Bowers and Wilkins' 800 series are normally paired with a tremendous stereo amplifier for a wonderful Hi-Fi listening experience, but don't forget, they can come into their own with home cinema, too.
Bowers and Wilkins showcased their new subwoofer range at this year’s Bristol Hi-Fi show. On display was an unbelievable 5.2 surround sound system consisting of the 800 D3, 802 D3, HTM1 D3 and two - yes, two - DB1D subwoofers. To process and power this neat system was the use of the Rotel RSP-1582 processor accompanied by the 6 RB-1590 power amplifiers and connected by Chord's Sarum range of cables. The results were spectacular.
Upon first stepping into the room, you were greeted with a pair of 802 D3's. Beside themwas the full range of Diamond subwoofers in a variety of finishes. The difference between the subwoofers was obviously their cone diameter. The DB3D - being the entry point of the range - featuring dual balanced 8-inch aerofoil drivers and a whopping 1000W of power from a Class D amplifier. The drivers on the DB (Dynamic Bass) series are placed symmetrically to virtually eliminate any unwanted vibrations - technology first introduced in their PV1 subwoofer. Next, the DB2D takes it up a notch with a pair of symmetrically placed 10-inch aerofoil drivers. An interesting tidbit - the drivers found on the DB2D are the same as the bass drivers found on the 800 D3. B&W's DB2D uses the same amplifier as its little brother, with the same power output of 1000W. At the end of the line of subwoofers proudly sat the DB1D. This subwoofer, although substantial, blended in well with the surroundings in its stunning gloss black finish. The subwoofer features 12-inch drivers, specially developed for the DB1D and linked to a tailored 2000W Class D amplifier. It compliments beautifully B&W's most powerful and precise subwoofer they have ever produced. As you go along the room, you then lay your eyes upon a pair of 800 D3's alongside the HTM1 D3 centre speaker with a pair of DB1D subwoofers.
Before the demonstration took place, the B&W team took us through the important process of making a subwoofer that provides defined bass - one that produces and delivers a punchier, controlled low register to the listener. It is great having so much power available, but the important thing is delivering the desired sound to the listener. The Bowers and Wilkins' amplifiers housed in their DB subwoofers feature smart processors and EQ to deliver the chosen sound. On the subject of EQ, B&W have introduced a new way to equalise your new subwoofer to your listening room. Simply download the Companion app, make sure the microphones on your smartphone are clear of obstruction and then let the app do all the work for you; simple. Following on, there was a reminder of what makes the 800 series of loudspeakers so special. Whether it be the continuum cone for a clearer, sharper mid-range, the turbine-head found in the 803 D3 and up, or the all-important diamond tweeter, it was apparent how much thought and careful design had been lavished on these speakers. Then it was time to feel and hear what the DB1D's can add to an already spectacular system.
The result, as you might expect, was mesmerising. Firstly, to show what the addition of a subwoofer can do to your Hi-Fi listening experience, the team played Lou Reed's ‘Vanishing Act’. Reed's slow, mellow track emphasised the detail of just what the entire Diamond series were capable of. Even though Lou couldn't have placed himself closer to the microphone, you suddenly felt like you were standing in front of him. It was that clear.
B&W’s spectacular home cinema demonstration presented a clip taken straight from a WWII war film. This represented the system at its best; you could hear the plane’s engines idling, soldiers shouting orders, and bombs exploding outside. Once again, the bass was punchy and controlled; not loose in the slightest. This made the world of difference.
Overall, we were blown away by Bowers & Wilkins’ display at the Bristol show, not that we would have expected anything less from one of our favourite brands.
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