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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.