BOWERS & WILKINS (B&W) 805 Diamond vs 804 Diamond

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"I would dare to say that the highs of the 804’s and 805’s are something you would not expect from your standard B&W and not at all from a diamond tweeter...they are clean, extended and precisely brilliant, I would even say fluid"

 

Diamonds for every occassion…

At the moment a loudspeaker receives the EISA award it unavoidably appears on any ´the most wanted´ shopping list of an audio enthusiast. Therefore, once Bowers & Wilkins had been nominated and won the best 2010/2011 loudspeaker award, it was just a matter of time to localize a sample for review at our magazine to check if it is worth it. And here you are with a report…

 


B&W 805 Diamond

 

805 Diamonds are the best monitors available in the product catalogue of B&W and they are definitely worthy successor of the already legendary Matrix series that kicked off with B&W Matrix 800 already in late 90´s. Why legendary? They moved a tweeter outside the main baffle to occupy a specially designed sub-cabinet on the top of the speaker. They introduced the matrix system, i.e. the sophisticated network of internal bracing to suppress resonances and standing modes. And they started the era of Kevlar cones.

If you move one step higher in the B&W´s catalogue you would bump into B&W 804 Diamond right away. The 804´s are not just a floorstanding version of the 805´s - they feature some technical refinements so naturally I was very curious whether the 804´s would challenge the 805´s technology sonically. For over a month I shared my listening room with both trying to find out where the 804 Diamond improves over the 805 Diamond and vice versa. Especially when B&W asks 2.000 euro more for the floorstander.

Bowers & Wilkins 805 Diamond

Have you noticed that in the heading I use Bowers & Wilkins instead of B&W? For whatever reason the company switched back to its full name and this is how you can find it on the front baffle of their new loudspeakers. It will hardly have an effect on the sound, unlike the textile grilles that has to be removed before serious auditioning and I recommend not putting them back. Aesthetically there is no harm as the grilles are attached to the baffle magnetically so there are no openings left after the grilles are removed.

How the 805 Diamonds improve on the 805 S’s (the predecessor of the Diamonds – editor’s note)? In a few details: their 1st order crossover was redesigned with the help of Mundorf capacitors, speaker’s terminals are of higher quality, the phase compensator that occupies the center of a Kevlar mid-tone driver is not anymore a part of the cone but rather fixed to the motor assembly of the driver. And, of course, the new diamond tweeter with four magnets that has become a signature of the new B&W’s line up.

The diamond tweeter is gelled to the main cabinet to mechanically decouple both units and suppress mutual exchange of vibrations. The tweeter’s teardrop-shaped enclosure supports maximum absorption of energy that is radiated to the rear of speakers – the resonance frequency of the diamond dome is as high as 70kHz, far enough from the upper effective range of speakers that is 28kHz on paper. I like that the 805 Diamonds extend that much and do not have usual 20kHz cut off – human hearing was proven to hear (or at least feel) much farther into kilohertz domain than it was believed before.

Despite the new technologies the 805 Diamond is a typical Bowers & Wilkins, which means precise craftsmanship on one side, a bit sterile design lacking a ‘flair’ on the other side.  Unlike with 805 S’s the midbass driver of 805’s is framed by an aluminum ring that, together with pitted surface of the speaker’s reflex port (in B&W they have been using this “Flow Port Technology” for 20 years to fight air turbulences in ports), lends a contemporary feel to the 805’s design.

 



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