Bowers & Wilkins’ team of acoustic engineers is constantly pushing the limits of their understanding of audio technology. The result of this dedicated pursuit of perfection is an almost constant flow of technological advances that continue to keep the company’s products (at least) one step ahead of the competition. Here we look at Matrix.
Bowers & Wilkins’ Matrix™ bracing system has come a long way since it was first incorporated into the Matrix 1 in 1986. The distinctive internal structure braces the external cabinet, reducing resonances in the outer shell and providing a more solid platform for the drive units to do their work.
Considering it was developed in the middle of an intensive research program into materials to make cabinets stiffer, Matrix had quite prosaic beginnings, being inspired by the criss-cross construction of a case of wine given to one of the engineers on his birthday.
Matrix is also counter-intuitive in the way it works. Normally, if you make the cabinet stiffer, theory tells you that the resonances increase in amplitude and occur at higher frequencies – which is not a good thing. But in practice, because there is so much loss in the glue joints and elsewhere, it doesn’t quite work like that. It stiffens the cabinet at lower frequencies but, because of the inherent losses, it doesn’t cause issues at higher frequencies.
Some 30 years on, Matrix in the new 800 Series Diamond is a very different beast. Gone is the MDF of previous incarnations, replaced with the same thick plywood of the cabinets and extra bracing in the form of steel and aluminium supports at key junctions. The larger 800 Series Diamond models also now anchor their bass drive units directly into an aluminium section of the Matrix that sits behind the baffle – providing an even more solid platform.