CES NEWS: B&W goes wireless in a bid for Liberty

This is the Liberty system from Bowers & Wilkins, previewed at CES 2008 and due for launch this Autumn. Cute little 'style' package, right?

Think again – the system is entirely wireless, using active speakers with built-in class-D speakers, and can be configured as anything from a two-channel music system to a complete six-channel surround set-up, with two spare channels left over to feed music into a second room. There's even going to be a wireless version of the amazing, Award-winning PV-1 subwoofer.

The Liberty range includes the CP1 digital radio tuner/disc player/control unit, and four loudspeaker designs. There are the two-way XTW 2 – seen above with the system and left on their stands –, the three-way XTW 8 floorstanders, an XTW Centre, and the PVW 1 subwoofer.

Put them all together and you've got a complete 5.1-channel surround system, with the only wires involved being the ones connecting each speaker to the wall for mains power. And with all the speakers being sold separately, you'll be able to decide whether you want XTW 2s all-round plus a PVW 1, four XTW 8s, an XTW 2 Centre and the sub, or a combination of large front speakers and smaller surrounds.

All the speakers are based on existing XT range models, using Kevlar drivers and the company's Nautilus tube-loaded tweeter, while the XTW 8 uses a midrange driver with B & W's fixed suspension transducer technology for better responsiveness, clarity and definition.

So how has B & W managed to do a full eight-channel wireless system? Mike Gough, Senior Product Manager, explains that "Most wireless systems out there can only transmit 2-channel audio and use a built in delay or latency to get round interference problems. If some of the signal doesn’t get through intact, there’s time to send it again before it’s needed.

"We wanted not only to offer a full 5.1 channel system, but also to be able to sync the audio with wired video for a full home theater experience, and that amount of delay is simply not acceptable. With dynamic channel selection, the system changes frequency on the fly, always choosing the least trafficked frequency band.

"What you’re left with is a wireless speaker system free from interference and delay, with sound quality that’s as good as you’ll ever get from a CD or DVD."

So now you know. As for us, we just can't wait to hear Liberty in action.

Technorati Tags: 2.1, 5.1, B&W, Class-D, subwoofer, surround, wireless

Andrew has written about audio and video products for the past 20+ years, and been a consumer journalist for more than 30 years, starting his career on camera magazines. Andrew has contributed to titles including What Hi-Fi?, GramophoneJazzwise and Hi-Fi CriticHi-Fi News & Record Review and Hi-Fi Choice. I’ve also written for a number of non-specialist and overseas magazines.