A Bowers & Wilkins Signature is always a bit of a party. Usually such a special edition is a high-end limited edition model, but now they are launching two Signature editions of the top 700 series models and one of them is Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature. The tweeter-on-top should definitely not be missing, guess what?
Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature
The Signature editions of Bowers & Wilkins are really in the DNA of the British brand. The name really means something. Over the years, several of these special editions of existing high-end speaker models have appeared, as a kind of demonstration of how things can be just that little bit better. A corresponding refined premium finish is of course always part of it. As a result, the Signature models have always remained in high demand on the second-hand market.
The two Signature models recently released by Bowers & Wilkins are completely in line with that revered tradition – but not. What’s different from before? For the first time, this is not a limited edition. These Signature speakers remain on the market. The British brand also opted this time not to release a special edition of the very highest model, but to use the Signature label for two 700 Series speakers. That doesn’t make it any less exclusive or special. This is because it concerns the two top models from the mid-range series: the Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature and the 702. No, it is no coincidence that these are the two 700 speakers that come with a separate ‘tweeter-on-top’, a feature par excellence for the better Bowers & Wilkins loudspeaker.
The 2-way 705 Signature ($ 1,499 each) we are looking at here is a fairly compact bookshelf speaker. Well, actually the label ‘upright speaker’ or standmount fits better. As the manufacturer indicates, it is designed to perform optimally on stands. In theory you can use any setting for this, but the best choice remains the FS 700 S2 (249 euros / piece) from Bowers & Wilkins itself. These stands are a perfect match for the 705 Signature, and allow you to bolt on the speakers for a stable setup with no vibrations that can cause colouration. Although we first used our fixed Focal Kanta stands during testing, we quickly switched to the FS 700 S2 because the speakers were a bit more precise here. The stands of Bowers & Wilkins also have a nice solution for routing the speaker cable discreetly to the floor.
Bowers & Wilkins has been convinced for years that the tweeter must be removed from the speaker cabinet for the best performance. be lifted. That’s why all top models from the British come with that characteristic tweeter-on-top. To start with, it looks really nice; the elongated tweeter housing that starts wide and ends thin is somewhat like an engine hanging under the wing of a Boeing bomber. But the shape is also more than an industrial design choice to stand out in the store. These contours – and especially the composition of the driver inside – also offer real advantages in terms of display quality. We have long been convinced that disconnecting the tweeter from the rest of the speaker cabinet makes sense. It may not be the only way to avoid unwanted diffraction, but definitely a good way to go. Bowers & Wilkins has also continued to research to optimize the construction of the tweeter enclosure and find even better ways to decouple the tweeter enclosure from the speaker enclosure. The (provisional) pinnacle in this area is the 800 D3 Series, of which the top model is according to some one of the best loudspeakers on this planet.
The Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature is of course not comparable to that (precious) giant in the hi-fi world, but some of the technology has dropped to this accessible model. For example, the tweeter housing is milled from a single block of aluminum, which makes it heavy and also more vibration-resistant. The shell houses a tweeter with a carbon fiber dome. Not diamond, as with the 800 Series, but still a special material that suffers little from break-up – and certainly not in audible frequencies.
Another element recognizable from the highest loudspeaker line at Bowers & Wilkins is the midrange / woofer driver with a Continuum cone. Hi-fi enthusiasts may already be aware that the British have been trading the typical yellow Kevlar for this woven material for a while, so we are not surprised to see it reappear in the 705 Signature. Why Bowers & Wilkins switched to this material – composition: secret – has all to do with its predictable, linear behavior. As a result, Continuum drivers deliver very smooth performance across the frequency range and regardless of volume.
Many of those technical advancements that trickle down from the 800 Series are also present on the regular 705 S2. It is mainly in the field of crossover filters that the Bowers & Wilkins engineers were given free rein. Those filters control which part of the audio signal goes to the midrange / bass driver and which part goes to the tweeter, which may seem like a trivial function but in reality can be quite decisive for the reproduction. With the Signature edition, the filters utilized better Mundorf transistors in a parallel bypass circuit, a solution that enables much of the higher performance of the most expensive transistors in an achievable way. In order to ensure that that performance remains stable at all times, larger cooling fins are also provided. After all, the properties of transistors – which are the core of a crossover – can change when they get hot.
With a Signature model, Bowers & Wilkins always wants to demonstrate that a better model can do just that little bit better. turn into. Just give the engineers and designers a chance to tweak here and there to improve performance. At the same time, these special speakers are not just about technical adjustments. A Signature model also always has a special finish, something that allows you to see at a glance that it is a unique edition. If at any point you were in doubt, there is a metal signature plate on the back to remind you of that.
That exclusive character is certainly present with the 705 Signature. Bowers & Wilkins gave this stand mount a very special finish. Datuk Gloss, as it is called, combines a dark wood veneer that produces lighter grains with a nine-layer high-gloss varnish, resulting in a very beautiful, fascinating finish that appears to have a certain depth. You immediately see the difference with the veneers that are used on cheaper speakers. Although these finishes are getting better and better, they often remain clearly thin layers of wood that clearly lie on top of a cabinet. The 705 Signature also uses a veneer layer from the Italian luxury wood supplier Alpi, but due to the thick layer of varnish, the housing simply seems to have been made entirely of a tropical wood.
The icing on the cake: since the wood layer is made of natural wood. origin, each speaker is truly unique. Bowers & Wilkins ensures that a pair of 705 Signatures are always matched, so that they fit together in the living room.
The metal ring around the silver-colored Continuum driver and the glossy black tweeter housing (with metal grille in the front) complete the picture. picture in terms of design. And also: the finish and tweeter-on-top make the 705 Signature stand out from the crowd, despite a fairly conventional cube shape. The Bowers & Wilkins speakers look very luxurious, as the showpieces they are also effective. That magnificent finish alone is worth the extra price of the Signatures – if you buy say an Audi or a Volvo, a few strips of veneer of this quality in the cockpit would quickly cost you a few thousand euros.
So much insight, so much fun
In an earlier test of the 700 Series in a surround setup, we were struck by the clear presentation. At the time, it was about lower models without a tweeter on top, but it is a bit of the character of the middle series. If you upgrade from the 600 Series to the 700 Series, you will especially be rewarded with a great level of detail and integration.
With this Signature edition, for some reason, we are subtly tempted to listen to something more classic and jazz. Perhaps because you will really be rewarded if you play a large orchestral work on these relatively small speakers. But they also have the drive to pop a high-tempo techno track in your living room. Bass enthusiasts are definitely spoiled, because the layer extension of these relatively compact speakers extends quite far. The beat of “Hello Planet Earth (Breath Mix)”, on the latest from Berlin techno-pioneer Ellen Allien, can resonate even deeper with a subwoofer, but the Signatures are far from bad. We do have to add a caveat to that: provided you have the reinforcement part in order. The Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature is a typical high-end Bowers & Wilkins in the sense that they are demanding regardless of the specifications. The amplifier does need some punch to make it shine across the full frequency range. Very? These are simply speakers from a higher class, so we do not expect anyone planning to pair them with a budget amplifier. In between we did that anyway, because we got a compact Arcam Solo Unu. We quickly switched back to our Devialet Expert 220 Pro, because with the tiny Arcam all life disappeared from the story. So back to the Devialet. During testing, we also occasionally replaced the Frenchman with the Musical Fidelity M8xi with the Primare PRE35. The M8xi is an immense power source of 250 Watts per channel (at 8 Ohm, yes). We didn’t really notice a lack of power.
Getting that little bit of extra magic out of a recording, that’s something these speakers are good at. Even with a very modest registration. During testing, we received the vinyl re-release of PJ’s Dry album, with the bonus of an album composed of the demos the British singer brewed so many years ago to convince a record company to finance her first album. Compared to the final result produced, this is very simple food, played mainly acoustically and with little overdubbing. Usually these kinds of demo recordings are nothing more than curiosities for diehard fans, but in this case they are not. The Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature perfectly convey why that record exec was convinced; from the front row you experience the raw power of PJ Harvey’s voice and the infectious guitar riffs. In particular with the demo recording of ‘Dress’ and’ Victory ‘we hear the acoustic guitar being reproduced really raw but lifelike, in a fluid way that smoothes the sharp edges of these recordings.
The soundtrack of’ Motherless Brooklyn ‘(the adaptation of a masterful book by Jonathan Lethem) is in stores as a project with Thom Yorke from Radiohead and Flea from Red Hot Chilli Peppers. That is a bit naughty of the record company, because the album contains exactly one song by those two gentlemen. Most of the other tracks are sultry jazz songs that immediately transport you to this part of New York, especially as they are presented here on this Bowers & Wilkins. The dynamic duel on “Blues Walk” between Wynton Marsalis’ trumpet and Jerry Weldon’s sax, carried by the rhythm section with Russell Hall and Joe Farnsworth, is presented in an insightful and compelling way.
The strengths of these speakers are partly predictable. They build on what the 705 S2 already did very well: provide insight without sharp edges, sound very coherent and balanced, and are also surprisingly potent when it comes to basses. They remain stand mounts, but they sound more mature than you would expect. Without A / B comparison, it is difficult to say where the 705 Signature just performs better than the regular version, but it is clear that these exclusive speakers present your music very well. The improvements may be subtle, but no less significant.
If you provide the 705 Signature speakers with a good engine (and a suitable player / streamer and decent source material, that goes without saying) you bought something very special and clever. You can really take that word “handsome” literally, because the Datuk Gloss finish is unbelievably opulent and luxurious. It makes the Bowers & Wilkins 705 Signature a lot more upscale than the “normal” 705 S2 and ensures a strong injection class. The musical performance does not disappoint. Anyone who likes to experience their music as if they were sitting in the front row of the concert hall, will find what they are looking for in this loudspeaker.