Bowers and Wilkins evolves a traditional with new 800 Collection Diamond audio system

Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond speakers have had a long-standing reputation for quality in the music industry. You could say that they’re the sound behind the ‘sound’, with their speakers in use at such iconic venues such as Abbey Road recording studios.

Several years after the last revamp of the Diamond series, B&W has introduced an all-new industrial design and a raft of new technologies which, in its words, “set even higher standards for outright sound quality”.

The range consists of seven models, the same as before, starting with the “entry-level” two-way 805 D4 stand-mount speaker and joined by a series of three-way floorstanding models that includes the 804 D4, 803 D4 and 802 D4.

The flagship model sees the reintroduction of the 801 D4, which replaces the 800 D3. For home cinema set-ups, there’s a choice between a pair of two centre channel speakers in the HTM81 D4 and HTM82 D4.

According to Bowers & Wilkins, every new model is a combination of hundreds of detail improvements, as well the presence of new technologies to create the “most transparent, detailed and natural-sounding series of loudspeakers” B&W has come up with yet.

The new 800 Series Diamond range is available globally from September 1st, 2021.

800 Series Diamond design and features

The appearance of the new 800 Series has been refined in a number of ways. There’s now the option of choosing a fourth finish, with Satin Walnut joining the existing Gloss Black, White and Satin Rosenut finishes.

The cabinet for all stereo models has been upgraded, with a new rigid, cast aluminium top section. That has replaced the previous wooden version in order to produce greater stiffness and improve the “quietness” of the cabinet, reducing any internal reflections that could affect the speaker’s output.

The 805 D4 and 804 D4 stereo models have adopted the reverse-wrap cabinet design first introduced in 2015. The profile of each cabinet’s front baffle has reduced while increasing the overall rigidity of the system. It’s allowed the crossovers to be mounted in dedicated spaces on the rear of each speaker, housed behind rigid aluminium spines.

The 805 and 804 also feature updates to their Matrix bracing, using thicker panels made from solid plywood instead of MDF, which are reinforced by aluminium bracing sections.

The profile of the aluminium top is finished in ‘Leather by Connolly’ – black for dark cabinets (Black, Satin Rosenut) and light grey for lighter finishes (White, Satin Walnut).

The design for the Solid Body Tweeter-on-Top housing has been tweaked too, now using a new elongated tube-loading system for a more open sound at higher frequencies. Milled from a single solid block of aluminium (with an anodised dark or light finish) and decoupled from the main body, the aim is to resist unwanted resonance from affecting the speaker’s high frequency performance.

The 800 Series Diamond continues to use the Continuum speaker and FST (Fixed Suspension Transducer) for its midrange drive units, but a change has been made with the new composite Biomimetic Suspension replacing the conventional fabric spider.

The goal with this redesigned spider element is to reduce unwanted air pressure – i.e. sound – for more transparency and realism.

800 Series Diamond range

801 D4

Price: £30,000 / $35,000 / €35,0001x ø25mm diamond dome high-frequency 1x 150mm Continuum cone FST midrange 2x 250mm Aerofoil cone bass unitsFrequency range: 13Hz to 35kHzSensitivity: 90dB

The 801 is back as B&W’s flagship model in this range, replacing the 800 D3. This floorstander features the all-aluminium turbine head that’s been dampened and decoupled from the main speaker housing to avoid resonance and produce what B&W calls its most realistic midrange performance yet.

802 D4

Price: £22,500 / $26,000 / €26,0001x 25mm diamond dome high-frequency 1x 150mm Continuum cone FST midrange 2x 200mm Aerofoil cone bass unitsFrequency range: 14Hz to 35kHzSensitivity: 90dB

B&W says the 802 offers similar performance levels compared to the 801, though not quite as dear on the wallet. It features the same decoupled Turbine Head and can be used for stereo listening experiences or parked within a home theatre system.

803 D4

Price: £16,000 / $20,000 / €20,0001x 25mm diamond dome high-frequency 1x 130mm Continuum cone FST midrange 2x 180mm Aerofoil cone bass units Frequency range: 16Hz to 35kHzSensitivity: 90dB

The 803 is a more compact model compared to those above, with a smaller Turbine Head and less acreage in terms of footprint so it won’t take up as much space and also weighs nearly 30kg less than the 802 D4. The presence of the Biometric Suspension spider aims to reduce colouration and bump up midrange transparency.

804 D4

Price: £9,500 / $12,500 / €12,5001x 25mm diamond dome high-frequency 1x 130mm Continuum cone FST™ midrange 2x 165mm (6.5in) Aerofoil cone bass units Frequency range: 20Hz to 35kHzSensitivity: 89dB

The 804 D4 loses the Turbine Head and opts for a more conventional appearance. It features the new reverse wrap-around cabinet to improve the dispersion of sound and reduce resonance.

805 D4

Price: £6,250 / $8,000 / €8,0001x ø25mm (1in) diamond dome high-frequency 1x ø165mm (6.5in) Continuum cone bass midrangeFrequency range: 34Hz to 35kHzSensitivity: 88dB

With the 805 we reach the most compact model in the range. This standmount speaker features the Diamond Dome tweeter and Solid Body Tweeter-on-Top configuration to hit those high frequencies with clarity.

HT1M81 D4

Price: £6,500 / $7,500 / €7,5001x 25mm diamond dome high-frequency 1x 150mm Continuum cone FST midrange 2x 200mm Aerofoil cone bass unitsFrequency range: 20Hz to 35kHzSensitivity: 90dB

The first of the centre channel speakers, the HT1M81 can be paired with either the 801 or 802 speakers. The largest of the two centres, it features a stiff, aluminium enclosure for the midrange drive unit that once again is uncoupled and looks to prevent unwanted air leakage from affecting the speaker’s performance.

HT1M82 D4

Price: £4,750 / $5,500 / €5,5001x 25mm diamond dome high-frequency1x 130mm (5in) Continuum cone FST midrange 2x 165mm Aerofoil cone bass unitsFrequency range: 33Hz to 35kHzSensitivity: 89dB

The HT1M82 is smaller than the other centre channel, and is more appropriately partnered with the 803 floorstander or 804 standmount model. B&W’s famed Diamond tweeter finds a place here for a detailed high frequency performance, while B&W claim the low noise Continuum cone offers a high resolution performance without colouring the sound.

FS-805 D4 & FS-HTM D4 stands

Price: £1,100 / $1,200 / €1,200Price: £700 / $800 / €800

Last, but not least, are a pair of speaker stands. As the model implies, the FS-805 is intended for use with the 805 D4 standmount, with the FS-HTM stand can be partnered with either centre speaker. The FS-805 D4 comes in a choice of black and silver finishes.

Polk Audio's Monitor XT Sequence audio system are for film followers, avid gamers and music lovers

Polk Audio has announced the Monitor XT Series, a range of speakers certified for Hi-Res Audio and Dolby Atmos.

The Monitor XT Series is an evolution of the manufacturer’s Monitor speaker line, with the latest development pushing further in terms of sound but still aiming for a cost-effective performance. According to Polk, the Monitor XT speakers aim to “enhance the experience of music, movies, TV and game sound”.

Available in a variety of models, customers have the choice to build a home theatre or hi-fi system that suits their listening space and budget. The Monitor XT Series line-up features two floorstanders, slim and full-size centre channels, two bookshelf models, a 12-inch powered subwoofer and a height module for object surround sound such as Atmos.

All Monitor XT Series speakers have been timbre-matched to provide consistent sound quality, so it’s easy to mix and match models to create a speaker set-up.

The Monitor XT loudspeakers feature Hi-Res Audio Certified Terylene dome tweeters that are said to faithfully reproduce audio beyond 40kHz. High frequency performance is claimed to offer both a spaciousness and a sense of “extreme clarity”.

Bass performance has been strengthened in the floorstanding models, with Polk pairing the Dynamically Balanced woofers with responsive passive radiators. This is in combination with “meticulously engineered” crossover networks designed to produce “sparkling detail, lifelike midrange and punchy tonal delivery” with ultra-low distortion performance.  

Considering it supports object-based audio, the range features dedicated height speakers in the MXT90, which are capable or playing Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro 3D content. They’re best suited to be positioned on top of the Monitor XT20, XT60 or XT70 loudspeakers; on a shelf, or wall-mounted.

Packing some beefy basslines is the Monitor XT12 powered subwoofer, housed within a rigid low-resonance cabinet. With a 12-inch long-throw, Dynamically Balanced woofer powered by a 100-Watt Class A/B amplifier, it can deliver bass down to 24Hz.

Sub connections include line-level (RCA) and LFE inputs with users able to fine-tune the performance with variable crossover, polarity and volume adjustments.

All of the Monitor XT models are finished in Midnight Black, and are available to purchase from the Polk Audio website and authorised dealers worldwide.

Polk Audio Monitor XT prices

XT12 Powered Subwoofer – €329 / £299 / $299 eachXT15 Bookshelf – €179 / £149 / $149 per pairXT20 Bookshelf – €249 / £249 / $249 per pairXT30 Centre Channel – €149 / £169 / $149 eachXT35 Centre Channel (slim) – €279 / £199 / $249 eachXT60 Tower – €399 / £349 / $398 per pairXT70 Tower – €599 / £499 / $598 per pairXT90 Height Channel – €199 / £179 / $149 per pair

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Lenco celebrates seventy fifth birthday with two new inexpensive turntables

2021 marks Lenco’s 75th birthday and to celebrate its anniversary, the Swiss audio brand has announced two new turntables in the L-92WA and L-3809.

Lenco L-92WA

Aimed at both home and professional users, first up is the Lenco L-92WA. It’s a premium-quality belt-driven turntable targeted at professionals and DJs with its pitch control and USB recording features.

Lenco says its contemporary design “can blend in with any modern home” and that it should easy to operate with its integrated preamplifier and pre-installed Audio Technica cartridge (AT3600), so the turntable can be set up straight out of the box.

The belt drive uses a robust aluminium platter for improved stability, while the anti-skating feature is there to prevent the tonearm from skating across vinyl records and producing unwanted noises. The L-92WA has two speed settings: 33RPM and 45RPM.

Also integrated into the deck is a strobe light feature – not for getting your rave on, unfortunately – but for seeing where the needle is without having to turn the lights on.

The Auto-return feature means the tonearm glides back to its resting position once the record is finished, an added benefit of this is the extended life of vinyl records as the needle does not drag across the record causing damage in the process.

The Lenco L-92WA is available for £249 from Gear4Music and Lenco

Lenco L-3809

Next is the Lenco L-3809. This model features a direct drive motor, a high-quality full-size aluminium platter and can be connected directly to a mixer or stereo with its built-in phono pre-amplifier.

Similar to the L-92WA there’s lighting and a stroboscope to see what you’re doing, with users able to adjust the speed of the turntable with a variable pitch fader (33RPM an 45RPM are supported).

With its USB recording feature, vinyl records can ripped to MP3 digital files via a USB cable. There’s no auto return for the s-shaped tonearm with the user instead needing to operate the mechanical arm lift.

The Lenco L-3809 turntable is available now from the Lenco website, HMV and Gear4Music from £239.99.

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Some Playdate repairs ought to be attainable, teardown exhibits

Playdate, the quirky $179 handheld console from Panic, will be shipping to 20,000 early adopters later this year, but a unit has already been sent to the folks at iFixIt to see what makes it tick.Arriving with no games included (“a teardown was about all it was good for”) and the serial number #1255, it seems that Panic has acknowledged that people will want to undertake repairs and mods themselves. To that end the warning included on the inside is quite specific.

“Hello! My job is to remind you that Playdate is delicately assembled,” a sticker on the inside reads. “Breaking anything in here will void your warranty. Please be careful!”

And just how repairable is it? Well, it depends on the part. The battery – a 740mAh cell, around a quarter the size of what you’d get in an iPhone 12 – comes out with a little force, and should be easy to sub out. Ditto the headphone jack, which is modular. But there are other bits which could prove trickier. The monochrome display is reported to be a Sharp memory display that should be replaceable for under £50, but it’s so firmly glued to the housing that iFixIt’s experts weren’t confident of removing it without causing damage. “If you need to replace your display, you’ll probably need a whole new plastic face,” the site explains. “Probably not expensive, but not ideal.”

The same is true for the buttons. “All of the controls are aggregated onto a single FPC — easy to swap, but a bit wasteful if only one thing breaks,” the site observes. 

All of this contributes to an overall 6/10 score – though the site notes that the device doesn’t really fit within its typical repairability guidelines, due to its unique place amongst handhelds. “It exists in a category all its own, and, like the device itself, we dug in mostly for fun.”Speaking of the unique qualities, the crank is one aspect that’s certainly worth highlighting. There are no gears or mechanical parts here: instead, it uses a Hall effect sensor, where turning the crank rotates a cylindrical magnet which activates a sensor. That means it won’t ever ‘drift’ like other handhelds’ controllers, and should be less likely to fail over time. 

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The site took the time to compare it to another monochrome yellow handheld from yesteryear. It’s a bit more pocketable, but has us hoping for a Tetris port all the same.

You can still order a Playdate, as Panic previously told us that it would make as many units as there’s demand for. But if you order today, your handheld won’t arrive until 2022, unfortunately.

WhatsApp might be releasing an iPad app very quickly

It looks as though the iPad is closer to getting its own WhatsApp app as the iPadOS version of the messenger is expected to launch alongside multi-device support. 

WhatsApp news source WABetaInfo tweeted a screenshot that shows an iPad listed as a linked device on WhatsApp on August 21. 

In the tweet, WABetaInfo states the iPad is a compatible device in WhatsApp’s multi-device 2.0 feature, which is under development and will be released in a future update. Android tablets will also support the feature on WhatsApp for Android, according to the tweet.

NEWS: WhatsApp is finally working on multi-device 2.0, and you can use iPad as new linked device ☄️Android tablets are also planned to support multi-device on WhatsApp for Android!It’s under development and it will be released in a future update. Follow me to discover more 💚— WABetaInfo (@WABetaInfo) August 20, 2021

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of an iPad app being linked to WhatsApp’s multi-device feature. 

In June, WABetaInfo spoke to WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg about the features coming to WhatsApp in the future in a group chat on the popular messaging app. 

Here, the two executives discussed multi-device support, a feature that allows users to log into their WhatsApp account on up to four devices and to sync their messages between them. 

The feature doesn’t require an active internet connection on the main device and still supports end-to-end encryption for messages, media and calls, meaning your messages should remain private. 

Cathcart also confirmed that WhatsApp is working on releasing a WhatsApp app during the interview, explaining that “getting multi-device right will make it possible for us to build things like that”. 

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Multi-device is currently in its beta stage, meaning WhatsApp and WhatsApp Business users can opt-in now to receive early access to the feature. 

How to get the WhatsApp beta

The beta is currently compatible with WhatsApp for Web, Desktop and Facebook Portal. However, you will need to use a phone to register your WhatsApp account for the beta and link new devices and you can only have one phone connected to your WhatsApp account at a time. 

To join the beta on Android or iOS, simply update your device to the latest version of WhatsApp and head over to the settings section of the app, select ‘Linked Devices’, tap ‘Multi-device beta’ and hit ‘join beta’. You can also follow the same instructions, to leave the beta if you change your mind later on.

Changing a Samsung foldable display is cheaper than it was

It’s good news for any clumsy owners of Samsung’s latest foldable range – the price of screen repair is getting cheaper.

If you’re the proud owner of Samsung’s latest foldable range, including the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and the Galaxy Z Fold 3, you can rest easy knowing that the cost of getting a screen replacement has decreased, but only slightly.

Since the phones themselves sit at a higher price than most, it’s not all that surprising that the screen replacement isn’t all too cheap either.

If you happened to crack the inner screen of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, that would set you back £435. Meanwhile, if you were unlucky enough to break the inner screen of the Fold 2, that would cost £519, with the front screen being significantly less at £119.

You can check out how much each replacement will cost by using Samsung’s pricing list, but it seems it doesn’t yet have all the newer phone models on there for reference.

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The good news is that phone screen replacement used to be much pricer, with GSMArena reporting that the original Fold used to be upwards of $600 (£549 in the UK), so the trend of seeing them become cheaper is a welcome one.

We asked Samsung to comment on the pricing of its screen replacement but have yet to receive a response. We will update this article with any further information as it becomes available.

Samsung has, however, been pushing for Samsung Care+ as of late, which gives you some insurance on your new smartphone.

Anyone preordering the Z Flip 3 or Z Fold 3 can enjoy free repairs for the first 12 months, but since the repair costs are so steep, it might be worth extending that further. You can get three years of total insurance, with the cost depending on the model of the phone and the length of the contract.

You can check out what Samsung Care+ offers by visiting the website.

Upcoming Oculus Quest replace fixes key flaw

The new Oculus Quest update should help improve media sharing and allow users to share their fitness stats.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, recently revealed some of the first details regarding the Oculus Quest v32.

His post claimed that users will be able to “easily sync screenshots and screen recordings to your phone,” as well as help you track fitness goals in VR.

Since the Quest is known for being a little awkward about sharing content, this could be a good step forward to help make it easier to transfer content off the headset and onto other devices, such as your phone.

This will make it much easier to share what you’ve been up to and will help sidestep the need to use SideQuest when transferring videos and photos over onto a PC. An update in this realm would be highly appreciated by users.

And for any fitness fans out there, it seems that Quest v32 will help you track your fitness levels better with Facebook’s own fitness tracking software, Oculus Move.

Now you will be able to track your goals in VR and share your progress over Facebook, including Messenger.

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There doesn’t seem to be any more updates on what software or connectivity advancements v32 will bring, but since the update should be “coming soon,” according to Zuckerberg himself, we can hope that the full rollout may arrive before the end of August.

However, with Facebook Connect arriving virtually in October, maybe Facebook is keeping a few secrets up its sleeve to announce at the show. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping an eye out for any more news related to the Oculus Quest v32.

If you’re interested in other Facebook-related news, you can check out our article detailing how you can easily transfer data from the social network onto other services.

Apple might launch a high-end Mac Mini within the coming months

The next Mac Mini could be powered by Apple’s rumoured M1X chip. The computer will launch in the next several months, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. 

“Last fall, as part of its trio of initial Macs to transition over to Apple Silicon chips, the company updated the older Mac mini design with the M1 processor”, wrote Gurman in his weekly Power On newsletter (via MacRumors). 

“The Mac mini is used for more basic tasks like video streaming, but many people use it as a software development machine, as a server or for their video editing needs. Apple knows that, so it kept the Intel model around. Well, expect that to go away in the next several months with a high-end, M1X Mac mini. It will have an updated design and more ports than the current model”. 

The M1X is the latest processor rumoured to be joining the M1 in Apple’s Apple Silicon line-up in its move away from Intel-powered Macs. 

The chip is expected to launch in the MacBook Pro 2021 as a more powerful variation of the M1 designed to power Apple’s Pro models, unlike the M2 which has been pegged as the successor to the M1 in the company’s MacBook Air and iMac lines. 

According to the rumours, the M1X could surpass chips by the likes of AMD and Intel in terms of CPU performance.  

Gurman also suggests that the high-end Mini will feature an updated design with more ports than the current Mac Mini, which launched in late 2020 with the M1 chip and featured two Thunderbolt ports on its rear, along with two USB-A ports, Ethernet, HDMI 2.0 and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

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We initially heard hints about a redesign back in May, when Front Page Tech’s Jon Prosser reported that Apple was slimming down the Mac Mini and giving it a new reflective surface on top. 

Prosser also stated that Apple is bringing back the two additional Thunderbolt ports it cut with the 2020 M1 model, bringing the Mac Mini back to a total of four Thunderbolt/USB 4 outlets.

Furthermore, a report from Bloomberg last December suggested that the Mac Mini will take advantage of eight high-performance cores, two efficiency cores and up to 64GB of RAM, making it significantly more powerful than its predecessor.

While these are all still rumours, it doesn’t sound as though we’ll need to wait long to learn if there’s any truth to them. Gurman believes that the high-end Mac Mini will launch in the next several months.

There will probably be no Contact ID on the iPhone 13

As September approaches all eyes are on the likely release of the iPhone 13 – however it looks like one feature isn’t going to feature on Apple’s latest flagship.

It looks like Face ID will continue to be the only form of biometric security on iPhones for the foreseeable future.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman writing in his Power On newsletter (via MacRumors), the iPhone 13 will not feature the return of Touch ID. This means there won’t be an in-display sensor or a physical fingerprint scanner on the phone Apple releases this year.

The report states that Apple’s end goal isn’t actually the return of Touch ID at all, but an in-display camera for Face ID.

Samsung has recently announced the Z Fold 3, a phone with a camera hidden behind the display. This still gives you a camera for selfies, but without the need for a notch or cutout ruining the immersive display. It seems like, if Gurman’s reporting turns out to be correct, that this will be Apple’s preferred route however a timeframe isn’t clear.

The desire for the return of the Touch ID fingerprint sensor has increased in the last year as mask-wearing has become far more common in light of the pandemic.

When wearing a mask, the Face ID cameras don’t function and a manual phone unlock is required. Apple addressed this somewhat with an iOS update that let Apple Watch users skip the unlock procedure. but it’s not the best solution.

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In-display fingerprint sensors are commonplace on even budget Android phones now, however we’ve found them varied in terms of functionality. Phones like the Galaxy S21 series have good sensors, even if they remain slower than a physical sensor.

Apple is rumoured to be launching the iPhone 13 in September and it looks set to follow the blueprint set by the iPhone 12.

Expect a duo of Pro models, along with a mini version and a standard iPhone 13. New features could include a faster A-series chipset, 120Hz ProMotion displays and rejigged camera layout.

PS5 patrons screwed – however not in the way in which you suppose

Sony has launched an updated model of the PS5, featuring a new screw for the base stand that does not require a screwdriver. 

There has been a lot of criticism regarding the PS5’s base stand, with the need of a screwdriver making it a big faff to simply switch the console between upright and horizontal standing positions. This new revised design should make the process considerably easier, allowing you to twist the screw with your fingers instead. 

The new iteration of the PS5 will also reportedly weigh 300g lighter, which is a welcome revision since it’s one of the heftiest consoles to launch yet. It’s currently unknown what Sony has actually done to reduce the weight, although all of the components remain intact so don’t expect any alterations to the performance. 

While Sony hasn’t actually officially confirmed this news, Australian publication Press Start has revealed that the new models are currently available to buy in select Australian retailers. 

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The new PS5 isn’t available to order online right now, but stock is expected to head over to the UK and US in the coming weeks or month – although it will likely depend largely on stock availability. 

The new PS5 console reportedly features a new CFI-1102A model number to distinguish it from the original version. The new model won’t cost more than the current PS5 console, and will apparently be available both with and without the physical disk drive. 

While it may seem like a slightly peculiar move from Sony, it’s not the first time a console has been quietly upgraded with minor improvements. A few years back, the Nintendo Switch was updated with an improved battery life, quietly phasing out the original handheld device.

That said, since the original PS5 launched less than a year ago, those who purchased the original console may be a little disgruntled that they’ll be missing out on a seemingly superior system just because they got their order in early. 

The Trusted Take

I’m surprised by how quickly Sony is addressing some of the PS5’s biggest issues, with the stand in particular being an unnecessary pain point with the original model. 

Those who have already purchased a PS5 may feel like they’re being punished for simply ordering the new console early, but it is a relatively minor upgrade in the grand scheme of things. I personally welcome any improvements that PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox are willing to offer, especially if it isn’t paired with a price jump.