feature updates to their
Matrix bracing, with thicker panels made from solid plywood rather than the previous MDF, reinforced by
aluminium bracing sections.
Every stereo model in the range also features the new cast aluminium top replacing the previous wooden
design, dramatically increasing the rigidity of the speaker enclosure. As before, drive units are housed in
stiff aluminium pods mounted to the baffle of the speaker while crossover units are fitted to equally stiff
aluminium spines running up the rear of the cabinet. Finally, 801D4 introduces a steel plate in its base
section around the port – again, all in the name of adding stiffness to the enclosure and further
quietening its operation.
The 804 D4 now joins the other floor-standing models in the 800 Series Diamond range by offering a
downwards-firing FlowportTM bass port, exiting on to a new, stiffer solid aluminium plinth complete with a
constrained layer steel damping sheet designed to offer a rock-solid foundation and to control unwanted
resonance. The 804 D4 also has greatly upgraded spikes and feet, with huge M12 spikes that are both
more stable and stiffer than the outgoing M6 designs.
803 D4, 802 D4 and 801 D4 use the same arrangement of downwards-firing Flowport, solid aluminium
plinth and constrained layer steel damping, but retain the wheel-plus-spike configuration introduced in
2015, making each model far easier to manoeuvre to the perfect listening position than any rival design.
The result of advance computer modelling, the Aerofoil ConeTM is a composite bass cone with a
varying thickness designed to offer maximum stiffness where it is most needed while preserving a
low mass – thanks to its carbon-fibre skin and light syntactic foam core.