Earlier this month, we attended an e-press conference about the two new models forming the 700 Signature range. This is not a replacement to the 700 Series nor is it intended to be an alternative or a replacement to the 800 Series. Instead, it takes two of the most popular models in the existing 700 Series, and uses concepts seen in limited-edition Signature models from the brand. However, as these Signature models have traditionally improved upon existing top-end models (such as the Silver Signature of the early 1990s, which developed the then-current version of the popular 805 stand-mount) it’s easy to see where some of the confusion lay.
Traditionally, the Signature editions have been released during significant years for the brand (such as its 30thanniversary). The 700 Signature coincides with Bowers & Wilkins 54th year in business, so we’re not quite sure as to the historic company event this Signature model celebrates. Regardless, we’ve got a pair coming for review soon… so watch this space!
From the Bowers & Wilkins press release:
Worthing, England, 10th June 2020: Signature product launches are rare and special events in Bowers & Wilkins’ 54-year history, but when the world-leading specialist audio brand attaches the name Signature to its loudspeakers, you can be sure the results are very special.
This month sees the introduction of two new Signature versions of premium loudspeakers from the Bowers & Wilkins 700 Series range: the stand-mount 705 Signature and floor-standing 702 Signature.
The new 705 Signature and 702 Signature models share a common philosophy with their predecessors: like previous Signatures, the new models are carefully upgraded and lavishly finished loudspeakers that represent the apex of current Bowers & Wilkins design, engineering and manufacturing processes. A huge amount of care and attention has been paid to improving their acoustic performance via an upgraded crossover design, and also to carefully crafting the luxurious new cabinet finish.
Launched in 2017, the elegant Bowers & Wilkins 700 Series range of speakers already delivers exceptional performance thanks to its careful use of technologies first seen in the high-end 800 Series Diamond, such as the Solid Body Tweeter-on-Top assembly, unique Continuum cone drivers and Aerofoil profile bass drivers. Used in combination with bespoke 700 Series technologies such as the Carbon Dome tweeter plus carefully optimised and rigid cabinets, the result is a range of loudspeakers as superb to listen to as it is to look at.
As Signature products, the new 705 & 702 Signature have received further, detailed improvements enabled by upgraded crossover designs and components.
Both models now feature specially treated and upgraded bypass capacitors sourced from Mundorf, larger heatsinking and, in the case of the 702, an upgraded LF capacitor on the bass section of the crossover. In tandem with the immense benefits both models enjoy as a result of their Tweeter-on-Top configuration, these upgrades improve the already-remarkable resolution, openness and spatial retrieval on offer, lending them an even-more polished, refined and involving sound.
Keeping up with established Signature practices, the 705 and 702 Signature boast a stunning new Datuk Gloss ebony-coloured veneer with a distinctive, beautiful grain. This custom-designed finish combines the beauty of exotic real-wood veneers with the environmental benefits of a sustainably-sourced supply, in this case from specialist Italian wood company Alpi.
Each pair of speakers is unique, with no two models sharing the same grain pattern or figuring. Bowers & Wilkins adds to Alpi’s painstaking workmanship by applying nine coats of finish – including primer, base coat and lacquer – to create a deep, lustrous appearance. To further accentuate and highlight the quality of finish on each model, both Signature speakers have bright metal trim rings around the mid/bass and midrange cones plus bright, silver-finished tweeter grilles. Finally, both models have a Signature identity plate to their rear panel, turning each speaker into a genuine and unique piece of art.
Exceptional engineering on-board
Carbon Dome Tweeter
Both 700 Series Signature models feature Bowers & Wilkins Carbon Dome tweeter technology. Designed to bridge the performance gap between the Aluminium Double Dome used in the 600 Series and the Diamond Dome used in the 800 Series Diamond, the Carbon Dome is composed of two sections. The front portion is a 30-micron aluminium dome that has been stiffened by a PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) coating of carbon. The second section is a 300-micron carbon ring that has been profiled to match the form of the main dome. This is then bonded to the inner face of the structure. The outcome is exceptional stiffness and resistance to distortion without undue mass and a first break-up point of 47kHz.
Solid Body Tweeters
As with all preceding Signature products, the 705 Signature and 702 Signature are Tweeter-On-Top designs featuring, in this case, Solid Body Tweeter technology. This design is derived entirely from the approach used
in the 800 Series Diamond and has the same performance benefits. As with the 700 Series speakers, instead
of using a hollow zinc housing, the new Signature models use the same shape milled from a solid mass of aluminium to provide a stiffer and less resonant structure. Weighing over 1kg, it is exceptionally inert, and benefits from the same decoupling mechanism and acoustically transparent grille design as the 800 Series Diamond. This design also allows the use of the mass of the tweeter body as a heatsink for the dome.
Continuum cone midrange drivers were first seen in the 800 Series Diamond. The Continuum cone’s design is based on the concept of optimised and controlled flexibility. This helps the cone to avoid the abrupt transition from pistonic to break-up mode behaviour that drastically impairs the openness and neutrality of a conventional drive unit. Continuum is a woven composite that gives highly controlled break-up, for a more transparent and detailed midrange.
The 702 Signature is equipped with a dedicated midrange FST drive unit using a FEA-optimised aluminium chassis with a very stiff optimised form, further enhanced with the addition of a tuned mass damper on the
front face of the chassis. This dampens any remaining resonance in the structure, resulting in a cleaner midrange presentation.
The midrange decoupling system simplifies the design used in the 800 Series Diamond for a significant improvement in midrange spaciousness across the board.
Aerofoil-profile bass cone
A new implementation of the Aerofoil cone used in the 800 Series Diamond is featured on the 702 Signature, using a composite structure of inner and outer skins filled with EPS. The result is a dramatic uplift in bass performance.
Availability June 2020 priced at £4,499
3 x 165mm Aerofoil Profile bass
1 x 150mm Continuum FST midrange, decoupled
1 x 25mm Carbon Dome tweeter in Solid Body Tweeter-on-Top
Availability June 2020 priced at £2,699
1 x 165mm Continuum bass/midrange
1 x 25mm Carbon Dome tweeter in Solid Body Tweeter-on-Top
About Bowers & Wilkins
Bowers & Wilkins, founded in the UK in 1966, has been at the forefront of high-performance audio for more than 50 years. Bowers & Wilkins designs and manufactures precision home speakers, headphones, custom installation and performance car audio products that set new standards for innovation and sound quality, earning countless awards and accolades from the world’s leading recording studios and musicians. Bowers & Wilkins’ reputation is based on the unwavering pursuit of the best possible sound and an unsurpassable music listening experience. Learn more at bowerswilkins.com