Bowers & Wilkins has a long history of technological innovation in its pursuit of the perfect loudspeaker. Whether it’s through the innovative use of materials such as Kevlar® and Diamond, new solutions to complex engineering conundrums, or ‘eureka moments’ of brilliance, Bowers & Wilkins engineers constantly strive to produce the best possible sound.
Carbon Braced Tweeter
This design takes the already high performance of Bowers & Wilkins aluminium domes to a whole new level. The Carbon Braced tweeter uses a ring of ultra-thin wound carbon fibre to brace the tweeter dome, and as a result raise the break up of the aluminium dome to around 40KHz, which has a dramatic effect on the audible frequencies below 20kHz.
Outweighing a standard dust cap in terms of performance, the Anti-Resonance Plug minimises sound overhang through a reduction in cone break up. The voice coil bobbin flexing is dampened to mellow the upper frequency response of the driver.
Nautilus™ symbolises all the qualities of innovation, dedication and love of music which have inspired Bowers & Wilkins engineers, designers and production teams ever since our company was established over 50 years ago. The Nautilus offers a unique chance to hear music exactly as recorded: detailed, vibrantly alive, full of power and unhindered by speaker distortion or cabinet diffraction.
Most Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers use aluminium dome tweeters. The combination of lightness and rigidity they offer means that they capture the subtleties of music, such as delicate brush strokes across the surface of a cymbal with amazing accuracy. Our latest aluminium tweeters feature a ‘crowned’ voice-coil bobbin and a silver-plated pole piece, extending the bandwidth well over an octave above the limits of human hearing, and rendering a separate ‘supertweeter’ quite unnecessary.
Quad Magnet Tweeter Motor System
The 800 Series Diamond uses an innovative four-magnet tweeter system, which adds around 2dB to the sensitivity of the coil, which reduces the power requirement by around 40 percent. As a result, the tweeter runs cooler, compression is reduced and the music comes back to life.
Kevlar® has been Bowers & Wilkins’ cone material of choice since 1974, and with good reason. Not only does it deliver a cleaner sound, it can do so to a wider group of listeners. The distinctive yellow cones are found on almost all Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers.
FST™ mid-range drive units maximises the effects of Kevlar® by improving cone response times and integrity of sound transmission. As the mid-range diaphragm only moves a little, Bowers & Wilkins has improved outer edge cone termination by means of ‘surroundless’ suspension, for the cleanest mid-range performance in the business.
Bowers & Wilkins’ bass drivers use a ‘mushroom’ type diaphragm construction, maximising rigidity by bonding the cone, dust cap and extended voice coil bobbin into a stiffening girder-like unit. This helps deliver that all-important low-end 'drive' and 'punch'.
Preventing mechanical vibration from the bass cabinet reaching the tweeter leads to a much cleaner, sweeter high frequency performance. For the 800 Series Diamond, we’ve adopted a synthetic gel to cushion the tweeter better than ever before. Not only that, we’ve also isolated the tweeter assembly from the tube and mounting behind, which reduces external interference to virtually nil.
Why use diamond for tweeter domes? It may seem extravagant, but the move is simply an extension of Bowers & Wilkins’s pursuit of the perfect loudspeaker. One element of our quest for the best is the development of drive units that neither add nor subtract from the signal. In a tweeter, that means creating a dome that remains rigid, exhibiting perfectly piston-like behaviour, as far up the frequency scale as possible. Best for this are materials with a high stiffness to density ratio - which is where diamond comes in.
Crafted from inert Marlan® composite, the internal cavity – a sphere closely coupled to a short tube - absorbs most of the sound from the back of the driver, with the fibre filling mopping up the last vestiges. On the outside, the glossy teardrop shape smoothly disperses the sound around the speaker creating a solid, three-dimensional image.
Nautilus Tapering Tubes
Not all sound generated by speaker drive units is good sound. The kind that emerges from the back of a working driver, into a conventional box cabinet, can bounce around and make a mess of the good sound coming out of the front. Bowers & Wilkins’ trailblazing Nautilus™ speaker found a way around boxes. Tapering tubes filled with absorbent wadding soaked up the wayward sound energy and reduced resonances to an insignificant minimum.
For speed, stiffness and unshakable bass, this cone material, normally used for aircraft, rockets and performance cars bodies, is the bottom line. We found Rohacell® being used extensively in the high performance automotive and aerospace industries, where its unusual combination of very low weight and very high resistance to bending stress make it the ideal choice for a multitude of applications. Those very same characteristics also make it an ideal material for the structural heart of a bass driver.
We carry out exhaustive listening tests rigorously assessing the performance of each component until we find the optimum component for each position in the circuit. Fine-tuning by ear is only possible if the crossover is simple and the section of the crossover that perhaps benefits most from our policy of listen-and-learn is the part handling the signal for the tweeter. In most Bowers & Wilkins speakers, it is carried by a single, ear-chosen component that preserves the very finest detail.
Bowers & Wilkins’s Flowport™ minimises turbulence in the same way as a golf ball. Dimples on the surface generate tiny eddy currents over which air can flow smoothly, reducing turbulence, and improving performance. This is because if turbulence occurs as the air moves in and out of the port, you’ll hear extraneous noise and, as you turn the volume up, the bass won’t be as tight and well timed as it should be.
Unique to Bowers & Wilkins, Matrix™ interlocking panels take cabinet bracing to the ultimate level. With powerful bass drivers trying to shake the cabinet and high air pressures inside trying to make the panels flex and blur the sound, this three-dimensional honeycomb structure reinforces the cabinet at small intervals and in every direction. Offering a dramatic cut in the level of cabinet coloration, Matrix allows you to focus on where the performers are, rather than being aware of where the speakers are.
Tweeter on Top
Bowers & Wilkins’ tweeter on top technology has two benefits. It avoids the situation with normal cabinet construction, where sound waves from the tweeter not only radiate towards the listener but also travel along the baffle surface towards the cabinet edges. It also allows its time-alignment with the midrange driver to be finely adjusted so the two outputs add perfectly in phase through the crossover region.