B&W's diamond tweeters ring truer than ever

Bowers & Wilkins' best speaker, the 800, gets a new diamond tweeter and a host of other improvements. Audiophiles the world over rejoice.

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
3 min read

B & W's new 800 Diamond speaker. B&W

British speaker manufacturer Bowers & Wilkins doesn't revise its top-of-the-line 800 Series models often. It must have been a good five years ago when the company first introduced diamond tweeter equipped models.

The 800 Series speakers are not only highly regarded by serious audiophiles, but also they can be found in the best recording studios and mastering houses in the world including Abbey Road Studios in London, George Lucas' Skywalker Sound in California, and here in New York City at Sterling Sound. I've heard the 800 at Sterling, so I know it really deserves to be a benchmark design for audiophiles and professionals. Also, the 800 series is also drop-dead gorgeous.

The just announced diamond tweeter models are the sixth-generation 800 Series, but only the second with diamond tweeters. The new 800 line is also the first to feature diamond tweeters in every speaker in the seven-model range.

Why diamond? The vast majority of dome tweeters used in other speakers, including very high-end models, use either cloth or metal dome designs, but thanks to diamond's superior strength, the 800 Series tweeter produces less distortion and greater high frequency extension and resolution. The new diamond tweeter uses a quad-magnet design that offers superior efficiency, and greater dynamic range than the previous models' tweeters. Therefore, when the drummer whacks a cymbal or the trumpet player really wails, you'll hear it.

The new 800 series woofers and midrange drivers have also been improved. The crossover networks now feature silver and gold capacitors; these capacitors, selected by B&W engineers are said to provide a dramatic increase in sound quality.

The 800 Series models are manufactured in the U.K. at Bowers & Wilkins new cabinet factory in Worthing, West Sussex. All seven speakers are available in three finishes: Rosenut, Cherrywood, and Piano Black.

The 804 Diamond, the skinnier alternative. B&W

The 805 Diamond "bookshelf" model is the most affordable speaker in the line and retails for $5,000 per pair.

The 804 Diamond is the smallest tower in the range, and has a similar footprint to the 805 Diamond when placed on a stand.

The larger 803 Diamond provides people with more conservative taste many of the benefits of the 800 Series Diamond's range-topping models, but in a more traditional floorstanding design. It uses three 7-inch bass drivers rather than the 802 Diamond's twin 8-inch cones.

The 802 Diamond is the home-friendly version of the 800 Diamond. It offers many of the benefits of the flagship speaker, including the distinctive head unit, but with a reduced footprint that fits in living room environments better.

The 800 Diamond is the flagship of the range, and is the latest incarnation of the speakers used in Abbey Road Studios. This no-compromise performer is better than ever, benefiting from all of the series-wide developments and featuring significantly improved bass thanks to a new voice coil and bass realignment that provides fuller and more consistent bottom end performance. The 800 Diamond sells for $24,000 per pair.

The new 800 Series line also features two dedicated center channel speakers for home theater use. Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series Diamond speakers will be available in February.