A speaker plinth may seem relatively unimportant to the outsider, however it can play a massive part in the performance of a high-end loudspeaker, which is why Bowers & Wilkins engineers gave it their whole hearted attention when developing the new 800 Series Diamond.
During the development of the new 800 Series Diamond our engineers were charged with the task of leaving no stone un-turned in order to produce the world’s best range of loudspeakers. So, while a lot of headline-grabbing attention is paid to key features such as the new drive unit materials and the Turbine Head, a lot of intensive, well-considered work was also undertaken while investigating other elements.
One of these, is the new plinth design found on the headed 800 Series Diamond models. Excuse the pun, but this new plinth plays more than a mere supporting role.
In the previous 800 Series Diamond range the cavernous plinths were used to house the crossover components in the larger, headed models. This had certain advantages: by putting the sensitive crossover components into their own external volume, we gained mechanical and electrical isolation and we were also able to use the large surface area of the plinth itself as a heatsink component.
However, our intensive research project using the latest in Finite Element Analysis tools that we could do much better. In particular, we could remove unwanted resonances, which were hampering the drive units from performance at their best.
For the new plinth design, our engineers wanted to achieve a number of key elements:
• Improve mechanical stiffness
• Reduce overall height and surface area
• Align the spikes mechanically with the cabinet itself
• Improve the castor/spike user experience
It was felt that improvements in a number of these areas would have a highly positive effect on the performance of the new range, while the latter improvements could mean a better experience for the end user – a vital consideration in a luxury, high-performance purchase.
As a result of this serious undertaking, in the new 800 Series Diamond we have introduced a solid metal plinth. This is constructed from a single piece of zinc aluminium alloy in the 803 D3 and 802 D3 headed models. Watching the video, you will see the difference in our tests between the new 800 Series Diamond speakers and the previous rangecin this area – it really is quite dramatic. The thicker construction makes for a stiffer design that avoids the issues we highlighted in the older models.
Reduce overall height and surface area
The introduction to a single piece meant that the crossover had to be moved. Now, the sensitive crossover components are housed in a separate volume in the the rear of the loudspeaker rather than in the plinth, and use the metal extrusion as a heatsink. This reduces the overall area and height of the plinth, allowing the speaker to sit in a better position relative to ear level. It also means the crossover is easier to access.
We have also aligned the spikes with the supporting
feet in the base of the cabinet, so that the mass of the new speaker is transferred far more effectively onto the spikes and from there into the floor. By ensuring that the spikes sit directly below the cabinet helps in the transfer of energy, and therefore in the reduction of unwanted cabinet resonances. Again, another small part in the complex jigsaw that was improving the performance of an already class-leading range of loudspeakers.
The final part of the plinth improvements is in the user experience. Previously, changing between castors and spikes involved tipping the speaker onto its side (carefully) and then swapping them out. Not ideal for deals – and certainly not great for a customer with an 800 Diamond!
Now, a clever engineering solution means that once the speakers have been moved into place on their castors, the spikes can be unwound into place. It really is easy to do, and if you do need to move the speakers at any point, you can simply wind the spikes back up again.
The end result of all this work is that a seemingly small part of the story of the development of the new 800 Series Diamond, ends up playing its part in the dramatically improved acoustic performance of this class-leading range.