The new Bowers & Wilkins 800 D3 loudspeaker redefines reference quality sound. It is the best performing, most advanced loudspeaker the brand has ever produced and is a fitting announcement on the eve of Bowers & Wilkins 50th anniversary; taking the company closer than ever to John Bowers’ stated goal of true sound.
When the new 800 Series Diamond launched late last year, the range redefined performance standards, both for the 800 Series itself and for the wider world of premium loudspeakers. The result of an intensive seven-year project to make the best better, the 800 Series Diamond is a combination of tireless research and development, advanced engineering and countless hours of listening by the very best ears in the business. And with the launch of the range’s flagship 800 D3, the bar has been raised once again.
The most immediate visual differences between the new 800 D3 and the 802 D3 is the size of the new speaker’s low frequency enclosure and its twin bass drivers. The 800 D3 features two 10-inch Aerofoil bass drivers, as opposed to the two 8-inch drivers on the slightly smaller 802 D3. However, the bass drivers are not only larger: they also utilise a unique carbon fibre construction for an even stiffer, more pistonic cone and are optimised for linearity and low distortion. The drivers also benefit from a higher specification motor assembly with upgraded magnets for increased control and crossover improvements that offer a considerable upgrade over the 802 D3 in terms of performance.
The Aerofoil drivers’ dust caps are an enhanced version of the component found on the 802 D3 and 803 D3 and are formed from a sandwich construction consisting of carbon fibre and the same syntactic foam as the Aerofoil cone itself. This further reduces dust-cap resonances and is one of the many apparently minor developments and tweaks that represent the incredible attention to detail on the no-stone unturned 800 D3.
Elsewhere, the 800 D3 deploys the same size continuum come, turbine head and solid-body tweeter assembly as the 802 D3. However, improved crossovers and capacitors combine to raise the level of these vital areas in order to better match the 800 D3’s excellent bass performance. Even with all these changes, the 800 D3 sports a similar load and sensitivity to the 802 D3.
These innovations, when teamed with improvements to a series as a whole, such as dramatically stiffer cabinets, a more robust Matrix bracing system that involves thicker slats and the thoughtful application of aluminium and steel bracing where it is more required, means the new 800 D3 represents the nirvana of reference quality sound. Obviously there is more bass weight on offer, but the key acoustic character of the new 800 D3 is both its effortlessness and accuracy. There are incredibly insightful levels of accuracy in the bass output and when compared to the already outstanding 802 D3, low frequency drive unit distortion is 10dB less.
There’s also a dramatically improved sense of scale when compared to the outgoing 800 Diamond and the 800 D3 is capable of effortlessly rendering a full-size symphony orchestra in all its glory. This is thanks to the extra scale that is available and the improved knitting together of the four drive units, plus the extra resolution and detail that these new drive unit technologies deliver not only in the 800 D3, but across the entire 800 Series Diamond.
Testament to Bowers & Wilkins desire to consistently produce class-leading loudspeakers, the state-of-the-art manufacturing plant in Worthing, West Sussex, was redesigned specifically for production of the new 800 Series Diamond. The 800 D3 is completely manufactured in the updated facility alongside the rest of the range.
The end result of these years of work, tireless attention to detail and significant commercial expenditure is not only a worthy flagship for an exceptional range of loudspeakers, but also the very best loudspeaker that Bowers & Wilkins has ever produced.
The new 800 D3 is also an evocative reminder of the way the passion and drive of John Bowers is still alive and well in the company he founded 50 years ago.
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