Bowers & Wilkins launches 800 Series Diamond at CES 2010

Bowers & Wilkins launches 800 Series Diamond at CES 2010

Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series has long provided the benchmark by which all high-end speakers are judged. Five generations of 800 Series have offered an unbeatable combination of outstanding performance, the latest audio technology and stunning aesthetic design. Now the 800 Series Diamond builds on that legacy, with vastly improved performance across the board and for the first time the inclusion of a diamond dome tweeter in every speaker in the seven- model range.

Bowers & Wilkins is proud to announce the launch of the 800 Series Diamond. The first new incarnations of the legendary 800 Series for six years brings Bowers & Wilkins closer to the ultimate ambition of its founder, John Bowers – to create a transducer that truly neither adds to nor subtracts from the original signal.

The 800 Series has long been the world’s premier high-end loudspeaker range. Designed for the home, but offering levels of quality such that the most demanding recording and mastering studios in the world choose to use them. Abbey Road Studios in London and Skywalker Sound in California both use Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series.

The already un-rivalled levels of performance are boosted by the implementation of Bowers & Wilkins’ famous diamond tweeter technology throughout the whole range, including the new 805 Diamond, a speaker that brings diamond tweeters into the range of more discerning listeners than ever before.

Further major advances in audio-critical areas provide the entire range with a dramatic leap forward in terms of audio quality compared to the outgoing 800 Series. The diamond dome tweeter is now a quad-magnet design, which increases efficiency and improves the dynamic range of the top-end performance. A new surround material aids dispersion characteristics, and provides a more stable stereo image while increasing openness.

At the other end of the tonal scale, bass performance has also improved with the introduction of a new dual magnet motor system, which utilises powerful neodymium magnets. This innovative design improves the linearity of the bass drivers’ performance, therefore reducing harmonic distortion.

Serious work has also gone into the small details that combine to make a loudspeaker special. New Bowers & Wilkins-designed oxygen-free-copper speaker terminals and links ensure the signal quality into the speaker is the best possible. All models’ crossovers feature a new design of capacitor using a unique silver, gold and oil construction. This component, chosen subjectively by Bowers & Wilkins engineers, in itself provides a dramatic increase in sound quality.

Elsewhere, proprietary Bowers & Wilkins technologies such as Kevlar® FSTTM mid-range drivers, NautilusTM tube-loaded tweeters, Matrix enclosures and the unique sphere/tube heads on the two largest speakers in the range, remain as acoustically valid as ever.

All the new speakers in the 800 Series Diamond range will be introduced here over the next few weeks. Come back regularly for more updates.

59 Comments

  • Kevin says:

    Great Job! I have been waiting six years to finally see the Diamond Tweeter make its way to the 805 Monitor.

    I am an audio reviewer, and I am excited to get my hands on these speakers. If they hold up to my expectations, I will have found my new reference speaker for my reviews!

    Can’t wait to find out more info about them.

    Great Job again!

  • Paul says:

    I have a deposit down on an 802D/HTM2D + surrounds HT system. This announcement makes for a difficult decision. Stay with the D series and forego the new technology and sound improvements, or upgrade to the new Diamond series.

    Why is the decision difficult? Because the new trim is by far a step backwards. The silly silver rings are distracting and reminiscent of cheap big box store brands with fake platinum (silver paint) trims to make them look high end. There is an entire class of audiophiles like me that dislike anything but black in their gear (i.e. the majority of the US high end market).

    Please consider offering the new models in the old trim, or perhaps introducing an HT trim option with all black. Those that use the 800D series in an HT setup prefer the low visual profile of black, nothing reflective. In fact if the head units came in a low luster version it would be a plus also.

    At first I thought it was OK, the grills would cover the new silver phase plugs and woofer/midrange surround trims, but that still leaves the new silver ring around the tweeter assembly, right at the point were it is the most distracting.

    I have gone to great lengths to have a dark HT setup with black around the screen and nothing visually distracting, but now the most expensive part of the system is likely to shimmer in the projector light!

  • Christan says:

    How much will the price increase compared to the old 800-series?

  • Eggert Johnson says:

    I must agree with Paul.
    The new design echoes the modern small cars for youthful buyers.
    This is really sad.
    Out with the cheap looking gimmicks!
    While you are at it, can you please make the yellow cones black?
    And the silver plugs, too?
    That always has bothered me.
    Thank you.

  • SMC says:

    I agree with others in that B&W should have at least kept the Black Ash finish in order to provide current 800 series customers a means to upgrade. What does B&W suggest to those customers that purchased Black Ash diamond fronts-center and are using the aluminum tweeters for surrounds. What speaker would they upgrade their surrounds to since black ash, let alone, no surround options are now available.

    My feeling is that this move by B&W is going to stir up the community more then they would have expected.

  • Claus says:

    Hi,

    Does anyone know when the 805 Diamond will hit the stores?

    Claus

  • kent says:

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE MAKE A NEW 801 DIAMOND SERIES SPEAKER!!!!!!!! AS GREAT AS THE 800 IS IT JUST CAN’T MATCH THE 801′S “YOU ARE THERE” EMOTIONAL SOUND ESPECIALLY IN A LARGE ROOM!! THERE IS SOMETHING MAGICAL ABOUT THAT 15″ WOOFER AND HUGE CABINET VOLUME!

  • Ray says:

    Will the former 805 stands work with the new 805D models?

  • Dan H says:

    Neil: Shaun is about to start paternity leave anyday so I’ll answer on his behalf. I’d reserve judgement on the silver trims until you see some speakers in the flesh. As they tend to catch the flashlight, they look more shiny in these pictures than in real life. I find that they had a really subtle and appropiate definition which just draws out the shape of the speaker a little better. Indeed, on the wood finishes – which aren’t glossed – the trims don’t stand out much at all. We don’t have plans to offer bespoke finish options like different trim details. We would like to one day though but 800 Series are incredibly complicated to manufacture and we can barely deal with deal with normal supply currently.

    Peter: I think you’ll find if you give it six months, dealers will have lots of 805S from customers upgrading. Failing that, our speakers are quite consitently balanced and you’ll probably find – for rear use – other speakers in our range will do the job well.

    Budt: I’d urge you to get an audition of the new 800 Diamond. We’ve totally re-engineered the low frequency response and it’s bass alignment is much closer to the 801D. Moreover, 800D and 800 Diamond have much better midrange peformance than the 801D and, arguably, a more agile and dynamic bass peformance. I would agree with the view, though, that there’s something very attractive about 15″ drivers for really low bass, but that sort of low bass presents real problems in most listening rooms in my experience. I think you’ll find overall the increase in output and quality is signicant over 802D.

  • Neil says:

    I purchased a pair of 802Ds last spring and I am very happy with their sound. I would potentially look to upgrade to the new models in the future if there was:

    a/. An audible reason to do so. (A comparison to the old models would help).
    b/. The new models could be ordered without the flashy silver rings and cone plug.

  • Budt says:

    I have been a long time B&W customer and have owned many of the upper models from each series. I am very disappointed they have not included the 801D as this was to be my next upgrade( from the 802D). I will wait awhile for it but if noting comes of it this will be the end of the road for me with B&W.

  • MusicSmith says:

    It seems that using ASIO or ASIO 2.0 driven soundcards to bypass the kmixer in windows improves sound quality tremendously!

  • Budt says:

    WHy did B&W delete almost all the posts on this thread? Does B&W not like to hear ANY constructive critism?

  • Tim H says:

    When will we see the new 805′s in a store? Is there a new line coming out to fit between the 600 and 800 series?

  • az says:

    B&W have always progressed their products by bringing out a new range, such as the original 801, and then subsequently making it sound better but cheaper to make. This is also true of the Nautilus range. I have some 802N and the lower cabinet design is better and the mid enclosure is nicer in polished gloss black compared to the laquered metalic black which doesnt require the same level of polishing. The marketing guys think that product lines need updating, discontining and replacing all the time. Meridian also made this mistake IMO. Surely prices come down with volume and change for change sake must be expensive, reflected in cost cutting in production.

    A better upgrade would have been to offer more finishes than the cherry, rosenut and black ash. I prefere products to have a long run life. I dont want to buy something that gets discontinued after a few years.

  • az says:

    B&W have always progressed their products by bringing out a new range, such as the original 801, and then subsequently making it sound better but cheaper to make. This is also true of the Nautilus range. I have some 802N and the lower cabinet design is better and the mid enclosure is nicer in polished gloss black compared to the laquered metalic black which doesnt require the same level of polishing. The marketing guys think that product lines need updating, discontining and replacing all the time. Surely prices come down with volume and change for change sake must be expensive, reflected in cost cutting in production.

    A better upgrade would have been to offer more finishes than the cherry, rosenut and black ash. I would add Elm veneer for example.

    I prefere products to have a long run life. I dont want to buy something that gets discontinued after a few years.

  • AV-OCD says:

    You would think that B&W had put a F1 spoiler and neon lights on the new series the way some of you are reacting to the silver accent rings. The rings look like they are all of 1/8th of an inch wide. Hardly something to make such a stink over.

    Personally, I think the 800 line has been give just enough of a face lift to make them look like a current design. The curved form factor is pretty much timeless, but the new finishing touches (including the silver rings), give them a more polished and elegant appearance.

  • Philippe Martiat says:

    I bought a 802D 2 years ago, I am very happy with them. Anyway, I will try to listen to the new 802 Diamond to get an idea about the sonical improvement, although I will not be able to buy the new one (given the fact that the prices of the former series will probably drop a lot). I wonder whether there will be a possibility to upgrade (if it is worth it) by replacing the tweeter and the cross-over ?

  • Louis says says:

    Why are the weights a little less (eg 803 Diamond near 5 kg at the old 803D)

  • Tim says:

    when will shipping start for the 802 diamond?

  • Kent says:

    Respectfully how does the 800 have better midrange performance than the 801 or 802? They all use the same drivers and enclosures (with regard to the tweeter/midrange). They all use the same crossovers too. The real difference in these systems is the bass response.

  • Chuen-Yew Loo says:

    The 802 Diamond reduced the weight to 72kg from the 802D’s 80 kg!
    Now I wonder should I “up-grade” my 802D or not.

  • John B says:

    I’ve a pair of 802Ds which I bought less than a year ago and a HDM1D Centre which I bought about six months ago. I also have 800 series surround speakers.

    As you appear to use the same cabinets as the older models, I don’t suppose it is possible to upgrade the existing models to the new spec!!

    I’m extremely pleased with the sound from my B&W/Classe system

  • Eric A says:

    I’ve had my new 804 Diamonds for a little over a week now. After listening to a variety of music in 2 channel stereo, I have to say the sound quality out of the box (with little break-in) has exceeding my expectations. Still a bit tight, however, the overall tonal balance is very smooth without any excessive brightness or harsh peaks. The diamond tweeter definitely sounds clean, crisp, and more extended than the 804S I listened to in the showroom. The bass response is surprisingly robust and overall better than the previous version. In general, I believe the 804 upgrade represents real improvement, mainly in the high-end response and a broader, more cohesive soundfield.

    Regarding the visual aspects, once the speakers were put in place, the silver trim was not nearly as noticable as I thought it would be. The clean lines afforded by the magnetic grills are certainly a plus. The quality of the veneer and rosenut finish is outstanding. So far, I’m very satisfied with the performance and design!

  • Brian says:

    I auditioned the new 802D2 last Saturday. I had to wait a little, and so listened to the 805s for about 15 minutes. I’ve spent almost no time historically listening to the smaller models, but these are really special. Anyway, I *have* spent quite a bit of time over the past 3 years listening to the 802Ds. The 802D2s were matched with Macintosh electronics. I spent about an hour flipping through my stack of Eric Johnson, Vivaldi, Bella Fleck, Diana Krall (salesman’s cringe barely noticeable), Alison Krauss, Cantus, etc. I was so impressed by the 802D2s that I ordered a pair the next day. Delivery time is “six weeks”! ;) I can’t wait. Thank you Listen Up in Denver ;)

  • Peter Hopkins says:

    Majority of 800 series owners will probably like to upgrade to the new Diamond series. One thing holding them back will be what to with their current models. If B&W comes out with a scheme which will take the older models in exchange for newer 800 Diamond series ones.

    If the scheme is put in place then the customer will trade in their speakers at the dealer who will discount the new 800 Diamond series in terms of speaker age / condition. A little like trading a car in at a dealer, the difference the customer pays.

    What does B&W do with the speakers received back from the customer you might ask? B&W can re- cycle the speakers. From previous 800 series the cabinet hasn’t changed which can easily be re- worked and created into new 800 Diamond series. I’m sure the speaker driver can probably be taken apart and updated, same with the crossovers. plus the treble tubes are the same, but now painted in gloss black.

    Potentially B&W will have new customers as well as established and loyal customers coming back again and again. A win win situation I guess for all parties!

  • Kent says:

    I RECENTLY RECEIVED A EMAIL FROM B&W AMERICA INFORMING ME THAT THE 801 CANNOT BE SPECIAL ORDERED. THE NEWS WAS A GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT BECAUSE THE 801 WAS THE SPEAKER I PLANNED ON USING IN A VERY LARGE LISTENING ROOM I AM PLANNING. I UNDERSTAND THE 801 DOESN’T SELL AS WELL AS THE OTHER MODELS BECAUSE OF IT’S SIZE AND LOW FREQUENCY TAILORING. HOWEVER, I THINK THERE ARE MANY LIKE ME WHO REALLY THINK THE 801 IS SUPERIOR TO THE 800 IN A VERY LARGE LISTENING ENVIRONMENT. NOTHING IS IN STONE AND I SINCERELY HOPE B&W CHANGES THEIR MIND AND BRINGS THE 801 BACK! FOR THE RECORD I HOPE I AM NOT OFFENDING ANY OWNERS OF THE 800 OR 802. I REGARD THEM AS GREAT SPEAKERS. I JUST PREFER THE 801′S LOW FREQUENCY RESPONSE IN A BIG ROOM.

  • John Lindsay says:

    The prices have gone up considerably – the silver ring looks gimmicky, and there are no additional/exotic wood finishes. What a terrible shame and dissapointment for a much loved British company – I dearly hope B & W are not ‘in trouble’.

  • greg says:

    I am currently an owner of the 700 series and am interested in upgrading to the new 800 Diamonds. I see that one of the finishes available is “piano black”. However, the subwoofer DB-1 is offered in “gloss black”.Can you advise if the finish is the same (Iwould like a match) or considerably different?

  • Steve Bennett says:

    B&W Warranty: I’ve recently purchased a demo pair of the “older” 803D model from a local B&W dealer in my area (Baltimore) This system was fully warrantied at time of purchase . I intend to give this splenid speaker system as a gift to my son – who lives several hundred miles away . Upon review of the B&W warranty for this product I was disappointed to learn that 1) The warranty applies only to the “original owner” and 2) can only be serviced by the dealer who sold these speakers to me. This was confirmed by a B&W technical representative I’d contacted by phone. The best the rep could do was to regret I had not included my son on the original invoice. With respect to my son’s access to warranty support from a B&W dealer nearer his home…I received other “regrets”. Furthermore when I asked whether if during the warranty period I moved to another location would I be entitled to warranty support from a B&W nearer this location . More regrets. I grant the odds are low for warranty service for these fine speakers, which makes it harder for me to understand B&W’s current restrictive ownership / dealership requirements and warranty service.

    To me it would be much better customer support if B&W were to honor their warranty for the individual listed as “owner” on the warranty card – which also includes speaker serial numbers – and which along with the original invoice statement and perhaps a letter of explanation would aluthorize warranty service for this “owner” regardless of location. Such a policy would save the owner significant shipping and transportation costs. If effectively advertised, it might also serve to increase sales.

  • Sam L says:

    Kent et al, the bass quality on the 802s (new and old) and 800s is better than 801s, except with less extension. If you really need the extension and output, mate new 802s with a first-rate pair of subs using parallel x-overs for the little or no more money than you would pay for 800s. Or, even add subs to 800s for the bass addict. The B&W DB-1 subs, Velodyne DD15s or DD18s, Fathoms, or ATCs would be among suitable candidates.

    Personally I may take the first route using 802D2s, the bass is SOOOO fast!

    Also the positioning of 802s must be correct, tweeter a little above ears, very little or no toe-in, and around 12′-14′ out, I can’t remember exactly. The positioning is fixed and unique for given models of all 3-ways for time coherence–if you don’t lock it you’re throwing your money away.

    Regards

  • Tito Zenteno says:

    I am very agree with Peter Hopkins, should do updates, it is very unpleasant to spend so much money to take out another model year, make the customer disappointed and sometimes choose to switch brands, although I would never do it but if it is a disappointment, I have a 802D and I would like to make the comparison with the new models, I think it’s no big change and I do not think is worth spending for the update.
    Sell I have to buy the new model, so support for Peter, must do what he proposes.
    What is your opinion ?……

  • Kent says:

    SAM I RESPECTFULLY DISAGREE WITH YOU. I DON’T THINK THE BASS IS BETTER ON THE 802 & 800 COMPARED TO THE 801. HOWEVER, A 802/800 WORKS BETTER THAN A 801 IN A SMALL ROOM FOR OBVIOUS REASONS.

    ALL THREE MODELS CAN HOLD THEIR OWN IN A LARGE ROOM FOR SURE BUT WHEN THERE IS A LARGE ROOM TO FILL I STRONGLY FEEL THE 801 BEATS BOTH HANDS DOWN WHEN IT COMES TO ULTIMATE REALISM…..MY HUMBLE OPINION.

    I ALSO FIND ADDING SUBS IN A TWO CHANNEL SYSTEM TAKES SOMETHING AWAY FROM THE SOUND. WITH A CORRECT SYSTEM DRIVING ANY OF THESE GREAT SPEAKERS A SUB SHOULDN’T EVEN BE A THOUGHT.

    SPEAKER POSITION IS VERY IMPORTANT LIKE YOU SAY AND DO AGREE GREAT CARE SHOULD BE TAKEN TO FIND THE MAGIC SPOT.

  • Wilson says:

    The 805D is absolutely fantastic – way way ahead of the very very good 805S Standmount.

    BUT and I will stress this with GREAT IMPORTANCE – they require a top class source otherwise they truely show up poor timing etc – but that is not a bad thing – it shows you just how good and transparent and ture these speakers are.

    The Cross-Over is a sensational design and the new diamond tweeter….

    This listening session was on the end of a near top class Naim system.

  • Rob Auld says:

    I have read a lot of the comments made here so far, and I think most are forgetting that B&W is in the business of selling speakers. I have owned several models myself including the 804S my wife owns and my 802D. I hae owned several other brands in the past and can honestly say none come up to the standards of quality that these speakers offer.
    Warranty is fantastic and quickly handled, fit and finish of the whole package is unmatched, and the sound is as good as it gets in each of the price ranges.
    The problem comes from the fact that this is my experience and my opinions dealing with B&W. Just like it is only my opinion as others have voiced the silver rings on the new 800 series makes the speakers look like Walmart bargain basement offerings. I also find the sound of the new 802 to lean more toward the sound of the CM series which replaced the 700 series. To much forward midbass for my liking. Again this is merely my opinion.
    Bottom line is B&W is in business to sell speakers. As such if the silver on the CM series has increased sales over the older 700 series, then it would stand to reason it would increase sales on the 800 series today.
    If the sound of the 800 Diamond is an improvement to your ears but you don’t like the silver rings around the speakers, buy the pair you want and spend a few dollars geting a professional painter to change the colour of the rings to black, pink, yellow etc. what ever you find appealing. There is only a very slim chance you will need to worry about the warrenty on these speakers anyway so changing the colour won’t be an issue.

  • David says:

    I’m totally with Kent on this one … it just has to be 801Ds in a big room. And I mean big. My listening room is 20 ft x 40ft and the collosal 801s blew the 802s away in every respect when I home-audtioned both. Besides, for me, how the 801s do base and emotion is just staggering whilst also being totally animal when you desire. Simple pyhsics will dicate that the nonchalance of the 801Ds cannot be replicated no matter what the latest tweaks to the smaller models. It will always be so. But this aside, B&W are very much missing a (literally) big trick here by not also updating these legends of the pack. It looks like it really is the end of an era Kent. I am keeping my “old” pair and won’t be upgrading unless the new 800s sound just incredible. Go grab a used pair (if you can find them), fill that room and enjoy. You won’t be dissapointed.

  • jpbas1 says:

    It’s been nearly 4-weeks since attaining the new 805D’s. I have to honestly say, after having been an owner of several B&W lines, to include other 800 series designs- that the tonal balance; increased bottom end and soundstage- are unparalled to any prior B&W speaker I have owned.

    Absolutely unbelievable performance when mated to my stable and longstanding reference system. Bi-wired and worth the the additional cost without reservation.

  • Rene de Vreng says:

    I just recieved my pair of 800 diamonds (cherry). They are nothing less then impressive (getting them upstairs was impressive as well). After only 8 or 9 hours of break-in playing I am sitting here with my mouth open in astonishment. The sound does not come from the speakers but from in front, behind and besides them, everywere. But do’nt get me wrong, the focus is pinpoint exact. Even older recordings sound good on these, let alone new hi-end recordigs.
    The bass blows you away, the mid makes voices stand bodily in front of you and the high’s are…high. But yet, these speakers seem to concist of are more then high, mid and low. Yes it is hifi, but so close to to real thing! And they are very pretty too. Better looking then any pictures show. Only the silver cone in the mid-head was nicer in black in the old 800 series.

  • gregb says:

    I am really impressed of the comments around here.

    I have to admit that I am just a casual young european 600series owner but why does everybody have a problem with silver rings ? I really like them, just like most of B&W work.

    The website is stylish, CM speakers are so beautiful pieces of design and then…? It just like Apple products : I’m happy to see clever marketing with well-designed and attractive products. I have no problem with that.

    I think that if one day I have enough money to buy myself a pair of 805 Diamond I won’t accept any ugly sober hidden speaker even if my first goal stay the sound quality.

  • Buck says:

    The weight on the 800 Diamond has been reduced by 50 lbs/ a side over older N800 and 800D series. I attended a presentation, by B&W , at a local dealer, and a VP explained the reduction is because of the new magnets on the woofers. Sounded believable, but the 802 Diamond got the same change and their weight is about the same as N802 or 802D models. Can anyone explain the weight reduction? I fear it is a compromise in the cabinet construction.

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