Since Bowers & Wilkins first introduced its 800 Series loudspeakers in 1979, the range has represented the pinnacle of the company’s technological and manufacturing know-how.

And after seven years of researching, designing and brow-furrowing at the company’s Worthing headquarters (and a quick teaser image yesterday), the wraps have been taken off the brand-new B&W 800 Series Diamond range of speakers.

The new range currently comprises three floorstanding designs (802 D3, costing £16,500 per pair; 803 D3, yours for £12,500 per pair; 804 D3, at £6750 per pair), a standmounter (805 D3, £4500 for a pair) and a pair of centre-channel speakers for home cinema applications (HTM1 D3 for £4500 and HTM2 D3 at £3000).

There are also a couple of stands, one (FS-805 D3, £450 per pair) to support the 805 D3 and one (FS-HTM D3, £450) to support a centre speaker.

In the spring of 2016 the range will be topped out by the 800 D3, a floorstander that will sell for £22,500 per pair.

MORE: B&W 800 Diamond last-gen review

While the range shares the illustrious 800 Series Diamond name, virtually all component parts are different from the range of speakers it replaces.

Nowhere is this more noticeable than in the construction of the midrange drive units – B&W has replaced the Kevlar cones the 800 Series has long sported, in favour of a new composite ‘Continuum’ cone (above). This, claims B&W, offers an even more open, neutral performance.

There’s also a new cone taking care of bass reproduction: the ‘Aerofoil’ cone is optimised using computer modelling to deliver low-frequency precision and control.

MORE: B&W 685 S2 review

More after the break

In addition, changes to cabinet construction (the new cabinets have fronts and sides formed from one continuous curve held together with a solid aluminium spine) have resulted in a stiffer, even more inert enclosure.

When coupled with an even more robust Matrix bracing system (which now has thicker panels made from plywood rather than MDF), there are claimed to be measurable improvements in sound dispersion and commensurate reductions in cabinet reflection.

 

Also designed to reduce cabinet interference is the new solid-body tweeter housing, a single piece of aluminium featuring an improved gel decoupling system to isolate the tweeter as effectively as possible.

And the ‘turbine’ head unit is now also constructed from a single piece of aluminium, braced with internal radial fins and is about as inert as is possible.

MORE: B&W 684 S2 review

Even the plinth has been rethought and re-engineered. The crossover has been moved to the main body of the speaker, leaving the plinth free to offer more stability and resonance-resistance than before – it’s another solid piece of aluminium, this time weighing in at a not-inconsiderable 18kg.

In fact, the only element B&W hasn’t hit upon a way to improve is the diamond-dome tweeter. The material’s combination of acoustic detail, spaciousness and (let’s face it) cachet continues unchanged.

With the exception of the 800 D3 floorstanders, the entire 800 Series Diamond range goes on sale in October.

MORE: See all our B&W reviews

 

Comments

Peter_m's picture

Better mids?

I've always found the midrange slightly recessed with B&W speakers that featured the famous yellow Kevlar driver, sounds like they've fixed that. Still think tweeter on top is fugly, but the new cabinet/plinth design is impressive.

Simon Lucas's picture

Better mids?

Certainly the new 'continuum' driver (patent pending, so details of composition or weave not yet forthcoming) sounds a different proposition to the Kevlar number it replaces, at least during the brief demonstrations I enjoyed on Wednesday. Once we get some 800s into our testing rooms we'll find out exactly how different.