Big news in the hi-fi world today: Bowers & Wilkins has drawn the curtain on a new generation of its catalogue-topping 800 Series Diamond speakers.
The all-new flagship 800 Series Diamond range is still seven strong, with the two-way 805 D4 standmounter joined by the 804 D4, 803 D4 and 802 D4 three-way floorstanders, HTM81 D4 and HTM82 D4 centre channels (for home theater use) and the brand-new flagship 801 D4 floorstander (which replaces the existing 800 D3).
Bowers & Wilkins’ Continuum Cone, used for its midrange and mid/bass drivers returns, as does its Fixed Suspension Transducer (FST), which is a polymer ring around the midrange cone, designed to improve transient response and avoid colouration.
Those technologies are now present alongside an all-new suspension system that Bowers calls Biomimetic Suspension. It replaces a conventional fabric spider and supposedly improves midrange cone performance by reducing air pressure caused by more conventional spiders.
In order to benefit from these three technologies, the midrange cones are isolated from the rest of the cabinet. Those inside the 803 D4, 802 D4 and 801 D4 feature stiff all-aluminium Turbine Head enclosures that are further decoupled from the bass enclosure below. Meanwhile, the HTM81 D4 and HTM82 D4 feature an internal aluminium enclosure that aims to provide a well-isolated housing for the midrange units.
The range adopts a revised version of Bowers’ distinct Solid Body Tweeter-on-Top housing, which is milled from a single block of aluminum and now isolated from the rest of the loudspeaker in two locations rather than only one. There’s now a new elongated (almost 30cm-long) tube-loading system, created to further open up the high frequencies, and the tweeter’s motor assembly has been re-engineered to give the drive unit more freedom.
Lastly, the Aerofoil Cone is a composite bass cone with a carbon-fibre skin and light syntactic foam core, that has a varying thickness to offer maximum stiffness where it's needed most. That’s paired with a new foam Anti-Resonance Plug that works to brace the voice coil and lower distortion as the cone moves through its low-frequency range, promising cleaner bass.
The range’s exterior hasn’t been left untouched, either.
The 805 D4 and 804 D4 sport the reverse-wrap cabinet design first introduced six years ago exclusively for the largest floorstanders in the series. It's designed to reduce the front baffle profile while increasing rigidity, and allows the crossovers to be mounted in dedicated space at the rear of each speaker.
Both of these models adopt enhanced Matrix bracing through thicker plywood (rather than MDF) panels and reinforcing aluminium bracing sections. The 804 D4 adds a downward-firing port with an integral aluminium plinth, too, plus upgraded spikes and feet – all in the name of controlling unwanted vibrations.
The 800 Series Diamond range introduces a new cabinet finish, with Satin Walnut (above) joining the existing Gloss Black, White and Satin Rosenut options.
Bowers has introduced a new cast aluminium top section to replace the previous wooden version. This has been done for greater stiffness and a quieter cabinet. This top is finished in ‘Leather by Connolly’ – in black for dark cabinets (Black, Satin Rosenut) and light grey for lighter finishes (White, Satin Walnut).
So, prices. The flagship 801 D4 heads up the range at £30,000 ($35,000, AU$52,900), with the 802 D4, 803 D4 and 804 D4 floorstanders following at £22,500 ($26,000, AU$38,900), £16,000 ($20,000, AU$29,900) and £9500 ($12,500, AU$18,900) respectively.
The 805 D4 standmounters are priced at £6250 ($8000, AU$11,900), with the dedicated FS-805 D4 stand costing an extra £1100 ($1200, AU$1799). Finally, the HTM81 D4 and smaller HTM82 D4 centre channels are priced £6500 ($7500, AU$11,500) and £4750 ($5500, AU$8500) respectively, with the matching FS-HTM D4 stand costing £700 ($800, AU$1199).
The new 800 Series Diamond range will be available from 1st September.
Our pick of the best Bowers & Wilkins speakers you can buy
Read our Australian sister title's B&W 800 D3 review
A new issue of What Hi-Fi? is out now: speakers and amplifiers special!
Unless they have endlessly deep pockets, few existing D2 or D3 owners are going to jump to the D4 revision.
For those of us with 'lesser' speakers sitting on the fence wondering if we should go B&W, then hopefully existing stocks of D3s will drop to more affordable prices. For example, the current advertised price (without haggling) for a 803 D3 is c. £13,000, compared to £16,000 for the new 803 D4. Now if the 803 D3 drops to well below £10,000...