They look unlike any other speakers on the market, are built from exotic materials, take the equivalent in man hours of three months per speaker to make and cost £11,000 a pair. Clearly B&W's new Signature Diamond speakers aren't exactly designed for the mass-market - only 1000 pairs will be made - but they're claimed to be the finest two-way floorstanding design the company has made in its 40-year history.
Jointly designed by B&W's Senior Development Engineer John Dibb and Kenneth Grange, who has been responsible for the industrial design of some of the company's most striking products - as well as the InterCity 125 train and the Kodak Instamatic camera - the speakers took as their starting point the acoustic requirements set by Dibb, around which Grange has woven what can only be described as a very distinctive look.
The speakers use elliptical and cylindrical tubes to form their enclosures, the main tube standing 1m tall and having a downward-venting Flowport reflex opening. The 'cabinet' is designed for minmal footprint and diffraction, and is finished in either white or a Japanese-inspired 'Wakame' dark veneer, while within it uses B&W's trademark Matrix bracing.
The 18cm mid/bass unit has a pure Kevlar cone with what's said to be a noiseless phase-plug at its centre, while the Diamond Dome 25mm tweeter is loaded with a Nautilus tube to its rear, and mounted in a pod carved from Italian Grigio Carmica or Belgian black marble, this material being chosen as much for its acoustical and mechanical properties as its looks and feel. The nature of the marble means every speaker will look slightly different.