We go behind the scenes at the Bowers & Wilkins factory in Worthing to look at the intensive work that is vital in producing the new 800 Series Diamond range of loudspeakers. Here we look at the fineart of painting.
Technology is obviously a vital element in producing high-performance, high-end loudspeakers such as the 800 Series Diamond. The main selling point of this amazing range is acoustic performance, and the new 800 Series Diamond has once again pushed the limits of what is possible, and is the best sounding range of loudspeakers we have ever manufactured.
However, the 800 Series Diamond is also a high-end luxury product, and one that we want people to be proud of showing off even when they are quietly sitting there. To this end, the new 800 Series Diamond is also the most finely crafted range of loudspeakers we have ever produced.
A considered blend of machine-tooling and hands-on craft, a pair of 800 Series Diamond loudspeakers take weeks to wend their way through the Bowers & Wilkins Worthing factory, and a lot of that time is the result of the intensive painting process, with the Piano Gloss Black models having to stand for a month between spraying and polishing.
Painting is not a simple matter either, as various processes are in place for the different finishes in the range – again, a lot of the work is undertaken by robots, but where hand spraying makes a difference then it is done by hand. All the paint is of extremely high-quality, and our tolerances for error are so slight that most car manufacturers would find them hard to meet.
Starting with the cabinets themselves, there are three distinct approaches taken, as you would imagine for three different finishes – there is no one-stop-solution here.
After sanding, all models get their initial four coats applied by robot. The robotic painting process has been updated from the previous 800 Series, with significant investment in a new mixing process that constantly measures and regulates the quantity of paint that covers the cabinets, proving even tighter control over the quality of the finish.
This leads to excellent, regulated coverage and provides a great base. In the case of the coloured models this is of the relevant coloured polyester paint. Incidentally, white is only sprayed on a Monday morning, directly after the spray booth has been cleaned out and is spotlessly clean. Rosenut models are also sprayed, but with three coats of a tinted lacquer following a coast of sealant.
After this, the process divides, with only the larger white headed products heading for hand spraying, while all other coloured models receive their coats of Polyurethane paint by robot.
Turbine heads and Solid Body tweeters
The aluminium elements of the headed products in the new 800 Series Diamond are all hand sprayed in our state-of-the-art booths. This highly skilled job is performed by the same team that have been doing it for decades, a team who have undertaken the same skills course as the people who paint cars for Rolls Royce. In action it is a thing of beauty to observe.
In the case of the black units that appear on both the Gloss Black and Rosenut models this is five carefully applied coats. The new silver heads receive four coats – two of which are a semi-gloss clear lacquer that brings out their distinctive finish.
A waiting game
Once the painting is complete, next step for cabinets is polishing. However, not until the paint has been left to dry completely. In the case of the Piano Gloss Black models this takes 28, while white and Rosenut have to stand for two weeks.
The end result, of all this time and effort, are truly beautiful loudspeakers. We couldn’t possibly say that they look as good as they sound, but the finish of the new 800 Series Diamond is certainly one worthy of this ground-breaking, bar-raising range.
Explore more about 800 Series Diamond here.