A revamp of the iconic Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series speakers does not happen often, and when it does it is one of the highlights of the year for this industry.
The last revamp, introducing the iconic ‘D3’ series, was over 4 years ago. Its now time to announce the ‘D4’series!
As you would expect there is a considerable number of changes and improvements to this range. The first, although it has nothing to do with performance, is the reintroduction of the model 801. The original B&W 801 was released in 1979, and was quickly accepted as the benchmark which all other high-end speakers was measured. The model ‘801’ was officially dropped from the line when the D3 series was released in 2017 and the stereo range was reduced from six models to five. With a nod to the heritage of the 801 their flagship model, the 800, has been renamed the 801 in the new line-up.
The other non-performance related change is the addition of a fourth color – Satin Walnut, which joins Gloss Black, White and Satin Rosenut as an option.
The biggest structural changes in the D4 series is reserved for the two least expensive models, the 805 D4 and the 804 D4. These two models now feature the ‘reverse-wrap’ design on their larger siblings. This design reduces the profile of the front baffle, reducing edge reflection among other benefits, and at the same time dramatically increases the rigidity of the cabinet. This also allows for the introduction of a downward firing port for the 804 – in keeping with the existing design of the more expensive models.
Internally both models feature upgraded Matrix bracing utilizing thicker panels manufactured from plywood rather than the usual MDF.
There have also been a number of less obvious changes across the entire range, including:
The timber top plate on all models has been upgraded to cast aluminum offering greater rigidity thus improving cabinet quietness. The iconic Solid Body tweeter, milled from a solid piece of aluminum, has also been upgraded offering a more open sounding top-end. There is also a new mounting system for this tweeter effectively improving the decoupling from the main cabinet.
Likewise the midrange Turbine Head on the 801, 802 and 803 has also been further isolated from the main cabinet.
‘Excellence Evolved. The 800 Series Diamond.’
B&W is a technology based company, as evidenced by the opening of their Southwater Research Establishment in 2019 – a facility dedicated to the development of technologies that will enhance the performance of loudspeakers. This has led to the development of advances such as the Continuum cone, now widely used in their various models.
One longstanding technology, the fabric spider, used universally by speaker manufacturers, is the latest to receive a make-over. B&W have replaced the tried and true fabric spider with their new Biomimetic Suspension, a minimalist composite suspension system that greatly reduces the air pressure that conventional fabric spiders can generate, resulting in greater midrange transparency.
These, and a number of other subtle changes ensure that the new D4 range will be an improvement on the outgoing D3 (we have not had the luxury of spending any time with these new models yet). The D3 series was a dramatic improvement on its predecessor – from what we have learned about this new range during the last few weeks we are anticipating a similar advancement. Like last time there will be price rises – but despite the significant price rises when the D2 series was upgraded to D3 we believed the new range offered better value than the old.
We have our fingers crossed that the same will be so!